What were the differences between Anti-Federalists and Federalists?

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The difference between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists centered around the power of the American federal government and the Constitution. Their debate eventually led to the ratification of the Constitution, but only once the Bill of Rights was approved to ensure that the rights of the citizens would be protected.

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The difference between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists centered around the power of the American federal government and the Constitution. Their debate eventually led to the ratification of the Constitution, but only once the Bill of Rights was approved to ensure that the rights of the citizens would be protected.

Federalists felt that the Articles of Confederation were too weak. This had been evidenced through a number events like Shays's Rebellion. They believed that the stronger federal government provided by the Constitution would serve to solve these problems.

Anti-Federalists opposed the ratification of the Constitution because they feared it would create a federal government like the British one they had just revolted against. They were afraid that such a strong federal government would lead to the loss of freedoms for citizens. Many Anti-Federalists felt that the Articles of Confederation simply needed to be revised.

Ultimately, Anti-Federalists were unable to prevent the ratification of the Constitution. While the Anti-Federalists failed to prevent ratification of the Constitution, they did succeed in gaining the inclusion of the Bill of Rights to ensure that certain liberties would be guaranteed to the American people.

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The main differences between the Anti-Federalists and the Federalists really boiled down to one philosophical issue. Essentially, the Anti-Federalists feared that the powers granted to the federal government under the new Constitution were too extensive. Most believed that these powers could be most safely held by the states, and that granting them to the federal government represented a threat to basic liberties. They argued for changes that went along a broad spectrum. Some thought the best way to restrain these powers was by adding a Bill of Rights, and they refused to support ratification without a promise that a Bill of Rights would be added. Others argued for structural changes to the Constitution itself, such as eliminating Congress's power to set the time and place of federal elections. Still others (though a minority) argued for outright rejection of the document and for a new convention to amend the Articles of Confederation along more agreeable lines. The Anti-Federalists objected to the Constitution on many grounds, but fears of centralized power lay at the heart of most of their complaints.

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