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American Constitution and Articles of Confederation


With the victory in the Revolutionary War, the United States was not yet a united nation, and only thirteen colonies existed at the time. A need to establish an agreement that would hold the colonies together arose. The states/colonies realized the purpose by forming the Articles of Confederation, which was conscripted in 1777 and approved by the thirteen colonies in 1781. The provisions in the Article assisted the colonies towards the formation of a new country. However, in the Articles of Confederation, the people of the United States established the American constitution to replace it to form a strong national government. Therefore, in 1787, the newly formed government was developed, approved in 1788, and in 1789 returned the Articles with the constitution. Using the list of ‘questions to ask a constitution,’ the essay compares and contrasts the two documents.

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Similarities and Differences between the American Constitution and The Articles of Confederation

Established by the people of the United States, the constitution was formed by ordaining and setting it to create justice, promote the welfare of the people, and standard defense provision. The American constitution was framed, approved, and implemented towards securing the posterity and liberty blessings of the people. Everything was done for the people, by the people, and to the people. In contrast, the delegates of the colonies undersigned congress assembly. As mentioned, the Articles were framed on November 15, 1777, and later approved on March 1, 1781. Whereas the Articles became effective in 1781, the constitution was made effective in 1789.

One common similarity between the two documents is that both served to govern the people of the United States. The Articles were established to come with an agreement through which the thirteen colonies would form a government. By working with the deficiencies associated with the Articles, the people improved the American constitution to facilitate the formation of a powerful government. Regardless of the differences in their construction, both documents ensured the United States became one country, and both served to govern the people.

The people of America created both texts, the American constitution and the Articles of Confederation, to develop a unified and centralized government. Even with a national government in place, Article II of the Articles of Confederation, shows the intention behind the formation of the Articles was to establish independent federal governments. Each state/government had the right to retain its sovereignty and freedom. In the same capacity, the American constitution created both the national and federal governments. With both the national and federal governments in place, both texts show only the national government had and still can deal with foreign policy matters, treaties signing, and ratification. Further, in its capacity, the Articles show the Congress, constituting the legislative arm, had the power and right to regulate, fix standards, and manage every affair between the country and foreigners. With a bit of difference, the constitution shows power in the central government lies in the Congress, constituting the Senate and the House of Representatives. The latter has the mandate of, among others, choosing the speaker among other officers. These officials serve in the interest of the national government by having the power to impeach and issue Election Writs for empty positions to be filled. All these, among others, help the central government in levying taxes, regulating trade between states and their citizens, and establishing balance in governance systems.

As Article I of the American constitution shows, all legislative powers of the central government are vested in Congress. The Senate branch of Congress constitutes two Senators from each state, with the Vice-President being the president of the Senate. Like the House of Representatives, the Senate also has the power to try every impeachment. With the central government also constituting the judiciary and the executive branches, the two alongside the legislative branch have the mandate of ensuring the national government safeguards its people and governs the country’s sovereignty. In contrast, Article IX of the Articles of Confederation, the central government shows the assembled Congress, has the authority to appoint a committee, sit in congress recess, and denominate a committee of the federal states. Further, since Congress has all the power and it consists of one delegate from each state. The delegates are mandated to make and give recommendations of how the government of the U.S can operate as a sovereign entity, free from interventions by other nations.

Another similarity between the Articles and the constitution is that Congress makes the laws in both texts. In Article X of the Articles, the authority to execute powers of the Congress, the people responsible for making the laws are any nine or all thirteen delegates of the states. In the American constitution, Congress mandates ensuring laws governing the country from inside and outside threats are established. In a similar capacity, both texts allow Congress to enforce and interpret the regulations under the constitution.

In the third and fourth articles, the American constitution allows for the protection of people’s rights in the form of trials against every person that commits a crime against the federal and central governments. In Section 3 of the same Article, the United States government will not convict anyone of treason as long as two witnesses testify in favor of the convicted individual. In Article IV of the constitution, Section 2 allows all citizens to enjoy all immunities and privileges in several states. However, for any individual charged with a crime, felony, or treason in any of the thirteen states and flees from justice, he must be returned to his state of birth and charged. Unfortunately, the same rights are not afforded by the Articles of Confederation. In contrast, the tenth Article in the Articles does not give provisions to the rights of the people. However, it provides room for the right of the soil, which under different grants of at least two states, the people shall respect.

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In Article V of the constitution, the text illustrates that anytime two-thirds of Congress deems fit to propose amendments to the body, it shall become possible to amend it. Alternatively, two-thirds of the legislature from several states have the right to call for a convention to propose amendments to the constitution. Either way, any of these calls can amend part of the entire constitution. On the other hand, the Articles do not give any information concerning the change of the body.

When it comes to interpreting the constitution, the Congress in both texts has the mandate of interpreting its meaning and application. These functions are carried out by the legislatures, who are the delegates selected within the Articles or any of the two Houses representing the Congress in the constitution. Interpretation works through understanding the requirements of texts and implementing them within the states.

With the constitution being a skeleton representing both the political and constitutional systems, no other parts that are not already within the body can be authorized into it. Lastly, in the texts of the American body, there are procedures through which either the House of Representatives or the Senate can exercise the constituent power. As illustrated earlier, the process employed in constitutional system change serves to exercise constituent power. However, since the texts of the Articles of Confederation do not provide insight on how to change the constitution, the same absence exists in exercising the constituent power.


The need to develop or form a government after winning the Revolutionary War triggered the creation of the Articles of Confederation. However, due to its inefficiencies, less than a decade saw the American people from the American constitution founded on the weaknesses of the Articles. By comparing and contrasting the two texts, the essay has distinctly shown some of the similarities and differences that set the two texts apart. Among the differences illustrated is how the American Constitution’s Congress has two representatives from every state, while the delegates in the Articles of Confederation are selected as individuals per state. One notable similarity illustrated in the essay is how both texts were established to form the United States regarding its sovereignty and protecting the people.

Works Cited

Franklin, Benjamin. Articles of Confederation. [Place of publication not identified]: Booklassic. 2015. Web.

“The American Constitution”. 2012.

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