March 10, 2018
Explain why the United States Constitution submitted to the states for ratification did not contain a bill of rights, what the two main motivations were that prompted the Anti-Federalists to demand a bill of rights, the two main reasons the Federalists Congress passed a bill of rights, and finally what was the main consequence of the passage of the Bill of Rights.
The two competing parties at the outset of this nation were possibly the two most cooperative in history despite being so polarized; The Federalists and Antifederalists. The Antifederalists were originally supportive of the Articles of Confederation, America’s first constitution, which weighed in favor of states’ rights. The Constitution as we know it today was a recent and newly drafted document, which the Antifederalists believed would give too much power to the centralized government. At this point they did not even consider themselves part of a bigger nation, but rather Marylanders, New Yorkers, etc. Many American colonists, like Patrick Henry, considered his country to be Virginia. The Federalist Party, formerly the Nationalist party, claimed the title Federalists for themselves in one of the most successful acts of political branding in U.S. history.
The leaders of the Federalists were the ones who named the competing party the Antifederalists thinking that the negative prefix of their name would make them less attractive to potential followers. Both parties could have been called federalists because most were in favor of a confederation of stronger independent states rather than one overarching unitary state, though their opinions on how strong the states should be varied. The Antis regarded the Federalists as power-hungry and conniving liars who used underhanded political tactics. For example, the Federalists drafted the new constitution in secret whilst throwing the Articles of Confederation to the side. They feared that this behavior would breed more such actions if the Federalists gained power. The Federalists saw the Antis as evil and ignorant people that would destroy the country. The Antis were opposed to even the creation of a national government, but the ratification of the Constitution in 1790 was clearly a win for the Federalists. This turn of events gave pause to the Antis, who were afraid that this new national government would inevitably infringe upon their rights and the rights of the states. This led to the Antis passing the first ten amendments to the constitution, later becoming the Bill of Rights. Most Federalists had not considered adding a bill of rights to the Constitution because all the freedoms declared in it would be implied by American citizenship. Through political promises and simple pleas in written letters, the Antifederalists got what they wanted from the Federalists; assurance that their basic rights would not be infringed.
When the Articles of Confederation were ratified m...