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1 - The New Constitution

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 January 2019

Gerald Leonard
Affiliation:
Boston University
Saul Cornell
Affiliation:
Fordham University, New York
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Summary

Chapter 1 describes the origins of the U.S. Constitution Rather than revise the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution changed the trajectory of American political and legal l development. In a wide-ranging public debate over ratification, two heterogeneous, but opposing political movements emerged, Federalists and Anti-Federalists. Neither group was an organized modern-style party, but each developed their distinctive visions of America’s constitutional future, one decidedly nationalist and the other more state-centered. No permanent Anti-Federalist party emerged after the adoption of the Constitution. The strong antiparty feeling of the time and the recognition that the amended Constitution could be used effectively as a barrier against further concentration of power in the federal government militated against the creation of such an opposition. Although he had originally opposed amendments to the Constitution, the arch-Federalist James Madison was tasked with digesting the many proposals for amendments and whittling them down to a list of twelve. Although modern Americans are apt to see the first eight amendments as the core of the Bill of Rights, it was the Tenth Amendment’s protections for federalism that were seen as the most important at the time
Type
Chapter
Information
The Partisan Republic
Democracy, Exclusion, and the Fall of the Founders' Constitution, 1780s–1830s
, pp. 8 - 41
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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