Articles of Confederation vs. Constitution of 1787


Disagreements among the political elites and the ruling forces of the US after the Civil War led to the emergence of new legislative documents establishing renewed regimes of power. In particular, the Articles of Confederations were replaced by the new Constitution of 1787, which was a new period in the development of American society. The civil positions of various stakeholders differed, and all the events that entailed fundamental changes in the structure of the country’s power were the result of global political amendments.

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In order to assess the degree and nature of these shifts, the Articles of Confederations and the new Constitution of 1787 will be compared, and the positions of the key movements of that time will be examined. The analysis of the authority may provide an opportunity to determine the nature of events that became prerequisites for changes, as well as the outcomes of those decisions taken at the highest political level.

Main body

The development and formation of American statehood largely began after the ratification of the Articles of Confederation. This set of acts legalized the creation of an independent republican state – the United States of America. However, until the war of liberation against England ended, the articles were not ratified by most of the states, which made it difficult to implement official provisions (“Comparing the Articles and the Constitution,” 2018).

The alliance among the former colonies was certainly a new step towards the development of society. Nevertheless, over the course of several years of life under the conditions of the new government, the Articles did not justify the hopes placed on them, and problems in the country continued. In particular, the slave oppression and pushing of indigenous peoples to the West led to the dissatisfaction of many citizens with the existing order.

Under the influence of the recent change of power, in 1787, at a secret meeting of the highest representatives of the government, a new constitution was adopted (“Comparing the Articles and the Constitution,” 2018). The elaborated set of rules reflected the views of the most conservative part of the American ruling elite. The Constitution of 1787 did not eliminate the political autonomy of the states, but it opposed it to a strong central authority.

The confederation became a federation, and the separation of powers ​​proclaimed by Locke and developed by Montesquieu has proclaimed the fundamental principle of the state structure (“Comparing the Articles and the Constitution,” 2018). A political theory saw this measure as a guarantee against the arbitrariness of the authorities since one branch held back the other one. In these theses, the superiority of the new set of rules over the previous Articles was observed.

The Great Compromise

When discussing the drafting of the Constitution, the Convention was stumped on the issue of the equal representation of states in the upper Congress house. An ad hoc committee was created to work out a potentially helpful solution. A compromise was reached because all delegates recognized the need to create a strong state power. The agreement was called the Great Compromise and was proposed by Roger Sherman (Sirico, 2018). Its essence was that all the states sent two deputies elected by the local legislators to the Senate, and each senator received the right to vote independently. Thus, the compromise secured the guarantees of small states, which made it possible to proceed to a more calm discussion of the drafting of the Constitution.

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At the first Congress, the question of the future fate of slavery was acute. As a result, it was decided to preserve slavery for the next twenty years so that future generations would decide this issue (Sirico, 2018). Thus, insufficiently effective measures were taken to create a democratic society, but positive changes began. The desire to reconcile western and eastern states and reach a consensus allowed developing the drafting of the Constitution and achieving recognition of the new set of laws.

The Federalists vs. the Anti-Federalists

The discussions of Federalists and Anti-Federalists had a direct impact on the social and political climate during the ratification of the federal Constitution of 1787. The supporters of the Constitution (Federalists) organized demonstrations, spoke at meetings and in the press, advocating for its ratification (Cornell, 2016). The most active roles were played by J. Madison, J. Jay, and A. Hamilton. Their opponents were Anti-Federalists, and one of the leaders was John Hancock. They did not have such a developed political platform as their supporters. However, Anti-Federalists did everything possible to rally forces, opposing the ratification of the new set of laws.

Sharp discussions unfolded at the conventions of Massachusetts and North Carolina where planters teamed up with farmers and overthrew the supporters of the Constitution. In the course of this struggle, the Bill of Rights was adopted, and this measure was of fundamental importance since this set of rules included amendments containing the constitutional guarantees of bourgeois freedoms (Cornell, 2016). All these events led to the formation of a relatively unified attitude toward statehood and the form of government in the United States.


The comparison and analysis of the US political elite’s motives regarding the adoption of a new Constitution allow determining the nature of those events and the general ideas supported by leaders. The division into opposition camps was a significant factor that influenced the formation of American statehood. Different leaders’ political motives were caused by contradictions concerning the internal structure of the country, and the result of work helped to form a relatively uniform legislative order.


Comparing the Articles and the Constitution. (2018). Web.

Cornell, S. (2016). Constitutional meaning and semantic instability: Federalists and Anti-Federalists on the nature of constitutional language. American Journal of Legal History, 56(1), 21-28.

Sirico, L. J. (2018). How law employs historical narratives: The Great Compromise as an example. Pepperdine Law Review, 2017(1), 65-100.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Articles of Confederation vs. Constitution of 1787." May 4, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Articles of Confederation vs. Constitution of 1787'. 4 May.

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