Confederation and the Constitution - Essay Example

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The United States is a nation that has been operating under two constitutions in the recent past. The articles of confederation were the first documented that was formulated. This document took effect on March 1st, 1781. Maryland ratified this document. The constitution was the second document that followed suit. The constitution was enacted to replace the articles of confederation. It was approved on June, 21st 1788. These two documents contain a lot of similarities and dissimilarities.

These two documents have a lot in common since they were reputable by the very people who are up-to-date argued to have been the particular individuals. On the other hand, these two documents as well differ to a very great extent. According to McLaughlin (1905), the two documents do not bear resemblance when looked into in details. The constitution and the articles of confederation are similar in that the country set up that was in the document was expected to be democratic. Also, the two official papers did not provide for the monarchy. Equally, they do not have a provision for an aristocracy to be formed. Granting or creating a title of nobility is highly forbidden by all means.

There are some differences between the article of confederation and the constitution. Firstly, the article of confederation highlights that states are sovereign whereas the constitution says that the citizens of a realm are sovereign and that means sovereignty exercised is equally shared among the corresponding states as well as the chief government. Secondly, while the constitution has an executive that is independent, the article of confederation does not provide for an executive that is independent. All the laws in the article of confederation are imposed through the state courts, and hence the federal courts are not there. This meant no taxing power was delegated to the congress tax. The constitution, however, has provided for private federal courts which have the authority to resolve disputes among the states and the Congress that has the power to impose duties as well collect taxes. The article of confederation defines the Congress power exercised over the interstate or foreign commerce and also arrays congress as an individual entity, and each state has a single vote. According to the constitution, the power granted to the Congress enables it to regulate commerce in the states as well as at international level (Scott, 1917). Also, the Congress consists of two bodies whereby the people available are of the population and two senators from every state.

Any amendment according to the article of confederation could be approved only by all the states. The Congress thought had particular and certain powers delegated to it. The state government was the only one that was directly connected to the people. Amendments according to the constitution could be approved if there was a support from the states. The Congress too had particulate and well-stated powers. Additionally, in the constitution, both the central government and the state can directly act on the citizens.

The article of the federation document did not lack its shortcomings and strengths. However, the motive why it was substituted by the constitution is a clear indication its shortcomings overweighed the high points. Some of the strengths it had included the fact being it were the first that was formulated in the direction of realizing new nation and government. It was a secure channel that was in line to defend a centralized liberty and adoption of freedom as a guiding norm. The articles were profound to safeguarding that a dictator government can never get into power because it offers each state as a checkpoint of the national government.

The strengths were however not good enough since they left other areas that required more amendments and this led to forming of a confederation of the state that was loose. The articles were short of coherence and a vision that could enrich a better central authority. Effectively centralized power was not able to be achieved since the articles steered to the formation of veto powers in the state. Payment of the state's debts which were acquired during the world-shattering war became impossible. This was because collecting the taxes was not possible. The state could not be able to protect itself from threats from the foreigners because the state's consent was binding. The state's rights appeared to be of more importance than the rights of the national government. There was an economic crisis as a result of these articles because each state had the freedom to have their own printed currency. This affected the strength and diminished the national economy (Graebner, Burns, & Siracusa, 2011). When the articles failed to put to an end shay rebellion due to a shortage of clear response, they were called for a revision. This called for the United States Constitution to be drafted.

America apprehended there was a necessity for a new article after undergoing the predicaments set by articles of confederation. A new article that will centralize most of the powers and accord them to the national government, the article was called the federal constitution. In 1787, a group of state leaders converged at Philadelphia to revise the article of the federation. The team however made up their minds to write a new constitution. The new government according to the leaders would be made up of three arms; the executive, judiciary, and the two legislative houses. As much as they had some differences, they reached a consensus that one of the divisions of the house representation will be by population and the Senate will require two people from every state. This came up due to the disagreements between William Peterson and Edmund Randolph proposals. After a hot debate, it was agreed that the legislature ought to be two-house. One house will be accorded equal representatives while the other house is based on the population.

The federalists consisted of a group of leaders and American politicians led by Alexander Hamilton wholly supported the constitution. They took a step to convince the nation to ratification of the document. The anti-Federalists, on the contrary, opposed the constitution. They claimed that it would not safeguard the individual's right and that it was a threat to liberty (Beeman, Botein, Carter, 1987). According to them, a stronger government was a threat to the sovereignty of the states. Their aim was towards seeing the bill of rights implemented.

The bill of rights indeed plays a significant role that brings a balance in national and states interests. It is through the bill of rights that the citizens of US can be able to apply petitions or protest just in case the federal regime goes past its legally accorded power. In case the national government misuses its power the assembly should alarm the citizens. Thus, the bill of rights functions as a degree through which the state-run checks the federal administration through guarding the citizens.


Beeman, R. R., Botein, S., & Carter, E. C. (Eds.). (1987). Beyond confederation: Origins of the Constitution and American national identity. UNC Press Books.

Graebner, N. A., Burns, R. D., & Siracusa, J. M. (2011). Foreign affairs and the founding fathers: from Confederation to constitution, 1776-1787. ABC-CLIO.

Scott, J. B. (Ed.). (1917). The Declaration of Independence; the Articles of Confederation; the Constitution of the United States. Oxford University Press.

McLaughlin, A. C. (1905). The Confederation and the Constitution, 1783-1789 (Vol. 10). Harper & Bros..

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