The Constitution strengthened the federal government by creating an executive branch, or President, which the Articles of Confederation that had formerly governed the country lacked. The Constitution also designated certain powers to the federal government, such as the ability to levy and collect taxes from individuals and the power to raise an army. These powers had been left to the states under the Articles of Confederation, causing the government to be strapped for money and unable to put down insurrections easily, such as Shays' Rebellion of 1786-1787. Shays' Rebellion was one of the major reasons that the Framers decided that the country needed a stronger government, as it showed that the government was not able to protect the country against armed uprisings.
The Congress also became the entity that could regulate interstate commerce and make treaties with foreign powers, thereby strengthening the United States in its dealings with states and with other nations and Native American tribes. Under the Articles of Confederation, the U.S. had a weak position in foreign affairs, as the federal government did not have the power to negotiate with foreign countries. The Constitution also created a system of federal courts to ensure that laws that were passed applied to the entire country.
There are several different ways that the Constitution strengthened the national government.
- Taxes The Constitution allowed for the introduction of a tax for the national government - these are what we now call Federal Taxes.
- Army Because the national government was able to collect taxes from its citizens, this gave it the power to raise a national army. This was different from the small militias that pre-existed that national army because there was a single center of command as opposed to state- or local-centers of command.
- Distribution of Power The Constitution influenced the way that power is distributed for the USA in two different ways. Firstly, it introduced the concept of Checks and Balances - no one branch of the government can have complete power, and so the other two branches always have some sort of control that they can wield over it. However, the Constitution also ensured that the National government was considered more powerful than the individual state governments, which greatly decreased the number of conflicts between state and national governments.