Compare and contrast the Articles of Confederation with the new Constitution of 1787. What were the strengths and weaknesses of the Articles vis-?-vis the Constitution? Give specific instances that demonstrate the weakness of the Articles (such as the Western problem).
Then analyze the drafting of the Constitution, using specific details to show how the various states (slave vs. free, east vs. west) compromised in order to effectively draft a constitution. Pay particular attention to Roger Sherman?s plan, the Great Compromise, which broke a stalemate that could have been fatal to the development of the new Constitution.
Finally, compare and contrast the debate over ratification between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. Make sure you cite specific examples from the Federalist Papers to support the Federalist position and contrast it with leading proponents of the opposition (such as John Hancock). Analyze how the debate over a bill of rights illustrates the differences between the two parties. Evaluate the relative success of the Bill of Rights in achieving an effective balance between national and states? interests.
The Articles of Confederation formed a key role in the initial stages of unifying a new country that had just gained its independence. However, some weaknesses were identified and this led to the writing of the constitution that was aimed at solving most of the problems that were identified in the Articles of Confederation. Among the many problems that the Articles of Confederation did not address was the issue of the making the US a strong unified country (Scaros, 2011). The Articles of Confederation was vague when it came to this issue. One of the reasons for saying so was because it did not take into consideration the views of bigger states and the smaller states when it came to the legislature. The Articles of Confederation made all states to be equal, which was not right. In the Articles of Confederation, the smaller states and the bigger states had equal representation. The Articles came up with a unicameral legislature which it called the Congress. The Constitution on the other hand sought to solve this issue of representation by coming up with a bicameral legislature. Two houses of representation were adopted by the constitution, one being the Senate and the other one being the House of Representatives. In the Senate, all states were represented equally while in the House of Representatives, each state was represented by a one person per given number of people.
Another contrast between the Articles and the Constitution was the manner in which each state had been given the power to cast its votes. Scaros (2011) says that in the Articles, each state was given one vote irrespective of the number of people of the given state. On the other hand, in the Constitution, those people who were collectively called the representatives each had a vote. It, therefore, meant that larger states had more votes compared to the smaller states in the Constitution.
One of the major weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation was the fact that it denied the government the ability to levy taxes from the citizens. This power was given to the states. The sates were supposed to collect taxes and then submit some money to the federal government. It meant that the Federal government was at the mercies of the state governments which could submit to it their collection any time they wished and any amount that they wished. However, the Constitution solved this problem by giving the federal government enough authority to levy and collect taxes from the people directly (Scaros, 2011). In so doing, the functions of the federal government were not tied to the mercies of the state governments. The Western problem was another problem that the Constitution solved, yet this had been a problem that the Articles could not solve. The Western problem involved land use by the people of the West. The Articles gave the states powers over land in their territories and this brought about some issues. The Constitution solved this problem by giving people the sovereignty over their land. In so doing, the western problem came to an end.
In a nutshell, the many weaknesses that the Articles brought forth were resolved by the constitution. It can, therefore, be seen that the constitution appear to have been more detailed and more encompassing than the Articles of Confederation.
The drafting of the Constitution had many hurdles that it had to overcome. Some of these hurdles could have stifled the effort of the writers of the constitution if a compromise was not reached at various levels. The hurdles came in form of Free States, which did not condone slavery and the slave states, which condoned slavery. One of the hurdles that was to be overcome was on representation. The small states had wanted equal representation while the larger states had wanted representation based on the population that each state had. To overcome this hurdle, the Great Compromise was used to solve this issue (Yazawa, 2016). In this compromise, two houses that formed the bicameral legislature were propped. The Senate (Upper House) had two members selected from each state irrespective of the population. The Lower House (House of Representatives) had people elected into it using one representative per given number of people. The number of representatives in the House of Representatives would be determined after ten years when a national census would be conducted in the US to determine the number of people in each state.
Another compromise that was arrived at during the drafting of the constitution was one that pitted the free states against the slave states (Dahl, 2013). The Slave states wanted the slaves to be counted as total human beings during population Census to determine the number of people that each state had. On the other hand, the free sates did not want to count slaves as people since the slave states treated them in an inhuman manner. To solve this problem, the free and the slave states agreed that each slave would be counted as three fifths of a person (Stewart, 2008). In so doing, a compromise was reached on the manner in which the number of representatives could be selected in the House of Representatives.
The ratification of the Constitution faced several challenges that were fronted by the Federalists and the anti-Federalists. The Federalists were in support of the ratification of the constitution while the Anti-federalists were against the ratification of the constitution (Scot, 2013). The Federalists were led by Alexander Hamilton, John jay and James Madison. The Anti-federalists were led by James Hancok. The Federalists felt that the Constitution was the supreme covenant that bound all the people of the US. In the Federalist papers, specifically Federalist number ten, Madison says that the constitution was political creativity of the team that was tasked with the writing of the constitution (Scot, 2013). By this he meant that the constitution was able to solve all the problems that were bedevilling the young nation and hindering it from moving forward. In Federalist number 84, the federalists felt that was no need to include the Bill of Rights in the constitution since the entire constitution embodied a Bill of Rights. The Anti-Federalists had seen that lack of a bill of rights in the constitution and that was one of the reasons that made them oppose the ratification of the constitution. The Anti-Federalists felt that since the constitution advocated for a president with powers over the states, they felt that the autonomy of the states would dwindle. On the other hand, the Federalists, through federalist number 70 felt that a strong person in charge of the entire nation was far much better than granting each state its autonomy (Meyerson, 2008). It, therefore, meant that the Federalists were for strong presidency while the Anti-federalists were for weaker presidency. The Bill of Rights was infused in the constitution when it became apparent that it was necessary for the survival of the entire nation. The constitution was to be explicit on this issue of Bill of Rights so that there was a clear demarcation about what each person was entitled and what each person was not entitled to. In so doing, The Bill of Rights achieved some relative success in balancing between the interests of the nation and the interest of the states.
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