U.S. leaders who opposed the strong central government envisioned in the Constitution of the United States of 1787.

Their agitation led to the creation of the Bill of Rights. While admitting the need for changes in the Articles of Confederation, they feared that a strong federal government would infringe on states' rights. The group's adherents, including George Mason, Patrick Henry, Thomas Paine, Samuel Adams, and George Clinton, were as numerous as the members of the Federalist Party, but their influence was weak in urban areas, and only Rhode Island and North Carolina voted against ratification of the Constitution. Anti-Federalists were powerful during the presidency of Thomas Jefferson, when they formed the nucleus of what later became the Democratic Party.

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▪ United States history
      in early U.S. history, a loose political coalition of popular politicians such as Patrick Henry who unsuccessfully opposed the strong central government envisioned in the U.S. Constitution of 1787 and whose agitations led to the addition of a Bill of Rights. The first in the long line of states'-rights (states' rights) advocates, they feared the authority of a single national government, upper-class dominance, inadequate separation of powers, and loss of immediate control over local affairs. Stilling their opposition in order to support the first administration of President George Washington, the Anti-Federalists in 1791 became the nucleus of the Jeffersonian Republican Party (subsequently Democratic-Republican (Democratic Party), finally Democratic) as strict constructionists of the new Constitution and in opposition to a strong national fiscal policy.

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Universalium. 2010.

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