The Articles of Confderation and the Constitution

The Articles of Confederation was one of the first written documents in the history of the United States. The founders of the new American nation wanted to have a written document in place that would be used to govern and have a set of laws for the new nation. This was created in the Articles of Confederation which were first created in 1776 and completed in 1777. The Articles of Confederation were ratified by the states in 1781.

The Articles of Confederation were doomed from the very beginning as it made the national government very weak. Many colonists had wanted the states to have a lot of power because they were afraid of a very strong national government they had under the British. The lack of a strong national government made the United States government very weak. There was no real manner to make foreign policy decisions and there was no method of collecting taxes. The national government could only ask permission from the states for taxes. The government could not go to war either.

In 1787 the framers of the Articles of Confederation realized that a new document would have to be created for the new nation. Fifty-five men including Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison assembled together to put together the new document called the Constitution. The Constitution set up a system of republicanism in which the people had representatives that they chose to elect the men to lead the nation. Therefore, while democracy was created, there was no direct democracy in the United States where the people themselves elect the leaders. The founding fathers were worried that the people were not educated enough to make smart decisions of elections for the nation’s leaders.

The Constitution also set up a separation of powers in the government. Three branches of government were set up including the Judiciary, Executive and Legislative branch. A bicameral legislature was set up with two houses of Congress: The House of Representatives and the Senate. A system of checks and balances was also created in which each branch of government could check the power of each other and make sure that one branch of government did not exceed its power intended by the Constitution.

One of the most effective methods that the founding fathers raised for getting the people to support the Constitution was to publicize support for it in newspapers and written media sources. This marked the birth of the Federalist papers which were in support of the Constitution. The men who wrote these articles were Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, George Washington, John Jay. The Anti-Federalist papers were also created which were meant to go against the Federalist papers and prevent the Constitution from being ratified. Patrick Henry was the main supporter of the Anti-Federalist papers. The Constitution was finally ratified after the framers of the Constitution agreed to include a Bill of Rights that protected the rights of the people.

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