Guiding Questions • What were the main arguments for and against ratifying the Constitution? • Why did Antifederalists insist on adding a bill of rights to the constitution? • What difficulties were encountered during the process of ratification?
ratify sign or give formal consent to (a treaty, contract, or agreement), making it officially valid
Federalist An American who supported a stronger central government in the United States
Antifederalist An American who wanted to limit the powers of the federal government, to give more freedom to the states and people
Federalist Papers A series of essays written my Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and Jon Jay to explain and defend the Constitution (Written for the NY ratification convention)
amend The process of making a formal change to a legal document (i.e. making a change to the Constitution)
LAB: Federalists v Antifederalists • The Constitutional Convention met in 1787 to draft a new Constitution. • One of the biggest debates at the Constitutional Convention was over representation—populous states wanted proportional representation, and emptier states wanted equal representation. The Great Compromise solved the problem. Congress would have two legislative houses—a Congress (with 2 Senators from each state) and a House of Representatives (with 1 Representative for every 30,000 people). • Anti-Federalists thought that the solution was not good enough. They wanted more representation. They worried that 1 person could not adequately represent 30,000 people. Federalists disagreed. • After the Constitution was written, it had to be ratified by 9 states. There were very extensive debates between Federalists (who supported the Constitution) and Anti-Federalists (who opposed a strong central government). • Today, we are going to read some documents from the New York Constitution Ratification Convention in June 1787, which was from the most heatedly debated of all the states.
Who’s who? Federalists Antifederalists Thomas Jefferson, “Brutus” and “Cato” Small farmers, shopkeepers, laborers Believed in the decency of the common man and in participatory democracy (closer to direct democracy). Viewed elites as corrupt. Sought greater protection of individual rights. Wanted stronger state governments at the expense of the federal government. Frequent elections, smaller districts, more direct democracy. • Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay – all known as “Publius” (Federalist Papers) • Property owners, landed rich, merchants • Believed in elitism. Saw themselves and those of their class as most fit to govern. • Powerful central government. 2 house legislature. Representative democracy, with single representatives for 30,000 people.
What happened? • New York ratified the Constitution by a vote of 30-27 (the narrowest margin of victory of any state that met in 1787-88). • The Anti-Federalists lost the battle but won the war. The first 10 amendments to the Constitution—the Bill of Rights—were ratified in 1791. These addressed many of the issues that the Anti-Federalists raised in the conventions.
Cornell Notes Section 2.4 Essential Question: What challenges did the Constitution face during the ratification process?
Federalists v Antifederalists • Framers created a system to ratify the Constitution • 9 of 13 states had to approve the document • The debates around ratification created 2 groups with opposing viewpoints • Federalists (Supporters of a strong federal gov. ) believed: • Believed A.O.C. gave too much power to states- which weakened federal government • Disputes between states made it impossible for federal government to function • Believed new constitution gave government the authority it needed- while still protecting the rights of states • Federalist Paperswere written to explain and defend constitution- still cited by courts today in decisions about government • Antifederalists (Opposed the constitution, wanted stronger states gov.) believed: • New constitution made federal government too strong • Made the President too powerful (People trusted G. Washington- but what about those who come after?)
Demanding a Bill of Rights • Antifederalists worried the constitution didn’t list freedoms of individual • Federalists claimed it was impossible to list all ‘natural rights’, and constitution was designed to protect individuals as is • Antifederalists demanded a ‘Bill of Rights’ to protect basic freedoms like speech and religion • Worried a government could easily ignore rights of citizens • Had just fought a revolution against a government who abused power • Constitution also granted President power to veto (cancel) laws made by Congress (People’s representatives)- and citizens needed to be protected if one person could have so much power • George Mason- who wrote the ‘Bill of Rights’ for Virginia’s constitution- joined the antifederalists after the framers refused to include a “Bill of Rights’ at constitutional convention • Wrote a pamphlet opposing constitution called “Objections to this Constitution of Government”- opening words said ‘There is no Declaration of Rights”
The Ratification Process • The states would all hold conventions to vote on ratifying the new constitution • Provided the public of each state a chance to hear arguments for and against the new proposed government • Several states ratified quickly- swayed by federalists and their defense of the constitution • Massachusetts was the first real test- where influential patriot leaders were slow to support the constitution • Eventually Patriot leaders would support ratification after convincing state to ask for a Bill of Rights • Virginia and New York were two key battleground states • Both states would finally choose to ratify after Federalists conceded that they would support the inclusion of a ‘Bill of Rights’ • On May 29, 1790, Rhode Island became the last state to ratify the constitution
Amending the Constitution • First Presidential election happened in January 1789 • George Washington was elected President, John Adams became Vice President • Shortly after the election- Congress met and began working on a ‘Bill of Rights’ • The immediate inclusion was an agreement made to reach ratification in many states • The framers created a process for ‘amending’ the constitution- but they made it difficult so changes could not be made easily • In 1789- Congress proposed 12 amendments written by James Madison • Amendments went to ratification at the state level- ¾ (75%) of states had to approve an amendment for it to be included in constitution • By December 1791, ¾ of the states had ratified 10 of the amendments • These 10 amendments became known as the ‘Bill of Rights’ • Madison insisted the government did not give these rights- they are ‘natural rights’ the government cannot take away