Federalist Arguments

What arguments did the Federalists and the Antifedealist make regarding the Constitution?

A list of comparisons would be very helpful. Thank You! :)

Asked on by shiloh96

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In the Constitutional Convention, the two sides about the nature of government emerged.  The Federalists were guided by the understanding that while freedom is important, it should not come at the cost of law and order.  They were frightened by the emergence of another Shays' Rebellion, where the government was fairly useless against the uprising of a bunch of angry farmers.  The Federalists believed in the strength of the central government to be able to properly function in the wake of both good and difficult times.  The Anti- Federalists were concerned with the presence of rights and personal liberties.  These individuals were scared of another situation such as King George, where individual freedoms are sacrificed by the central authority.  At the same time, they felt that a government that takes away individual freedoms is not worth having.

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geosc | College Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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Constitutional arguments between the Federalists and the Antifederalists:

The Antifederalists thought the Constitution gave the Federal government too much control over commerce; they thought that laws regarding commerce should not be passed except by 3/4 of each chamber of Congress.  The Federalists thought a simple majority was sufficient, as the Constitution provided.

The Antifederalists thought the Federal government should not have so much power over the  state militias as the Constitution gave it.  The Federalists thought the Federal government should have power over the state militias.

The Antifederalists thought the Constitution gave the President too much power and he would end up being like a king.  The Federalists wanted a powerful president.

The Antifederalists thought each state should have the same vote in Congress.  Some Federalists thought more populous states should have more votes in Congress.  Some Federalists thought wealthier states should have more votes in Congress.

The Federalists pointed out that under the Articles of Confederation, the Confederation government could not directly tax the people, thus it could not repay foreign debts, it could not mount a respectable foreign diplomacy, it could not provide for an effective national defense.  The Antifederalists thought that if the Federal government could tax the people directly, it would use this taxing power to raise and spend far more money than good government needs and would grow far bigger and more oppressive than good government needs to be.

The Antifederalists pointed out that the Constitution did not guarantee freedom of speech and other freedoms that Englishmen and British Americans had long enjoyed.  Federalists said that it did not need to guarantee them because it did not give the government permission to violate them.

Antifederalists thought that the Constitution gave the Federal government so much power that it would do things it wanted to do whether or not the Constitution gave permission.  The Federalists said that separation of powers and the very many and diverse interests that existed in so vast a republic would prevent abuses of the power.

The Antifederalists said that the Constitution should provide a means for the states to veto unconstitutional laws by Congress.  The Federalists said "no," the Constitution should provide for the Federal government to veto unconstitutional laws by states.

The Antifederalists said the President should refuse to enforce laws that he thought were unconstitutional and the Supreme Court should refuse to hear cases brought under laws that it thought were unconstitutional.  The Federalists said the Supreme Court should rule on the constitutionality of laws and the President should obey the Court.

The Antifederalists wanted the Federal government to have power to do only what could be done better by all the states collectively than by each state individually.  Things such as national defense, foreign treaties, regulation of commerce.  All other matters, such as welfare, transportation improvements, regulation of property, inspection of businesses, etc., should be left up to the states and the Federal government should have no power over them.  Federalists desired a more powerful central government than this interpretation would have permited.

No doubt there were more arguments than I can remember.

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leabc | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

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In addition to the stronger national government vs states rights arguement, many Anti-Federalists also were hesitant to pass the Constitution as it was written, because it did not provide for individual liberties.  They were promised a set of amendments (Bill of Rights) if ratification could proceed.

Many Federalists were elitists that did not believe in the people's ability to vote wisely.  Some believed that having a king would solve the problem of depending upon an educated population to make wise choice.  Anti-Feds, on the other hand, believed that educating the populus was all that was needed in order to ensure a truly representative government.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There were a few main ways in which these two sides disagreed over the Constitution.

Mainly, they disagreed on how much power the national government should have.  The Federalists thought that the national government would be best at protecting people's rights.  The Antifederalists thought that the state governments would be better.

They also disagreed on whether the people should have more or less control over the government.  The Federalists wanted government to be insulated from the public (fewer offices voted on by the public) while the Antifederalists wanted more public control over the government.

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