The Federalists and Anti-Federalists had a number of political points over which they disputed. One the one hand, while the Federalists were in favor of a strong central government for the United States, the anti-Federalists favored stronger state governance with a weaker Federal government. The Federalists favored a government run by those who controlled the society’s wealth, in contrast with Anti-Federalists who preferred that the general populace be in the position of rule.
Since the Anti-Federalists favored dissemination of power among states and the people in general and the Federalist preferred a more concentrated and centralized government, the major area of contention for the Constitution’s ratification came over the question of a bill of rights. Chief among the Federalists was Alexander Hamilton, and the goal of the cause he and his colleagues supported was to strengthen the government for the formation of policies that would push the economy forward.
The arguments of the Federalists in favor of a strong central government included the support of a national bank and of a constitution that gave strong power to the executive branch of the government. However, the Anti-Federalists argued against such strictly republican policies, as the country was seen to be too large and the wealth of its citizens too varied for such a government to be effective. Furthermore, the Anti-Federalists argued that with a strong central government, the governing state bodies would become obsolete and disintegrate—leaving the country completely in the hands of an impersonal Federal government.
Such Anti-Federalists as George Mason, Mercy Otis Warren, Richard Henry Lee, and orator Patrick Henry were led by James Madison in their bid against the Federalists. Their values rested on the belief that the government should not only be controlled by the citizens, but should contain a built in agreement of the human qualities that should not be violated by any person or institution acting on behalf of the government.
Despite the fact that Anti-Federalists were also in favor of economic growth that might have been provided by the strong central government, this group feared that such a government would threaten the rights of the individual. It was their position that any proper government required the involvement of the citizens at the most basic levels, and such involved could be facilitated only by strong state governments. The decisions made that affected the people most immediately should be those made by state (rather than the Federal) government.
In their opinion, a central government would operate too far away from people and would therefore fall out of touch with their needs. The Anti-Federalists therefore supported the idea of drafting a document in which the rights of United States citizens would be clearly delineated and made an integral part of the constitution. In contrast, the Federalists were against granting constitutionally protected rights to the ordinary citizens, as they argued that countries had in the past been destroyed because of insurgent groups that considered themselves as possessing rights.
The Federalists went on to argue that the constitution had no need of a bill of rights because of the limitations to which the government was to be subject. They cited the separation of powers as a method of central government control. Also, the system of checks and balances, which limit the power of the government, was (in the eyes of the Federalists) enough to guarantee the rights of the citizens. In response to this, the Anti-Federalists argued that any government with a strong executive branch stood in danger of becoming like a monarchy.
References Chin, J. & A. Stern. “Federalists and Anti-Federalists. ” A Road Map to the U. S. Constitution. Thinkquest. 1997. http://library. thinkquest. org/11572/index. html Go, P. “Constitution of the United States: Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists. ” Ezine Articles. 2008 http://ezinearticles. com/? Constitution-Of-The-United-States-Federalists-vs-Anti- Federalists&id=992229 Semonche, J. E. “The Debate over the Constitution: Federalists vs. Antifederalists. ” NCSSM. (North Carolina). http://www. dlt. ncssm. edu/lmtm/docs/fed_vs_anti/script. pdf
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