History of American Democracy
The critical period of American history was after the American Revolution when a new nation was formed. The country was confronted different predicaments, and most citizens believed the nation was on the verge of a disaster. There was a need to frame a new constitution to replace the colonial charters. Besides, the constitution would guarantee certain basic rights for its citizens. In the summer of 1787, the Constitution was written because the country’s leaders were unsatisfied with the structure created by the Articles of Confederation. The paper compares and contrasts the Constitution and the Articles of Confederation, and mentions the drafting of the Constitution. It also culminates in a debate that compares and contrasts ratification between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists.
The Constitution and Articles of Confederation
The weakness of the Articles of Confederation is based on the fact the national government was becoming weaker while states were operating like different countries because authority lacked an executive branch as well as a judicial branch for interpreted laws. That situation was opposite to the Constitution that had both an executive and a legislative branch. The Article of Confederation was also weak because it lacked the power to tax as well as the power to enforce laws. In fact, taxation was overlooked because it could not be enforced by the government. Therefore, the government could ask for money from the States and they would refuse. This explains why there was a disorganized economy that could not pay for itself. In fact, during this period, the federal government plunged into debt while the states printed large quantities of paper money to settle debts.
However, the Constitution gave power to the central government and had law enforcement strategies that made it easier to collect taxes. The other weakness is, as was stated in the Articles of Confederation, the Congress had one body whereas every state had one vote. The implication of this is that states with small populations had as much power as states with large populations. Additionally, the Congress only had specific delegated powers. For instance, they could make peace and war but could not raise its own army. This limited its ability to respond to threats. A specific instance is when the Congress could not defend America from British threats after the Revolutionary war. The Congress’ inability to protect America’s sovereignty can be attributed to the lack of a capable national army.
However, even though Articles of Confederation gave the Congress authority over foreign affairs, it was limited because the Congress could not enforce its requests for money or troops. However, the Constitution proclaimed that the Congress has two bodies. Besides, the number in the House was a function of the population whereas every state had two senators. Moreover, the Congress had both specific and implied powers. The similarities between the US Constitution of 1787 and the Articles of Confederation is that both had a legislative branch and were federal US documents. Moreover, both could establish an army or declare war with other countries, and these were some of the strengths of both documents.
Drafting of the Constitution
The process of drafting the constitution was after the Constitutional Convention that commenced on May 25, 1787. However, before drafting the constitution, various states were considering their own interests and many disputes arose. An example is the dispute between Virginia and Maryland over Potomac River. However, in the constitutional convention, delegates from southern and northern states came to a consensus on whether slaves would be counted in determining the total population of a state. The agreement was known as the Three-Fifths Compromise. Similarly, in the proceeding, delegates agreed on the establishment of government that encapsulates the legislature, judiciary, and executive branch.
Moreover, the legislature ought to have consisted of two houses even though there were great differences that were a precursor to the Great Compromise. The Great Compromise was authored by Roger Sherman and called for equal representation in the House. This was after a heated argument on the number of representatives that each state should have. Roger’s proposition was to have a two-legislature that comprises of a Senate and House of Representatives. Eventually, the constitution was forged through the Connecticut compromise. After the Great Compromise, the delegates were again faced with the slave trade agreement where the Northern abolitionists wanted to destroy slave trade. This was an unacceptable proposition to the South. Delegates came to a consensus that forbade Congress from banning slave trade within the first twenty years.
Debate over Ratification between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists
The Federalists played a key role in shaping the US Constitution while the Anti-Federalists opposed its ratification. The Federalists insisted that other states had to accept or reject the document as written because they believed it only limited the government and not the people. The Anti-Federalists wanted to amend the Constitution before ratification. John Hancock voiced the concerns of many Anti-Federalists such as Samuel Adams by proposing an amendment to the Constitution including the bill of rights. The Federalists were trying to rush the ratification process while the Anti-Federalists were concerned of the powers that the Constitution would grant the national government. However, Anti-Federalists agreed to support ratification only if there would be a provision for amendments while the Federalists agreed to support the bill of rights. The similarity between Anti-Federalists and federalists is that they both strived to preserve the structure and sovereignty of the States as well as secure the government.
The debate over bill of rights illustrated the differences between the two parties because the Federalists added the bill to seek support from Anti-Federalists. The bill incorporated amendments that protect citizens from intrusive government. In fact, even after the ratification of the Constitution, Anti-Federalists kept their arguments in the forefront by posing for the first ten amendments. This shows they were considerate and practical because they felt some basic rights and liberties were missing in the Constitution that is unlike the federalists’ considerations. The Bill of Rights strikes a balance between national and states’ interests because it constrained the rights of the national government to control the state constitutions. Furthermore, the Bill helped define the American Political System as well as the government’s relationship to its citizens.
Articles of Confederation established the first governmental structure that unified the thirteen states after American Revolution. Its aim was ensuring every state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence. However, the Articles had certain weaknesses such as the lack of a national court system and depriving the Congress the power to tax. The weaknesses led to the Instigation of the United States Constitution that guaranteed certain basic rights for its citizens. The major difference between the Constitution and the Articles of Confederation is that the latter advocated for a confederate style of government while the former stipulated a federal form of governance. However, drafting the Constitution was not an easy process due to the inherent dissimilarity such as the Great Compromise. Moreover, its ratification also became difficult due to the differences between Federalists and Anti-Federalists.