Formation of the United States Government Essay

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Confederation & Constitution

The author of this report is charged with answering several questions relating to the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. The original Constitution was hard enough to pull off but the Articles of Confederation were also a challenge and were in response to the economic challenges of that day. Different issues and weaknesses that came up were the Western problem, the slave vs. slave states, eastern vs. western states, Sherman's Plan, the Great Compromise and so forth. The debates that raged with the Federalists and the anti-Federalists will be covered as well as how the Bill of Rights debate developed. Finally, the relative success of the Bill of Rights will be summarized. While no single constitutional document is going to placate all sources and address all problems that could come to pass, the compromises and debates that raged about these two major parts of American legislative history cannot be denied their significance and overall accomplishment as displayed in the centuries since then.


Regarding the Articles of Confederation, there were several strengths but also some downfalls. First, the strengths of the Articles include the ability to operate post offices, the ability do interface and interact with foreign countries and enter into treaties, the ability to declare war or the end of war and the power to mint and print money for public use and wielding. The downsides of the Articles included no "teeth" in the Articles that allowed the federal government to force the states to follow the federal laws, there was no national armed forces created or regulated by them, states were not restricted from printing their own money, taxes and tariffs could be levied by each of the states even amongst each other, Congress did not have authoritative leadership over the states in general and there was no inherent ability to tax (Library of Congress, 2014). Strengths of the United States Constitution include checks and balances, common sense apportionment of the different houses of Congress (aka The Great Compromise) and the ability to impeach the President if they become too power-mad. Weaknesses of the United States Constitution, in its raw form with no amendments, is that it had no bill of rights, slavery was not abolished or barred and some of the provisions were vague or did not account for certain likely events or structures like political parties. All of these were addressed later on, some of them much later on, in the form of amendments (, 2014).

Specific problems relating to the two documents and how they bounce off each other can be given in more specificity per the introduction and beyond what is mentioned in the prior paragraph. For example, the Western Problem was the issue of how to regulate, segment and populate the Western areas of the United States as they were acquired and explored. The Articles, per the above, left the federal government in a bit of a pickle because they did not address the problem properly and the Articles of Confederation did not give them as much power and force of law as was needed to properly pull off such regulation anyway. This led to the area being explored and claimed without enough regulation and sway from the federal government (, 2014). Another problem was the compromise between the different states when approving the Articles, the Constitution itself and even the Bill of Rights. Slave states were obviously not willing to sign on to any ban on slavery so that was effectively tabled but was later dealt with in the 1860's by Abraham Lincoln. As already stated, the eastern and western states did not always see eye-to-eye and this was compounded by how weak the Articles of Confederation rendered the federal government to assert themselves and deal with the problem. Roger Sherman was one of the more notable people to solve the problem when he suggested that the North American colonies form a union but the Great Compromise mentioned before is…

Sources Used in Document:

References (2014, August 1). Constitution of the United States - Official. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved August 1, 2014, from (2014, August 2). Bill of Rights. National Archives and Records

Administration. Retrieved August 2, 2014, from

Library of Congress. (2014, July 31). Primary Documents in American History. The Articles of Confederation: Primary Documents of American History (Virtual

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