Articles of Confederation versus the Constitution

Articles of Confederation versus the Constitution

Tracing the history of the United States, it was run under two unlike constitutions namely The Articles of the Confederation, which was established in Maryland on March 1, 1781; and The Constitution, which was formulated on behalf of the articles on June 21, 1778 in New Hampshire - Articles of Confederation versus the Constitution introduction. The Articles of the Confederation and The Constitution have chief differences particularly concerning the definite powers of every state to the national government (Wildavsky).

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The Articles of Confederation was established to serve as a mechanism by which states can govern themselves under a one national government without misplacing their established sovereignty following the American Revolution. On the other hand, The Constitution is directed towards the foundation of a strong national government that is more powerful, in terms of legislation, execution, and judiciary function, than the states themselves. Such principal distinction makes the two constitutions inappropriate for application.

The Articles of Confederation states that there shall be no executive and judicial branch in the national government but only a legislative body composed of representatives from each state. The Congress, which is the legislative body, is a unicameral body that elects the president of the congress which function is to preside over congressional meetings. It declares that each state had a one vote and there shall be at least nine out of thirteen votes to pass a particular law. Also, in order to amend the constitution, all states must agree with it.

Moreover, the Articles of Confederation, as it stated earlier, declares that there is no judicial branch at the national level; court systems only applies within states because they have their own judicial bodies. In addition, the article suggests that the national government cannot raise an army. The states could only send some of their armies to constitute the national army. Likewise, the national government has no power to collect tax. It could only solicit money from the states. Finally, the national government has no control over trade routes of the states with other states and nations and that there is bill or law encompassing the human rights.

It appears then that the Article of Confederation is not really generating a constitution that would make up a unified national government. The articles are more of giving supreme power to states not really to the national government (Wildavsky). The national government then seems like a mere puppet of the local government of the states. Conversely, what is needed during those times is a constitution that would create a strong and legitimate federal government that would unify the diverse states. Thus, The Constitution is institutionalized to address the problems and inadequacy of the former constitution.

Effectively, The Constitution explicitly states that there shall be an election of president which is spearheaded by an electoral body. There shall also be a division of power among the executive branch (by the President), legislative (by a bicameral Congress), and judiciary (by the Supreme Court). There shall be a strict implementation of checks and balances among the three branches of the federal government. In legislation of laws, the two houses must pass a bill and the president shall sign it to approve its promulgation.

The federal government under the Constitution has a supreme power over the states and the individuals. Hence the federal or national government has also the power to raise army and power to control trade routes of each state with other states and nations. It has also the power to collect tax from all the states. And the Constitution has included The Bill of Rights which safeguards the different types of rights that every American citizen has.

With the articles written in The Constitution, the federal government has given the supreme and legitimate power to enact for the unification of the states of the U.S. The power is centralized thus the decision-making is formulated by the national government and distributed to the states for their implementation (Wildavsky). By the virtue of this constitution, the puppet government governed by the states is turned into a federal government that is able to pass and implement laws that is for the advantages of the whole U.S. Such is not realized in the former constitution, The Articles of Confederation.

Work Cited:

Wildavsky, Aaron B. Non-centralized versus federal systems, the Articles of Confederation      versus the Constitution. Institute of Governmental Studies, 1994.


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