Download Transcript: The Bill of Rights

A central debate in the drafting of the Constitution in 1787 was over the power of the federal government. The key parties in the debates over the structure of the government under the Constitution were the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists.

The two major points of debate were over the power of the federal government, and the related question of whether to include a Bill of Rights. The Federalists wanted a stronger central government and were opposed to a Bill of Rights for several reasons. They felt, for example, that a federal Bill of Rights was unnecessary because individual states had their own Declarations of Rights. The Anti-Federalists, on the other hand, preferred a more state-centered approach to government and insisted on a Bill of Rights to specifically protect individual freedoms.

One solution to the debate over the power of the new federal government was the Bill of Rights. In this video, University of Maryland Professor Whitman Ridgway discusses the origins of the Bill of Rights.

Source: Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, Bill of Rights: Creating the Bill of Rights (Fairfax, VA, 2006), accessed September 20, 2011. Full video in Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media and Loudoun County Public Schools, “Source Analysis: Declaration of Independence,” Foundations of U.S. History, accessed September 16, 2011.


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