The Articles of Confederation Essay

The Articles of Confederation helped to establish the individual colonies during the founding of the American nation into a confederation of states - The Articles of Confederation Essay introduction. Unfortunately inadequacies in the articles relating to the power of the central government and that of the individual states created problems that lead to a need for a reevaluation leading to the creation of the U.S. Constitution. The basic premise behind the articles was the establishment of a union of states that was united by common desire to be free and stay independent of any sort of foreign control while still keeping a level of individuality for the states involved. As such it also provided for the creation of a central government that was suppose to represent the individual stats in matters of foreign relations as well as war.

The end result was that the Articles of Confederation allowed too much power to be vested into the individual states and not enough to the central government. In effect the central government was not able to effectively pass laws or collect taxes if all the states didn’t approve as states in one do the tenets of the articles. The basis of compromise is that while everyone may not get exactly what they want they will still be able to get something. Using this statement in comparison to the articles if one of the original thirteen states did not like a law that would benefit the other states while only slightly benefiting theirs they could vote against the law going into effect effectively denying the other states from benefiting from it. This shows a flaw in the articles wherein even if something could benefit the other states if one loses out then effectively everyone loses out since this state would not approve of something that’s detrimental to it even if the other state would improve because of it.

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Due to the fact that Congress did not have the direct power to collect taxes it could only ask the states for funds with no means whatsoever to coerce the states to make payments. Not only that but Congress had no authority to raise an army of its own and had to request troops from the individual states. In summary, when it came to nearly every major issue in relation to governing the union of states such as issues of war, peace, tax collection and treaties the central government required the approval of nine states effectively slowing down the governmental process or even stopping it completely. Such limitations placed on the central government was due to the fact that America which had recently separated itself from British rule were wary of executive power lest they wind up in the same situation they rebelled against. Unfortunately this led to the union of states having no effective leadership whatsoever which resulted in the colonies not being able to operate effectively as nation at all.

The principals of constitutionalism on the other hand espoused a method of government that gave more power to the central government yet created a system of limitations that kept it in check. Its basics tenets were: popular sovereignty which meant that the ultimate power over the decisions involving the union of states rested with the people. The second tenet was the creation of system of checks and balances wherein no branch of the government could overpower the branches. The third tenet Federalism was the sharing of power between the individual states and national government. This was the basis for the creation of the current system of governors, mayors, state courts etc that manage their own individual state affairs while being under the national government. The fourth tenet was the limitation of the power of the government by restricting it to operate only within the framework of established laws and the constitution.

Such a system was put into place to ease the minds of constituents who feared too much power being vested into the executive branch of the government. The last tenet was the separation of the different branches of the government into the judicial, executive and legislative branches. This was done in order to separate the powers and duties of the central government. Comparing the principals of constitutionalism with the articles of confederation it can be said that constitutionalism created a system that vested more power into the central government while at the same time made sure that too much power wasn’t vested into one particular aspect of the system. This is actually similar to the purpose of the articles of confederation that was designed to ensure that too much power wasn’t vested in the central government however instead of a system that disempowered the central government and gave more power to the states the central government had more power yet was limited by a more constraining system.

List of References

“Confederation, Articles of.” Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition (2009): 1-2. Academic Search

                    Premier. EBSCO. Web. 16 May 2010.


                    OF THE CONSTITUTION.” Harvard Law Review 52.4 (1939): 709-711. Academic Search

                   Premier. EBSCO. Web. 16 May 2010.

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