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This four-page undergraduate paper discusses the opposition that American leaders encountered after the Revolution, as a result of deciding to form a central government. The states feared that such a government would suppress them and would interfere with their internal affairs. Consequently, heated debates and uprisings characterize this period, which started with the framing of Articles in 1777 and ended with the final adoption of the United States constitution in 1787.

STATES' ARGUMENTS AGAINST A CENTRAL GOVERNMENT

American leaders faced much opposition from the states after the American Revolution as a result of deciding to form a central government. The states feared that such a government would suppress them and would interfere with their internal affairs. Consequently, heated debates and uprisings characterize this period, which started with the framing of Articles in 1777 and ended with the final adoption of the United States constitution in 1787.

The American Revolution holds a very prominent place in the history of this country, as it was the longest and the most painful war Americans ever encountered. It took many years and numerous conflicts to finally gain independence in 1776 from British domination, which had been subjugating its colonies with laws of an unwritten constitution. It must be understood that though Americans were fighting for the right of democracy and each state wanted self-government, later that same issue turned into a big problem. Soon after America became independent, the former British colonies decided to form their own governments. It was then that the real battle began. The task of forming separate constitutions for each state, along with the formation of governmental institutions, turned in to a huge task -- a task so gigantic that it forced some states to rethink the matter and soon the rumors of a central government started circulating.

It was then that the leaders of the nation decided to write a central constitution, which would be followed by all states. This is when the power struggle began. While some states agreed to the proposal, several states completely rejected it and others were indecisive as to what would be the right thing to do. There were so many issues that arose that the individual states urged the people to reject the idea of a central government, because it would, purportedly, create undue interference in a state's internal matters. The people who opposed the proposal were known as Anti-federalists. They wrote many articles against the concept of a central government, which were printed under pseudonyms.

The arguments raised against the central government appeared in many newspapers. For example, a paper under the name of 'Brutus' was published on October 18, 1787. It addressed the people of New York and argued that the idea of central government was not suitable as it might result in suppression of states. It stated very clearly that the constitution should not be adopted, as its goal was providing the central government with ‘absolute and uncontrollable power' in every area including the three main arenas of government, legislative, executive and judicial. The last clause of section 8th, article 1st, was deemed as unfair as it stated, “that the Congress shall have power to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this constitution, in the government of the United States; or in any department or office thereof.” The writer argued that these kinds of laws were framed so that the states would have no independent powers to resolve their internal affairs. It was believed this writer that the central government would intervene in every matter and that would result in even more subjugation that the states had experienced at the hands of the British.

Ultimately, while the original thirteen states went through the process of ratification of the constitution, it was very disturbing period in the history of America. After the articles were framed, they had to be approved by all thirteen states. The three states which agreed to participate in the process of forming a central constitution and influenced it the most were, “Virginia (the first written declaration of rights), New York (the first popularly elected executive, armed with a veto that could be overridden by a supermajority vote in the legislature), and Massachusetts (ideas of separation of powers and checks and balances, the constitutional convention as a method for framing constitutions, and popular ratification as a method for adopting constitutions)” (WHAT WAS THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION? 1760-1836). While some states agreed to the proposal almost immediately, there were others, which remained indecisive for a long time. This is because the states feared that the new constitution would give unfair powers to the central government, and they might later regret the decision of adopting a united constitution. Though the Articles of Confederation were framed in 1777, it took four years to get approved by all states, with Maryland being the last state to ratify it. Finally, in 1787 the United States constitution was adopted and a central government was formed. Anti-federalists also raised voice against the Articles, which declared that “this constitution, and the laws of the United States, which shall be made in pursuance thereof, and the treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the constitution, or law of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.” From these Articles, anti-federalists concluded, it was clear that there was need for separate state laws and the central government would have the absolute powers to control every state. This was the biggest fear and the greatest argument in the way of central government.

Factors like these convinced some people to resist the idea of a central controlling body. However, those who were in favor of the central government dismissed such fears claiming the a central government was being formed to unite the country under one force and that it did not aim at snatching the liberty or basic rights of the citizens. This argument was eventually accepted by the states. Ultimately, while American leaders faced much opposition from the states after the American Revolution as a result of deciding to form a central government, the U.S. Constitution was eventually approved and accepted.

REFERENCES

1)Essay IV: 1760-1836IV. WHAT WAS THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION? 1760-1836

2)BRUTUS, THE ANTI-FEDERALIST PAPERS, 18 OCT, 1787

3)"JOHN DEWITT", ANTI-FEDERALIST PAPERS, MASSACHUSETTS, OCTOBER 22, 1787

Sources are available online:

http://www.constitution.org/afp/brutus01.txt

http://www.askeric.org/Virtual/Lessons/crossroads/sec2/essay04.html

http://www.constitution.org/afp/dewitt01.htm

 

 

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