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Federalists and Anti-Federalists Essay

Between the years of 1787 and 1788, a debate arose over the constitution in the state legislatures along with a debate raged in newspapers and pamphlets throughout America’s thirteen colonies following the Constitutional Convention. There were two sides of this debate that felt towards the constitution in a total opposite way as each other. These two sides were the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. Federalists defended the constitution while Anti-Federalists opposed it. Most people that were a part of the Federalists were well educated and propertied class.

Most of these people lived in settled areas along the seaboard. They believed that the Articles of Confederation were weak and ineffective and that national government needed to be strong in order to function. Foreign policy powers needed to be strengthened while excesses at home needed to be controlled. They believed that strong national government needed to control uncooperative states and that those men of experience and talent should govern that nation. The national government should have all control, along with protecting the rights of the people.

They wanted the constitution of state governments to protect individual freedoms without bill of rights. Federalists were in favor of establishing the constitution with almost any means possible and they were more sympathetic to separation of church and state. Anti-Federalists were mostly states’ rights advocates, backcountry farmers, poor farmers, the ill-educated and illiterate, debtors, and paper money advocates. In general, the Anti-Federalists were the poorer classes of society.

They believed that the Articles of Confederation were a good plan for the nation, and they opposed strong central government, believing that it threatened the rights of the common people. To Anti-Federalists, the constitution was created by aristocratic elements and they suspected it was a plot to suppress liberty of the masses. They also opposed a standing army and the constitution. They believed the constitution favored wealthy men and preserved their power, because the constitution opposed the drawing of annual elections for representatives.

Without this method, only the rich picked the rich representatives, who, in turn, favored the rich people in their decisions. The constitution also lacked a bill of rights by being able to override the bills of rights created by state governments. They also argued against the 2/3 ratification plan, since the Articles of Confederation required unanimous consent. Anti-Federalists opposed omitting any reference to God and therefore, the law should go with the laws of God.


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