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Ratification and Composition Debates of Constitution

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The composition and ratification of the Constitution was very controversial as the American people had varying opinions. Many of the American people were afraid of a central government that was too strong, a tyranny. The Americans had seen their previous government raise taxes on them with great intensity, and they feared it would happen again. Slavery was a big question, as it seemed immoral and led to a misrepresentation of the states in government. States power versus federal power, taxation, and slavery were all debates surrounding the ratification and composition of the Constitution.

The Constitution of the United States of America was made up of many ideas from writers and other state constitutions; for example, the Constitution of Pennsylvania. The colonists had a fear of a government that was too strong and would abuse them, as they had experienced before. "The powers of Congress are totally inadequate to preserve the balance between the respective states, and oblige them to do those things which are essential for their own welfare or for the general good." (Henry Knox, Letter to George Washington) Anti-federalists were pleased with their state governments, as they felt the state could represent the people better rather than a national government. Anti-federalists were against the ratification of the Constitution because they believed a central government would work opposite to the welfare of public good. Federalists believed a central power was needed. The Constitution was the basis for a central government. Checks and balances were put in place to ensure that no one branch of the federal government was stronger than the other. For example, the legislative department was split into two branches; the Senate and the House of Representatives. (A Declaration of the Inhabitants of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (1780). The new government intact would not put down its citizens thoughts, as Thomas Jefferson said himself: "I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical." (Thomas Jefferson to James Madison). Jefferson was saying that citizens should speak out about what they felt was unjust, it was healthy for the government. In essence, one of the biggest debates about the Constitution was federal power versus state power. Federalists believed a central government was needed, anti-federalists believed that state power was enough. As a compromise between the Federalists and the Anti- Federalists the Bill or Rights was added, protecting the rights of the people from the government.

The Stamp Act, Sugar Act, and Townshed Revenue Acts are all examples of excessive taxes the colonists had been expected to pay under the British crown. The colonists feared a central government would tax them unfairly as they had been before. Taxation was another issue in the ratification and composition of the Constitution. Taxes are needed, the



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