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Question: What was the argument against the new Constitution from opponents of a strong central government? What was the response of those who advocated fundamental change?
Opponents of a strong central government, also known as Anti-Federalists, had several key arguments against the new U.S. Constitution: 1. Centralized Power: Anti-Federalists were concerned that the new Constitution would create a national government that was too powerful, at the expense of the states. They feared that a strong central government would become tyrannical, much like the monarchy they had recently fought against in the Revolutionary War. 2. Lack of a Bill of Rights: At the time of the Constitution's drafting, it did not originally include a bill of rights. Anti-Federalists feared the lack of such a document would leave citizens' rights unprotected and lead to government abuse. 3. Representation: Critics of the Constitution felt that the new system of representation would be undemocratically biased in favor of the wealthy and well-educated, potentially marginalizing the voice of ordinary citizens or smaller states. On the other hand, advocates for fundamental change, also known as Federalists, responded to these criticisms with the following appeals: 1. Separation of Powers: In response to fears about tyrannical central government, supporters of the Constitution stressed the separation of powers. The government would be divided into three branches, each with the ability to check and balance the others. This, they said, would help prevent any single faction or entity from gaining too much power. 2. Bill of Rights: Proponents of the Constitution agreed to add a bill of rights to the Constitution, which assuaged the fears of many Anti-Federalists. It included protections like freedom of speech and religion, and the right to a fair trial, among others. 3. Representation: In response to concerns about representation, Federalists noted that the Constitution provided for a bicameral legislature—a Senate to represent the states and a House of Representatives to represent the people. This, they argued, was a fair system that protected both individual and state rights. The Federalists were ultimately successful in their advocacy for the Constitution, which was ratified in 1788, and the Bill of Rights was added in 1791.
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