The Articles of Confederation were created out of worries by the various State sin the United States of America over having a strong central government. Worried that a national government with strong powers may ignore some of their individual needs, the articles of confederation settled on a constitution that gave large shares of power to the individual states. Under these articles, each state retained sovereignty, independence and freedom. The congress of that time was a committee of delegates that was composed of representatives from each of the states.
Weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation
There were various shortcomings associated with this act and this resulted in the creation of the U.S constitution in 1787. Under the new U.S constitution, there were three branches of power in the national government. These were the legislature, the executive branch which was headed by the president and the judiciary that was headed by the Supreme Court. This constitution gives powers and specifies the duties of each branch and reserves unenumerated powers to various states and the people in them thereby forming the federal government. However, in both the articles of Confederation and the new U.S constitution, there was the recognition of the central government. Under the articles of confederation, much power was granted to the states government while under the constitution, the central government had most of the powers (Jensen, 1998).
One of the main weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation was that revenue was collected by the states government which would then contribute to the federal government. The main problem here was that the money could not be sufficient for the federal government's budget. The other weakness was many superior powers in the whole nation. Therefore, passing of all the important laws required support of at least nine states. Absenteeism of various states' delegates could therefore prevent important laws from being passed. Other weaknesses include lack of a common currency caused difficulties in trade among the states and also with other nations. The weak central government did not have military powers to support its policies and therefore lacked authority in foreign affairs. On the other hand, the federal government under the new constitution had powers to enact its policies, to make and to enforce laws. There was a common currency under the federal government and this enabled trade among states and other countries thereby contributing to economic growth in the United States (Applewood Books, 2006).
Drafting of the U.S constitution
The drafting of the constitution took place in the Constitutional Convention that was held in 1787 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Some of the states had different opinions on the type of the government to be formed. For example, Virginia wanted separation of powers but to be vested on the congress. Various delegates agreed on the three separate branches but each to have distinct powers, and the legislative to consist of tow houses. Differences further aroused that disrupted the convention due to provision by the Virginia Plan that there should be proportional representation in both legislative houses. The smaller states were not satisfied with this while the larger states voted in favour of this provision. The smaller states that were against include South and North Carolina and Georgia among others. These feared that they might be dominated by the large states such as New York. This issue was settled by the "Great compromise", a plan that was brokered by Roger Sherman that broke the deadlock which could have killed all the plans for the new constitutions. This measure resolved the tussle over representation in the houses by giving equal representation of the states in one house and proportional representation in the other house. In the senate, every state would be allowed two seats while in the House of Representatives the number of the seats would depend on the population of the sates. This was resolved by the adoption of New Jersey plan that settled on equal representation. Since this move was considered receptive to most of the sentiments, the House of Representatives was granted power to be the source of all legislation concerning the federal budget and the federal revenues.
The Great Compromise ended the gap between the small and the large states although delegates went on the settle other compromises. These included the fear by some delegates to give a lot of power to some people argued for direct election of all federal officials while others wanted an electoral base that is as broad as possible. Some wanted to exclude the western territories from statehood, balance of sectional interests, selection of president and role of federal judiciary among others.
The other difference arose in 1861 between the Northern and the Southern States over the right of the federal government to control slavery the Northerners argued that the government had such a right while the Southerners argued that each state had a right to decide on its own how to regulate slavery. After further negotiations, the Southerners were defeated and slavery was abolished. Slavery was a controversial issue but was resolved during the constitutional convention. Four provisions in the Articles of Confederation allowed slavery to continue for the next twenty years and failure to observe this led to the Civil War (Bentin, 1996).
Debate over ratification between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists
After the creation and approval of the new constitution, ratification required the approval of none special conventions. The states that would not ratify the constitution could not be part of the union and could be considered separate counties. The Anti-federalists were against the creation of federal or national government that would have power over all the states. These included the tradesmen and farmers who were not part of the wealthy who in this case were the federalists. The Federalists were for the creation of a federal government that would unite all the states.
The anti-federalists had so many complain over the constitution. They argued that the constitution would lead to creation of a new and untested form of government and wanted the continuation of the existing form of government. They also argued that the federalists were just over stating the problems associated with the state governments under the Articles of confederation. They also stated that those brokering the constitution had met as an exclusive group in a secret meeting and had violated the law under the Articles of Confederation. Such people included John Hancock who even refused to attend the constitutional convention. On the other hand, the Federalists argued that the national government suffered a lot of inadequacies during the time of Articles of Confederation. They also argued in favour of trade by saying that the federal government would promote economic growth in the country. Generally, they had a plurastic vision for the country.
The outcome of this debate was creation of the ratification provisions of Article VII of the constitution by the Federalists. This was the best support the Federalists had in their argument towards ratification of the constitution. Immediately after the Constitutional Convention came up with the constitution, the Federalists rushed to their states and they elected the delegates to attend the states convention. The Anti-federalists failed to capture substantial votes in response and by 1970, all the thirteen states had agreed to ratify the constitution thereby giving victory to Federalist and the constitution. Due to further outcry of the Anti-federalists, the state legislatures voted towards addition of the first ten amendments to the constitution which became of Bill of Rights (Vile, 2005).
Debate over a bill of rights
Initially, the Bill of Rights was not meant to apply to the states. This has been amended fro almost twelve times since 1789. The Bill of Rights was a limitation over the powers of the US federal government in protecting the human rights in matters if liberty and property. Federalists were against the Bill of Rights. For example, Alexander Hamilton asserted that ratification of the constitution did not mean the people of US would give up their rights and therefore there was no need for protection of these rights. However, other critics stated that the earlier documents had statements protecting specific rights but Hamilton argued that the constitution was a different document. He also argued that having statements concerning specific rights would mean that the unstated rights would not be protected. Together with the other federalists, they believed that adding the bill of rights to the constitution would limit people's rights to those stated in the bill. Several amendments followed and the ones that resulted to the bill of rights were the last ten out of the twelve amendments. This was through the process called incorporation of the Bill of Rights.
The adoption of the U.S constitution came under a very long process. This started with the creation of the Articles of Confederation that gave power to states' government. A big argument followed over the weaknesses it experienced and this started the drafting of the constitution that gave power to the federal government. This was characterized by tussle between the Federalist who were for this proposition and the Anti-federalists who were against. However, after long debate, the constitution was ratified. Further arguments by the Anti-federalists also led to the adoption of the Bill of rights.