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date: 05 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

As a national crisis of governing deepened, delegates from a dozen states met in Philadelphia to propose improvements in the existing Congress under the Articles of Confederation. These delegates agreed on the necessity of a more stable republican government with additional powers. But political conflict dominated the Constitutional Convention because some delegates sought to add many broad powers to the national government while others sought to add a few limited national powers while protecting most of the states’ responsibilities. Southerners, determined to protect slavery, won provisions that ensured them additional House seats, maintenance of the slave trade, and the return of fugitive slaves. During the ratification process, opponents of the Constitution, termed “Anti-Federalists,” extensively criticized the document. Key states narrowly ratified the Constitution by mid-1788, and three years later, the states ratified the Bill of Rights, ten amendments that aimed to protect citizens from abuses by the federal government.

Keywords: Articles of Confederation, U.S. Constitution, republicanism, James Madison, Anti-Federalists, The Federalist, Bill of Rights, slavery, commerce, taxes

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