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The Articles of Confederation

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The Articles of Confederation were approved by Congress on November 15, 1777 and ratified by the states on March 1, 1781. It was a modest attempt by a new country to unite itself and form a national government. The Articles set up a Confederation that gave most of the power to the states. Many problems arose and so a new Constitution was written in 1787 in Independence Hall. The new Constitution called for a much more unified government with a lot more power. Let us now examine the changes that were undertaken.

One of the key differences between the Constitution and the Articles of Confederation is in the way that they set up the Legislature. In the Articles, it is established as a unicameral legislature which it refers to as a Congress. The Constitution on the other hand establishes a bicameral legislature with an upper house, the Senate, and a lower house, the House of Representatives. The reason for this change was because different states wanted the number of representatives to be selected in different ways. Under the Articles of Confederation all States were represented equally and the bigger states felt that they should be getting more say in the decisions that the Country would be making. Needless to say the smaller states did not readily agree to this.

Under the Articles each state could send between 2 and 7 delegates to Congress. In the Constitution each state was allowed 2 members in the Senate and 1 representative per 30,000 people (this number has now increased greatly) in the House of Representatives. As I stated earlier each state wanted to be represented according to different factors. The states with bigger populations wanted representation to be based solely off of population. The states with smaller populations wanted there to be a fixed number of representatives per state, regardless of size or population.

The Connecticut Compromise resolved this issue by forming the two houses that we have today. In one house, the Senate, every state is represented equally regardless of population. In the lower house, the House of Representatives each state receives one representative for a set number of people. This satisfied all of the states and helped resolve one of the greatest conflicts while writing the Constitution. Another conflict that arose was with the counting of slaves in the census used to set the number of representatives per state. This was resolved under the Three-Fifths Compromise which stated that every slave would be counted as 3/5 of a person, although these slaves were given no voice or rights.

Voting in Congress was also different in the Articles and the Constitution. Under the Articles of Confederation, each state received 1 vote regardless of how many representatives it had. In the Constitution, each state was allowed one vote per Senator or Member of the House it has. The way that laws were passed also changed in this sense since under the Constitution they would now require a majority

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