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Articles of Confederation

The Articles of Confederation was the first constitution of the United States, which established the U.S. as a confederation of sovereign states. Ultimately, the Constitutional Convention of 1787 would be convened to fix the Articles' shortcomings.

Edmund Randolph was the first of the Virginia delegation to debate the New Jersey Plan.  His primary argument was that the existing Confederation was a failure and a large-scale reform must be attempted.
Annotated by bacraig on December 01, 2014
This was not the first meeting to discuss the crisis of the Articles of Confederation.

From September 11-14, 1786, twelve delegates from five states gathered in Annapolis, Maryland. 

There were twin crises going on that led to Annapolis.  The first was the fact that the federal government was going broke.  It had war debts to pay to European countries, and the government could not bring in enough revenue to pay its debt or its interest on that debt. 

The second issue was the Jay-Gardoqui negotiations.  John Jay and the Spanish negotiated a deal to open up Spanish ports for the Northeast, but Spain refused American rights on the Mississippi River.  In August 1786, the Congress voted down the proposed treaty, which still left the trade situation in trouble.

Although the Continental Congress created this "Annapolis Convention," there were not enough delegates to make a quorum.

Some of the same delegates would come to Philadelphia: James Madison, Edmund Randolph, Alexander Hamilton, John Dickinson, George Read, Richard Bassett, and William Houston.

They recommended a new constitution convention to be held for May 1787.
Annotated by bacraig on November 20, 2014
It made sense that Edmund J. Randolph was the person to present what would be called the Virginia Plan.  He was governor of one of the country's most powerful states and he came from a prestigious family.

James Madison was not the sole author of these resolutions that Randolph would present.  The Virginia delegation had arrived in Philadelphia by May 13, and its seven members began to discuss the issues before May 29.  However, Madison played an instrumental role in developing these proposals, because he had been studying the issues and writing his colleagues about these concepts. 

As early as 1786, Madison had studied the history of confederacies and wrote the Notes on Ancient and Modern Confederacies in the spring/early summer of 1786.  He then wrote the Vices of the Political System of the United States in April 1787, which outlined his thoughts on why the Articles of Confederation was a failure.
Annotated by bacraig on October 09, 2014
Resolution 9 that would establish a national judiciary and inferior courts departed from system that operated under the Articles of Confederation. 

There had been growing conflict between the states and the Congress of the Confederation dealing with maritime prizes (captured ships).  In 1780, the Continental Congress officially set up the Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture, which by its name, had limited authority.  In 1781, James Madison offered a resolution to further expand court locations and codify some court procedures.

The issue of western lands also gave the Congress of the Confederation opportunities to create commissions to hear states grievances, but they were ad hoc.

It would prove difficult to overcome the state-favored bias that Resolution 9 tried to break.
Annotated by bacraig on October 01, 2014