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Current time:0:00Total duration:7:49

Video transcript

I'm Walter Isaacson of the Aspen Institute and I'm with Joe Ellis they'd kill it surprise wedding historian and we've been talking about the Declaration of Independence and so we've had this declaration so now we're one country the United States right that is an interesting question we are it's styled the United States of America but it is really a confederation of sovereign states going to Philadelphia to meet in order to help run the war and support the military effort in the Continental Army but as the years go on after you as you move from 75 26 27 the support for the army goes down and each state wants to defend itself with its own militia it doesn't want to give money or troops to the Continental Army and so they pay more I mean you know think about this if you were a young farmer a lot easier to stay in your state and get more money and then go to the Continental Army so that so there's nothing really binding us together the country once the Continental Army sort of really becomes different groups of state armies or state militias right and the only thing that held us together earlier we're citizens of the British Empire during the war the thing that holds us together is the fight to secede from that Empire once that war is won there's nothing to hold us together so we're really a confederation of separate states what pray tell does the word Confederation mean to Confederate is to come together presumably it's like you know like like a congregation a confederation comes together to in this case plan for mutual defense so they wrote what would call the Articles of Confederation big trouble already Walter right right in SE document let's look at this document but this is basically before we had a constitution that made us one country we had an art set of articles that made us a confederation that's what it means right correct but you could say that you know you could trick questions for people in the long who is the first president of the States well who was the president for the under the Articles yeah that lets who the answer into it I don't remain same because we don't really elect a president as one country at that point right we do that's right he's elected by a majority of the delegates from the respective states and nobody wants to be present by the way because it's a lot of and by the way these delegates in the states they kind of meat in different places it's like a rolling band wherever they can find a good hotel starts to move around because they're chased out of Philadelphia by the british army and they moved to there's a german town or know that but lancasters well thank you sir yes and finally end up in New York right in somewhere in New Jersey's a trap but let's look at this Trent these articles of confederation and the delegates of the states right so this is not really the people creating a new government it's each of the states deciding to Confederate I can see where you're going with this fender you're absolutely right and that this is not a government that works on the people it works on the states then it's you know every state has you know Virginia and Rhode Island have the same represent they have one vote and then it says an article 3 the state's hereby severally enter in other words each separately enter as a state into a league of friendship a farm league of friendship this is not exactly this is like a league of nations or something like that we're not you know Woodrow Wilson tried to put it together it's not exactly one country and they enumerate some of the things that they're going to do tell us what they decide that they want to do they want to come together for the common defense as they say for the security of their liberties and general welfare they put together a post office or they have mail that they're going to deliver and they have some sort of agreement that they're not going to tax each other or write tariffs against each other that doesn't live they're not supposed to print their own state money but they do that too hey wait a minute so they're each putting their money yeah they're not one system of taxes right and they don't have sort of a common National Treasury that works very well right now there is no national fiscal policy it's all state-based and you said even that they tariffs you mean Marilyn would put a tower against Virginia yeah like New York loves it they put tariffs on Connecticut New Jersey that's one of the reasons they don't want to ratify the Constitution when it comes around cuz they're doing really well on this way and then so this doesn't you have a whole decade of this the 1780s does it work well it depends on where you're looking I mean if you're looking at it from the point it's a New York they're doing great but if you're looking at it from the point of view of a viable nation-state of the United States as some larger national size entity it's a total failure so what tell us like give us an example wouldn't like in 1786 we have shays rebellion was that just like a wake-up call to this ain't working it was sold that way it was marketed that way by the people that wanted to have a federal convention called and that's mostly Madison Hamilton and eventually Washington Lakes plane will quickly would shays rebellion shays rebellion was an insurrection of farmers in western Massachusetts one of them one of the leaders is called Daniel Shays so that got named after about twelve hundred farmers are protesting taxes and mortgage foreclosures the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is in debt and it's got to pay off its were the first real tax revolt and it proves that we can't really have a national tax policy and nobody can put down this rebellion even Washington's pretty upset right it's not advantage state the Massachusetts militia goes out and puts it down and it doesn't take long but it is is used as a wake-up call to say I st. work in this article's washington is getting letters from friends ms using their 30,000 of Western Massachusetts shay sights ready to march on Boston okay and the Brits are encouraging this and I think the Brits are going to get Vermont as a result of this okay so that all these conspiratorial theories go to most of them are not correct but it becomes a sort of wake-up call until what do they do sort of an Annapolis winners Annapolis and what is that Annapolis is a little town in Maryland where they decide to have a meeting of all the colonies to dis Carl the states they die to discuss mercantile and commercial arrangements 1787 it's it's six 1786 so right around the time it's just after shays rebellion they're trying to do tariffs and taxes and say let's have some common pop let's at Maryland cooperate with Virginia for example and not have any taxes or any tariffs the problem is nobody showed five states send I'll you know have delegates there look it so it's a total failure told they can't even meet because they don't have a quorum but and this is outrageous and audacious but that's the way Hamilton works we've done about Alexander Alexander Hamilton the brash former colonel in the in the Revolutionary Army immigrant from st. Kitts and st. Croix he at the end of the Annapolis meeting says we hear the five delegations all agreed that we need to have a general convention to consider not just commercial policy but the entire organization of the articles so that becomes the Constitutional Convention which we'll talk about in our next lesson yes it does thank you