Federalists and Antifederalists



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Federalists and Antifederalists
In the fall of 1787, after the summer of the Constitutional Convention, public debate began ABOUT the Constitution.
Each state called a special convention to decide whether or not to ratify (ratify=accept/approve) the new form of government.
If 9 of the 13 states gave their approval, the Constitution would become the law of the land.
Constitution was the first to provide for a federal system of gov’t.
Federalists—people who strongly favored the new plan of gov’t. (the Constitution)
Anti-Federalists—people who were against the new plan of gov’t. (the Constitution)

Policies Favored by Federalists

--strong national government


--government controlled by wealthy and educated citizens
--policies favorable to trade, business, and finance
--a national bank
--protective tariffs
--strong ties with Britain, but not with France

--tariff—protective tax on imported goods


The Federalist—series of 85 essays mostly written by James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton. –defends Constitution
Federalists believed:
--propertied and educated people favored this document
--Federalists believed the Constitution was the best that could be had in an imperfect world.
--That if the Constitution had undesirable features, there were ways of amending them.
--That it DID provide for a gov’t. “by the people”.--Favored a strong central (national) gov’t.
--Favored a strong executive branch.
--Wanted rule by few, or the elite.
--Thought the Bill of Rights unnecessary.
--Wanted long terms in office; unlimited number of terms.
Policies Favored by Antifederalists

--limited national government (more power in the states)


--Government controlled by ordinary citizens
--Policies favorable to farmers, artisans, and skilled workers
--state banks
--free trade
--strong ties with France, but not with Britain
Antifederalism Notes
Articles written in response to The Federalist Papers are known as the Anti-Federalist Papers—written by Patrick Henry, George Mason, and Elbridge Gerry.
Main Anti-Federalist dude---Thomas Jefferson
They believed:--The Constitution was undemocratic.

--That it threatened the people’s liberties by providing for a too strong central (national) government.


--That it was an instrument of the rich for the oppression of the poor.
--Preservation of states’ rights in strong state governments.
--Strong legislature (particularly the House of Reps.)
--Rule by many; officials directly elected by the people.
--Bill of Rights essential for preserving individual liberties.
--Short terms of office (annual elections); limited number of terms.


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