The Constitutional Convention

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Compare and contrast the Federalists and Anti-Federalists.

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Both the Federalists and Anti-Federalists considered their view correct for the young United States. Both came together to hammer out the compromises needed in order to ratify the Constitution.

The Federalists wanted a strong central government. They saw this as the United States's best defense against foreign powers as well as the only way to keep the new nation solvent. They wanted the United States to have a national bank and a strong national army and navy. Some of the more radical Federalists believed that the state governments were not needed at all. The Federalists were also loose constructionists—they wanted to give future national leaders leeway in interpreting the Constitution.

The Anti-Federalists viewed the Constitution as a conservative shift away from the ideals of the American Revolution. They viewed a strong national government as a potential source of tyranny, since it could be aloof from the will of the people, similar to what the colonists experienced under the rule of Parliament. The Anti-Federalists viewed a weak national government as the best safeguard of the people's liberties. They believed in stronger state governments. Since a national army could be used to enforce the will of the national government, Anti-Federalist viewed state militias as the best defense for the young country. The Anti-Federalists were also for limited interpretations of the Constitution as well as leaving banking as a state and local enterprise.

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The Federalist debates were centered around the ratification of the US Constitution. The Federalists were the supporters and advocates of the Constitution, while the Anti-Federalists argued against it. The Federalists believed that the Articles of Confederation were insufficient for guaranteeing the continued survival of the United States and that the realities of governing necessitated an increase in federal power. The Anti-Federalists, on the other hand, believed that the Constitution itself had gone too far in favoring federal power and represented a threat to liberty.

Both the Federalists and Anti-Federalists harbored concerns about the future of the United States. Furthermore, both sides in this debate made use of argumentation and discourse in order to mobilize opinion in their favor. Finally, both the Federalists and Anti-Federalists had an impact in shaping American democracy. The Federalists were successful in seeing the Constitution ratified. On the other hand, the criticisms and concerns raised by the Anti-Federalists were critical in shaping the Bill of Rights.

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The creation of the US Constitution in Philadelphia in 1787 was controversial because the Founding Fathers exceeded their authority by scrapping the old Articles of Confederation. They had concluded that the Articles of Confederation were too flawed, so they they replaced it entirely. After completing their work, the Founding Fathers sent it to the states for ratification: nine of the thirteen states had to ratify the Constitution for it to become valid.

Federalists and Anti-Federalists factions emerged, and they engaged in a fierce debate over the Constitution. The Federalists urged the states to ratify the document and the Anti-Federalists were opposed to it. Newspapers reported on the controversy, and they were read by Americans everywhere. Leading Federalists published The Federalist to convince skeptics. The Federalist was a series of 85 essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. They successfully argued that the strong new government would not trample on the people's rights. Finally, the anti-Federalists agreed after the "Bill of Rights" was added to the Constitution.

After the ninth state, New Hampshire, ratified the Constitution, it went into effect in 1788.

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The Federalists and the Anti-federalists were the first major political parties in the United States. The Anti-federalists were known as the Democratic-Republican Party. Both of these groups were political parties in the early days of our country under the Constitution. Both were supportive of our new country. They had different visions of how the country should operate.

The Federalists believed in having a strong federal government. They believed one of the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation was that the federal government lacked power. The Federalists believed in a loose interpretation of the Constitution. A loose interpretation would allow the federal government to do many things not specifically listed in the Constitution. The Federalists supported Hamilton’s debt plan and the development of a national bank. Many business people supported this party, especially in the Northeast. The Federalists also want friendlier relations with Great Britain. John Adams and Alexander Hamilton were Federalists.

The Anti-federalists or the Democratic-Republicans wanted the power of the federal government to be limited. They believed state governments should have more power. They were big believers in a strict interpretation of the Constitution. This would limit the power of the federal government. They were not in favor of the national bank since the Constitution didn’t mention that idea. They also wanted low taxes. The support for this party was mainly in the South, especially among farmers who weren’t plantation owners. These people wanted a friendlier relationship with France. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were members of this party.

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