Difference Between Articles of Confederation and Constitution

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between Articles of Confederation and Constitution

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The Articles of Confederation and the Constitution were two of the most important papers that emerged during the American Revolution. The Articles of Confederation were the first practical attempt to organize and mobilize the United States' initial thirteen colonies. Before its establishment, any American acts considered subversive to the Crown of England were treated in the same light as terrorism is now. These rebel acts were carried out without the involvement of a sovereign government. As a result, the revolutionary forces in the United States were unable to enlist the help of other nations, leaving them strategically and diplomatically vulnerable to their British adversary.

Articles of Confederation vs Constitution

The primary distinction is that the Articles of Confederation are rules agreed upon by the United States of America in the 18th century. In contrast, the latter are rules developed by democratic countries and other legalized institutions to implement law and order.

Differences between the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution in the tabular form

Parameters of Comparison Articles of Confederation Constitution
Codification of law It followed unicameralism, which means that the parliament has only one chamber. The parliament is divided into two chambers, as stipulated by the constitution.
Voting Power The Article of Confederation stated that each state had one vote. According to the constitution, each legislative representative gets one vote in parliament.
Distribution of power The Articles of Confederation divided authority among many unions. The constitution shares power among subordinates, but the central authority retains ultimate control.
Bill of rights Under the Articles of Confederation, people could not claim the Bill of Rights. Citizens can claim the Bill of Rights since the Constitution treats everyone equally.

What is Articles of Confederation?

The Perpetual Union and the Articles of Confederation were signed by 13 states in the United States of America. It was made up of the regulations that these states had to obey in the 18th century. However, it was ineffective since it was the first agreement for a central government.

The Articles of Confederation were written agreements that elaborated on establishing a cordial relationship between the states. This was a lengthy procedure. The people adopted the paper after several talks and reorganization. The system's principal goal was to distribute power evenly across all states.

The Albany Plan, a pre-independence attempt to unite the colonies into a greater union, had partially failed due to the fears of Surrendering authority to another central government. However, when the American Revolution gathered traction, many political leaders realized the benefits of a centralized government that could organize the war. The New York Provincial Congress delivered the Continental Congress a plan of the union in June 1775, which, like the Albany Plan, continued to accept the British Crown's authority.

Several Continental Congress delegates explored ideas for a more permanent union than the Continental Congress's provisional status. "Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union" was a concept devised by Benjamin Franklin. While some delegates supported Franklin's idea, such as Thomas Jefferson, many others were opposed. On July 21, Franklin presented his concept to Congress but stressed that it should be treated as a draft when Congress was ready to make a more official proposal. The idea was presented to Congress.

The Continental Congress understood that a national government would be needed after the Declaration of Independence. On July 22, Congress began debating the structure of this government, differing on several points, including whether representation and voting would be proportional or state-by-state. Confederation negotiations were delayed until October 1777 due to conflicts. The British seizure of Philadelphia had heightened the urgency of the situation.

Congress transmitted the Articles to the states for ratification at the end of November. The Articles were an imperfect compromise, but most delegates considered it preferable to the absence of an organized national government. Virginia ratified them first on December 16, 1777. During the first months of 1778, more states approved the treaty. The delegates heard that Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey had refused to ratify the Articles when Congress reconvened in June 1778. The Articles required the states' unanimous consent. Before ratifying the Articles, these smaller states demanded that other states renounce their western land claims.

Meanwhile, British soldiers on the Chesapeake Bay began raiding Maryland villages in 1780. The state administration was alarmed and appealed to French Minister Anne-César De la Luzerne, requesting French naval aid. Luzerne Responded by pressing Maryland's government to ratify the Articles of Confederation. When Virginia consented to abandon its western land claims, Marylanders were even more motivated to ratify the Articles of Confederation, which the Maryland legislature did on March 1, 1781.

The Continental Congress established a Department of Foreign Affairs on January 10, 1781, and on August 10, 1781, it elected Robert R. Livingston as Secretary of State. The Secretary's responsibilities included communicating with US representatives and foreign ministries.

The Secretary was also in charge of delivering Congress' orders to U.S. agents in other countries and attending Congress sessions. A subsequent Act of February 22, 1782, permitted the Secretary to ask and answer questions during Continental Congress sessions.

The Articles established a sovereign, national government, restricting nations' ability to conduct their diplomacy and foreign affairs. However, the national government could not prevent Georgia from following its autonomous strategy against Spanish Florida, including taking disputed territory and threatening war if Spanish officials did not strive to stop Indian raids or stop housing runaway slaves.

The Confederate administration also couldn't stop the British government from sending convicts to its former territories. Furthermore, the Articles did not provide Congress enough power to execute clauses of the Treaty of Paris of 1783, which permitted British creditors to sue debtors for pre-Revolutionary debts, which many state governments decided to disregard.

As a result, British soldiers in the Great Lakes region held forts. Together with the Confederacy government's ineffective reaction to the Shays' Rebellion in Massachusetts, these issues convinced national authorities that a more substantial central authority was required. This resulted in the Constitutional Convention, which drafted the current US Constitution.

A group of 13 members finalized the document. The committee's chairman, John Dickinson, submitted the final draft of the Articles of Confederation on July 12, 1776. Despite the final treaty being presented, there were still disagreements over how authority should be divided between the states.

What is Constitution?

A country's constitution is a compilation of all the laws and regulations that citizens must follow. This is created by a group of persons the government trusts because of their societal understanding. This text established the rules by which a country or entity should be governed.

An organization's constitution can be drafted by anyone who wishes to have an organized and systematic working environment. A democratic country's backbone is its constitution, which divides authority among many ministries. A constitution also describes the relative powers of the majority and minorities.

The central government is regarded as the pinnacle of authority under the constitution. The federal government can judge whether or not state laws are valid. In addition, the constitution recognizes an individual citizen as a power bearer. Individuals vote to determine the government.

New Jersey and Delaware finally agreed upon the Articles' terms, with the former ratifying them on November 20, 1778, and the latter on February 1, 1779. Maryland was now the only remaining holdout.

Angered by Maryland's obstinacy, several other states passed resolutions for the formation of a national government without Maryland. Still, politicians like Congressman Thomas Burke of North Carolina persuaded their governments not to do so. They argued that without the unanimous approval of the new Confederation, the country would remain weak, divided, and vulnerable to future foreign intervention and manipulation.

Main Difference Between the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution in Points

Is that the same persons drafted both the Articles of Confederation and the United States Constitution. When we mention the same persons, we mean that some of the same people who worked on the Articles of Confederation also worked on this. However, the phrase "same people" usually implies that contemporaries drafted the US Constitution.

  • From 1781 through 1788, the Articles of Confederation served as the first US constitution. From 1788 until the present, the US Constitution has been the country's second constitution.
  • On November 15, 1777, the Articles of Confederation were written. On March 1, 1781, it was approved. Finally, on September 17, 1787, the United States Constitution was ratified. In June 1788, the Constitution became official.
  • The United States Constitution superseded the Articles of Confederation. As a result, the US Constitution supplanted the Articles of Confederation.
  • As defined by the Articles of Confederation, Congress was a unicameral legislature. Congress is a bicameral body established by the US Constitution. The House of Representatives and the Senate are the two primary branches of Congress.
  • In the Articles of Confederation, the Congress had between two and seven representatives in each state. According to the US Constitution, each state should have two senators in Congress. State representatives are assigned to specific districts.
  • There is no executive branch under the Articles of Confederation. The President is referred to as the executive in the US Constitution.
  • Ratification of the Articles of Confederation required the unanimous approval of all states. The consent of nine states is necessary under the US Constitution.
  • The Articles of Confederation forced legislation into effect if 9 out of 13 states agreed. The constitution stipulates that both chambers must-pass legislation before being enforced on the people.


The Articles of Confederation were an early version of the United States of America's government. This was written in order to distribute authority among the states. By the late 18th century, it was operational. The heads of states agreed upon this text after numerous disputes and rewrites.

The constitution is the most recent document created by authorities to determine how their country should function. The Constitution is the foundation for democratic governance. The constitution delegated authority to the various levels of government. Even institutions use constitutions to keep things structured and functioning smoothly.



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"Difference Between Articles of Confederation and Constitution." Diffzy.com, 2024. Thu. 22 Feb. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-articles-of-confederation-and-constitution-1105>.

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