The United States Constitution Explained: Article I The Legislature Part 1
Today we continue our deep dive series on the United States Constitution. If you have not read our first post in this series, check it out here – The United States Constitution Explained: The Preamble.
In summary, Article I of the Constitution sets up the bicameral (two-house) legislature that we are familiar with to this day. It defines what the houses are, how they are elected, how they interact with each other, and their respective powers. It also begins to lay some of the boundaries between the state governments and the federal government's responsibilities. The Framers specifically chose to set up the Legislature first because the country was most familiar with the idea of Congress from the Articles of Confederation, and they were highly concerned with representation, especially in decisions on taxes.
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
The first section of Article I is one of the shortest of any of the sections. However, it begins to show the stark difference between the Constitution and the Articles of Confederation. The Articles set up a unicameral (one house) legislature that was totally made up of states delegates from two to seven per state, and each state received one vote that the delegates had to reach a consensus on.
The Constitution's bi-cameral system was meant to mimic and then perfect the bi-cameral parliamentary system that governed Great Britain. British Parliament was made up of the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The House of Lords comprises those with titles and lands reminiscent of the feudal system in Europe. They were the aristocracy and represented the land and titled power of great Britain. The Senate is the allegory to this House because it is meant to be comprised of older, more experienced statesmen rather than political amateurs. The House of Commons was set up to represent the common people such that they would have a voice (at the time a minimal voice) in parliament. This is the inspiration for the House of Representatives. As you will see, unlike in Britain, the House was given very specific powers, specifically around taxation. This was done so that the federal government's level closest to the individuals could represent them to decide on taxes and spending.
In our next post, we will continue on with Article I, Section 2. Please remember to follow us on Instagram @marchforthfortheconstitution for other Constitution content and share us with your friends. Also, please feel free to message us with suggestions for future in-depth blog posts, reels, or other content! When we reach 100 followers on our Instagram page, we will pick one lucky follower to give away a $25 Amazon gift card!