Posted in American History, history, Politics

The Articles of Confederation: Part 3

The Second Four Articles

Article 5

Article Five deals with Congress and representation.  Unlike the constitution, the Articles of Confederation have very strict ideas about representation.  For example, each state was allowed 2-7 representatives in Congress (no more or less). Each state would choose their delegates, and send them to meet on the first Monday in November each year.  They could be recalled and replaced at the will of the State.  A delegate’s term of service was limited to 3 years in any 6 year period.  They were also required not to hold any other office in the government in which they could be paid.

Each state, despite the number of delegates/representatives, would only have 1 vote as a state.  Which would mean that while there might be 7 people sent from that state, they’d have to come to some agreement on what they should vote for as a state rather than their own personal votes as it is now.

Delegates were given some diplomatic immunity to being arrested while doing their duties (unless it was treason, felony or breach of the peace).

This is different from under the constitution, because while the constitution establishes a bicameral congress (Senate and House of Representatives), the Articles create a unicameral congress, simply known as “Congress Assembled.”

This article also protected their freedom of speech, one of the rights that would eventually be protected under the Bill of Rights.  This mostly deals with the idea that discussion and debate in congress should be free, and everyone should not feel like they couldn’t argue their point.

Article Six

This article starts out with protecting Congress’ limited powers.  For example, no state was allowed to make treaties, or exchange ambassadors without the permission of Congress. It also prevents foreign influence by outlawing any governmental employee from getting a gift or title from other nations. The idea of someone having a title from another nation was still considered a major concern when the constitution was created.  It created a sense that the other country could have an influence on someone in the US, and therefore a “role” in our government.  Both the Articles and the Constitution outlawed citizens from getting titles or gifts from other countries.  In most cases, if someone did accept a title from another nation, they would give up their citizenship in the US.

States were also not allowed to make any agreements between one another without Congress’ consent.

In an odd twist, it enacts its authority over the states in forcing them to both not have a standing army and/or navy during peace time, yet have a well-regulated milia and have an updated storage of proper gear and supplies for such a time as the milia needed them.

It protects Congress’ right to handle all issues regarding war.  States are not allowed to declare war unless they are being actively invaded.  Apparently the major worries about who this would be was Indians and Pirates.

Article Seven

The seventh article of the Articles deals with the handling of military rank issues.  The States are allowed to form their own armies and rank officers under Colonel.  That rank and above can only be given by Congress.  If you have ever watched a civil war movie, you’ll notice that the army groups are named like “11th Pennsylvania Brigade”.  That would be because the members of that brigade were enlisted in Pennsylvania. While the Civil war was long after the Constitution had replaced the articles, it still had similar style miliary names.  Modern military group names have lost the state connection, but there are still state-level militias/militaries.  Those are called the National Guard.  Some states even have separate militaries for their states, but that has fallen from use for the most part, and the state militaries used for state defense have merged with State National Guard units. Those who continue to have their separate militia group tend to be volunteer groups for natural disasters and/or historical purposes rather than any true military purpose.

The National Guard is also a Federally funded military, so while they are grouped by state, they can easily be called up by the President.

States that still have active State Defense Forces in some capacity include Alaska, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. As an example,  California’s State Military (California State Military Reserve) is volunteer, and can be called by the Governor for any security issue within the state and works with the National Guard units assigned to California.

Article 8

Article 8 also deals with the military in dealing with how to pay for the common defense.  While the states were responsible for creating their armies, the Congress of the United states was responsible for running said war since it was for common defense.  However, Congress did not have a way to pay for the costs of war.  In the Articles Congress failed to give itself the right to tax, expecting the states to give something to the communal piggy bank.  Congress would determine how much each state was worth and give them a bill.  The State was responsible for paying it,  The amount that they owed was usually figured out by how much land they had and its worth.  They didn’t really have anything to back up the charges to the state, so it made it difficult to collect on these bills if the state decided it didn’t feel it owed that much for whatever reason.

This is one of the big changes between the Articles and the Constitution. In the constitution, the federal government is given the power to tax – essentially the legal power to insist on payment from each of the states/citizens to pay for common defense and other domestic issues.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which currently handles the filing of taxes, wasn’t created until after the Civil War.   It was created as a Bureau of Internal Revenue to pay off the debts of the war by charging an income tax.  That particular edition of income taxes was repealed a decade later (considered unconstitutional).  In 1913, the 16th Amendment gave Congress the authority to enact an income tax.  It was that year that people first filed the 1040 form, with a 1% tax.  Taxes fluctuated over the years, although during World War I, it reached 77 percent.

In the 1950s, it because the IRS we all know.  Its Commissioner and Chief Counsel are selected by the Executive branch and confirmed by the Senate while the rest of the employees are hired like any other business.

Further Reading:

Federalist Papers.Org : The Articles of the Confederation – Part 7

The IRS: A Brief History

Wikipedia: State Defense Force

California State Reserves  



A thirty-something Graphic Designer and writer who likes to blog about books, movies and History.

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