The Essential Effect of the Articles of Confederation on the Constitution

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Although historians generally regard the Articles of Confederation as a complete failure, they were actually a necessary step in the formation of the Constitution which laid out a balanced government in accordance with the ideals of the American Revolution. Adopted by the Second Continental Congress at the height of the Revolution in 1777, the Articles of Confederation reflected the fears of American citizens, in particular, the fear of tyrannical rule. When the Articles failed, a stronger and more stable government replaced it, the government America has today, defined by the Constitution. Errors made under the weak Articles of Confederation were the catalyst for the ratification of the Constitution. The Articles played an important role by proving a strong central government was not to be feared, it was a necessity. Following the Revolution, Americans desired to be free from burdensome taxes, to have a market economy and, most of all, not to be manipulated by a distant head of state. The former colonies existed as 13 individual republics, only tenuously as a union. The Constitution, which would not be written until 1787, declared supremacy over state laws, let the federal government tax the people and gave power to an executive. Because of this sharp contrast in ideology, it is clear the Constitution would not have been ratified immediately after the Revolution. This simple fact is the strongest proof that the Articles of Confederation were necessary to the formation of today’s government. The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, as they are formally named, were written during the fervor of the Revolution and reflect the philosophy laid out in the Declaration of Independence. Under the Articles, the States are united "...for their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each
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