Articles of Confederation

Topics: United States Constitution, United States, U.S. state Pages: 6 (2029 words) Published: September 4, 2013
Section I: Essay

The Articles of Confederation was, in a sense, the first United States constitution. It was adopted by the Continental Congress on November 15, 1777 and later ratified by all 13 original states on March 1, 1781. The Constitution later replaced the Articles when it was ratified by New Hampshire on June 21, 1788. The two documents have a lot in common, such as being established by the same people, both served to maintain a free government, both referred to the nation as the United States of America, both were the laws of the United States government, and both gave the states the power to regulate commerce, tax citizens, make laws, and provide for a common defense. However, when one looks at the details, they differ much more than they resemble each other. Comparing them can give us true insight as to what the Framers found important in 1781, and what they reconsidered and changed by 1788. The fundamental difference between the Articles and the Constitution is the fact that the Articles made no provision for the new federal government to exercise any power over the individual states, especially when it came to collecting taxes from the states, imposing laws that would apply to the states, and organizing a federal army for which the states would provide soldiers. It can be fairly concluded that the Articles of Confederation gave power to the states and the Constitution gave power to the federal government to regulate those states. This is what ultimately made the Constitution a necessity and why it is still in place today.

Some of the most major differences between these documents are their branches, the powers of the national government, the powers of the states, elections, and money. The Articles of Confederation had a unicameral government, where only Congress existed. The Constitution has three branches, which are the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. Each has a special purpose and a job. The Executive carries out the laws, the Legislative (Senate and Congress) makes the laws, and the Judicial interprets the laws. Some powers of the national government under the Articles were the ability to make war and peace, send and receive ambassadors, make treaties, borrow money, set up a monetary system, build a navy, raise an army by asking the states for troops, settle disputes among the states. Some powers of the national government under the constitution were lay and collect taxes, coin money, regulate foreign and interstate commerce, raise and maintain armed forces, declare war, grant patents and copy rights, regulate immigration, deport aliens, acquire territory, give diplomatic recognition to other states, protect nation against rebellion. As you can see, more power was given to the government under the Constitution verses the Articles. Some powers of the states under the Articles were to coin their own money, declare war, borrow money, run the post office, negotiate peace, and oversee the army and the navy. Some powers of the states under the Constitution were marriage/divorce issues, public school systems, permit and regulate forms of gambling, and licensing for practices. As you can see, more power was given to the states under the Articles verses the Constitution. The Articles biggest strength was that it set the foundation for the Constitution. It also created a stronger will in people to gain authority in government without fear of a king. It’s biggest weakness was that it gave way too much power to the states by letting them not tax and raise money through borrowing, no regulation of trade between states, no authority of force for obedience from the states, and no amendments unless all 13 states agreed. The Constitution’s biggest strength was it gave more power to the government instead of letting the state’s run themselves. It created a system of checks and balances to not allow total control of any one branch. It makes room for amendments and also looks for “the will of the people.” The...
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