I last identified three issues residents of the thirteen colonies were concerned with while formulating the “Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union.” Those issues were:
- Citizens allegiance to an autonomous colony with a separate history and culture
- The fear that representatives to a central government would be so far removed from their constituents that they would become part of a tyranny
- The colonies without a border to “unsettled territory” would not be able to grow and expand westward and so would be of lesser importance than the colonies that could expand.
The issue of citizens’ allegiance to a colony (now state) was addressed obliquely by reserving states’ rights and limiting the authority of the national government to international relations, national defense and relations between the individual states. The national government could mint currency (along with the states) and had the right to establish the value of all currency both federal and state.
Legal tender (both paper and coinage) has an interesting history. Samuel Higley, half-brother to my 5th Great Grandfather Josiah Higley, minted the Higley Coppers between 1737 and 1739. The Higley Coppers were the best known of the colonial coins.
In researching my ancestry from another branch of my family tree, I found court records from the 1780s in which tort judgments and witness compensation was awarded in pounds. The national currency we take for granted took some time to establish.
Looking back, it seems obvious that the “Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Unity” were not sufficient to guide the nation.
The constitutions of some states provided for their expansion to the west and the south while the constitutions of other states did not. This caused consternation that some states would expand their territory thus dwarfing the other states.
Thomas Jefferson presented a solution. Any new territory admitted to the union would come in the form of a new state. Existing states boundaries would be fixed.
I can find no successful resolution of the issue of accountability of representatives. Bear in mind that representatives to the National Congress were not elected by the people, but were chosen by state legislatures.
Under the Articles, there were no executive or judicial branches at the national level. Those branches of government were established with the adoption of the Constitution of the United States. I intend to present my thought on that shift next.