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How did the US Constitution address the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation?

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Ways the US Constitution overcame the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation were giving Congress the power to tax, creating additional branches of government, and giving the federal government the ability to create an army.

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Generally speaking, the Articles of Confederation placed far too much power with the state governments and not enough on the federal level. (This was an especially glaring problem, given just how politically vulnerable the United States was at the time, having just emerged from the Revolutionary War.) The Framers of the Constitution perceived this original structure of government as too impractical to effectively function, and with the Constitution, they greatly increased the strength and power of the Federal Government.

Additionally, however, in retrospect, one of the critical weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation was that, as a founding document, it was an extraordinarily inflexible political system. In order to amend the Articles of Confederation, it required there be unanimous agreement among the various states before that amendment could go into effect. (In the modern age, this would mean that all 50 states would have to agree, with even one holdout short circuiting the process.)

This itself represents a critical weakness because societies change and evolve across time. Therefore, governments need to be adaptive enough to be able to evolve and change with them. The Framers of the Constitution understood this, requiring that only 3/4 of the states approve of an amendment in order for its ratification to go into effect.

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The Articles of Confederation lacked the power to tax. They could not raise money at the federal level to pay off national debts. After the American Revolution, each state sought to only pay what it regarded as its fair share; this led to chaos for the nation. The Constitution gave Congress the power to tax in Article I, thus alleviating this problem. It also gave Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce and to create a currency. This brought the states together in that they had to cooperate economically. Article I also gave the Senate the power to ratify treaties—now diplomacy was at the federal level instead of the state level.

The Articles of Confederation also only had a legislative body, whereas the Constitution has three branches of government. The Constitution provides for a bicameral legislature with the lower house's representation being based on a state's population. In the upper house, each state gets two senators. This solved the problem of creating a system fair to both large and small states. The most important part of the Constitution is that it includes the Bill of Rights, which spells out the rights of Americans. While these rights are often subject to interpretation, they were necessary to get the Constitution passed, as there were still many in America who feared the central government that the Constitution would provide.

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The Articles of Confederation were written to provide a framework that would guide the relationship between the autonomous states, since there were concerns around having a strong national government. Thus, the Articles of Confederation allowed the states to function independently. For instance, the states printed their own money, which was useless in the other states because they did not share the currency.

The arrangement set by the Articles of Confederation only seemed to help the states remain united to fend off invasions, address internal territorial issues, and deal with foreign relations. However, power remained at the state level, and the Continental Congress remained subject to the authority of the states.

The Constitution sought to address these challenges by including the judicial and executive branches of government at the federal level. The changes provided the federal government with the capacity to not only make laws but also enforce them across all the states. Although states were allowed some level of independence, they effectively became subject to the federal government. Additionally, the federal government was handed the power to collect taxes and regulate trade, which made it a stronger institution.

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The Articles of Confederation had several weaknesses. As a result, a new plan of government, the Constitution, was written to clear up the weaknesses. Under the Articles of Confederation, there were many things the federal government couldn’t do. It couldn’t tax, make trade treaties, resolve disputes between states, keep order, or pay its debts. To help solve these issues, the writers of the Constitution created a federal government with three branches. Each branch had distinct powers to carry out its responsibilities.

For example, the legislative branch, made up of the Senate and House of Representatives, had the power to make laws. This included the power to tax, to print money, and to control trade. The judicial branch, or the court system, had the power to settle disputes, including those between the states.

Additionally, the government had the ability to create an army. This army could be used to keep order at home as well as fight wars with other countries if needed. The Articles of Confederation can’t be criticized for being a weak government because it was set up to be a weak government.

However, the Constitution was much better, in part because the writers of the Constitution learned from the past mistakes that were made. They also included an amendment process to correct future problems that might arise. The Constitution was written, in part, to correct the mistakes and resolve the issues that existed in the Articles of Confederation.

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How did the Constitution increase the strength of the federal government from the Articles of Confederation?

The Constitution made a number of significant changes in the structure of the Federal government, all aimed at making the United States a single political entity rather than a "confederation" of separate states. The Constitution made it possible, for example, for the Federal government to collect taxes directly; under the Articles, taxes could only be collected by the states. The Federal government became directly responsible for the military, whereas under the Articles the Federal government had to request troops from each state. The Constitution also created the Federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court, which made the Federal government the final arbiter in disputes between states. Perhaps most important, the Constitution created the presidency, a Federal executive who was given the power to make decisions on behalf of all the states -- a single person who could be identified as the "leader" of the nation. 

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How did the Constitution increase the strength of the federal government from the Articles of Confederation?

There were many problems with the Articles of Confederation.  The national government did not have the power to levy taxes on the people.  Instead, it had to ask the states for money and hope that they complied.  The government did not have an executive branch led by a chief executive who could actually lead the country.  It did not have the power to maintain a standing military.  The states had a great deal of power over the national government and could veto its actions.  The states were practically independent and, therefore, were able to do things like engaging in trade wars with one another. All of these weaknesses were fixed by the Constitution.

The Constitution gave the federal government the power to “lay and collect taxes.”  It created a separate executive branch of the government that would be headed by a single president with relatively important powers.  It had the power to “raise and support” an army and to “provide and maintain” a navy.  The states no longer had the power to veto actions by the federal government.   The Congress had the power to regulate trade between the states, thus making the states less like independent countries and less able to engage in trade wars with one another.  In these ways, the Constitution strengthened the federal government in areas where the Articles of Confederation had left it weak.

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