The Instigator
BennyW
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
THEBOMB
Con (against)
Winning
1 Points

The Articles of Confederation were salvageable

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
THEBOMB
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/19/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 11,813 times Debate No: 22153
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)

 

BennyW

Pro

I will argue that the Articles of Confederation, while they certainly had weaknesses, were could have been an effective document and that said weaknesses could have been fixed without having to scrap the whole thing. First round for acceptance.
THEBOMB

Con

I accept this challenge and am looking forward to an intellectual debate.

My opponents BOP is to show the exact problem with the Articles of Confederation and his plan solve it. They must solve every problem (or at least a majority) with the Articles otherwise the Constitution is a better well Constitution. Their biggest problem will be exactly how to amend the Articles when amending them required a unanimous vote of all the states and as the country grew bigger their would be more states.

With further ado, I hand the baton to my opponent.
Debate Round No. 1
BennyW

Pro


My opponent does bring up the fundamental difficulty with amending the articles and that is that they needed a unanimous vote. All the states though agreed that the articles weren’t working as well as they had planned and they were looking at every option to fix it, so if someone had brought a repeal to the unanimous requirement it would very likely have passed unanimously. It still shouldn’t be too easy though, 2/3rds like we have it now might be good. With that out of the way it does open it up for the states to vote on the other problems. The idea though behind it being unanimous to begin with is because each state was meant to be sovereign. Since each state was sovereign on its own it wouldn’t have made sense to have states force something onto the other states if they didn’t agree.


One of the issues was how to deal with raids such as Shay’s rebellion, however those like Jefferson and the anti-federalists weren’t too worried about that because they saw it as an inevitable result of maintaining freedom. There is no reason however why the states couldn’t get together to stop a rebellion in a way that a centralized government couldn’t. After all where did the centralized governments resources come from if not from the states?


They should have kept the restrictions on a large Federal Government.


The states should be able to leave on their own as under the articles they were under no obligation to stay united and even after the Constitution was ratified this was still commonly assumed.


Had Thomas Jefferson been at the convention rather than in France, he may very well have pushed to save the articles because he opposed a centralized federal Government. [1]


Switzerland is probably the closest thing left to a true Confederacy left in the world and we could look at them for an example. They have a very weak centralized government with no permanent ruler and each state has rights of its own.


The Constitution created a larger federal government though nothing in comparison to what we have today. The 10th Amendment did help the states to maintain much of their powers but it was clear that there now was a centralized government rather than simply an agreement of free states. [2]


I look forward to my opponent’s arguments next round.



1 http://www.monticello.org...


2 http://www.garynorth.com...


THEBOMB

Con

Thank you BennyW for your opening statements.

Introduction:

On March 1, 1781 the Articles of Confederation went into effect. On May 14 1787, the 13 states sent delegates to the Grand Convention in Philadelphia. It's original intent, revise the Articles of Confederation. On May 25, 1787, the members basically agreed to scrap the Articles of Confederation to create a new Constitution saying it was more of a treaty between sovereign states than an actually constitution. The Articles of Confederation This alone should show the readers that the Articles of Confederation could not be salvageable. Even the original writers did not agree. Their opinion on the matter weighs much more than anything we, as debaters, can say.

The Virginia Plan was then introduced. The Virginia Plan was the starting point for the current constitution we have today. It was quickly voted upon by all the members of the Convention, and it was found that the larger states favored the Virginia Plan while smaller states favored the New Jersey Plan. Combining principles from the two plans, they reached a starting point for the United States Constitution. Here is while I shall begin.

The Unanimous Vote Problem:

All amendments to the Articles of Confederation required a unanimous vote to amend. Obviously my opponent has not studied history, because if he had he would have realized that "In May 1786, Charles Pinckney of South Carolina proposed that Congress revise the Articles of Confederation. Recommended changes included granting Congress power over foreign and domestic commerce, and providing means for Congress to collect money from state treasuries. Unanimous approval was necessary to make the alterations, however, and Congress failed to reach a consensus." (1) Congress attempted to do what you propose here, but, they failed. Congress could not fix the Articles of Confederation. So, they compromised and scrapped them. History shows your proposals to change the Articles of Confederation could never occur simply because of this problem. They could not change the Articles, it was tried, and it failed.

Shay's Rebellion

I thank my opponent for bringing this up, this was actually one of the biggest factors in scraping the Articles of Confederation because simply because of fear. Shay's Rebellion almost collapsed the Massachusetts government. My opponent states "There is no reason however why the states couldn't get together to stop a rebellion in a way that a centralized government couldn't." The problem with this is, the other states did not help Massachusetts at the time. They had to fend for themselves (2). Under the Constitution, Rebellions were quickly and easily put down, take a look at the Whiskey Rebellion, for example, Washington put down the rebellion quite easily because he could raise an army of 15,000 men quite easily. (3) My opponent goes on stating " After all where did the centralized governments resources come from if not from the states?" Yes, the central government gets its resources from the states, but, you need something there to bind the states together as a country. The Constitution created a country. The Articles of Confederation created just that a loose Confederation.

The rest of my opponents case:

I do not see how stating "They should have kept the restrictions on a large Federal Government" is relevant. The country was failing under the Articles. Britain even joked that it should send 13 diplomats to the United States to deal with them.

"Had Thomas Jefferson been at the convention rather than in France, he may very well have pushed to save the articles because he opposed a centralized federal Government." But, you cannot prove this. Jefferson himself states "here are very good articles in it: and very bad." (4). Furthermore, you cannot prove what he may have done. Anyway even after the Consitution there were still two camps, the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans. They favored strong and weak central governments respectively. Jefferson was not totally against the Constitution. Just parts of it.

My opponent then cites Switzerland, but, what Switzerland does is of no consequence to the United States. I mean the Articles were failing in the United States.

"The Constitution created a larger federal government though nothing in comparison to what we have today. The 10thAmendment did help the states to maintain much of their powers but it was clear that there now was a centralized government rather than simply an agreement of free states." My opponent never states why this is a bad thing.

Problems my opponent did not address:

Each state had one vote in Congress regardless of size. This would be akin to California getting the exact same representation as Oregon. Even though California's population is exponentially larger.

Congress could not tax. No revenue, no government.

Congress could not regulate commerce.

No executive branch to carry out acts Congress passed.

No national court system.

Laws required 9/13 states to pass in Congress.

1.http://en.wikipedia.org...
2.http://en.wikipedia.org...
3.http://en.wikipedia.org...
4.http://www.monticello.org...
Debate Round No. 2
BennyW

Pro

My opponent mentions that it was tried but consensus could not be reached. I will continue to argue though that what was in there was acceptable and if at a later date they wanted to amend they might all agree to amend it then.
Even if a consensus could not be reached the states were under no obligation to stay a part of it and could leave any time as they were only in a “league of friendship” anyway.

The articles already established that the congress of the central government could declare war.

Jefferson said of Shays rebellion that “A little rebellion now and then is a good thing” and that the “ tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants”. Especially since this uprising was citizens in response to the Government. [1] It had been the original intent of Jefferson and others that citizens could and should defend themselves against an oppressive government.

Yes Jefferson did praise certain parts of the Constitution but as a whole he saw it as he thought it was disappointing and wished it could be fixed. Jefferson also asked what country had gone so long with only 1 rebellion. All this from the source my opponent posted.

Sure speculation on what Jefferson would have done could only be speculation but based on what he said we can have a good idea.

I bring up Switzerland as an example of how Confederacy works.

My opponent wants to know why creating a larger Federal Government is a bad thing.

For that let us look at some quotes from some of the founders:

Thomas Jefferson has so many I will list a few:

"My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government."

“A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have.”[2]

Some of the others had some things to say as well

“If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions.”- James Madison [3]

“The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.” Patrick Henry [4]

It is true however that James Madison and Patrick Henry did support the Constitution, but never intended it to be a document that granted the Federal Government ultimate power.

The Anti-Federalists wrote their won response to the Federalist papers, criticizing them and the attempt to scrap the articles. [5]

I want to address my opponent’s other points

Each state had one vote in Congress regardless of size. This would be akin to California getting the exact same representation as Oregon. Even though California's population is exponentially larger.

We have this problem today, in fact even worse with the winner take all system in the Electoral College in 48 out of 50 states (Maine and Nebraska being the exceptions). True the Constitution tried to solve the problem my opponent brought up by having the lower house be proportional and as a compromise having every state have 2 Senators. As for the articles though, it would be like saying China should get more Ambassadors to the UN than France proportional to its size.

Congress could not tax. No revenue, no government.

Congress could not tax but states could. If the Federal Government was needed for something the states would be the source of funding.

Congress could not regulate commerce.

Yes but why is that a bad thing?

No executive branch to carry out acts Congress passed.

Again I point to Switzerland. They have a title of president but it is merely a presiding member that rotates and has no real duties above the other members. They are not the head of state. [6]

No national court system.

That is sort of true, however there was a system for dealing with disputes between the states.

Laws required 9/13 states to pass in Congress.

I don’t see the problem here; laws shouldn’t be super easy to pass.

I thank my opponent for his arguments and look forward to the next round.

1 http://www.earlyamerica.com....

2 http://www.federalbudget.com...

3http://www.pappasontaxes.com...

4 http://redwhitebluenews.com...

5 http://www.utulsa.edu...

6 http://en.wikipedia.org...

THEBOMB

Con

I thank my opponent for their response and I will continue

Throughout the course of this debate, my opponent basically ignores history. My opponent ignores my analysis that the founding fathers of this countries opinion have more weight in the matter then both of us. The fact is, they decided to scrap the Articles of Confederation because it was a complete and utter failure. They did not make their decision lightly to scrap the constitution of the country. My opponent initially wanted to argue that the Articles could be changed and fixed. But, once again, history shows this was not possible. They tried and failed. How exactly could any changes be made, say today, when you needed 50 states to reach a co census? My opponent fails to address this fundamental issue. Therefore, their entire case fails simply because our opinions on the matter weigh much less than the founding fathers' opinions. My opponent may state states do not have to stay, but, why would they leave exactly?

I mean look they tried to amend it several times and failed. (3)

My opponent, throughout his case, brings up only one person who did not completely support the Constitution. But, even Jefferson agreed, " there is no money in the treasury. There never will be money in the treasury till the Confederacy shows its teeth. The states must see the rod." (1) Jefferson thought the Government should be limited, but, not this limited because the United States could not protect it's own interests.

"The articles already established that the congress of the central government could declare war."

Great. But, if they cannot fund a military because they cannot tax this is a useless power.

"Jefferson said of Shays rebellion[…] It had been the original intent of Jefferson and others that citizens could and should defend themselves against an oppressive government."

Wasn't the point of the Articles of Confederation to avoid oppressive central government's? The reason Shay's Rebellion began was because there was no central power to assume the individual states' debts in order to pay off debt owed to European Power's after the Revolutionary War. When the Constitution was finally put into the place, the first thing Alexander Hamilton did was assume all state's debts into the United States' debt. Do you know what happened? There was no debt anymore. Furthermore, another reason it began was because "veterans of the war had not received much pay during the war, and were having difficulty collecting back pay owed them from the state or the Congress of the Confederation." (2, 3) This is because the central government could not tax, thus, they could not pay the soldiers what they were due. It was because of the Articles of Confederation Shay's Rebellion began.

"Yes Jefferson did praise certain parts of the Constitution but as a whole he saw it as he thought it was disappointing and wished it could be fixed. Jefferson also asked what country had gone so long with only 1 rebellion."

The Constitution can be fixed, much more easily than the Articles of Confederation. This is also the rise of political parties, the Hamiltonians and Jeffersonian-Democrats. One favored almost broad interpretation of the Constitution the latter favored strict interpretation of the Constitution. As for the one rebellion, it could have been avoided.

"Sure speculation on what Jefferson would have done could only be speculation but based on what he said we can have a good idea."

Why would he have started a political party if he hated the Constitution so much? And why would he run for president under the Constitution if he hated it so much? Furthermore, you still only speculate. We are dealing with history so let's stay with the facts.

"I bring up Switzerland as an example of how Confederacy works."

It's still a different country.

"My opponent wants to know why creating a larger Federal Government is a bad thing.
For that let us look at some quotes from some of the founders:"

I agree, having a Federal Government with unlimited powers is bad. But, that is why the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution to limit the Federal Government. Keep in mind, the Constitution was much easier to amend. Look at the Bill of Rights, for example. Having to small a government results in well, Shay's Rebellion, the inability to combat the Barbary Pirates, and New York almost declaring war on New Jersey. Under the Constitution, a later Rebellion, the whiskey rebellion was quickly put down, with limited death and property damage, the Barbary Pirates, ironically, were combated by Jefferson, and New York never declared war on New Jersey. Under the Constitution, the Federal Government does not have unlimited power. They are limited by the Bill of Rights.

"The Anti-Federalists wrote their won response to the Federalist papers, criticizing them and the attempt to scrap the articles."

Ultimately, the Federalists won. The Constitution was ratified. If the Articles of Confederation were so great why were they scraped by all the states?

In response to my attacks on the problems my opponent writes:

"We have this problem today, in fact even worse with the winner take all system in the Electoral College in 48 out of 50 states (Maine and Nebraska being the exceptions). True the Constitution tried to solve the problem my opponent brought up by having the lower house be proportional and as a compromise having every state have 2 Senators. As for the articles though, it would be like saying China should get more Ambassadors to the UN than France proportional to its size."

First, the electoral college is not Congress so it is irrelevant when it comes to Congress. Also, the electoral college is proportionate. Each state gets "X" votes dependent on its population. The Constitution did solve the proportionality problem by having the House of Representatives be proportionate to the population and the Senate having two senators per state. This was solved by the Constitution. Third, the United Nations is not a country.

"Congress could not tax but states could. If the Federal Government was needed for something the states would be the source of funding."

Congress had the power to run the military; they needed money to do so. Congress could not pay the veterans of the military which resulted in Shay's Rebellion. As for the states being the source of funding, this means the Federal Government has to ask the states for money. This is how the federal government ran under the Articles of Confederation. The government could not function because they did not have the money to do so.

"Yes but why is that a bad thing?"

It is a bad thing because each state could have it's own currency, trade tariffs, treaties, etc. with other states and with other nations. I mean New York could raise tariffs on New Jersey if it so pleased to do so. This is bad because it just complicates trade and slows down economic growth. You need one entity with the power to regulate trade, not thirteen all with separate agendas.

"Again I point to Switzerland."

The United States also had this, it did not work for the United States. What works in one country may fail in another country.

"That is sort of true, however there was a system for dealing with disputes between the states."

What about between individuals? Or between a state and the federal government? Or between an individual and the government? There was nothing for them.

"I don't see the problem here; laws shouldn't be super easy to pass."

A simply majority would work just as well. Law's should not be super easy to pass, but, they also should not be super difficult to pass either.

1. http://en.wikipedia.org...
2. http://en.wikipedia.org...'s_Rebellion
3. http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 3
BennyW

Pro

BennyW forfeited this round.
THEBOMB

Con

Now that it is the last round just so I have something to do I will deal with my opponent's arguments seen in the comments...officially my opponent has conceded my points but, boredom sets in so…

Opponent in quotes my response underneath:

"My opponent claims I ignore the founders of this country which is completely untrue, in fact I even quoted some of them."

Yet, you consistently ignore the fact that the founding father's tried to amend the Articles of Confederation but, failed to do so.

"Yes, some did support a stronger federal Government, especially Alexander Hamilton, but he was in the minority."

If he was in such a minority, why did the federal government grow to such a size it is now and why were most of the early president's federalists or supporters of a strong government? (Washington and Adams are two good examples). Jefferson was the only president in that early period which supported limited powers and even he took it upon himself to invade the Barbary Coast.

"Yes, soldiers not being paid was the primary reason behind Shay's rebellion."

Concession. If the federal government could levy a tax they would have been able to avoid this rebellion.

"George Washington opposed the formation of political parties, which would have been less likely under the articles (albeit not impossible). He followed through and never joined a party."

George Washington was still a supporter of a strong federal government even if he never officially supported one party (1). And my opponent never explains why having political parties is necessarily a bad thing. People will naturally band together to advocate their ideas even if it does not have the label "political party".

"True the United Nations is not a country and technically speaking the United States at this point were not meant to be either as each state was its own country but they were joined in a "league of friendship" similar to how the Countries in the UN are meant to be."

This is a bad thing if the United States was not the United States rather the country of Pennsylvania, New York, Georgia, etc. With the constant threat of Britain (later realized in the war of 1812) how exactly could the "United" States defend itself if it was not one country but, rather 13? Simple answer, it could not. These separations would destroy the United States in the time of war with a foreign power.

"A majority did not support a standing army but rather each state would have a militia."

The majority of the early presidents were federalists who supported a standing army. Most people did support of standing army. Federalists supported it, they obviously had the majority. Once again my opponent never explained why a standing army was bad.

I thank the readers for reading.

1. http://new.civiced.org...
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by BennyW 5 years ago
BennyW
My opponent claims I ignore the founders of this country which is completely untrue, in fact I even quoted some of them. Yes, some did support a stronger federal Government, especially Alexander Hamilton, but he was in the minority. Obviously they did end up scrapping the articles but I am not arguing against that fact.
Yes, soldiers not being paid was the primary reason behind Shay's rebellion.
George Washington opposed the formation of political parties, which would have been less likely under the articles (albeit not impossible). He followed through and never joined a party.
True the United Nations is not a country and technically speaking the United States at this point were not meant to be either as each state was its own country but they were joined in a "league of friendship" similar to how the Countries in the UN are meant to be.
I also didn't say that the anti-federalists had a majority, I am just arguing in their defense.
A majority did not support a standing army but rather each state would have a militia.
Posted by BennyW 5 years ago
BennyW
Darn I just had my response ready and my compute froze
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 5 years ago
16kadams
BennyWTHEBOMBTied
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Total points awarded:01 
Reasons for voting decision: FF for now