2 ways to compare Anti-Federalists and Federalists 1 Federalists

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2 ways to compare Anti-Federalists and Federalists
1) Federalists
Favored ratification of the Constitution

Wanted a strong, central government

Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, John Adams, John Jay, James Madison

Mostly bankers, lawyers, and merchants were federalists and were better able to communicate with one another since they lived in urban areas

Attended Constitutional Convention and knew about all of the discussions that had taken place

Organized quickly after Constitutional Convention to make sure Federalists were elected as delegates to each state's ratifying convention

Published a series of 85 essays known as the Federalist Papers

The Federalist Papers were in defense of the Constitution and were printed in New York newspapers as well as other papers throughout the states

Believed Constitution was needed to preserve order and secure liberties

Believed a bill of rights was not needed because the Constitution itself limited the government's powers. They feared that creating a list of rights might lead to other dangers and it would be impossible to list every right.

2) Anti Federalists

Opposed ratification of the Constitution

Wanted a less powerful central government

George Mason, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, Samuel Adams

At a disadvantage since discussion during convention were closed to the public

Believed the framers of the Constitution were an elitist group (aristocratic)

The Anti-Federalists stood for the status quo (or the ways things were at the time)

Believed the proposed Congress had too few representing far too many people

New Constitution would create an overly powerful central government that would limit personal freedoms (they wanted a guarantee of protection for personal freedoms)

Lacked a bill of rights (without it, they believed, a strong national government might take away the political rights won during the Revolution

Published the Anti-Federalist Papers (were replies to the Federalist Papers)

Believed personal liberty was only safe in small societies governed by either a direct democracy or by a large legislature with small districts (i.e. Local Control)


Antifederalist objections to the Constitution

Federalist defenses of the Constitution

Antifederalists -- states' rights advocates, backcountry farmers, poor farmers, the ill-educated and illiterate, debtors. 

In general, the poorer classes of society.

Sam Adams, Patrick Henry

Federalists -- Well educated and propertied class. Most lived in settled areas along the seaboard.

John Adams, Washington, Franklin, Hamilton

Ratification Positions:

1. Articles of Confederation were a good plan.


2. Opposed strong central government. Opposed a standing army and a 10 square mile federal stronghold (later District of Columbia).


3. Strong national government threatened state power.

4. Strong national government threatened rights of the common people. Constitution was created by aristocratic elements. Suspected a sinister plot to suppress liberty of the masses.

5. Constitution favored wealthy men and preserved their power. Opposed the dropping of annual elections for representatives.

6. Constitution lacked a bill of rights. State governments already had bills of rights but they might be overridden by the Constitution.
7. Argued against 2/3 ratification plan. Articles of Confederation required unanimous consent.

8. Opposed omitting any reference to God.

Ratification Positions:

1. Articles of Confederation were weak and ineffective.

2. National government needed to be strong in order to function. Powers in foreign policy needed to be strengthened while excesses at home needed to be controlled.

3. Strong national government needed to control uncooperative states.

4. Men of experience and talent should govern the nation. "Mobocracy" threatened the security of life and property.

5. National government would protect the rights of the people.


6. Constitution and state governments protected individual freedoms without bill of rights. Since people could take back delegated power to the gov’t, there was no risk that the national gov’t would overreach.

7. In favor of establishing the Constitution with almost any means possible.

8. More sympathetic to separation of church and state.

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