Q:

What did the anti-Federalists want to protect?

A:

Quick Answer

Anti-Federalists wanted to protect states' and individuals' rights. They opposed the adoption of the U.S. Constitution because they feared the strong central government created by the Constitution could become corrupt and tyrannical.

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Full Answer

Anti-Federalists admitted that the Articles of Confederation needed to be changed, but they believed the Constitution, as it was written at the time, threatened to create political corruption and make the federal government too powerful. Their concerns and agitations helped force the addition of the Bill of Rights.

Perhaps the most powerful arguments raised by the anti-Federalists were those about the lack of protection of individual liberties present in the Constitution before the addition of the Bill of Rights. Most state constitutions of the time had followed the model set by Virginia and had explicitly detailed what individual rights could not be taken away by the government. Many people of the time thought this was a great improvement over the British constitution, which relied on unwritten protections. Anti-Federalists believed the delegates of the Philadelphia Convention had not included a bill of rights in the Constitution because they wanted to take away what ordinary people had gained in the Revolution.

A diverse group of people considered themselves anti-Federalist. Well-known proponents of the movement included Patrick Henry, George Mason, James Winthrop, Samuel Adams and Thomas Paine.

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Related Questions

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    What kind of government did the Federalists want?

    A:

    The Federalists wanted a two-level government consisting of a strong, tightly-knit, centralized national government along with smaller, non-sovereign political units governed according to a national constitution. These small political units would be able to make laws on their own. Today, the United States has this kind of system with the federal government and state governments.

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  • Q:

    What were the main arguments used by the Anti-Federalists?

    A:

    The main arguments used by the Anti-Federalists in the debate for the U.S. Constitution were the fact that the Constitution gave too much power to the federal government and that the rights of the people were not guaranteed through a Bill of Rights. They did not want to ratify the Constitution, and they had a significant impact in the creation and implementation of the Bill of Rights.

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  • Q:

    Why did the Federalists want to replace the Articles of Confederation?

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    The Federalists wanted to replace the original United States Articles of Confederation because they gave Congress limited power to govern or regulate domestic affairs. By 1786, the U.S. was bankrupt as a result of the cost of the Revolutionary War and the federal government had no powers of taxation. Congress was also unable to effectively resolve the growing trade and regional disputes developing at the state level and the Federalists sought to create a stronger federal government that could effectively intervene when needed.

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  • Q:

    Why did the Antifederalists want a Bill of Rights?

    A:

    The Antifederalists wanted a Bill of Rights to prevent the federal government from becoming too powerful, eventually robbing the citizens of their individual rights and making them no better off than they had been under England's rule. The Antifederalists feared a large federal government that had the potential of becoming tyrannical.

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