Samuel Adams, a prominent figure of the American Revolution, encouraged pro-independence sentiment in the colonies and coordinated resistance to the British Crown. Always concerned with protecting individual liberties, when the Constitutional Convention convened in 1787 with the purpose of expanding the powers of the federal government, Adams refused to attend.
The Constitutional Convention of 1787
Beginning in May 1787, all the colonies-turned-states except Rhode Island sent delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, which met to create a stronger central government. Under the original Articles of Confederation, which the convention sought to replace, the states remained sovereign and the federal government was unable to tax or regulate commerce. Several foreign and domestic issues, in particular an uprising of farmers in Massachusetts known as Shays' Rebellion, convinced leaders throughout the states that a more authoritative central government was vital to the stability of the new nation.
Adams feared that a powerful federal government would threaten the rights and freedoms the colonies had obtained through the revolution. The Massachusetts native boycotted the Constitutional Convention and became one of the best known Anti-Federalists -- citizens who opposed ratification of the Constitution. Anti-Federalists decried the lack of explicit individual liberties in the new governing document, a concern later addressed by the Bill of Rights.
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images