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The state of Rhode Island did not send any delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787 because they were afraid of exactly what ended up happening. That is, they were afraid that the convention would create a new set of laws that would give too much power to the national government.
Many state governments liked the status quo under the Articles of Confederation. They did not want the national government to become more powerful. They suspected that the elites who were gathering in Philadelphia were likely to create such a government. They thought that by refusing to participate they could prevent this from happening since the Articles could only be amended with unanimous approval of the states. As it was, the Convention circumvented that law and did indeed create the new Constitution that gave much more power to the national government.
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