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The Articles of Confederation (1781-1789)

The Founding Fathers

Articles 7-8

Article 6

Articles 7-8, page 2

page 1 of 2

Summary—War Preparation

When raising an army to defend the United States, each state legislature has the authority to name all colonels and lesser officers in any way they choose to lead the troops recruited from that state.

The common treasury will supply any money needed to pay for war or to defend the country, when allowed by Congress. Each state has the responsibility of contributing to the common treasury based on the relative value of all the land within that state. Congress will determine the method of surveying land and estimating the total value per state. The taxes to support the common treasury will be made and collected by each state legislature by a date decided by Congress.

Commentary

Probably the most taboo topic throughout the duration of the American Revolution was taxation. Because it served as the impetus that brought the colonists to declare their independence from Great Britain, "taxation without representation" was a rallying cry that few forgot when visualizing their ideal government.

Most agreed that taxation was necessary to support a stable government. However, they also believed that the power to tax should be in the hands of the government that represents the people. Since the radicals had successfully placed sovereignty solidly in the state governments, people accepted, in theory, the right of the state legislature to levy taxes. However, they outright rejected the possibility of a central government levying any sort of taxes whatsoever.

Since one of the primary purposes of the Confederation Congress was to provide for mutual defense, it also had to establish a financial means to support its purpose. Hamstrung without the power to tax, Congress relied on requisitions of money from each state. Powerless to enforce its requisitions, Congress and the administrators of finance often resorted to begging states to pay. While this served to substantially weaken the ability of Congress to carry out its few responsibilities, it also reflected the unresolved debate of how states should be taxed.

One of the most divisive debates that occurred in the ratification process of the Articles of Confederation was the means by which the amount of a state's tax contribution would be determined. This issue was also closely linked to representation in congress and the requisitioning of troops. At issue was the means by which political and economic power would be measured. For the purposes of taxation, Congress had to decide whether labor or land was the best indicator of economic strength. This debate between land and labor faced head-on the issue of sectionalism and slavery.

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