In the video below, Professor Joanne Freeman discusses the national debate over the proposed Constitution, arguing that, in many ways, when Americans debated its ratification, they were debating the consequences and meaning of the Revolution. Some feared that a stronger, more centralized government would trample on the rights and liberties that had been won through warfare, pushing the new nation back into tyranny, monarchy, or aristocracy. The Federalist essays represented one particularly ambitious attempt to quash Anti-Federalist criticism of the Constitution. In the end, the Anti-Federalists did have one significant victory, securing a Bill of Rights to be added after the new Constitution had been ratified by the states.
Read a transcript of Professor’s Freeman’s lecture here.