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Ratifying the Constitution Dbq

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Ratifying the Constitution Dbq

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  • December 2010
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What were the major arguments used by each side (the supporters and the opponents) in the debates over the ratification of the U.S. Constitution?
The Constitution of the United States was written in 1787, yet there was a struggle for its ratification that went on until 1790. Members of Congress believed that the Articles of Confederation, the first government of the United States, needed to be altered while others did not want change. After the Revolutionary War, there was a need for strong state centered governments, rather than a strong central government based on their experience as a colony. However, an investigation of the historical record reveals that the Articles of Confederation were not meeting the needs of Americans, and the need for a new Constitution was desired. This desired Constitution created a huge dispute and argument between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists.

The people who supported the new Constitution, the Federalists, began to publish articles supporting ratification. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay eventually compiled 85 essays as The Federalist Papers. These supporters of the Constitution believed that the checks and balances system would allow a strong central government to preserve states' rights. They felt that the Articles of Confederation was too weak and that they were in need for a change (http://www.congressforkids.net/Constitution_ratifyingconstitution.htm). President George Washington wrote a letter to John Jay on August 1, 1786. In this letter Washington agrees with Jay’s criticism of the Articles of Confederation and says “we have errors to correct. We have probably had to good an opinion of human nature in forming our confederation…” The Articles of Confederation had “errors” that needed to be corrected. He complained that the thirteen “disunited states” could never agree. He also suggest that human nature being what it was, America needed a stronger, less democratic national government (doc.3)....