Key Terms and Events
As opposed to Federalists, people that feared a strong central government,
supported states' rights, and opposed ratification of the U.S.
Constitution. Anti-federalists insisted that a Bill of Rights must be
included in the Constitution to protect individual's rights against a powerful
central government. Anti-federalists typically were members of the poorer
classes, but also included patriots Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, James
Monroe, and Richard Henry Lee. Anti-federalists strongly opposed the
ratification of the U.S. Constitution in Virginia and New York.
Articles of Confederation
The document that served as the first official constitution of the United States
from 1781 through 1789. The Articles of Confederation
dictated a loose
organization of 13 independent states, joined together with equal representation
in a Congress, in order to provide for the common defense. The Articles proved
too weak to effectively govern the young nation, however, and delegates meeting
at the Annapolis Convention in 1786 recommended that a new convention be
called to discuss revision of the Articles. SparkNote on the Articles of
A confederacy is a form of government in which independent states are
loosely joined, typically for common defense. Each independent state maintains
power over the majority of its own affairs.
As opposed to anti-Federalists, people that favored a strong central
government, feared too much power in the hands of the masses, and strongly
supported the U.S. Constitution. Federalists were typically members
of the cultured and propertied classes, and included Alexander Hamilton,
James Madison, and John Jay. The Federalist perspective was codified in
the form of 85 essays that appeared in New York newspapers between 1787 and
1788, and later published as The Federalist.
To approve or accept an official or legal document. Article VII of the U.S.
Constitution states that 9 states must ratify the document before it
became the official law of the land.
The official document that is the basis of the U.S. Government. The U.S.
was officially put into effect on March 4, 1789 and has been in
effect, with some amendments, ever since. SparkNote on the U.S.
Held in September 1786 at the request of Virginia, this meeting of the states
aimed to improve the uniformity of commerce. Only 12 delegates participated,
including Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. Sensing a statewide
agreement on the importance of revising the Articles of
Confederation, this convention resolved to call another statewide
convention in May of 1787. This convention would become known as the
Scheduled to begin on May 14, 1787 in Philadelphia PA, the Constitutional
Convention progressed through the summer to establish a new form of government
as described by the U.S. Constitution. Although the convention was
called for the purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation,
delegates from 12 of the 13 states (Rhode Island was absent) expressed an
overwhelming interest in a totally new, and stronger, form of central
government. Upon ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1789, this
agreed upon form of government was put into effect and has operated as the
government of the United States ever since.
Ratification of the U.S. Constitution -
Article VII of the U.S. Constitution indicates that the document
would officially go into effect upon the ratification of 9 of the 13 state
ratifying conventions. When New Hampshire, the 9th state to do so, formally
ratified the Constitution, the Constitutional Convention appointed a committee
to begin planning the transition to the new government. Planning for the new
government was underway even before Virginia, New York, North Carolina and Rhode
Island had formally approved of the government plan.
Daniel Shays organized farmers throughout New England to protest legislation
that increased taxes and demanded immediate debt-repayment. When the state
legislature refused to respond, Shays and his armed followers closed the courts
in Western Massachusetts in protest of foreclosed properties. The rebellion came
to a head when Shays was defeated while trying to seize a federal arsenal of
weapons in Springfield, MA on January 25, 1787. This rebellion demonstrated the
weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation, and convinced many
states of the need for a stronger central government.