Articles of Confederation vs Constitution – What’s the Difference?

Both the Constitution and the Articles of Confederation are landmark texts in the annals of American history; nonetheless, these two documents were drafted with quite different goals in mind and contain important distinctions.

The original constitution of the United States of America was called the Articles of Confederation, and it was established by the Continental Congress in 1777 and ratified by the states in 1781. It established a national government that was rather weak, with the majority of power being kept by the various states.

However, the government that was established based on the Articles of Confederation turned out to be ineffectual, and so in 1787, a convention to form a new Constitution was organized. This new Constitution was adopted in 1788, and it is still in use today.

The Constitution, which laid the groundwork for a more powerful national government by establishing separate branches of government as well as a system of checks and balances, has been revised numerous times over the course of history.

AspectArticles of ConfederationConstitution
Formation and PurposeAdopted in 1777 during the American Revolutionary War; ratified in 1781Drafted in 1787 and ratified in 1788; intended to replace the Articles with a stronger federal government
Structure of GovernmentCentral government consisted solely of a unicameral CongressEstablished a tripartite system with separate legislative, executive, and judicial branches
Powers GrantedLimited powers; Congress could declare war, make peace, negotiate diplomatic agreements, but lacked authority to levy taxes or regulate commerceExpanded powers; Congress could levy taxes, regulate commerce, declare war, establish a national defense, etc.
Amendment ProcessRequired unanimous consent of all 13 statesFlexible process requiring approval by two-thirds of Congress or a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of states, followed by ratification by three-fourths of states
RatificationRequired unanimous ratification by all 13 statesRequired ratification by nine of the 13 states; achieved in 1788 after debates and compromises

Articles of Confederation vs Constitution

The main difference between the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution is that, under the Articles of Confederation, sovereignty was vested in the states, whereas under the Constitution, the power of the federal government was significantly expanded and it declared the governing laws of the country.

What Were the Articles of Confederation?

The Articles of Confederation were the original constitution of the United States. It was ratified by the states in 1781 after being adopted by the Continental Congress in 1777.

The Articles of Confederation established a national government that was relatively weak, with the majority of power being delegated to the member states.

The Articles of Confederation established a single chamber for the legislative part of the government, which was called the Confederation Congress. Within this body, each state received one vote.

Also Read: Timeline of Shays’ Rebellion

The Congress possessed the authority to declare war and peace, to negotiate treaties, and to regulate coinage; however, it did not have the authority to levy taxes or to regulate commerce.

The national government lacked both an executive and a judicial branch, and the scope of its powers was restricted to those that had been expressly given to it by the individual states.

The Articles of Confederation stipulated, among other things, that each state would keep its own sovereignty and independence, and that the Confederation Congress would arbitrate any conflicts that arose between the states.

Because the government that was established under the Articles of Confederation was not powerful enough to address the challenges that occurred with the newly constituted nation, the creation of the United States Constitution was necessary.

What is the Constitution?

The United States of America is governed by the Constitution of the United States, which is considered to be the highest legislation in the country.

In 1787, it was approved by the Constitutional Convention that was held in Philadelphia. Subsequently, it was ratified by conventions held in each of the states that make up the United States.

The United States Constitution is a document that lays out the framework for the national government. It is made up of a prologue and seven articles that are meant to encapsulate the core values of the federal government.

Also Read: 27 Amendments Simplified

It establishes the legislative branch, which is represented by the United States Congress; the executive branch, which is represented by the President; and the judicial branch, which is represented by the Supreme Court and other federal courts.

Each of these branches is responsible for a distinct aspect of government. In addition to this, it describes the roles and responsibilities of each branch of government, as well as the rights and liberties enjoyed by citizens of the United States.

In addition, the Constitution outlines a process for revising the constitution as well as a checks and balances mechanism to prevent any one branch of government from amassing an excessive amount of authority.

It is frequently cited as a model for the constitutions of other nations because it is widely regarded as one of the most significant texts in the annals of world history.

The Constitution is still in use today, despite the fact that it has been revised a total of 27 times; the Bill of Rights is the name given to the first ten amendments.