Explain The Impact Of The Articles Of The Confederation On The Constitutional Convention Of 1787. How Were The Imperfections Of The Articles ‘Corrected’ With The New Constitution?

1870 words - 7 pages

The Articles of Confederation provided for the basic structure of American government from 1781. The articles bound states together, but this tie was so weak that central government was impossible. "A national government should have the ability to enforce its authority, have a clear description of where the governing powers lie, a delineated leadership, and disposition of economic and foreign affairs. The Articles themselves were drafted at the beginning of the war, but all 13 states had to sign before they could be ratified."1 At last ratified in 1781, "the articles granted a basic system providing a unicameral congress in which each state had one vote, and was itself elected by the state legislatures. As there was no conventional executive, committees oversaw weighty areas of concern. Measures of significance would require the agreement of all states."2 This essay discusses how the imperfections of the Articles of Confederation were corrected by the new constitution. In order to understand the magnitude and multitude of the deficiencies of the Articles of Confederation that led to an ineffective United States response to effective state-building, it is first necessary to examine the intricacies of the Articles themselves.Soon after the Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress drafted and approved the Articles of Confederation. The states ratified its thirteen articles, which established the name, "The United States of America,"3 and created a confederacy in which the sovereign states agreed to enter into "a firm league of friendship with each other."4 The choice of the words, "league of friendship," was intentional on the part of the founders, who did not want to produce a well-ordered, central government. In their opinion, the sovereign states were "order-centered" in themselves. 5 The intent was to form a government that starkly contrasted the tyrannical, central authority of Great Britain. The Declaration of Independence, by its very nature, formed the colonies into a nation that abandoned that tyrannical government. So, it is quite understandable that the founders were eager to avoid any great similarities to the British system, choosing instead to organize a much weaker central government.6In the Articles of Confederation, the states were considered "the soul of [the] confederation."7 Therefore, the intentionally weak, "confederal" government, run by an elected congress without strong chief executive, dealt with a very limited range of concerns common to the sovereign states.8 Relying heavily on the voluntary cooperation of the states,9 the Confederation, according to James Madison, gave each state the right to "dissolv[e] the Union altogether" if any state "breach[ed]…any of the articles of the Confederation."10 This encouraged the idea of a "league of friendship," rather than the idea of a unified "nation".The emphasis on voluntary cooperation and the right of states to dissolve the Confederation at any time were only...

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