What are some arguments for why the Federalists were right and the Antifederalists were wrong about the Constitution?I have a debate about federalists vs anti-federalists. I am pro federalist. I...

What are some arguments for why the Federalists were right and the Antifederalists were wrong about the Constitution?

I have a debate about federalists vs anti-federalists. I am pro federalist. I need to know why federalist were right and some reasons why the anti federalist were wrong

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davmor1973 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The United States was changing. It was slowly but surely starting to take its place in the international community. As such, it needed a system of government commensurate with its new status. The Articles of Confederation clearly couldn't provide the necessary strength and stability needed for the United States to become a serious player in international affairs, politically and economically.

One argument you could make from a federalist perspective might critique the anti-federalists as dreamers. You could suggest their understanding of republican government was impractical. They championed limited government, individual liberty, and states' rights; in that sense they provided the philosophical underpinning for the American system of government, one still relevant to the present day. However, what they were unable to do was to adapt their important principles to changing circumstances. Having successfully contributed to winning the Revolutionary War, the Articles of Confederation and the anti-federalist principles they encapsulated were incapable of winning the peace, of establishing a long-term viable American polity.

You might make the case that the anti-federalists were also behind the times when it came to the development of the American economy. They were so hide-bound by their utopian ideas that they idealized an agrarian economy at the expense of commerce and trade. Hence they were so hostile towards the establishment of a federal bank. This was an absolutely essential instrument in allowing America to pay off the debts incurred during the war, thereby establishing the credibility necessary for generating international trade and investment, the life-blood of any successful economy.

The anti-federalists, however, attacked this necessary development because they saw it as an example of the centralization of power, which they genuinely believed could lead to the establishment of tyranny worse than that of the British. Their economic focus was on the states, not on a federal level. As a result, they advocated policies that held back the development of the United States economy and effectively handed a veto over the growth of banking and commerce to inefficient economic sectors such as agriculture.

mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are several ideas you should consider as you take the Federalist point of view in this debate. The main idea you should emphasize is that a stronger federal government was needed, which the Antifederalists opposed. The plan of government created by the Articles of Confederation led to a weaker federal government. This created many problems. The government had significant financial problems, trouble dealing with aggressive actions of other countries, and trouble keeping order at home.

The Constitution gave the federal government the power to levy taxes. This would help the government raise money and deal with the debt problem we faced. By allowing the federal government to establish a military, it would be easier for the federal government to take military action when nations, such as Great Britain and Spain, acted aggressively toward the United States.

The Constitution would also allow the federal government to put down internal rebellions. When Shays’s Rebellion occurred, it was the state militia that ended the rebellion. With the ratification of the Constitution, the federal government would have this responsibility.

Finally, with more power, the federal government would be able to act in the best interests of the country. If the state governments had more power, the state governments might focus only on the interests of that state instead of focusing on the best interests of the country.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are two lines of argument that you should use here.

First, you should argue that having a strong national government was better than having strong states.  You should point out that, under the Articles of Confederation, the national government was way too strong.  You should point out that it could not tax the people and therefore couldn't have an effective military.  You should point out that the states were able to erect trade barriers against one another and that made the overall economy of the country weaker than it could have been.

Second, you should argue that the state governments were too close to the people and were, therefore, making bad laws.  You can point to things like the legal tender laws and the laws forgiving debts (stay laws) that were passed by some states and were demanded by the rebels in Shays's Rebellion.  These sorts of laws would have ruined the country's economy and yet they were being passed by various states in response to public pressure.  This shows that having the state governments have power was dangerous because they were too close to the people.