There aren’t many parallels between the US Constitution and the Articles of Confederation, considering that the former was written and adopted to address the latter’s shortcomings. The document does, however, retain a few elements from its predecessor.
There was no United States as a nation when America won the Revolution. Rather than colonies, the independent states were now independent nations. To keep the autonomous colonies together, a treaty was required. The Articles of Confederation fulfilled the objective of establishing America’s first government by being drawn up in 1777 and ratified by the thirteen states in 1781. The Articles included several provisions that would aid in the creation of a new nation.
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Because the Continental Congress had little authority under the Articles, it could not create a federal judicial branch or use the army or federal police to enforce legislation. Because the Articles could not resolve the rivalry among the thirteen states, they were replaced by the Constitution in 1787 because of a need for an effective and strong national government.
The New Jersey Plan called for greater state autonomy. As a result, Roger Sherman and a few other delegates proposed the Connecticut Compromise, also known as the Great Compromise, which recommended splitting Congress into two chambers: the House of Representatives and Senate.
The plan, which Congress accepted in January, called for the number of representatives in the House to be determined according to each state’s population. The Senate is responsible for foreign policymaking and ratifying treaties under the proposal.
Example 2 – What does the Articles of Confederation and the US Constitution have in common?
Since the start of the American Revolution and the nation’s drive towards autonomy from Great Britain, individual states have desired to establish a centralized government and develop a comprehensive set of regulations and laws to regulate interstate interactions.
Several attempts were made to produce a document that would establish a centralized government after signing the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. A committee headed by John Dickinson – who had formerly served as president of Delaware and Pennsylvania – presented the document to Congress on July 12, 1776. The articles became known as the “Articles of Confederation” because they were ratified in 1781.
The letters requested that all states “form a firm league of friendship” for their common defense, security of their rights, and general welfare. However, the negative experience with the colonial period and fears about a centralized authoritarian government prevented an immediate consensus on a generally adopted and supported conclusion.
The United States Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation (AOC) in 1788. It granted several authorities to the Congress, owing to disputes between states and a weak government.
The articles of Confederation provided the Founding Fathers of the Constitution with a framework. In reality, when creating the Constitution, all participants were concerned with:
- The need for a national government that is centralized and empowered;
- The need for tax revenue to pay the government’s bills;
- The need of having a checks and balance system;
- The document requires to be amendable and modified as necessary.
The most significant issues encountered while drafting the AOC include:
- People don’t want a totalitarian and authoritarian government any more than they enjoy the traditional American nightmare: a tyrannical police state.
- The inability for any single state or group of states to write an effective set of laws to govern the actions and interactions among nations;
- The Congress’ power has been limited;
- In the past, debates have centered on whether or not members of a particular industry should be classified as “entities” rather than people.
- The inability to find agreements with respect to the control of the commerce.
On the other hand, Confederates recognized that a centralized and unified government was necessary to finish the process of independence from Great Britain.
The Congress was given some authorities under the Articles, but each of the states’ sovereignty, freedom, and independence were maintained. According to the AOC, however, the Congress has this authority:
- Had foreign policy and diplomatic responsibilities;
- The ability to approve treaties and form coalitions;
- They also have the ability to print and coin money.
- Had the ability to establish a postal service;
- Had the power to request states to pay taxes – although it could not levy taxes;
- Could declare war;
- To have the power to act as a last resort in appeal of state-to-state quarrels
- Had the authority to run military – although troops had to come from states;
- The jurisdiction of these attorneys ranged from Native American matters to international affairs.
- Could establish admiralty courts.
However, as the states remained autonomous and independent, the Congress was subject to a number of limitations. For example, according to the AOC:
- Taxes were not collected;
- The legislature has the ability to regulate commerce, but it does not have the power to restrict the movement of people or goods. Every citizen of every state was entitled to the privileges and immunities of free citizens;
- The US constitution neglected to mention the judicial and legislative branches.
- Had no system of Federal Courts;
- Would not be capable of handling inter-state conflicts on its own;
- They did not have sources of income – as contributions depended entirely on the states.
Furthermore, the decision-making process (of any type) and the articles’ amendment posed several challenges. In fact, the Congress needed the assent of 9/13 states to decide on the regulation of coinage, the entrance into treaties, etc., while other decisions required a majority. To amend any of the AOC, all thirteen states had to agree.
As the Congress was formed only by one chamber and the delegates were picked by state legislatures, each state had just one vote – regardless of size or financial support is given to the central government.
The Articles of Confederation and the United States Constitution have several parallels, although they do contain significant differences. To begin with, these two were created by the same individuals who had conflicting views. They have been regarded as the formal government of the United States for a long time because they served as the rules to be followed.
The United States of America has been identified in both pieces. In both, the legislature creates legislation, with the articles of confederation having only one house known as Congress and the constitution having two houses. Congress is made up of two separate bodies: the Senate and House of Representatives.
The Articles of Confederation, which governed the United States from 1781 to 1789, has been called “the most important piece of legislation in American history” by its creator. The members who compose each article vary between two and seven per each state, and two senators per state represent the constitution, but it is decided based on the population of each state. In the articles of confederation, one vote per state was stated, while one vote per representative was stated in the constitution.
In the constitution, members are to be elected by popular vote in accordance with the procedure for selecting representatives. Members are chosen in the confederation articles by state legislatures.
The legislative office is meant for representatives to serve two years and six years for senators in the constitution. The term is one year in articles of confederation. The legislative office has a limit of no more than three years out of six in the articles of confederation, but there is no such restriction in the constitution.
The United States’ Articles of Confederation do not mention any executive, despite the Constitution establishing the president as such. The changes to legislation will be made via the consent of all states in the Articles of Confederation, but by three-quarters of all states in accordance with the Constitution.
A confederation was a step toward establishing a new constitution since it contained more flaws than benefits. One of its assets was that it made significant efforts to bring the states together and develop a powerful legislature.
Many people welcomed this since they had a chance to influence government policy. The colonists also discussed the idea of a land ordinance to establish new states and pay off the national debt in the article. Its major shortcoming was that it did not give power to the federal government, which is why it was considered insufficient.
The federal government in the Articles of Confederation had no power to control trade or taxes. The constitution provided some strength, giving the federal government authority over taxation, military organization, a common currency, and leadership coordination.
Even though the US constitution is sturdy, it has critics. Many people consider this document to be un-democratic because of its proposal for indirect presidential elections and jumbled senatorial elections. Its most significant benefit is that it has remained successful and unchanged, serving as the basis of US law.
Finally, the constitution placed the federation’s articles in terms of strength exceeding limitation, unlike the article that had far more limitations than advantages.
After the American Continental Congress wrote the Declaration of Independence, a similar group produced another critical document in American history and politics known as the Articles of Confederation. In 1777, the Articles of Confederation were drawn up as America’s first constitution, establishing a “firm league of friendship” among the thirteen states (Archiving Early America).
The Articles of Confederation, on the other hand, were meant to solve the problem of a “powerful central government” that might use its powers arbitrarily. They called for the formation of a “constitution” that gave the greatest amount of power to individual state governments. The structure of the government under the Articles of Confederation allows each state to preserve its freedom, independence, and sovereignty while also having representation in Congress or America’s national legislature.
The Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1787 to reconsider and modify the Articles of Confederation. These individuals eventually signed the Constitution in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787, following the convention’s conclusion. This initiative results from the Constitutional Convention’s efforts to assuage American citizens’ concerns with the articles and how a strong central government was beneficial for America (Library of Congress, 2008).
Furthermore, the ratification and implementation of the new Constitution resulted in forming a new Federal government that was considered identical to today’s administration. However, it’s fascinating to consider why the sudden shift occurred and what factors influenced it when looking back at the Articles of Confederation’s gradual decline in power and authority.
What were the difficulties and issues that led to the decline of the Articles of Confederation? What modifications were made to the US Constitution in order for it to be more beneficial to American society?
The two most vital documents in the United States have many parallels and distinctions. The Articles and the Constitution are visibly similar in that they put out a lot of effort to meet the demands of their constituencies. Although the Articles were only enacted for a short time, they were still regarded as essential, mainly because of their inclusion that sovereignty resides primarily with each state.
In the same way, the Constitution appears to cover the demands of those people for whom it was intended and is still applicable until today. Despite their similarities, there are numerous variations between the two documents, particularly when you consider that they were written with such distinctiveness from each other.
The Articles of Confederation also had a weak federal government structure. In the early history of the United States, the Articles were not regarded as viable because they did not provide for an executive branch or a court system (Feldmeth, 1998). This unicameral legislative body is thought to be made up of Congress.
The division of the government into three branches, which is laid out in the Constitution, can be summarized as follows: The executive branch is headed by the President, who serves as “checks and balances” to protect the power of the legislative and judicial branches.
Furthermore, the legislative branch established a bicameral Congress with the Senate and House of Representatives operating concurrently. The structural modifications in the government’s structure have major implications and outcomes for the administration’s policy decisions and priorities in addressing problems and national interests.
The existence of a belligerent state or a declaration of war has been changed. The Articles and the Constitution have several differences in dealing with conflict, as shown by this example: In times of peace, the President may be replaced if they are incapacitated. Under Article VI, no vessel or ship-of war can be kept by any country in times of peace except for a designated number needed to guarantee the safety of every sovereign nation (Archiving Early America, 2008).
Furthermore, the essay states that no state should start any type of war or armed conflict without first obtaining the consent and approval of Congress. The Congress is also tasked with determining whether or not to go to war and how to conduct international relations.
Taking on this significant responsibility for members of Congress, it is clear that the Articles will fail since its provisions consider the function of Congress to be crucial while restricting its power to actualize its intended role because sovereignty rests with individual states. This is also why some experts believe the Articles are weak in terms of asserting government authority and power (Feldmeth, 1998).
HOWEVER, the US Constitution also states that the president is regarded as the commander in chief of both the Navy and the Army, with the power to negotiate treaties and agreements with advice from the Senate (Mount, 2006). Congress’ capacity to “raise and support armies,” which was abolished during the Articles of Confederation because it belonged to individual states, has been reinstated under Article III, section 2 of the US Constitution.
The firmness and resolve of the revolutionary government had shown its authority over the territories it governed and it’s capacity to protect them from internal and external dangers, which is why it was given nearly limitless powers.
A few more elements of the government architecture and provisions from the Articles of Confederation and US Constitution might be compared and analyzed. However, given the key significance of decisions made during times of peace and conflict, including national security maintenance, the Articles of Confederation is regarded as providing consideration and power over the authorities of every sovereign state enabling them to stand alone yet tolerating division.
The Federalist Papers are a collection of essays written in support of the United States Constitution. The main aim of these papers is to persuade readers that adopting this document would be in their best interests.
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