Antifederalists’ Victory in Defeat

With the narrow approval of the constitution, the Federalists had successfully waged a remarkable political campaign of enormous significance and sweeping change. For the first time, the people of a nation freely considered and approved their form of government. The development of an American national identity was spurred on and closely linked to the Constitution.

The Federalists’ efforts and goals were built upon expanding this national commitment and awareness. But the Antifederalists even in defeat contributed enormously to the type of national government created through ratification. Their key objection challenged the purpose of a central government that didn’t include specific provisions protecting individual rights and liberties.

To the Antifederalists, the Separation of Powers was too mild to protect against the threat of government tyranny. As a result, states beginning with Massachusetts ratified the Constitution, but called for further protection to be taken up by the new Congress as soon as it met. The adoption of the Bill of Rights is a legacy of the victory-in-defeat of Antifederalists. Their continued participation in the political process even when they seemed to have lost on the more general issue had immense importance.

The Constitution was created out of a tough-minded political process that demanded hard work, disagreement, compromise and conflict. Out of that struggle the modern American nation took shape and continued to modify.

Source: Antifederalists’ Victory in Defeat
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