The Constitutional Convention

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What are the differences between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists? I need to compare and contrast the differences between the leaders and the supporters of the Federalists and Anti-Federalists.

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The Federalists and the anti-Federalists were formed in the debates surrounding ratification of the United States Constitution. When contrasted against the earlier Articles of Confederation, the Constitution represented a dramatic expansion of power for the Federal Government. Worried by this observation, the anti-Federalists sought to build support against the Constitution,...

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The Federalists and the anti-Federalists were formed in the debates surrounding ratification of the United States Constitution. When contrasted against the earlier Articles of Confederation, the Constitution represented a dramatic expansion of power for the Federal Government. Worried by this observation, the anti-Federalists sought to build support against the Constitution, whereas the Federalists wished to ensure its success.

The anti-Federalists were in favor of the political system envisioned by the Articles of Confederation, which envisioned a very weak Federal Government with power primarily situated with the various states. They were nervous about the office of the president, and the potential risks involved with situating so much power with just one person. They opposed the power of the Federal Government to collect taxes. Their most influential criticism, however, centered around the fact that the Constitution (as originally written) did not ensure for a Bill of Rights. In this way, the Federalist Debates were critical in shaping the first ten amendments.

The Federalists rallied to defend the Constitution against these charges. For one thing, they argued that, by ensuring that power remained divided between the different branches of government (and also between the levels of federal and state government), these divisions actually would serve as a check against tyranny. Furthermore, they felt that the system of government as envisioned by the Articles of Confederation had already proven itself inadequate to solve the challenges facing an independent United States. On those grounds, the changes envisioned in the US Constitution were viewed as necessary ones if the country was to survive as a functioning polity.

Ultimately, the Federalists won this debate, as ratification was achieved.

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During the state conventions that considered whether to adopt the Constitution that had been written in the Philadelphia Convention, Federalists were for the adoption of the Constitution while Anti-federalists were some of them against adopting it and other for adopting it only if it was first amended.

Federalists wanted a strong central government that would rule the people of the United States directly and not through the state governments.  Anti-federalists wanted a weak central government that would serve the governments of the states by performing those functions of government that could be better preformed by one authority than by 13 different authorities, such as defense and diplomacy.  Other functions of government would be performed by the states, not by the federal government.

Federalist were for a system of strong federal courts while Anti-federalists were for limits on the federal courts.  For example, Anti-federalists were opposed to the U.S. Supreme Court having original jurisdiction to hear suits between a state and a citizen of another state.  The suit would be about the laws of the state involved, so it should be heard by the courts of that state.  This power and other powers given to the U.S. courts would result in the destruction of both the judicial function and the legislative function of the state governments.  Federalists were for this original jurisdiction and for the U.S. courts having the power of review and veto over the enactments of the state legislatures and the decisions of the state courts.

The Federalists were for the federal government having the power to raise taxes directly from the people.  They said that without this power, the U.S. could not have an effective defense nor an effective diplomacy, nor could it repay foreign debts contracted by the government.  The Anti-federalists opposed this and were for the federal government getting its money from the state governments.  They said that without this check on the federal government, it would become tyrannical over the people and the states.

The Anti-federalists were against the federal government having the power to federalize the state militias.  The Federalists were for this power.

The Federalists wanted one commercial policy for the whole country; the Anti-federalists wanted more flexibility in commercial policies to fit the needs of people in different parts of the country.  The Anti-federalists thought that powerful commercial interests would use the government to subject some regions of the country to the commercial servitude of other regions, if the government were given this power.  George Mason, a plantation master and Anti-federalist thought that any commercial laws passed by the U.S. Congress should have the approval of 3/4 of those present and voting.  He had helped draft the U.S. Constitution in the Philadelphia Convention, but he refused to sign it because it did not make this provision.

There were other differences.

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Anti-federalists-The anti-federalists were mostly farmers and workers. They were also opposed to a strong national government. They believed the original US Constitution made the national government too strong and took too much control over the individual states. They thought the national government should have minimal control. Patrick Henry was a famous anti-federalist.

Federalists-The federalists were prominent businessmen. They tended to consist of wealthier plantation owners and merchants. They were also instrumental in the development of the first US Constitution. They believed in a strong national government. John Adams was a famous federalist.


 

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