The delegates to the Constitutional Convention were realists. They knew that the greatest battles would take place after the convention, once the Constitution had already been drafted and signed. The delegates had overstepped their bounds. Instead of amending the Articles of Confederation by which the American states had previously been governed, they had proposed an entirely new government. Under these circumstances, the convention was understandably reluctant to submit its work to the Congress for approval.
Instead, the delegates decided to pursue what amounted to a revolutionary course. They declared that ratification of the new Constitution by nine states would be sufficient to establish the new government. In other words, the Constitution was being submitted directly to the people. Not even the Congress, which had called the convention, would be asked to approve its work.
The leaders of the convention shrewdly wished to bypass the state legislatures, which were attached to states’ rights and which required in most cases the agreement of two houses. For speedy ratification of the Constitution, the single-chambered, specially elected state ratifying conventions offered the greatest promise of agreement.
Battle lines were quickly drawn. The Federalists, as the supporters of the Constitution were called, had one solid advantage: they came with a concrete proposal. Their opponents, the Antifederalists, came with none. Since the Antifederalists were opposing something with nothing, their objections, though sincere, were basically negative. They stood for a policy of drift while the Federalists were providing clear leadership.
Furthermore, although the Antifederalists claimed to be the democratic group, their opposition to the Constitution did not necessarily spring from a more democratic view of government. Many of the Antifederalists were as distrustful of the common people as their opponents. In New York, for example, Governor George Clinton criticized the people for their fickleness and their tendency to “vibrate from one extreme to another.” Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, who refused to sign the Constitution, asserted that “the evils we experience flow from the excess of democracy,” and John F. Mercer of Maryland professed little faith in his neighbors as voters when he said that “the people cannot know and judge the character of candidates.”
Question: The author is primarily concerned with
- contrasting the opposing sides in a battle
- analyzing the effects of an event
- urging a reassessment of history
- criticizing the opponents of a plan
- describing the background of conflict
Question: According to the passage, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention did not submit their work to Congress for approval because
- they knew that most members of congress would want to broaden the powers of the national government
- it was unclear whether Congress had the legal right to offer or withhold such approval
- they considered it more democratic to appeal directly to the citizens of the separate states
- they believed that Congress would not accept the sweeping changes they had proposed
- Congress was dominated by a powerful group of Antifederalist leaders
Question: According to the passage, in contrast to most state legislatures, state ratifying conventions were
- characterized by strong leadership
- nearly unanimous in their support of the new Constitution
- opposed to states’ rights
Question: The author characterizes the leaders of the Constitutional Convention as
- shrewd and visionary
- liberal and enlightened
- radical and idealistic
- clever and pragmatic
- eloquent and persuasive
Question: In stating that the Antifederalists “were opposing something with nothing” , the author suggests that the Antifederalists
- based most of their arguments on their antidemocratic sentiments
- lacked leaders who were as articulate as the Federalist leaders
- were unable to rally significant support for their position among the populace
- had few reasonable arguments to put forth in support of their position
- offered no alternative plan of government of their own
Question: Which of the following statements about Elbridge Gerry can be inferred from the passage?
- He was a delegate to the Massachusetts state ratifying convention.
- He was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention.
- He was the architect of the “policy of drift” advocated by the Antifederalists.
- He claimed to have a more democratic view of government than the Federalists.
- He was one of the leaders of the Antifederalist Party.
Question: The author’s quotation of John F. Mercer serves which of the following functions in the passage?
- It summarizes the last paragraph.
- It furnishes a concrete example.
- It articulates the main point of the passage.
- It clarifies the preceding quotation.
- It expresses a general conclusion.
Question: Which of the following would be the most appropriate title for the passage?
- Divided Leadership at the Constitutional Convention
- How the Constitution Became Law
- The U.S. Constitution: Its Strengths and Weaknesses
- The Battle for Ratification of the Constitution
- The Views of the Antifederalists on Democracy
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