The Articles of Confederation was the first written constitution of the United States. The Articles were created as an alliance between sovereign states; however, there were numerous problems within the Articles. The primary problem was that the Articles had very few if any federal features. This is due to the people’s fear of an all powerful government. Seeing that all the power was put in each individual state, the states retained more power than the federal government. There was no primary executive or judicial branch to give a common stable rule for all of the states to base off of. Each individual state governed itself, creating their own laws, currency, and taxes. In return, this caused problems with agreeances and trade between the states. Another major problem was the national government could not impose taxes. This means the nation cannot pay debts or bring in any new money. The national government did not deal directly with the people, so they had to request the money needed from the states.
In efforts to solve the problems of the Articles of Confederation the framers got together and came up with a new Constitution. The Constitution divided power between the government and the states. With the new Constitution, the national government now has total control to declare war, enforce taxes, regulate trade among foreign nations, regulate money, ect. Two branches, the executive and judicial, were also added. The executive branch contains a president, and a vice president. The judicial branch contains the Supreme Court which has power over laws. While more power is given specifically to the government, the states are also given specific powers that can be regulated among themselves. Some of the powers given to the state include education, licenses, state courts, and trade within the state.
The new constitution fixed the problematic aspects of the Articles in many ways. However, many of the framers still felt unsure. Thomas Jefferson expressed his dislike of the abandonment in every instance of the necessity of rotation in office and most particularly in the case of the President. He states the only way to prevent disorder would be to rotate the office every 4 years. Thomas Jefferson also tells his concern with the lack of a Bill of Rights. He claims it is necessary to give the people entitlements against the government. Patrick Henry shows his worries in giving more power to the government through his statement that there never was a government over a very extensive country without destroying the liberties of the people. Another Anti-Federalist, Gerry Elbridge, expressed his pain to disagree from other respectable members but he does not believe there is any adequate representation of the people or that there is any need for this Constitution. The evils we experience flow from the excess of democracy.
While many of these framers saw faults in the Constitution there were a few aspects they believed were necessary. Thomas Jefferson tells his significant like for the division of powers between Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches., He also shows his interest in the method of voting by persons, instead of that voting by states.
Federalist believe in a strong central government. They were strongly for the new Constitution and putting the majority of power in the hands of the government. The Federalist felt allowing the individual states to handle their own endeavours weakened the nation as a whole. The Federalist was made up of a higher class of individuals and big businesses. In contrast, Anti-Federalist were a group of middle and low class people including small businesses and farmers. Anti-Federalist such as Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, Patrick Henry opposed the new Constitution and handing over power to the government. These people fear the thirst of power will prevail to oppress the man. On page 119, Mason also claims that with the new Constitution human rights and privileges are rendered insecure. Many of these men refused to sign the constitution because it lacked a Bill of Rights, took power from the states, and a fear it will oppress and ruin the people.