List and discuss the shortcomings and advantages of the new government created under the Articles of Confederation. What ideas and sentiments underlined the design of the Articles of Confederation?...
List and discuss the shortcomings and advantages of the new government created under the Articles of Confederation. What ideas and sentiments underlined the design of the Articles of Confederation? Give specific description of the system of government created by the Articles. Why did the Founding Fathers decide to review and even replace the document? How different was the new Constitution from the Articles of Confederation? If you had been at the Convention, would you have approved the new Constitution or supported the initial Articles of Confederation? Why?
The Articles of Confederation was the United States' first constitution. It was adopted on November 15, 1777 and ratified on March 1, 1781. The first constitution was written with little sentiment towards a strong federal government. With the American Revolution still fresh in American minds, the new government was designed to prioritize states' rights over that of a centralized government. Under the Articles, the federal government was limited to signing treaties, printing money, maintaining armed forces, and arbitrating between states when disputes arose. It had no authority to levy taxes or regulate commerce.
Each of the thirteen original states had one vote in Congress. The government consisted of just one body of Congress, and there were no judicial or executive branches. For a law to be enacted, two thirds of the thirteen states (9 out of 13) had to vote for approval. The central government also had little power to raise its own revenues. It could request financial aid from any of the thirteen states, but it could not compel the states to comply.
Due to the adoption of decentralized government, states were also free to enact their own foreign policies, amass their own armies and navies, and print their own money. This resulted in little uniformity in coinage between states. A weak central government proved to be disastrous. The lack of a strong federal government made it difficult to craft responsible fiscal and foreign policies. It also made it difficult to gather a combined military force to fight wars, stem stateside rebellions, or tackle national emergencies.
Because of this, the Founding Fathers decided that a new constitution was necessary. Their collective agreement led to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, which produced the present United States Constitution (adopted on March 4, 1789). The new constitution differed greatly from the Articles of Confederation. For example, it created a new executive branch, with a president at its head, and it allowed for a new president to be elected every four years. The new constitution also allowed the creation of a bicameral legislature, with two house of Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Each state was represented by two senators, and House representatives were determined by state population. This means that larger states were apportioned a greater number of representatives in the House. The new constitution also created a court system, with a Supreme Court as the final arbiter of justice in the nation. Additionally, the power to coin money now rested on the central government; states were no longer allowed to print their own money nor amass their own armies, separate from the federal government. The states had the right to order or determine the size and leadership of their own militias, but the federal government could call on state militias to stem rebellions and fight invasions when necessary.
The authority for this can be found in Article 1 Section 8 of the new constitution: ...To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions; To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress...
So, we can see that the new United States constitution provided for a stronger central government, one that was better able to protect the country's national and global interests. It also provided for a system of checks and balances in the governing of the nation, something that was missing from the Articles of Confederation.