The founders created the Articles of Confederation to be the exact opposite from the way they were governed before by Great Britain. In the eyes of the English colonies, King George III was harsh and unfair with his policies and rules. Americans wanted nothing to do with another government like his. When developing the first constitution, the founders made us into a confederation. The states held more than enough power to go about as they pleased, while the central government was weak and ineffective. The U.S. government had to depend on the states to maintain any power. There are two big reasons this failed. First, the lack of a national taxation system. Although Congress had formal powers, there was no real way to carry out any of them without money. Taxes are one of the biggest sources of revenue for a national government, so without them it’s hard to have any power, especially if the states are able to decide what/who to tax and how much of that to give to the central government. It also didn’t help that states could have different currencies and we had a major war debt. Second, the Articles of Confederation failed to protect each citizen’s basic rights. The Declaration of Independence stated, “that all men are created equal,” but was that really true back then if states could be subjective on what rights to guarantee?
The Constitution fixed many major problems the Articles of Confederation caused. The U.S. government can now collect taxes. Each individual citizen also has power and a voice in what goes in the government. I feel that one of the biggest benefits of the Constitution though was the creation of the electoral college system used for electing a president. Because the Articles of Confederation neglected to have a strong national government, a voting structure like this would have no importance. However, because of the U.S. government created by the Constitution, the electoral college has proven significant in the past since we have had multiple presidents win the popular vote, but lose the election. Another big benefit provided by the Constitution is the ability to have a national defense. Instead of states providing soldiers, our government can have an army and decide how to handle foreign affairs. And last but not least, the Constitution put the national government above state governments. The U.S. government is the “supreme law of the land,” and whatever it doesn’t decide on is then reserved to the states. This makes way more sense than the national government being at the states’ mercy.
I don’t think there were any aspects of the Articles of Confederation worth keeping, but I am glad it happened. Without the founders getting it wrong the first time around, who knows if our Constitution would look the same it does today. Americans just wanted freedom from what they had back then, and they thought no central government was the answer to their needs. They tried and failed at it, so the founders came up with a happy median between a tyrannical king and a weak confederation. Even now, it still works, and the Articles of Confederation helped accomplish that.