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Comparing the Articles and the Constitution

The United States has operated under two constitutions. The first, The Articles of Confederation, was in effect from March 1, 1781, when Maryland ratified it. The second, The Constitution, replaced the Articles when it was ratified by New Hampshire on June 21, 1788.

The two documents have much in common - they were established by the same people (sometimes literally the same exact people, though mostly just in terms of contemporaries). But they differ more than they do resemble each other, when one looks at the details. Comparing them can give us insight into what the Framers found important in 1781, and what they changed their minds on by 1788.

The following is a comparison, detailing the similarities and differences between the Constitution and the Articles. The topic page for The Articles and the Constitution Explained Page may also be of some interest.


Formal name of the nation
Articles: The United States of America
Constitution: (not specified, but referred to in the Preamble as "the United States of America")

Legislature
Articles: Unicameral, called Congress
Constitution: Bicameral, called Congress, divided into the House of Representatives and the Senate

Members of Congress
Articles: Between two and seven members per state
Constitution: Two Senators per state, Representatives apportioned according to population of each state

Voting in Congress
Articles: One vote per state
Constitution: One vote per Representative or Senator

Appointment of members
Articles: All appointed by state legislatures, in the manner each legislature directed
Constitution: Representatives elected by popular vote, Senators appointed by state legislatures

Term of legislative office
Articles: One year
Constitution: Two years for Representatives, six for Senators

Term limit for legislative office
Articles: No more than three out of every six years
Constitution: None

Congressional Pay
Articles: Paid by states
Constitution: Paid by the federal government

When Congress is not in session...
Articles: A Committee of States had the full powers of Congress
Constitution: The President can call for Congress to assemble

Chair of legislature
Articles: President of Congress
Constitution: Speaker of the House of Representatives, Vice President is President of the Senate

Executive
Articles: None
Constitution: President

National Judiciary
Articles: Maritime judiciary established
Constitution: Federal judiciary established, including Supreme Court

Adjudicator of disputes between states
Articles: Congress
Constitution: Supreme Court

New States
Articles: Admitted upon agreement of nine states (special exemption provided for Canada)
Constitution: Admitted upon agreement of Congress

Amendment
Articles: When agreed upon by all states
Constitution: When agreed upon by three-fourths of all states

Navy
Articles: Congress authorized to build a navy; states authorized to equip warships to counter piracy
Constitution: Congress authorized to build a navy; states not allowed to keep ships of war

Army
Articles: Congress to decide on size of force and to requisition troops from each state according to population
Constitution: Congress authorized to raise and support armies

Power to coin money
Articles: United States and the states
Constitution: United States only

Ex post facto laws
Articles: Not forbidden
Constitution: Forbidden of both the states and the Congress

Bills of attainder
Articles: Not forbidden
Constitution: Forbidden of both the states and the Congress

Taxes
Articles: Apportioned by Congress, collected by the states
Constitution: Laid and collected by Congress

Ratification
Articles: Unanimous consent required
Constitution: Consent of nine states required



URL: http://www.usconstitution.net/constconart.html

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