In 1777, the states enacted the Articles of Confederation to preserve democracy and prevent tyranny from those who sought to centralize power. But in their efforts to keep their independence, the states created a weak central government that was unable to improve an insolvent economy and poor foreign relations.
Although the confederation gained some substantial powers, the crucial powers to tax and regulate commerce remained with the individual states. Each state passed their own currency, and therefore created inflation and made “Continentals” in circulation worthless. Compounded with restrictions on trade to Great Britain and down the Mississippi River, the states became mired in a heavy depression. John Fiske, of the conservative view, realized the precarious situation when he stated “the Nation was under the verge of collapse and near-anarchy and that the five year period after 1783 was the most critical time in American History.”Robert Morris, secretary of finance, resorted to desperate measures with the Newburgh conspiracy in an attempt to raise funds for a depleted military; but it took an impassioned plea from General Washington himself to put down the rebellion. Furthermore, the Articles allowed for personal rights abuses such as unsubstantiated foreclosures on farms and ill advised loans to certain ” small groups”, the antithesis of republicanism.
As Arthur Schlesinger Jr. stated “the Articles were to impotent to govern.” Lastly, no judicial system was provided for to enforce laws and therefore allowed for insurrections such as Shay's Rebellion. In addition, to pass legislation required a unanimous consent and more than not a single dissenting vote prevented the ratification of strong economic bills. Overall, the Articles were ineffective in improving the economic state of the new nation. Although Thomas Paine (Common Sense) believed that the Articles and decentralization was a logical choice of government after.