The Differences between the Articles of Confederation, the Federalist Papers and the Constitution of the United States

The documents which occurred as a result of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 are some of the most important and powerful pieces of legislation in American history. The Articles of Confederation, Federalist Papers, and the Constitution of the United States helped to provide the foundation for the way that the original representatives and members of the government would develop the nation going forward. While the original aim of the Constitutional Convention was to amend and improve the quality of the Articles of Confederation, the eventual result was the construction and ratification of what would become the Constitution of the United States.

As such, many ideas are present in the Articles of Confederation which differ starkly from the Constitution and this is largely the result of the influence of the Federalist Papers and the information that was propagated within these influential documents.

Many differences were made in the Constitution as a result of the Articles of Confederation and the focus of the changes to the Constitution was to present a more balanced system that allocated adequate representation for the states in comparison to the national government.

The Federalists were largely behind the notion of creating a government in which the states had individual rights which were just as significant in terms of representation as to the federal government. This was outlined in The Federalist Papers, which was a series of 85 essays that were brought forth by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay. Because of the influence of these papers, the Constitution was drafted in such a way that differed greatly from the Articles of Confederation.

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One of the prominent differences that occurred was thebalancing of the legislature. The Articles of Confederation called for one centralized, unicameral system which would simply be known as the “Congress.” I Believe that more balanced was needed and that some states would receive inadequate representation in the system with just one branch of the legislature, the legislators created a bicameral system in the Constitution in which there would be two houses of governing bodies, the Senate and House of Representatives. While the Senate would have one designated number of members, the number of individuals that were present in the House of Representatives would be largely influenced by population size.

In this sense, the system that was created in the Constitution differs largely from the proposed system of the Articles of Confederation. The size of the Congress member base was also an area of the large difference between the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. The Articles essentially stated that there would be anywhere between two and seven members in each state, depending on size. The Constitution established the bicameral system stated above.

The voting was improved in the sense that, under the bicameral system, each member would have equal representation with the one vote that they were given. One of the most important distinctions between the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution in terms of the nature of how the citizenry was governed is that an actual Executive leader position was created in the President’s position. Under the Articles of Confederation, there was no actual representative elected or official declared to preside over the remainder of the country. The Constitution allowed for this to be introduced and integrated, which in turn affected the overall development of the United States significantly. Much of the Constitution’s purpose was to provide a consistent base of improvements to balance how the United States would approach government in this sense.

One of the improvements that were crafted was in the amendment process and making it so that amendments could take place three-fourths of all of the states were able to agree upon it, instead of the system which was established by the Articles of Confederation which stated that all of the states must agree upon an amendment before it became officially accepted. These edits and changes were brought forth by the Federalists and highlighted in the highly influential Federalist Papers. This is especially true of the 15th, 21st, and 51s which helped to address many of the concerns which were listed above. The 15th paper in the series directly addressed the inability of the current system to preserve the Union, stating that there wasn’t any capacity of the government at that time to remain compliant with the needs and interests of the citizens, and there was no level of authority that the citizens had on the matter. According to the 51st paper in the series, the Federalists believed that there was an insufficient system for implementing any sort of checks and balances. 4 Lastly, the 21st paper in the series addressed many of the simple grievances and the small issues with both the system for Congress that was established as well as the guaranty of the government to perform to its utmost utility.

Because of these papers and the grievances that the Federalists brought forward, the Constitutional Convention was given the capacity to initiate changes that would help develop the Constitution itself. Due to the diligence of the individuals involved, the system that is in place in the United States today was catalyzed during this time. Many differences were highlighted in regards to the Articles of Confederation, such as a lack of checks and balances in the legislature and the lack of rights for the states in comparison to those that were afforded the government at large. Given how the Federalists drafted their complaints and the precedence that this set, the Articles of Confederation became the Constitution of the United States and formal unity was established.


  1. Hamilton, Alexander. The Federalist. No. 15. (1787) The Library of Congress.
  2. Hamilton, Alexander. The Federalist. No. 21. (1787) The Library of Congress.
  3. Hamilton, Alexander. The Federalist. No. 51. (1787) The Library of Congress.
  4. Transcript of Articles of Confederation. (1777) U.S. National Archives & Records Administration.
  5. The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription (1787) U.S. National Archives & Records Administration.

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The Differences between the Articles of Confederation, the Federalist Papers and the Constitution of the United States. (2022, Jun 30). Retrieved from

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