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The Critical Period in American History

The period of adoption of the Federal Constitution from the adoption of the Articles is termed as ‘The Critical Period’ of American history. The article of confederation left the young country in no position to deal with a series of problems. Foreign and domestic challenges were experienced. For foreign challenges, American independence was recognized under the terms of the “Treaty of Paris” of 1783, and the British had agreed to vacate all military posts within the new country’s boundaries. For their part, the Americans promised to strongly recommend to the states that they make a fair settlement with the loyalists who had lost property during the war. However, no progress had been made by congress on the compensation issue, and the British were also in no hurry to withdraw from American territories.

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Economic chaos followed after the conclusion of the war. America slipped into a depression and inflation era. Among the States, the currencies were not uniform, and the value was falling for many media exchanges. Most states witnessed some degree of tension between farming interests of the west and the wealthier manufacturing interests of eastern cities (Wolf 64). Despite the shortcomings during the Critical Period, the article did create a sense of national unity by bringing together people from various parts of the country. Transportation and communication improvements were made, which led to the start of national identity. Ultimately the Americans were elated by their victory in the war and felt proud in the emerging place in the world. As illustrated in the political cartoon below, the critical period during independence led to anarchy.

The Critical Period in American History

As indicated, the cartoon is labelled The Critical Period 1783-1789. There is a boat labeled U.S.A. Articles of Confederation carrying different delegates who are sailing the ship. There is a waterfall, rocks, the words independence, and anarchy. The rocks symbolize the problems that the Americans faced. Different delegates sailing the boat leading to a fall are suggesting they are in control. Independence written in the flowing water could symbolize movement towards independence which later led to anarchy. The cartoonist painted the whole picture of independence and the hurdles faced, and as the water flowed, it led them to anarchy, where they gained freedom. The theme could be both happiness and fear. A few of the delegates are sailing the boat while others are happy for their newly acquired independence. However, the happiness is short lived because they are headed to anarchy which proves to be a challenge.

After the American Revolution, the New York and Boston workers formed political associations to keep away lawyers and wealthy men. The total count of men in legislatures increased from 17% to 60% after the revolution. Liberty notion was being redefined, and the communities had the right to govern themselves previously. On the contrary, the current state defined liberty more broadly. For the people who gained power after the revolution, freedom meant everyone could access the political process and restrain personal wealth and property to maintain economic equality. Many of the old revolutionary leadership were dead in 1975 (Wolf 69). The next generation of leaders belonged to men who had fought for the nation. They revolutionized differently. The youths from Massachusetts, New York, and Virginia shared similar hardships, which faded away from the identities.

Later the state governments that had destabilized the confederation were bound to inflict pain on the people to make them long for change in the middle of the 1780s for two reasons. In the heat of revolution, most of the state’s constitution written created a state government with a single legislature. Secondly, the state constitution made the role of governors and judges weak. Consequently, revolutionary leaders who wanted the majority to lead and represent the people’s will without any obstacles were satisfied (Wolf 75). In 1780, Massachusetts created a constitution that divides legislatures into two houses: one elected by the ordinary people and the other selected by the district based on property tax. Each house analyses the other legislation. In 1784, New Hampshire formed a constitution for judges and legislation’s appointment and gave it to the governors. In the 1780s, Virginia suggests a new state constitution that gave a veto power in the legislature to the senate and formed an independent judiciary for a lifetime.

Richard Henry Lee’s motion that declared the Americans independent also included a plan for the confederation to be arranged and transported to their respective colonies. The motion passed, and the Congress formed a committee whose task was to draft a new government plan called the articles of confederation, hence the image’s word independence. The cartoonist illustrates this through the boat labeled the article of confederation filled with delegates who are in the boat. The committee worked from June 11, 1776, through to 1777, going over several drafts until Congress approved the final draft on November 15, 1777 (Pearson Custom Publishing 44). The article of confederation includes thirteen different articles that describe other functions to be performed by the government. The central government involved one branch, a national legislature.

On the other hand, the article had several weaknesses as represented by the rocks, like the inability to raise revenue in individual states and not enforce security. The article allowed Congress to decide how much each state owed as a federal expense portion. The only problem was Congress could not force payment from the states. Cumulatively, the states only paid around seventy percent of their debt. Most of the states paid significantly less while others paid nothing to the federal government (Pearson Custom Publishing 47). These problems gave the government the power to borrow money, but no payment means of the debt. Congress could also request states to provide soldiers to fight during the war but could not punish any state when they refused to comply. The cartoonist captures this through the word anarchy at the bottom of the fall. Additionally, Congress could bargain treaties but could not enforce those treaty terms.

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Finally, the British recognized American independence as a result of peace negotiations in 1783. The potholes found in the article contributed to many problems that faced the new nation. These problems led to a convention formed by Congress to find a way to revise and amend the articles of confederation. Later the new constitution incorporated several provisions from the article of federations. The cartoonist paints a detailed picture of what happened after independence, mostly the weaknesses experienced through the implementation of the Confederation Article. They capture the struggles the Americans went through to achieve independence. Hence, different elements characterized America’s struggle to be a free nation out of its colonizers.

Works Cited

Pearson Custom Publishing. American Perspectives: Readings in American History, 4th ed., Pearson Custom Publishing, 2008.

Wolf, Naomi. Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries. Simon & Schuster, 2008.

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