Articles Of Confed. V. The Constitution Essay, Research Paper
The Great Debate
After the ratification of the Articles of Confederation, many problems arose due to its weaknesses. This form of government was created to unite the states under one law, and was intended to strengthen patriotism as well as the economy. Ironically, it had the opposite effect- economic and social depression spread throughout the country. The Constitutional Convention of 1787 recognized that certain measures had to be taken to bring the US out of recession, thus the idea of creating a new constitution was born. Favored and scorned by many, this new idea of government was certain to benefit the states. It would create a bicameral congress, an executive branch and a judicial branch, which would be balanced in power. Easy as it seemed, the fight for ratification was going to be long and hard. The first step was to present the new idea to the people. In order for the new Constitution to pass, it needed the approval only nine states. This would keep the few who did oppose the Constitution from ruining the plans of those who supported it. Those who supported the new Constitution were called Federalists, and those who did not were called Anti-Federalists. All of these men wondered: Should the United States adopt the new Constitution to replace the Articles of Confederation? This battle of ratification was to be one of the greatest debates in American history.
While in convention, many delegates wondered if the government under the Articles really needed to be replaced. The Federalists, who were for the new government, wanted to know if other countries would be able to trust and respect a government under the Articles. Fighting back, the Anti-Federalists could not see the danger of a Confederation and demanded that the Federalists give them proof of danger. Another important issue brought up at the convention was “Can a republic govern a large territory and a diverse population?” Largely in favor of a republic, the Federalists said that if you extend the boundaries of a nation and support many different cultures, there is less chance that a majority will arise and create havoc. On the other hand, Anti-Federalists argued that a large government would break down into despotism. They were also afraid that the so-called “President” of this new government would turn into a king. The Federalists responded by assuring them that the president would be an elected individual as a result of democracy. Everyone was also concerned with the proposed liberties of the people. Federalists assured that the Constitution would protect the rights and freedoms of the people and would also restrict government from taking away liberties.
The bitter struggle for ratification had intelligent, well-meaning people on both sides, and the outcome was not certain until the end. Only hard work, propaganda, and tricky political tactics by the Federalists made the ratification of the Constitution possible. The “race” was close, with Virginia and New York (who had been known to “abstain?courteously” during the days of the Revolution) sealing the victory. A Bill of Rights was added, as a promise from the Federalists, to guarantee the people their rights. Without these amendments, the Constitution might never have been ratified. Through the work of many strong-willed men, so ended the great debates. The cries of victory were plain and clear, “for this is now the United States!”