"I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

Thomas Jefferson
Sept. 23, 1800

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Articles of Confederation

On this date in 1781, two years after the new states won their independence from England, our first governing document, the Articles of Confederation, went into effect. The preamble has none of the eloquence of the Constitution, and the Articles themselves proved too weak and unwieldy, but it is good to understand what held the nation together before the ratification of our Constitution.

Here's a link to the whole document, but I'll pull out two especially interesting articles.

Article VIII basically levies a property tax on the states as a way to fund the central government.

ARTICLE VIII. All charges of war, and all other expenses that shall be incurred for the common defence or general welfare, and allowed by the United States in Congress assembled, shall be defrayed out of a common treasury, which shall be supplied by the several states, in proportion to the value of all land within each state, granted to or surveyed for any person, as such land and the buildings and improvements thereon shall be estimated according to such mode as the United States in Congress assembled, shall from time to time direct and appoint.

The taxes for paying that proportion shall be laid and levied by the authority and direction of the legislatures of the several states within the time agreed upon by the United States in Congress assembled.

Article XI invites Canada to join our new nation. Wouldn't that have been interesting?

ARTICLE XI. Canada acceding to this Confederation, and joining in the measures of the United States, shall be admitted into, and entitled to all the advantages of this Union: but no other colony shall be admitted into the same, unless such admission be agreed to by nine states.

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