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1. Untidy Origins
About this Lecture
In this module, we examine the “untidy” origins of the Articles of Confederation and why it took so long for the States to ratify them. The Articles took five years to develop after the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and were deliberately weak to allow for the States to act independently. There are three key reasons for why the Articles took so long to ratify: (i) Slave vs. Free States: could not agree on whether the enslaved should be counted for tax purposes; (ii) Equal vs. proportional representation: could not agree on whether votes should be split based on population or equally amongst the states; and (iii) The War for the West: could not agree on the settlement of the West.
In this course, Professor Woody Holton (University of South Carolina) examines the Articles of Confederation to explain how this precursor government developed and changed as a result of the Revolutionary Period. In the first module, we examine the “untidy” origins of the Articles of Confederation and why it took so long for the States to ratify them. After this, we turn to look at the biggest disagreement over the articles - the war for the West. In the third module, we look at the weaknesses in the Articles that made them unworkable by the late 1780s. In the penultimate module, we take a closer look at the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. In the final module, we see how the Articles of Confederation were removed in favour of the Constitution.
Woody Holton is Peter and Bonnie McCausland Professor of History at the University of South Carolina. He specialises in early American history, especially the American Revolution, with a focus on economic history, African Americans, Native Americans, and women. He is author of a number of books within these fields including Liberty is Sweet: The Hidden History of the American Revolution.
Cite this Lecture
Holton, W. (2021, November 18). US History – The Articles of Confederation, 1777-87 - Untidy Origins [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/us-history-the-articles-of-confederation-1777-87/untidy-origins
Holton, Woody. "US History – The Articles of Confederation, 1777-87 – Untidy Origins." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 18 Nov 2021, https://massolit.io/courses/us-history-the-articles-of-confederation-1777-87/untidy-origins