Anti Federalism Dbq

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The 17th and 18th centuries proved to be a revolutionary time period in the development of Western government. This period, commonly known as the Enlightenment, saw the rise of the people as a major political power and the corresponding decline of absolute monarchs. Examples of this would include the British Parliament after the Glorious Revolution and the Dutch Republic after the 30 Years War, but the true pinnacle of Enlightened ideals presented itself in the minds of the British colonists during the American Revolution, when they cast off all allegiance to the titles of noble and king and proclaimed to the world in their Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal”. After the war was fought and won, however, these enlightened …show more content…
During this turbulent time after the war, an elite group of representatives from all the states met and drafted a new Constitution, one that proposed to settle the question once and for all in favor of the large, unified government. They then sent the Constitution out for ratification by the people, forcing every patriot to choose their side: either to be an Anti-Federalist or a Federalist. The Anti-Federalists, who upheld a small republic founded upon a bill of rights as the best form of administration, viewed the Constitution as an inadequate safeguard of their hard-won liberties, and they therefore condemned it as extremely dangerous. The Federalists, conversely, firmly believed that without a larger government, the unchecked power of irrational factions would threaten every individual’s liberties and therefore the Constitution that they had created was desperately …show more content…
Each side fervently argued for what they saw was the best way to ensure liberty: the Federalists with their large government that would break the power of factions and the Anti-Federalists with their small republic founded upon a Bill of Rights that would guard against inevitable corruption. Each side saw the new Constitution as either their worst nightmare coming true or as their salvation arriving at last. A compromise appeared unlikely, but was nevertheless necessary if a civil war was to be avoided. Finally, at the Massachusetts State Constitutional Ratification Convention, after a long and bitter debate, a compromise of sorts was reached: in exchange for the Constitution being ratified and unified republic being adopted, a Bill of Rights would finally be added. The Anti-Federalists’ distrust of large government would not disappear, however, and various heated debates would be held on the subject of what powers were given to the federal government under the Constitution and which were reserved within the States. This debate would finally come to a head in 1861, when the Southern States suspected the federal government of planning to encroach upon their right to allow the practice of slavery. The South would try

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