The Articles of Confederation and the original constitutions of the founding states reflected a political desire for more decentralized state power that did not mirror the centralized power of the British government. Through the Articles of Confederation, the federal government did not hold strong, centralized power over the nation. Rather, states held significant power compared to the federal government. This power dynamic between states and the federal government of early America was a response to the authoritarian power of the centralized British government. Some of the founders of the early nation-state, such as Jefferson, thought that a decentralized federal government could prevent some of the authoritarian control that centralized states exhibit. Without a federally controlled military, for instance, the federal government would have much more trouble controlling the population of the nation.
Of course, even under this system in which the federal government did not hold as much power over the population, many people still experienced immense repression as none of the so-called "founding fathers" sought to abolish slavery or end the genocide and displacement of indigenous peoples. As such, states were able to continue legalizing slavery, genocide, and the varying levels of oppression that occurred against people who weren't land-owning white men.