While many at the Constitutional Convention saw that a revision to the Articles of Confederation was necessary, a great debate arose between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists over what type of system the country should have. The Federalists wanted to completely change the system and institute a new Constitution. The...
While many at the Constitutional Convention saw that a revision to the Articles of Confederation was necessary, a great debate arose between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists over what type of system the country should have. The Federalists wanted to completely change the system and institute a new Constitution. The Anti-Federalists were mostly happy with the Articles of Confederation and if anything felt that it should only be amended. As history has shown, the Federalists won out in the end, but the Anti-Federalists did win certain concessions to protect their interests.
Generally speaking, the Federalists wanted to rectify the weaknesses of the current system by instituting a strong and powerful central government that was more powerful than state governments. The Anti-Federalists feared that this type of system would be just a different form of tyranny and that strong state governments would better protect the rights and interests of the people. Overall, the Federalists wanted a national government that could tie the states together and create a more organized system.
The Anti-Federalists wanted a system that spelled out exactly what rights the people had and how they were to be protected. However, the Federalists opposed a Bill of Rights. They felt that such a document would end up limiting the rights of the people overall by creating what they called a "parchment barrier." Simply put, they were afraid that by enumerating the rights of the people, anything not so enumerated could be denied. In the end, the 9th and 10th Amendments solved this problem. The 9th Amendment states that the rights of the people shall extend beyond the ones listed. The 10th Amendment grants the states powers not explicitly given in the Constitution. This compromise seemed to quell the fears of both parties and allowed for the adoption of the Constitution along with the Bill of Rights.
In many ways, this was a debate between rural and urban America. The Anti-Federalists did not trust that big government could look out for the interests of the less populated states. The Federalists wanted to bypass much of the representation of the states and have a government with representation more tied to population size. In a compromise, a bicameral legislature was created. In it, the members of the House of Representatives are elected directly by the people and representation is based on population. This part pleased the Federalists. The Anti-Federalists were happy with the inclusion of the Senate in which each state gets equal representation. Furthermore, senators were not originally elected by the electorate but appointed by state legislatures, tying them even closer to the soverignty of individual states.