The Foundations of American Nationality

By Evarts Boutell Greene | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVI
FEDERAL PROBLEMS, 1783 TO 1781

So far as the conduct of the Revolutionary War was concerned, the adoption of the Articles of Confederation seemed to make little difference. The real test came afterwards, when the states were no longer held together by the necessity of defending themselves against foreign armies. Congress could not go on indefinitely borrowing from France, creditors were pressing for the settlement of their accounts, and every department seemed to bristle with difficult, almost insoluble, problems.

The problems of peace.

In the organization of executive departments Congress made no substantial advance. The disbanding of the Revolutionary army lessened the importance of the war department and for a time there was no secretary in charge; in . 1785, however, General Henry Knox was appointed to that office. In the management of the finances, Congress actually took a step backward. In 1784 Robert Morris, disgusted with his thankless task of staving off creditors and writing futile appeals to the state governments, resigned his post as superintendent. His place was never filled, but Congress appointed instead a treasury board of three members. In foreign affairs, Congress did somewhat better. Shortly after Livingston's resignation from the secretaryship, he was succeeded by John Jay, who, fresh from his experience abroad, might fairly be called an expert diplomatist. One point which Jay insisted on was that all foreign correspondence must pass through his hands before going to Congress.

Executive departments.

John Jay.

The personnel of the Confederation Congress was stronger

-565-

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