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As one member of their opposition, , said, these politicians "will not cherish the great oak which is to reduce them to paltry shrubs." The Federalists favored the creation of a strong federal government that would more closely unite the states as one large, continental nation.
Such a government is centered on a society of landowning farmers who participate in local politics. He felt that the virtues of democratic freedom were best nurtured in an agrarian, or agricultural, society, and that with increasing urbanization, commercialization, and centralization of power would come a decline in political society and eventual tyranny.
Unlike the Anti-Federalists, however, Jefferson supported the Constitution, although rather reluctantly.
One Pennsylvania Anti-Federalist, who signed his articles "Centinel," declared, It is the opinion of the greatest writers, that a very extensive country cannot be governed on democratical principles, on any other plan than a confederation of a number of small republics, possessing all the powers of internal government, but united in the management of their foreign and general concerns. [A]nything short of despotism could not bind so great a country under one government.
Although the Anti-Federalists were united in their opposition to the Constitution, they did not agree on what form of government made the best alternative to it.
After the Constitution was signed and approved by delegates of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, it had to be ratified by the states.
As determined by Article VII of the Constitution, ratification required the approval of nine special state conventions.
Others were even ready to accept the Constitution if it were amended in such a way that the rights of citizens and states would be more fully protected.
The Federalists The Federalists focused their arguments on the inadequacies of national government under the Articles of Confederation and on the benefits of national government as formed by the Constitution.
Federalists had been instrumental in the creation of the Constitution, arguing that it was a necessary improvement on the .
Between September 17, 1787, the day the Constitution was signed by the Constitutional Convention, and May 29, 1790, the day Rhode Island became the thirteenth and last state to ratify the Constitution, the Federalists and Anti-Federalists engaged in a fierce national debate on the merits of the Constitution.