Created in 1777 and finally ratified on March 1, 1781, the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was the first constitution of the fledgling country of the United States of America. However, its inherent weaknesses caused the writing of a new Constitution of the United States, which was created in...
Created in 1777 and finally ratified on March 1, 1781, the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was the first constitution of the fledgling country of the United States of America. However, its inherent weaknesses caused the writing of a new Constitution of the United States, which was created in 1787 and ratified on June 21, 1788.
The Articles of Confederation went through six drafts before it was finalized. The first draft was written by Benjamin Franklin, but this bore little similarity to the final approved version. The final three drafts were written by John Dickson and revised by Congressional committees. The writing of the final draft of the US Constitution is accredited to Gouvernour Morris, one of the members of the drafting committee.
One of the main differences between the Articles of Confederation and the US Constitution was in their depictions of the federal government. Under the Articles of Confederation, the nation was governed solely by Congress. There was no executive branch comprised of the president and his cabinet and no judicial branch comprised of the federal court system—and, therefore, no system of checks and balances of power. The Constitution alleviated this oversight by delineating the three branches of the federal government that exist today.
The Articles of Confederation were also mainly concerned with establishing the sovereignty and freedom of the individual states and so did not give enough authority to the federal government. For instance, there was no provision in the Articles that allowed the federal government to raise taxes. Only state governments could tax citizens, and so the national government relied on the state governments for funding, but the state governments were often negligent in performing this duty. Additionally, under the Articles, Congress could declare war but had no power to raise a national army. The states were responsible for their own defense, and they did not always honor requests for troops from the federal government. The writers of the US Constitution corrected these weaknesses and gave more power to the federal government.
Under the Articles, there was a unicameral system of governance in Congress. This means that Congress had only one branch. The Constitution allowed for two branches of Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives. This also enabled fairer representation in government. Under the Articles, each state, regardless of population, had one vote, while under the Constitution, the number of delegates in the House of Representatives is determined by the population of the states, and each representative is given a vote.