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Rhode Island was a fiercely independent colony, and in fact, it declared its freedom from the crown before the Declaration of Independence was signed. To ratify the Constitution would have meant giving up a great deal of that independence to the higher authority of a federal government. This kind of thinking led to Rhode Island being the very last colony to ratify the Constitution, and in fact, it did so only because the other colonies threatened to treat it as a foreign nation, subjecting its exported goods to tariffs. There could have been a considerable backlash on the part of small farmers, whose produce could not then compete, and I imagine that a small farmer could easily vote against ratification out of anger at the threat. There was also a contingent of Loyalists in parts of Rhode Island, and any of those who were small farmers would have been likely to vote against ratification, too. In general, I would have to say that politically, a small farmer in those days or a small farmer today would have the same sorts of "big government" concerns. The tension of states' rights versus federal rights is rooted in the fabric of our country and its origins.
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