The Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation in 1777, but ratification of the Articles of Confederation by all thirteen states did not occur until 1781. “The Articles did not create a national government, but rather “a firm league of friendship” among sovereign states” ( Keene, Cornell, & O’Donnell, 2013 p. 121). Congress hastily put together the Articles of Confederation leaving out details. It created a weak government. There was no executive to enforce the laws, no power to tax, no ability to raise revenue, and no right to engage in military action. All of these actions, including conducting diplomacy was at the mercy of the states. Without any of these powers, none of the nation’s economic problems or diplomatic issues could be resolved. This also put the Confederation at risk for rebellion, or trouble from foreign enemies. This would be due to lack of any military defense. Not being able to collect any revenue, left states in an economic bind. After all, most people will not do, what they are not required to do!

These forestated problems are what led to the movement for reform of the Articles of Confederation. If America were to survive, a new model of government to promote the common good, and protect individual liberty, had to be established. Nationalist created the Federal Constitution, which created a system that depended on checks and balances to protect liberty. Over four years, representatives from different states met to discuss economic matters. In 1787, delegates from 12 of 13 states gathered in Philadelphia to reform the Articles of Confederation. Several areas had to be addressed to form the Constitution. The structure of the legislature, taxation, judicial power and executive power were the basis for the design.

The differences between the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution are numerous, so I’ll concentrate on a few. The legislative structure of the Articles of Confederation included a single house with one state, equaling one vote. In the Constitution, there were two houses, one determined by population, and the upper house having equal state representation. The Articles of Confederation did not have the power to tax, the Constitution did. The Articles of Confederation had no judicial power apart from courts to hear admirality cases, the Constitution had Federal judiciary power. The Articles of Confederation had no permanent executive, but a committee of the states to exercise executive functions when Congress was not in session. The Constitution had an executive, chosen by electors, chosen by state legislators ( Keene, Cornell, & O’Donnell, 2013 p. 147).

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I believe the Articles of Confederation were drafted so ineffectively due to America’s experience with British government taxation and Great Britain’s strong arming them. I believe the Constitution effectively created power to accomplish everything the Articles of Confederation could not. The Constitution made the government more effective!

Editors,H. (2009, October 27). Constitution. Retrieved from…

Editors, H. (2009, October 27). Articles of Confederation. Retrieved from…

Keene, J. D., Cornell, S., & O’Donnell, E. T. (2013). Visions of America. A History of the United States (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

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