1776 brought a declaration of and a war for independence to Britain’s North American colonies. While they had all acted in concert to reach thi decision, their memories of colonial life under the centralized British monarch had lasting effect upon their views of what the federal government of their ne republic would have the power to do.
In the years following the Declaration o Independence, Congress came up with the Articles of Confederation to loosel govern the new republic at the federal level. 1781 found all 13 states ratifying th Articles of the Confederation as well as the conclusion of the War fo Independence, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. Already, th weaknesses of the Articles of the Confederation were beginning to show.
Every one of the 13 colonies suffered economic setbacks as a result of th War for Independence. Devalued American currency as a result of the Congress habit of printing new paper money to cover the new republic’s war debt and th British blockade created high prices for goods. The end of the war hardly helpe the situation as Congress found itself powerless to levy taxes to pay off the wa debt, powerless to regulate trade with other nations, and powerless to regulat workers wages and the price of goods. This unregulated economic climate provoked citizens who wer shouldering much of the debt as a result.
Farmers of western Massachusett who saw banks moving to foreclose on the mortgages of their farms demande that the government do something to protect them in their time of financial need. They saw the lower legislative house of Massachusetts draft and approve measure, which included relief measures for them. Under the influence of th farmers’ creditors, the upper house blocked the actions of the lower house, whic further enraged these local farmers.
In 1786, a captain of the old Continent army Daniel Shays, led 2000 armed farmers against the state government. The shut down county courts to prevent foreclosure proceedings on their farms, an marched on the Federal Arsenal at Springfield, evidently to properly ar themselves. Eventually, in 1787, the Massachusetts state militia put down the rebellion. Both sides in the mess were unhappy with the new republic’s role (or lac thereof) in the crisis. Farmers were unhappy that the government wasn’t takin steps to protect their property from creditors, and creditors were unhappy that th government wasn’t taking steps to protect what was now their property due t foreclosure proceedings.
The whole situation served to further emphasize th federal government’s lack of capability to help either side. With 13 states, and 13 differing opinions, diplomacy that was acceptabl to all between the Confederation and neighboring nations was difficult t negotiate. Southwestern states had an independent streak of their own, and i order to placate them and draw them closer to the other states of th Confederacy, Congress dispatched their secretary of foreign affairs, John Jay t negotiate a treaty with Spain regarding American rights in navigating th Mississippi river.
The Spanish emissary, Don Diego de Gardoqui managed t convince Jay to sign an agreement for the new republic to give up all its rights t the Mississippi river for 25 years, in return for trading privileges for America trading houses based in Jay’s home state of New York. When the southwester states got wind of this proposed treaty, it further deepened the rifts between the and the other states, as the trading privileges did not benefit them directly, an the treaty did the exact opposite of what they wanted regarding navigation of th Mississippi river.
Needless to say, the treaty was never ratified, and only serve to foreshadow the hostility the South was capable of when sufficiently antagoniz as would be further illustrated by the events preceding the Civil War. This situation was just one more that the framers of the Constitution had i mind as they convened in Philadelphia to amend the Articles of th Confederation. These 55 delegates from all over the new republic were aware o the lack of support for an Army or Navy for the national defense, and lack o power to tax and manage trade enough to pull itself out of .