The Articles of Confederation vs. the United States Constitution

The Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation, the first constitution of the United States, on November 15, 1777. However, ratification of the Articles of Confederation by all thirteen states did not occur until March 1, 1781. The Articles created a loose confederation of sovereign states and a weak government, leaving most of the power within the state governments. The need for a stronger Federal government soon became apparent and eventually led to the Constitutional Convention in 1787. The present United States Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation on March 4, 1789. There were a total of thirteen articles making up the Articles of Confederation.

These articles included: the preamble, style, state’s rights, mutual defense, laws of other states to be abided, the legislature, rights denied by the states, appointment of military officers, taxes, rights granted to the Federal government, committee of states, Canada joining the United states, assumption of debt, articles of Supreme law and amendment, and a conclusion. The Articles brought the colonies together as a loose confederation with the states’ rights being more important than the power of the government. Even though the government under the Articles of Confederation was very weak, it was still more democratic because it gave more rights and power to the states.

The Articles unified the states, which lacked a strong, central government. Although the Articles of Confederation had several successes, it created far more weaknesses and failures. First of all, under the Articles, there was no executive head of the government. Since there was no executive to be in charge of the nation, having a strong government was nearly impossible.

In addition to, there was no judicial system with any federal courts, so matters and problems that existed had no substantial way of getting solved. The Articles of Confederation required ratification by all thirteen states, which nearly eliminated any chance of change. The failures of the Articles had to be addressed, so a new constitution was created and drafted at the Constitutional Convention, which resolved the many failures of the Articles, and created a stronger government.

The Articles of Confederation created a more democratic government because it gave more power to the individual states and to the people, yet the nation as a whole functioned better under the Constitution. Since the Articles were the first written constitution, they held the states together. The Articles provided an example for the writing of the future Constitution and proved to be a sign in government laws. The Constitutional Convention met to change the Articles of Confederation, by creating a new constitution.

On June 21, 1788, the U.S. Constitution was ratified, specifically addressing the failures of the Articles of Confederation. The Constitution created a strong central government with a firm combination of people, unlike the loose confederation of the states, established by the Articles. An executive branch was created, and led by the President. The President is also able to choose members of the Cabinet and is in charge of the judicial and legislative branches.

A federal court system was created to deal with issues between citizens and states. The two major limits of Congress’s power under the Articles were revised in the Constitution, allowing Congress the right to collect taxes on individuals and to legalize foreign and interstate trade. Congress also had the power develop and support an army to deal with military situations. Instead of having power exist in the states, the Constitution became the supreme law of the land. The U.S. Constitution was drafted to revise the Articles, and was able to address all of the weaknesses under the previous government.

Although, the U.S. Constitution was written as a modification of the Articles of Confederation and provided for a stronger government, it was still less democratic than the Articles. The main reason why the Articles were more democratic than the Constitution was because it gave more power to the states and the people, rather than to the government. After the Constitution was created, power was taken away from the individual person. It was then put in the hands of the national government. The Founding Fathers of the Constitution did not intend to create democracy. Rather, their intent was to create a government with a system of representation. Authority was taken away from the common person, and instead, given to the government.

The Articles of Confederation combined the colonies under one government, whereas the Constitution gave power to each state individually. The colonists wanted to move away from their rule from England and their goal was to create a nation free of the rule of a strong central government. Most colonists recognized themselves as citizens of their state or colony and not the nation as a whole; therefore, states rights became an important feature of the new government. The Constitution essentially created a better government for the people of all states and the nation altogether. In general, it paved the way for a clear, coherent view on how to deal with situations and occurrences of the nation overall.