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The determined Madison had for several years insatiably studied history and political theory searching for a solution to the political and economic dilemmas he saw plaguing America The Virginians labors convinced him of the futility and weakness of confederacies of independent states Americas own government under the Articles of Confederation Madison was convinced had to be replaced In force since 1781 established as a league of friendship and a constitution for the 13 sovereign and independent states after the Revolution the articles seemed to Madison woefully inadequate With the states retaining considerable power the central government he believed had insufficient power to regulate commerce It could not tax and was generally impotent in setting commercial policy it could not effectively support a war effort It had little power to settle quarrels between states Saddled with this weak government the states were on the brink of economic disaster The evidence was overwhelming Congress was attempting to function with a depleted treasury paper money was flooding the country creating extraordinary inflation--a pound of tea in some areas could be purchased for a tidy 100 and the depressed condition of business was taking its toll on many small farmers Some of them were being thrown in jail for debt and numerous farms were being confiscated and sold for taxes In 1786 some of the farmers had fought back Led by Daniel Shays a former captain in the Continental army a group of armed men sporting evergreen twigs in their hats prevented the circuit court from sitting at Northampton MA and threatened to seize muskets stored in the arsenal at Springfield Although the insurrection was put down by state troops the incident confirmed the fears of many wealthy men that anarchy was just around the corner Embellished day after day in the press the uprising made upper-class Americans shudder as they imagined hordes of vicious outlaws descending upon innocent citizens From his idyllic Mount Vernon setting Washington wrote to
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