Patriots were filled with exuberance, curiosity, and eagerness to shape the newly independent America. Impatient to establish a new form of government, patriots formed the Articles of Confederation, which were ratified by the Continental Congress in 1777. Many people believed that the central government’s power should be limited to foreign affairs, and that states should maintain sovereignty and authority over domestic affairs.
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These basic principles created the immensely flawed and weak Articles of Confederation. Due to problems caused by this frail form of government, patriots met in Philadelphia in 1787 to start from scratch, and eventually construct The Constitution. The Constitution was a stronger more powerful form of government, that resolved many of the conflicts arising from the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation. The Constitution ensured an equivalent balance of power, well established individual rights, and an overall more vigorous government.
The Constitution guaranteed an equal distribution of power, which the Articles failed to accomplish. The Articles gave too much power to the States, and limited the role of the central government to trade, war, treaties, and etc. The Articles were a loose union in which each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence (Henretta 200). The Articles also had unicameral legislature, which gave each state a single vote, no matter the population size of the state (NCC Staff 2018). Too much power to the states resulted in inadequate management of the nation’s money, as well as undefined rights for lower class citizens. To fix all of these issues, The Constitution came up with The Great Compromise: which consisted of a bicameral legislature, a House of Representatives based on state populations, and a Senate with equal number of representatives from each state (Henretta 205). This allowed for two houses that were responsive to both the people’s needs, and the needs of the nation as a whole. The Constitution also included the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. To avoid the fear of tynarry that was experienced in the past due to monarchs, The Constitution established checks and balances, and federalism. That’s how The Constitution remedied the weakness of power distribution by the Articles.
The Articles failed to define the rights of individual citizens, which The Constitution compensated for by generating the Bill of Rights in 1791. The Bill of Rights, written by James Madison, are the first ten amendments that appear on The Constitution. The Bill protected individual rights, secured the legitimacy of The Constitution, and eased fear of a tyrannical government (Henretta 216). These rights included rights of freedom of speech, separation from church and state, trial by jury, and etc. On the other hand, The Articles were weak in establishing rights for citizens. For instance, the Articles had no system of federal courts (Feldmeth 1998), which meant that citizens didn’t get a chance to be proven guilty or innocent. The Articles also led to Shays rebellion, which occured because farmers had no money, due to The Articles not securing their rights. All in all, The Constitution better safeguard the rights of citizens, which gave Americans freedom, equality, and the ability to prosper.
Lastly, The Constitution was an overall more sturdy form of government, than The Articles. The Constitution was established as the supreme law of the land, and was allowed the power to tax, raise an army, regulate foreign and interstate commerce, make laws, and etc (Henretta 207). The most important power that The Constitution had that The Articles didn’t was the power to tax. The central government needed to ask the states to tax individually, which eventually led to crisis. The Articles didn’t accomplish the enforcing of any laws, since states could simply reject them. The Articles also never came to any important agreements, since 9 out of the 13 state votes were needed, therefore no relevant decisions were ever made. The Constitution made sure that everyone was represented in the federal government, and provided the much needed equal distribution of power, which made it a more stronger government.
In conclusion, The Constitution was an amazing remedy for the weaknesses that The Articles retained. It established a much more durable form of government, so strong that it is still in use today. It eliminated unequal dispersion of power, more clearly defined individual rights, and gained the power to make, sign, and review laws. Laws and rights which define us as Americans, and ensure the protection of our natural rights. Without The Constitution, America wouldn’t be the place it is today.
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