The Articles of Confederation have played a pivotal role in the development of our country. Had circumstances been slightly altered, they might have been our form of government today. Most people would frown upon such an idea of having such a weak and flimsy government as the backbone of this nation. However, I see it a different way. I look at the Articles weaknesses turned around into strengths. The Articles have many obvious strong points to anyone willing to see them.
One of the most obvious of the Articles strengths was one of its last accomplishments, the Land Ordinance of 1785. The purpose of this ordinance was to organize the distribution and claiming of the land west of the Appalachian Mountain Range. It stated that the land would be surveyed and divided into separate townships, but what’s more is that the sixteenth section would be set aside for a public schooling area. This demonstrates a very advanced governmental involvement in education. Typically, the national government does not have much of a place in our school systems, but by simply providing the necessities of public learning, the Articles show a reserved involvement that could be used in our government today. By the Articles proposing this system of distribution, they laid the path for years to come, therefore accomplishing a great deal.
Another, similar achievements of the Articles was the Northwest Ordinance. This ordinance was passed in 1787 and allowed the settlement of the area north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi River. While this may seem to simply be permission to go settle land, it is much more. By passing this ordinance, the Articles instilled the idea of Manifest Destiny into the American man. It ensured that we would continue to grow and become a great nation of size and power. While the Articles may not have many direct power capabilities, it is clear that their indirect power to influence the people was indeed well within its capabilities.
Many people will misinterpret some of the Articles traits as weaknesses, when seen in a different light become strengths. One exquisite example of this was the difficulty to pass laws and amend the constitution. Under the Articles, there had to be a nine-thirteenths majority to pass laws and to amend the Constitution, you had to have the consent of all the states. This is a system of government with very little interference with the people it governs, and when you think about it, isn’t that the guidelines that a government should abide by. “Government exists to protect life, liberty, and property,” as stated by John Locke. If our laws make it easy to amend the constitution and pass laws, then there would many more restrictions on our freedoms. If we had a system of government similar to the Articles, our liberty would be in a much more preserved state.
The Articles also had a weak central government. What most people believe is that without a strong unifying government, the states themselves will become too independent and one gets stronger than another, and eventually there will be no manner of equality within the states. However, some states need to be better than others, not all states were created equal. There is a greater population and more resources in one then there is in another, so why shouldn’t the more powerful states lead the country more so than the less powerful.
Our government today is simply satisfactory, but what about tomorrow? We are slowly creeping in to a state of repression. Our government is taking away our rights bestowed upon us by our Founding Fathers in 1787. Governing officers are twisting the words of the Constitution and applying them to modern day situations. But what if we were governed by a less oppressive administration? What if there were stricter qualifications concerning the passing of laws and amendments? What if our freedoms were more fiercely protected? What if we were led by The Articles of Confederation?