Constitution of the United States

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Why did the Antifederalists dislike the new Constitution?

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The Antifederalists disliked the new Constitution for several reasons. One concern of the Antifederalists was that the federal government would have too much power. They believed that the states should have more power than the federal government, and this wasn’t the case with the Constitution.

The Antifederalists also believed the federal government was too strong and would begin to abuse its power, just like British did when they ruled the colonies. The Antifederalists argued that the colonists fought to be free from Great Britain so they wouldn’t have too strong of a federal government. The Antifederalists said we were going back to a similar system of a strong federal government with the new Constitution.

The Antifederalists were also concerned that there weren’t protections for the individual rights of the people. They believed the door was open for the federal government to infringe upon the rights of the people. This led to the agreement to add the Bill of Rights to our Constitution, which would protect individual rights of the people.

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The Antifederalists felt that the new Constitution gave the federal government too much power over states and the people, which would make the federal government prone to the tyranny that Americans had once opposed in the British king. In particular, the Antifederalists felt that the President had too much power, and they were particularly opposed to his power to veto legislation passed by the Congress. In addition, they feared the federal courts would have too much power over local courts and that the Senate had so few members that it would be composed of elites who would not represent the will of the people. The Antifederalists pushed for the ratification of the Bill of Rights, the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution, which they felt provided greater safeguards for individual liberties and greater protection for the powers of the states. 

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The Antifederalists disliked the new Constitution because they feared that it was making a federal government that would have too much power.  They felt this both because of what the Constitution did and because of what it did not do.

The Antifederalists felt that the federal government set up by the Constitution was too strong relative to the state governments.  Under the Articles of Confederation, the national government had had very few powers.  It could not, for example, impose taxes on the people.  It had no executive or judiciary.  The Antifederalists liked this situation and did not want to move to one in which the federal government had more power than the states did.

The Antifederalists also felt that there was nothing in the Constitution to protect the people from the federal government.  There were no specific guarantees that the federal government would not take away the rights of the people.  The Constitution, as first written, had none of the protections that were later added in the Bill of Rights.

For these reasons, the Antifederalists felt the Constitution gave too much power to the federal government.

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