Reference on the Central Government: Articles of Confederation Compared to the Constitution

The left column shows common governmental responsibilities. The two columns on the right show whether the responsibility is assigned to the central government with the Articles of Confederation and with the Constitution.



Central Government With …


Articles of Confederation


Responsible to conduct foreign affairs

Yes – Congress.

Failure: Jay-Gardoqui Treaty

Yes – Executive with Congressional approval

Responsible to declare war and peace

Yes – Congress

Yes – Congress

Able to coin money


Yes – Congress

Able to levy taxes


Failure: impost duties amendment

Yes – Congress

Able to raise troops


Yes – Congress

Able to regulate commerce


Failure: No commercial treaty with Britain

Yes – Congress

Method to change the system

13 state legislatures agree

Amendment process –


2/3 to propose – Congress or state legislatures

3/4 to ratify – conventions or state legislatures

Method to write laws

9 votes (1 vote per state)

Majority of House and Senate




Reference on the Interconnected System Balances in the Constitution

A Look at the Interconnections

The examples show a few of the interconnected system balances built into the American governmental system. (Note: Since approximately 1900 there has been an indirect but major change in these system balances. If you’d like details, just ask.) The table highlights how important are the actions of the people in the small-r republican government central to the Constitution.



The People




The States



Independent compensation

Independent compensation

Independent compensation


Division of power and role


Legislative (writing the law)

Executive (“faithful” execution of the law)

Judicial (judging the law)




House: impeach. Senate: try all impeachments

Grant reprieves and pardons except in cases of impeachment



Laws, 3-way division of power


Write and pass laws. Override Presidential veto.

Approve or veto laws. Execute faithfully the laws.

(Constitutionality of law developed, or clarified, later)


Military defense

Right to keep and bear arms

Declarations of war. Control military rules

Commander in Chief



Responsibility for data collection on system health

- Peaceable assembly. Petition the government for a redress of grievances. Freedom of speech, or of the press. Right to elect representatives who hear their issues. Protections to the people in trials and for transparency even with trials for treason

Cannot abridge rights of the people and the press to assemble, petition, speak, or write. Freedom of speech while serving the people



Requirement to have representative elections and districts



With advice and consent of Senate by 2/3 of their votes

Make treaties


Cannot make treaties

When, How (as initially written in the Constitution)

Vote directly or indirectly.

House—every 2 years—by voters

Senate—every 6 years—by state legislature

Every 4 years—by electoral college

Supreme Court—for life





Copyright C. J. Bibus, Ed.D. 2003-2013


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