By Paul Starr
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Additional resources for Freedom's Power: The History and Promise of Liberalism
There was no judiciary, except that Congress had authority to establish admiralty courts and to arbitrate disputes among the states. There was no authority to regulate commerce or to prevent the states from issuing their own paper money. The chief powers of the Confederation were to manage foreign policy, make war and peace, borrow money, regulate coinage, establish a post office, and determine weights and measures. But even this list is an exaggeration. For while the Confederation had authority to wage war and control foreign affairs, the Articles did not provide it with adequate supporting powers.
11 Although the American Revolution had more profound social and ideological ramifications than the Revolution of 1688, the two upheavals were fundamentally similar in one respect. Both gave rise to powerful states in an ideological climate that was deeply suspicious of state power. That climate affected not only the opponents of stronger political authority but even its architects. The Americans of the Revolutionary era were not eager state-builders; they came to the task reluctantly, and it was partly their reluctance that led them to invent new ways of organizing and thinking about government.
Furthermore, instead of leaving the uses of revenue open-ended, it began making appropriations for specific purposes, and to ensure that William would need Parliament to meet annually, it declined to appropriate funds for the military for more than a year at a time. These actions were the practical basis on which a limited, constitutional monarchy was established. But limitations on monarchical prerogative did not necessarily mean a small or weak state. Besides the split between Whigs and Tories, there was a second axis of conflict in British politics, setting the “Court,” that is, members allied with the government at a given time, against the “Country,” consisting of those not only out of power but typically suspicious of it.