The Constitution of the United States was created on September 17, 1787, but not everyone agreed that it should become the law of the land. Authors of the Constitution, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, published The Federalist Papers to promote ratification of the Constitution by the States. The Federalist were committed to ensuring the Constitution was ratified. However, they were not without opposition. The Anti-Federalist opposed the Constitution and believed that it would cause the new union to fail. Anti-Federalist were politicians and businessmen such as George Mason, Patrick Henry and John Winthrop, but there were many farmers and common people among the group. Their primary objections to the Constitution was that it weakened the State governments, that it lacked a Bill of Rights and that it protected the wealthy at the expense of ordinary Americans.
Anti-Federalist believed that a strong federal government would weaken or destroy the current state governments. As summarized in one Anti-Federalist essay, most Americans believed the Articles of the Confederation simply needed to be revised and that “not one man in ten thousand in the United States, till within these ten or twelve days, had an idea that the old ship was to be destroyed” (The Federal Farmer, 1787). They believed that the Constitution was not needed and as stated by George Mason (1788) that it was “calculated to annihilate totally the state governments” (pp.1). Mason believed that two government could not coexist and that one would destroy the other. He also warned that individuals would not submit to taxation by two governments. Federalist believed that a strong federal government was essential to establish foreign policy and to regulate trade between the states. Additionally, the Constitution would serve to unite the States and promote cooperation between them.
Bill of Rights
The lack of a Bill of Rights was significant factor for Americans that did not support the Constitution. Anti-Federalist strongly believed that without clearly stating individual rights in the Constitution that the federal government would become a tyranny of oppression. As Foner (2011) recounts, Patrick Henry stated that the lack of a Bill of Rights was “the most absurd thing to mankind that ever the world saw” (p.265). ...