Confederation and Constitution

Topics: United States Constitution, United States, United States Congress Pages: 7 (1806 words) Published: February 15, 2013



Comparison between the Articles of Confederation and Constitution

The Articles of Confederation, formally known as the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, refers to an agreement between the thirteen founding states that first formed the United States of America as a confederation of sovereign states. The Articles of Confederation had served as the first U.S. constitution (Merrill, 1959). The states under the confederation were Virginia, South Carolina, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Georgia, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Delaware and Maryland. In 1787, a constitutional convention was called to revise the Articles of Confederation as they contained so many flaws, which would have fatally affected the confederation (Wendel, 1981). However, the convention ended up abandoning the Articles and drafted a new constitution which had a much stronger national government. After so much tussle and debating, eleven of the thirteen states ratified the constitution which led to the formation of a new form of government for the United States of America (Kermit, 1987). The following are similarities and differences of the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution.

Consenting of power

According to the Articles of Confederation, the legislature of each state had no specific means of choosing voters. The delegates of each state were to sign the Articles, but only do as directed by their legislature (Young, 1977). Their legislature did not provide for them to vote in such agreements thus, they only wait until instructed so. This shows that the Articles of Confederation did not provide how it could be ratified, but indirectly implied it the duty of the legislatures of the various states. This meant that the people had no direct influence over the form of national government being put in place because their representatives were not specifically elected for that purpose.The Constitution provided for conventions in the states whereby delegates are chosen by people for the purpose of considering ratification. Therefore, the Constitution had specifically addressed its ratification in Article VII (Maier, 2010). The provision that ratification by nine states were to effect it meant by passing the state legislature and going to the people for governing consent. In summary, in the Articles of Confederation, consent of power was from the state while in the constitution the power to govern came from the people to the government.

Type of National Government

Under the Articles of Confederation, the government was more of a constitutional confederacy, whereas the Constitution provided constitutional federal republic (Merrill, 1959). Under both, the government was a constitutional government because it was codified in writing. The government structure between the two, however, differed. An association of States under a common government formed the confederacy. Each member state retained its sovereignty leaving the national government with very little authority over the individual state (Young, 1977). The National government powers tilted towards foreign relations for the benefit of all the states. This meant that the National Government could not coerce individual states to do anything. The constitution provided for a federalism structure (Kermit, 1987). This ensured a more equated power sharing between the National government and the state government. The National government, therefore, had sufficient sovereignty to execute its mandate while ensuring the same for the state government.

Representation in the National Government

In the Articles of Confederation, indirect popular representation was in effect as the representatives were appointed by an elected state legislature (Wendel, 1981). On the other hand, the...
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