Constitutional Convention ended on this day in 1787

Sunday the 17th is the 230rd anniversary of the end of the Constitutional Convention. This convention met in the summer of 1787 with the purpose of amending the Articles of Confederation, the document that had governed the United States since 1781 when all states had ratified it. The convention moved quickly from amending to creating a new governing document – the Constitution.

The Articles of Confederation protected states’ rights. The Articles can be viewed as creating a league of friendship between the states. (In fact Article III describes it as a “league of firm friendship”). Cooperation was required. The central government was very weak, lacking the power of taxation. States had to voluntarily contribute money and no state ever gave the full amount asked of it. The Articles did not provide for executive or judicial branches. The Articles required 9 out of 13 states approval to pass legislation or for Congress to otherwise act.

Generally the Constitution (plus the Bill of Rights) has worked well to address the shortcomings of the Articles of Confederation. The Constitution gave the federal government greater control over key economic issues such as currency and regulating trade. It is easier to pass legislation (although far from automatic). The Bill of Rights has strengthened the protections of customary individual freedoms from stronger government.