Articles of Confederation

vs

Constitution

A long time ago in a land not so far away, lived America’s founders, ready to start a new government while fighting Britain in the Revolutionary war.

Eager to get started, the Articles of Confederation were created and presented to America on November 15, 1777, four years before the end of the war. The states fought back and forth about the laws of the new government, but it was ratified by the last state, Maryland, on March 1, 1781. Britain agreed to end the war about 7 months later and the United States was officially its own country.

With this new country, came new laws and choices that the Americans had made based on what they liked and disliked about their old British rulers. The Articles of Confederation had 1 branch, Congress, and each state had one vote towards important decisions to ensure equality, regardless of population or wealth. Congress chose 1 member to be the presiding officer. It required 9 out of the 13 states to agree on a proposal to get it passed, so nothing was ever changed in the Articles of Confederation during their use.

As you may know, the United States no longer uses the Articles of Confederation to run our national government. Why not? It sounds like a pretty solid plan, right? While the Articles gave a few key powers, like making war and peace, running post offices, establishing a navy, and settling disputes between the states, there wasn’t a whole lot the American government could do for its citizens because they couldn’t tax them. They could create a money system and ask states for money, but there was no direct income coming into the government. This was the final downfall of the Articles of Confederation.

So what’s next? Well, originally, our founding fathers just wanted to amend the government document we already had. On May 14, 1787, 55 delegates joined together in Philadelphia, PA to make the changes that were necessary. This is what is now known as the Constitutional Convention. Over the course of the 4 months that the convention was in session, all 55 men decided to scrap the Articles and start new. What came out on the last day, September 17, was the Constitution.

The country was exposed to the Constitution on September 28, 1787, when the original copies were sent out to the states. The new Constitution wasn’t ratified until almost 3 years later, on May 19, 1790. The new government would have 3 branches-the Executive branch- which houses the president and the vice president- the Judicial Branch- which holds all of the Supreme Court Justices- and finally the Legislative branch, which is the most complicated.

The Legislative branch has 2 parts-the House of Representatives and the Senate. These are the people from your state who get to vote on new laws and such. The House of Representatives is solely based on population. Small states get few votes, like Wyoming, who only has 1. Large states get a lot of votes, like California, who has 53. Then there’s the Senate, who is solely based on equality. Every state gets 2 votes.

The Constitution gave the government a bunch of new powers they didn’t have before. The Legislative branch can make laws. The Executive enforces the law and the Judiciary interprets the law. The government can now tax its citizens to use for the well-being of Americans. They can build roads, establish court, charter banks and corporations and seize private land with compensation, as well as everything else they could do with the Articles of Confederation.

In Conclusion

Founder- the person who starts something

Confederation- a league or alliance

Ratified- to confirm

Presiding officer- leader of congress-but not the president

Proposal-suggestion

Dispute- fight or argument

Tax- government demand of money from citizens for support

Delegate- someone who represents a group of people

Compensation- a reward that is equal to the sum of what that person lost

Works Cited

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Lloyd, Gordon. "The Constitutional Convention | Teaching American History." Teaching American History. Ashbrook Center, n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2016.

McClenaghan, William A., and Frank Abbott Magruder. Magruder's American Government. Needham, MA: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2004. Print.

Stearns, Junius Brutus. Washington at Constitutional Convention of 1787, Signing of U.S. Constitution. 1856. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA. Wikipeida. Web. 14 Oct. 2016.

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