The Articles of Confederation vs. the US Constitution

Subject: History
Pages: 3
Words: 865
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: College


Establishing a federal government and the United States as a sovereign country were the main goals of the Articles of Confederation. The Articles established a system of administration in which the territories held the majority of the authority. The result was a weak national authority that lacked absolute authority over international relations and taxation. Daniel Shay, a veteran colonel in the Continental Army, led a group of individuals in western Massachusetts who revolted against the state’s heavy taxation and military debt. This incident demonstrated that the national government created by the Articles of Confederation was incapable of dealing with internal uprisings because it lacked the resources and military might use it (Kuroda & Levine, 2021). The constitution was eventually created as a result of the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention’s efforts to fix the problems with the Articles. The Articles of Confederation and the U.S. Constitution were both created to protect the states and the rights of people, although they have some crucial differences.

The Purpose of the U.S. Constitution and the Articles of Confederation

The establishment of the three departments of government – executive, parliamentary, and judicial – was one of the most important developments between the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. This division of powers prevented authority from becoming centralized in one area. The legislative branch was a single entity nominated by the legislative bodies, and the Articles of Confederation did not have an executive or judicial department.

A bicameral parliament was established under the constitution, with the Senate still being chosen by state legislatures and the House of Representatives being elected by universal suffrage. In contrast to the Articles, which gave each state a single vote, the new Congress gave each member a vote. The constitution changed the terms of Representatives and Senators from one year with lifetime appointments to two years with no constitutional amendments. Members of Congress formerly had one-year conditions underneath the Articles.

Additionally, the constitution expanded the federal government’s authority over finance and taxation. The new form of government prohibited states from issuing their own minted money and gave Congress jurisdiction over trade between nations. Additionally, it gave the federal government authority to tax people. When the Articles of Confederation were drafted, campaign discourse like “Taxation without Representation” was prevalent. As a result, the Articles gave the federal government little to no authority to impose taxes; instead, it was required to ask the states for funding and had little to no means of doing so. The national government would be unable to do necessary duties, such as paying debts, without the capacity to charge. Since taxes allowed the new taxpayer to spend Congress, pay for infrastructure, and do other necessary tasks, they also expanded the federal government’s authority.

The Articles’ authority was vested in the states, but the constitution was made the supreme law of the nation after it was approved, greatly enhancing the authority of the federal government. This is essentially the critical distinction between America’s two founding documents. The Articles were perceived as being ineffectual, challenging to alter, and static. In order to adapt to the demands of a nation that was changing and developing, the constitution was designed to be a dynamic document that could be updated.

In order to guarantee democracy, build confidence between the American people and the government, and pave the path for a more efficient and comprehensive government to intervene, the Articles of Confederation were intentionally written with flaws. The Articles established a loose coalition of independent states with a meager central administration that delegated most authority to the member legislatures. Soon after, it was clear that the federal government needed to be strengthened, which finally sparked the Constitutional Convention (Edling, 2020). The Articles of Confederation were a brave attempt at adequate administration, to sum up. They collapsed, however, due to their failure to deal with the finances of peacetime, their loss of controlled rule over citizens, which fostered revolt, as well as a shoddy foreign policy apparatus.

The new system of governance safeguarded state sovereignty and rights while having a powerful central authority. Massachusetts was subject to restrictions enacted by the British as reprisal for the Boston Tea Party. The new system of governance safeguarded state sovereignty and rights while having a powerful central authority (Black, 2019). The new constitution established a chief president, judges, and taxation powers to enable a significantly more powerful executive branch. The national government established by the constitution took the place of the national government established by the Articles.


To summarize, the purpose of the U.S. Constitution was to safeguard both the people and the states. It established laws, protects rights, and stops the executive branch from violating such rights. The constitution outlined each person’s fundamental human rights and civil liberties. A nation’s government is established by its constitution, which is crucial for guaranteeing that everyone’s needs and interests are met. It established the procedure for passing legislation and describes how the government operates. The constitution took the place of the Articles of Confederation so that the United States could establish a more powerful government. It was clear that the nation required a more powerful central administration to handle various political and economic problems.


Black, E. (2019). Our constitution: The myth that binds us. Routledge.

Edling, M. M. (2020). Perfecting the Union: National and State Authority in the U.S. Constitution. Oxford University Press.

Kuroda, T., & Levine, E. L. (2021). The United States: Creating the republic. In Establishing Democracies, pp. 56-86. Routledge.