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Federalists And Antifederalists Essay

2939 words - 12 pages

Frustration was mounting. As he sat in the North Carolina ratifying convention and listened to the roll call of their membership, William Richardson Davie must have worried that the federalist movement in his state would die a slow and agonizing death before him. Davie, an ardent proponent of federalism and its promotion of a strong national and central government, had spent nearly a year arguing and debating the necessity and importance of ratifying the newly-proposed federal Constitution. The membership’s list of names forebode trouble for Davie and his federalist colleagues and he realized as the names were read aloud that the convention’s membership favored those who opposed the ...view middle of the document...

Now, after many months of discussions, debates, and published writings, it was July 1788 and the North Carolina General Assembly had finally called for a state ratifying convention to be held in the Town of Hillsborough. In the July heat, sitting in the meeting room of the local Presbyterian Church, William Davie quickly realized the momentous significance of the fact that with local elections for state delegates completed the previous March, the result was that far fewer Federalists were in attendance at the convention. A majority of the 284 delegates present were Antifederalists and had over the previous months repeatedly voiced their fervent opposition to the federal Constitution and its ratification. For Davie, it looked unlikely the federalists would prevail in Hillsborough and that North Carolina would ratify the federal Constitution. With delegates still arriving, it was already known that only three states, New York, Rhode Island, and North Carolina, had not yet ratified the federal Constitution. This meant that with the requisite number of nine states having ratified the Constitution, these remaining states would continue in their own sovereignty and remain outside the realm of the United States of America; unless and until ratification, these three states could not join the Union.
William Davie knew that with the unfortunate and unequal number of Federalists and Antifederalists present at the ratifying convention, he would have to take a prominent role in defending the actions taken in Philadelphia the previous year. Since the Federalists consisted of only thirty-one percent of the state ratifying convention’s membership, Davie shouldered the burden of defending the Constitution and upholding the Federalist cause. But could he? Would he be able to convince most of the delegates that the best course of action was to ratify the federal Constitution and become a member state of the United States of America? The answer is no. For all his worrying and foreboding, William Davie was not able to persuade most of his fellow delegates to ratify the federal Constitution . For the Antifederalist in 1788, the idea of joining a government with central powers as espoused in the Constitution was intolerable; Antifederalist were not going to ratify the Constitution as written and they were not going to compromise.
This intolerance resulted in the state of North Carolina remaining out of the Union and on its own for another sixteen months. In 1789, with a growing sense of separation and isolation, the North Carolina General Assembly called for a second ratifying convention. With this convention, held in Fayetteville in November 1789, North Carolina finally ratified the federal Constitution and officially became a member of the federal Union. But why, at the precipice of nationhood, would North Carolina need two years and two ratifying conventions to become a member state of the United States of America? What forces were evident...

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