Compare and contrast the Federalists and Anti-federalists?

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mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

scisser | Student

There are major differences between both federalists and anti-federalists based on their political beliefs.

One of the big differences is their idea of government. The Federalists preferred a strong, central government, whereas the Anti-Federalists wanted a smaller central government with more power to the individual states.

Another issue was over the Bill of Rights. The federalists came up with the Constitution which said what the government could do. However, many federalists, because they did not trust the government, wanted a Bill of Rights which would say what the government could not do.

The only similarities that I can think of are that both groups wanted what was best, in their own minds, for the country.

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