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Anti-federalists-The anti-federalists were mostly farmers and workers. They were also opposed to a strong national government. They believed the original US Constitution made the national government too strong and took too much control over the individual states. They thought the national government should have minimal control. Patrick Henry was a famous anti-federalist.
Federalists-The federalists were prominent businessmen. They tended to consist of wealthier plantation owners and merchants. They were also instrumental in the development of the first US Constitution. They believed in a strong national government. John Adams was a famous federalist.
During the state conventions that considered whether to adopt the Constitution that had been written in the Philadelphia Convention, Federalists were for the adoption of the Constitution while Anti-federalists were some of them against adopting it and other for adopting it only if it was first amended.
Federalists wanted a strong central government that would rule the people of the United States directly and not through the state governments. Anti-federalists wanted a weak central government that would serve the governments of the states by performing those functions of government that could be better preformed by one authority than by 13 different authorities, such as defense and diplomacy. Other functions of government would be performed by the states, not by the federal government.
Federalist were for a system of strong federal courts while Anti-federalists were for limits on the federal courts. For example, Anti-federalists were opposed to the U.S. Supreme Court having original jurisdiction to hear suits between a state and a citizen of another state. The suit would be about the laws of the state involved, so it should be heard by the courts of that state. This power and other powers given to the U.S. courts would result in the destruction of both the judicial function and the legislative function of the state governments. Federalists were for this original jurisdiction and for the U.S. courts having the power of review and veto over the enactments of the state legislatures and the decisions of the state courts.
The Federalists were for the federal government having the power to raise taxes directly from the people. They said that without this power, the U.S. could not have an effective defense nor an effective diplomacy, nor could it repay foreign debts contracted by the government. The Anti-federalists opposed this and were for the federal government getting its money from the state governments. They said that without this check on the federal government, it would become tyrannical over the people and the states.
The Anti-federalists were against the federal government having the power to federalize the state militias. The Federalists were for this power.
The Federalists wanted one commercial policy for the whole country; the Anti-federalists wanted more flexibility in commercial policies to fit the needs of people in different parts of the country. The Anti-federalists thought that powerful commercial interests would use the government to subject some regions of the country to the commercial servitude of other regions, if the government were given this power. George Mason, a plantation master and Anti-federalist thought that any commercial laws passed by the U.S. Congress should have the approval of 3/4 of those present and voting. He had helped draft the U.S. Constitution in the Philadelphia Convention, but he refused to sign it because it did not make this provision.
There were other differences.
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