Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists



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Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists
Pretend you are on the Federalist side of the Constitution debate. You are trying to persuade the states to ratify the Constitution but first you have to ease their concerns. Using the Federalist Papers No. 10, 51, and 78, dispel each complaint they have about the Constitution. Your counter-arguments must be written in complete sentences and they must use direct quotes.
Anti-Federalist Concerns About the Constitution
The Constitution has worked so well for so long that we sometimes forget that many patriotic Americans opposed it. Those people who opposed the Constitution were called Anti-Federalists. Some Anti-Federalists wanted only a few changes to the Constitution while others would not accept it under any conditions. The Anti-Federalists began writing their own papers under the pseudonym “Brutus” or “Centinel”.
Most Anti-Federalists objected to the Constitution for a few basic reasons. At the center of their objections was the belief the Constitution created too strong (and large) a central- not federal- government that could balance regional and factional interests only through coercion. As one Anti-Federalist argued,

We know that private interest governs mankind generally. Power belongs originally to the people; but if rulers be not well guarded, that power may be usurped from them. People ought to be cautious in giving away power. - William Goudy

The Constitution, some believed, would effectively destroy individual freedom and state power.


Federalist Paper No. ____.
Your Response: ___________________________________________________________________

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One of the most important persons who opposed the Constitution was Patrick Henry. Henry was not opposed to a union of the 13 states. However, he was concerned that the proposed Constitution lacked enough protection for state and individual rights. (Remember that at this time, the Constitution did not have a Bill of Rights- first 10 Amendments- yet). He was also afraid that by having a single president that holds sole executive power would take us back to the times of kings and dictatorships. How could they be sure that the president would not just start taking matters into his own hands? What if the president wanted to become king and act as the lawmaker, enforcer, and the judge?
Federalist Paper No. ____.
Your Response: ___________________________________________________________________

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Another concern was that the judicial branch, created by the Constitution, seemed to wield too much power. Anti-Federalists were worried that the legislative and judicial branches might start working together. For example, if Congress (legislative branch) created an absurdly unfair law, the people would have to challenge the law in court (judicial branch). What would happen if the judges always took Congress’s side? Or what if the judges imposed their own beliefs when they made their final decisions?


Federalist Paper No. ____.
Your Response: ___________________________________________________________________

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Henry was not alone in his desire for the protection of rights. His fears were echoed by others, including Thomas Jefferson. While the Constitution was what united the country, it also had a few flaws. The Constitution did not list specific individual rights- like freedom of speech or the right to bear arms. The Anti-Federalists did have a point. So, James Madison listened to his friends Jefferson and Henry, and soon after the ratification of the Constitution, he introduced a series of amendments (changes) that created the Bill of Rights. This Bill of Rights is what gives you the freedom to do and say whatever you want today.


How did the Federalists and Anti-Federalists eventually get what they want from the Constitution?

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