Confederation and Constitution essay

Confederationand Constitution

The constitution of the United States was drafted during thePhiladelphia convection in 1787. Rules were set by the old congresswhich the new government followed in writing and ratifying a newconstitution (Ewald &amp Toler, 2011). After approval in elevenstates, the Articles of Confederation were substituted by the newlyelected government in 1789. After writing the constitution,ratification is a formal process that follows. Two distinct ideascame up in the convection. The federalists, who were the nationalistmajority, came up with the Virginia plan, which advocated for aconsolidated government formed on a proportional background to thestate’s population.

According to the Virginia, states would not receive an equal numberof votes in the congress. James Madison came up with this plan, whoseaim was to protect the interest of large states in the newgovernment. The New Jersey Plan countered the Virginia plan, whichproposed for equal representation in the congress despite thepopulation size. This was propelled by the so-called,‘Anti-federalist,’ who were troubled by the point that smallerstates would not have equal representation as the large states. Thiswas to curb the ideology of rule by the majority. However, thisantagonism was solved by the great compromise (Vickers, 2010).Compromise refers to congressional statutes that aim at solving overslavery. The argument about slavery intensified when Californiastarted the move for admission as a free union. The compromise wascomposed of five statues. New Mexico Territory and Utah territorywere created under these statutes. Both statues were left to theoccupants to decide either to join the Free State or the slave state.A third statue allowed California to join the Free State and fourthstatues prohibited bringing of slaves into the district. The fifthstatue established a slave law. Compromise used the idea of atwo-house legislature to solve the antagonism between Federalist andAnti-federalist. It advocated for two houses one represented by twosenators, and the other house would be distributed according to eachstate’s population. In addition to this, there was a three –fifthclause which stated a slave would be counted as three-fifth of personwhen counting the house population.

The process of ratification was supported by the Federalist andopposed were the Anti-Federalist. According to Federalist, a bill ofrights was not necessary for the constitution, as it would limit therights of individuals rather than protecting the individuals. TheFederalist wanted to ratify the bill led by Hamilton and Madison(Ewald &amp Toler, 2011). The following quote from Madison, who wasa Federalist, was used support their stand, ‘every individual wholoves peace, his country and liberty should have it ever before hiseyes.’ In the approval debate, the Anti-Federalist opposed theconstitution. They criticized the constitution for failing to protectthe rights of individuals. Their bases in opposing the constitutionwere not united a fraction of the Anti-Federalist rejected theconstitution on the ground that the new government would portrayfeatures of the despotism of the Great Britain they had struggled toremove. Others argued that the constitution affected the sovereigntyof states while others feared that their personal liberties werethreatened. Though the Anti-Federalist did curb the adoption of theconstitution, their efforts led to the creation and implementation ofthe Bill of Rights. Surprisingly, the Bill of Rights was presented byJames Madison who was a federalist, to the congress despite hisformer stand. At least nine of the thirteen states had to ratify theconstitution for it to be effective. Many of the states approved theconstitution but called for amendments.

The Articles of Confederation was the first to function in the UnitedStates after Maryland ratified it. The Articles were replaced by theConstitution after being ratified by New Hampshire. Though thesedocuments resemble each other, they differ in content more than theyresemble. Explained below is a comparison between the constitutionand the Articles (Ginsburg, 2012). The Articles gave limited power tothe central government by creation of a loose confederation ofsovereign states. Each state had a single vote in the congressregardless of its population size. According to the Articles, thehouse would be a unicameral legislature, and it did not have eitheran executive or a distinct judiciary. In contrast, the Constitutionthe government had a judiciary, executive, and legislature. Thelegislation would also be bicameral is made of House ofRepresentatives and Senate. The congress would solve disputes becausethere was no judicial system. Articles did not give the congressmandate to levy the tax, control interstate commerce and enforcelaws. Unlike in the Articles, the Constitution gave power to thecongress to collect taxes and regulate trade. The states limited thenational government power, with an aim of avoiding a monarchical formof government. In the attempt to control monarchy, the states createda government which lacked the authority to govern effectively and ledto both national and international problems. A major weakness in theArticles was the inefficiency to control trade and collect taxes.States had the authority to control all their cash flow (Tushnet etal, 2015). They refused to give the national government the fundsit needed due to debts, thus, the national government was not able topay the debts it gained during the revolution. The government waseven unable to pay soldiers fought the war and other citizens whoavailed supplies to the cause. In the constitution, the nationalgovernment was given power led by a democratically elected president.He would serve for four years. Delegates had the aim to build agovernment for the people.

The bill of rights debates expresses to antagonistic sides. The twoparties are the federalist and the anti-federalist. The federalistsargue on the platform that a bill of rights would cattail individualliberty and thus oppose the bill of rights (Vickers, 2010). Madisonstates that the bill would only provide an illusion of protectionagainst tyranny. The Anti-federalist believed that a bill of rightswould protect individual rights and freedom. Later the federalistagreed on the development of a bill of rights propelled by Madison.He made amendments on the proposed bill of right so as to achieve abalance between state and national interest. Limits are put tomonitor the national government control specific civil liberties andrights. Those also accused of a crime are protected by the bill. Anamendment was done which gave power to the states.

In conclusion, Articles of Confederation helped the United Statesestablish roots. Some of the ideas in Articles were strong and wereapplied in the constitution. For example, the Bill of Rights wasderived from the articles. The United States government was able tolearn from the Articles mistakes and make up for them. Such mistakesincluded having a weak central government. In generally the UnitedStates have joined hands and worked in unison to build a better,strong and reliable government for the people, making changes as timegoes by.


Ewald, W., &amp Toler, L. U. (2011). Early Drafts of theUS Constitution. The PennsylvaniaMagazine of History andBiography, 135(3), 227-238.

Ginsburg, D. H. (2012). Remarks upon Receiving the Lifetime ServiceAward of the Georgetown Federalist Society Chapter-GeorgetownUniversity Law Center, April 26, 2011. Geo. JL &amp Pub. Pol`y,10, 1.

Tushnet, M. V., Levinson, S., &amp Graber, M. A. (Eds.). (2015). TheOxford Handbook of the US Constitution. Oxford University Press,USA.

Vickers, J. (2010). A two-way street: Federalism and women’spolitics in Canada and the United States. Publius: The Journal ofFederalism, 40(3), 412-435.