The period after the Revolutionary war was quite an interesting period in United States history. It’s important to realize that no European country expected the colonists to succeed–if anything, France and Britain would sit and watch, waiting for the colonists to dissent and crumble. Then, they would recolonize America, adding vast chunks of land to their expanding empires.
The colonists needed to get their act together and to decide how to best run the country. They were a bit gunshy about the prospect of having a new king. They felt oppressed by England, and didn’t want a leader becoming the new king. Therefore, they adopted the Articles of Confederation, which designed a set of alliances with no state having power over another. This sounds great in theory, but there were several issues:
1. Who controls the repaying of the war debt?
2. How would taxes be collected?
3. If states have no control over each other and decisions must be unanimous, then how will anything be decided?
4. With no centralized bank, how will trade be conducted in a union where each state has its own money?
The list goes on…
After looking at the learnboard on the Articles of Confederation, comment on these critical questions. In retrospect, this seems like a moment where you might ask yourselves what the Founding Fathers were thinking in drafting such a toothless document. However, in the context of the time, it’s very important to address their concerns about what the nature, responsibilities and structure of government should be, and how much power it should have.
Spoiler alert: Nobody was addressing the issue of slavery at this time. It was being ignored. It was the cloud on the horizon that would lead to the bloodiest war in American history.