October 31, 2011
The U.S. Constitution required a lot of work before it was signed. It had to address the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation. The Constitution had to address the complaints that were in the Declaration of Independence. Then it had to make a decision on the Great Compromise. The Articles of Confederation and the Constitution had some similarities. They were both official documents of the United States. They both were laws of the United States. The difference is that the Articles had flaws that needed to be fixed. The Articles of Confederation was ratified in 1781 and in 1789 it was replaced be the Constitution of the United States (Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia). It was replaced because there was a need for a strong federal government. There were several weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation that was later addressed by the Constitution. One of the weaknesses of the Article of Confederation is that it allowed only one vote per state. Another weakness of the Article is that it didn’t give Congress power. It didn’t give them power to tax nor did it give them power to control foreign and federal trade. In the Articles there were no executive or judicial branches to pass or veto bills or acts. Also, under the Articles of Confederation there was no military to serve and protect our nation. There was no national court system under the Articles. Furthermore, in the Articles there was no common currency each state was allowed to make and issue their own paper money. The Constitution addressed these weaknesses by creating a more stabilized federal government and giving certain rights and power to the central government. While the Articles only allowed one vote per state the Constitution allow two one for the Senate and one for the House of Representative. The Constitution gave Congress power to tax and the ability to trade among the state and other countries. Also, the Constitution created an executive branch with the power of checks and balance for legislature and judiciary that allowed them to pass or veto bills or acts. Additionally, it created a federal court system and an U.S. military to help protect and serve. Not only did the Constitution address the weakness of the Articles of Confederation it also addressed the complaints of the Declaration of Independence. According to Schultz, the Declaration of Independence is a statement adopted by the Second Continental Congress declaring that the thirteen American colonies, constituted a free and independent state (Schultz 103). The major complaints in the Declaration of Independence were the complaints about King George III. One being about him and the Quartering Act, he forced unwanted soldiers in the homes of the colonists. Another complaint was he taxed the people without their consent; they called it “taxation without representation”. He stopped Britain from trading with other countries. They also complained in the Declaration of Independence that King George III would not allow them trial before a jury. Furthermore, the other complaint found in the Declaration of Independence was that the king didn’t pass laws to support the colonist. These complaints were addressed years later when the Bill of Rights came into play. The Bill of Rights, according to Schultz, is a list of “natural rights” that many Americans felt were threatened by England’s prerevolutionary laws (Schultz 118). The ones that addressed the complaints of the Declaration of Independence were I, II, III, IV, V, VI, and VII. They are as followed (I) Freedom of speech, religion, press, and petition that mean Congress can make no laws prohibiting these things (ratical.org). (II) Right to keep and bear arms (ratical.org). (III). Condition for quartering of soldiers, no soldiers can stay at your home without your consent (ratical.org). (IV). Rights of search and seizures regulated, it gives the people the right to secure persons, houses, papers, against unreasonable searches and seizures (ratical.org). (V). Provision concerning prosecution, no person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime unless a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury (ratical.org). (VI). Right to a speedy trial, witnesses, etc. (ratical.org). (VII). Right to a trial by jury, in suit at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved. The Bill of Rights addressed the complaints in the Declaration of Independence and gave us rights and freedom to do certain things. After the Constitution addressed the problems with the Articles of Confederation and the Declaration of Independence, there came another debate called the Great Compromise. According to Schultz, the Great Compromise was a plan to grant each state equal representation in the upper house (to be called the Senate) and the representation that was proportional to population (1 representative for every 30,000 people) in the lower house (the House of Representative) (Schultz 126). The Great Compromise put an end to one of the greatest arguments among the small states and the large state. The small states thought that all the states were created equal and if the Congressional representation rested on population, that they would be outvoted. The large states, on the other hand, thought that population should determine how many representatives a state should have. They were afraid, as well, because they thought they be could be outvoted by the small states. This disagreement put a halt to the signing of the Constitution. To continue on with the Constitution, the state compromised by combining the two plans that each of the states put into action. The first plan was the Virginia Plan. This plan wanted a national government that was strong and has three branches, that includes the legislature having two houses. One of the houses would be elected by the people and the other by the state legislature. As for the president and national judiciary, they would be chosen by the national legislature. The New Jersey Plan, on the other hand, wanted a more decentralized plan or a somewhat stronger government. They wanted each state to have one vote, like stated in the Articles of Confederation. Congress listened and combined the two plans to come up with what is now called the Great Compromise. Being that one, the houses are based on population and are elected by the people. The other house allowed two senators per stated being appointed by the state legislature. In conclusion, there was a lot of work that had to done before the Constitution was signed. The weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation had to be addressed. The complaints in the Declaration of Independence had to be addressed and the argument of the small state and the large states had to be settled. Once all that was taken care of, the U.S. Constitution was born; it was ratified September 1787 (Schultz 129).
Articles of Confederation. (2011). Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Ed (1), 1-2. Schultz, K. M. (2012). Hist 2 (2nd Ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning. U.S. Constitution-Bill of Rights-First 10 Amendments. (2011). Bill of Rights. Retrieved from http://www.ratical.org