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I need help finding the pros and cons on this part in the article.
This option says it is unnatural for such a far- flung and diverse people to unite as one nation. We fought for self-rule, not to be ruled by a new and closer power. We rejected being ruled by a government thousands of miles away, so why should we submit to one hundreds of miles away? As General Washington observed, the states are bound together by “a rope of sand.” Rather than turn that rope into a chain, this option holds that we should dissolve the Confederation. There are state legislatures that trace their history back a century or more, and even the newest legislatures now have experience with issuing currency, imposing taxes, and regulating trade. Nine have armies, and several have navies. The Declaration of Independence states we have the right “to alter or to abolish [the government], and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety Let States Govern Themselves Dissolve the Confederation. The states are sovereign and should govern themselves. Washington taking leave of the officers of his army at Francis’s Tavern, Broad Street, New York, December 4th, 1783 Lithograph by Currier & Ives. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington D.C. 20540 USA NATIONAL ISSUES FORUMS 12 and Happiness.” This option’s priority is to institute self-governance at the state level, and to focus on the more intimate institutions and civic practices essential for local self-rule. This option suggests that states boycott the meeting planned in Philadelphia. Even Patrick Henry, the great patriot of the American Revolution, has refused to participate. While publicly he said the absence is because his personal affairs need his attention, he has privately acknowledged it is because, in his words, “I smell a rat.” Let States Make Their Own Decisions The gentlemen elected to national office do not always represent the interests of common farmers. Those drawn to this option say that local rule is preferable because it is closer to the people. Smaller societies are less likely to be corrupted, because those who live and work with local leaders are better able to evaluate the quality of their characters. Proponents of this view believe we should disband the Congress of the Confederation and acknowledge the state governments as fully sovereign, independent republics. The states still face potential military threats from Indians, the Barbary pirates, and European intruders. However, proponents of sovereign states say every state should be solely responsible for its own defense, since each faces different threats. They argue that, without the state-based citizen militias, we would never have won the war, and professional soldiers cannot match the passion and intensity of a man defending his home. Proponents of this option say each state knows how to best manage its own Indian relations, because they vary widely by location. Most Indian tribes were allied with the British during the war. Many are continuing to fight against westward expansion, while others are observing the peace. If shared interests or region-wide threats emerge, states can voluntarily band together. During the Revolution, we proved we can quickly unite in the face of a common threat. If necessary, we can do it again. This option says that government and military leaders from the states should meet on a regular schedule, or in response to emerging crises, to consider shared security concerns. But these meetings ought to be advisory, with no power to compel actions by the states. The meetings will foster good diplomatic relations and mutual cooperation among the sovereign states, and could also include negotiations to resolve various state claims concerning the western lands. In times of war, these meetings could form the basis for a temporary military union among the states, raising and commanding a new Continental Army. This view states that no one should be responsible for losses suffered by speculators who were trying to profit from the war. It’s true that many of the original Paul Cuffee A petition filed in 1780 by a group led by Paul Cuffee, a free African merchant captain, demonstrates our regional differences. Using the same principles put forth in the Declaration of Independence, Cuffee filed a protest with the Massachusetts legislature claiming that, if free Africans had to pay taxes, they should be allowed to vote. The petition states, [W]e apprehend ourselves to be aggrieved, in that, while we are not allowed the privilege of freemen of the State, having no vote or influence in the election of those that tax us, yet many of our colour (as is well known) have cheerfully entered the field of battle in the defense of the common cause. Cuffee called on the logic of the Revolution to claim his voting rights. Such arguments were successful and the state’s 1780 constitution removed voting restrictions against black men. If the rights of citizenship are based on responsibilities, then as Cuffee asserts, those who pay taxes and fought for their country have demonstrated that they should be awarded those rights. Portrait of Captain Paul Cuffe (1759-1817), New England Historic Genealogical Society, www.AmericanAncestors.org 13 A NEW LAND: WHAT KIND OF GOVERNMENT SHOULD WE HAVE? lenders purchased bonds for patriotic reasons; and some bonds are still held by foreign governments. However, as their value dropped, many bonds were resold at reduced value to speculators seeking financial profit. It is these speculators who would profit if these bonds were paid off at their original value, and not the original lenders, who put their money behind the revolution. In keeping with the support of sovereign states, each state should determine what to do about its own war debt. This would include both debts owed by the state and any portion of the debt accrued by the Confederation Congress that state legislatures may feel responsible to pay. States that want to maintain good relations with a particular creditor or nation may work out a repayment plan, but those not wanting to reward speculators may choose to default. Some Rights Are Bound to Responsibilities One of the Declaration’s most famous sentences reads, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” If these truths are indeed self-evident, say proponents of this option, then we do not need a national constitution to create them. Natural law already does so. If states do not agree that the law of nature is sufficient to ensure these rights, they can establish their own bills of rights at the local level, or maintain previously established statements of rights. According to this view, in addition to natural rights, there are citizenship rights. These may or may not include such things as voting, having a separate legal identity, owning property, and speaking in public. This option holds that these kinds of rights should only be given to those who can use them wisely. In this view, those who are capable of making wise judgments and assuming more responsibility should have more rights. Men who have achieved financial independence are one example. In contrast, many, but not all, think women are far less capable and wish to continue the long-established doctrine of coverture. This doctrine holds that a wife does not have a separate legal identity but relies upon her husband’s protection and authority. Without her own legal identity, while she may be a citizen, many of the rights associated with citizenship are not available. But there are exceptions. An especially capable woman may find herself in a situation where she needs to make independent decisions. In such cases, obtaining some of these citizenship rights could be beneficial for her and her family. Also, and more generally, granting these privileges can vary by region. Some northern states have granted free Africans voting rights that are unimaginable in many southern states. Therefore, the rights of individuals and the status of citizenship should be determined by people who know each other and understand the particular local circumstances. Citizenship, Rights, and Responsibilities As it now stands, the rights of Africans, Indians, and women differ by state. Also, although property requirements vary from state to state, thirty to forty percent of America’s white male citizens do not own sufficient property to qualify for the vote. In 1776, New Jersey gave propertied, single women the right to vote, something that no other state has done. In most states, women are not authorized to speak in public sessions and can only own property under limited conditions. In some states, adult single women and widows are recognized as having an independent financial and/or legal status. According to the legal doctrine of coverture, a wife does not have an identity separate from her husband’s, and so all wages and property are under her husband’s control. The political, economic, and social activities of free or emancipated Africans are restricted in many states. Most forbid interracial marriage, and churches and schools are segregated. Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island have all passed legislation to gradually abolish slavery, and the state constitution makes slavery illegal in Massachusetts. However, many of the southern states would never consider such a thing, and are also pressuring the northern states to assist in recapturing escaped slaves. NATIONAL ISSUES FORUMS 14 Arbitrate Disputes Where They Arise Shays’ Rebellion demonstrated that the interests of the wealthy and those of the common people can clash. Many say that the wisest judgments arise from local knowledge, and, therefore, all criminal and civil cases, whether between states or individuals, should be arbitrated at the local level. This may mean using juries of peers in some states and magistrates in others. But either way, according to this option, local and state judicial systems are the only ones capable of ensuring that courts make decisions that truly express the beliefs and values of local people. They should be free to do so. The provision in the Articles that allows the central government to arbitrate disputes between the states regarding “boundary, jurisdiction or any other causes whatever” has rarely been utilized. On the other hand, as the successful resolution of trade disputes between Virginia and Maryland at Mount Vernon demonstrated, states have the capacity to resolve their own disputes. This option also holds that we do not need a central government to regulate interstate trade. Few Americans are engaged in long-distance trade beyond their own communities or states. Each state should be free to make the decision on whether or not to intervene in the marketplace. What We Could Do Here is a summary of what this option holds ought to be done if we choose to rely on local rule. 1. Disband the Congress of the Confederation. 2. Make each state responsible for its own defense, raising armies or navies as needed. States can William Penn trading with Indians
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