After the Constitutional Convention, the fight for the Constitution had just begun. According to Article 7, conventions in 9 states had to ratify the Constitution before it would become effective. Some states were highly in favor of the new Constitution, and within three months, three states, Delaware (with a vote of 30-0), Pennsylvania (46-23), and New Jersey (38-0), had ratified it. Georgia (26-0) and Connecticut (128-40) quickly followed in January, 1788.
More than half-way there in four months, one might think that the battle was nearly won. But the problem was not with the states that ratified quickly, but with the key states in which ratification was not as certain. Massachusetts, New York, and Virginia were key states, both in terms of population and stature. Debates in Massachusetts were very heated, with impassioned speeches from those on both sides of the issue. Massachusetts was finally won, 187-168, but only after assurances to opponents that the Constitution could have a bill of rights added to it.
After Massachusetts, the remaining states required for ratification did so within a few months, with Maryland (63-11) and South Carolina (149-73) falling in line, and New Hampshire (57-47) casting the deciding vote to reach the required nine states. New York and Virginia still remained, however, and many doubted that the new Constitution could survive without these states.
So what was the hold up in New York & Virginia?!? Federalists: Alexander Hamilton, James Madison & John Jay
Though those who opposed the Constitution actually wanted individual states to have more power under a federal governmental system (as the Articles provided), they were more or less forced into taking the name "Anti-Federalists" (get it…they wanted MORE federalism, but were called Anti-federalists…crazy I know!).
The Anti-Federalists had many reasons to oppose the Constitution.
Anti-Federalists: Patrick Henry, George Mason & Samuel Adams
They did not feel that a republican form of government could work on a national scale and that the central government would become too strong, and as such they felt that the Articles of Confederation should simply be amended, but not abandoned
They also did not feel that the rights of the individual were properly or sufficiently protected by the new Constitution.
They saw themselves as the true heirs of the spirit of the
Some very notable persons in United States history counted themselves Anti-Federalists, like Patrick Henry, Thomas Paine, George Mason, Sam Adams, and Luther Martin.
There were some true ideological and philosophical differences between the two camps (e.g. states rights vs. the rights of the central government). In many instances, though, there was also a lot of personal animosity. For example, in New York, George Clinton was a political opponent of John Jay, a prominent Federalist, and also disliked Alexander Hamilton. And in Virginia, Patrick Henry was a political rival of James Madison.
In addition, many letters were written to newspapers under various pseudonyms, like "The Federal Farmer," "Cato," "Brutus," and "Cincinnatus." These letters and several speeches are now known as "The Anti-Federalist Papers."
In response to the speeches and letters of the Anti-Federalists, the Federalists gave their own speeches and wrote their own letters. John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison coordinated their efforts and wrote a series of 85 letters under the name "Publius." These letters both explained the new Constitution and answered the charges of the Anti-Federalists. The letters were collected into a volume called "The Federalist Papers." Though the influence of the Federalist at the time is questionable, the letters are noted today as classics in political theory. Perhaps of far greater importance were the Federalist stances of George Washington and Ben Franklin, very prominent men both in their day and today. Their opinions carried great weight.
The votes in Virginia and New York were hard-won, and close. Virginia voted 89-79, and New York, a month later, voted 30-27 to ratify. With all the major states now having ratified, confidence was high that the United States under the Constitution would be a success, or, at least, have a fighting chance. The new Congress met, and George Washington became the first President. As suggested by many of the ratifying conventions, one of the first tasks tackled was the writing of a Bill of Rights to be attached to the Constitution. The Bill, Amendments 1-10, eased the minds of many hold-outs. Shortly thereafter, North Carolina ratified (194-77), and lone hold-out, Rhode Island, finally relented and ratified on a close 34-32 vote.
The Federalists were successful in their effort to get the Constitution ratified by all 13 states. The Federalists later established a party known as the Federalist Party. The party backed the views of Hamilton and was a strong force in the early United States. The party, however, was short-lived, dead by 1824.
The Anti-Federalists generally gravitated toward the views of Thomas Jefferson. The Anti-Federalsts became known as the Republican Party, later known as the Democratic Republicans, the precursor to today's Democratic Party. Woah, what?!! Today’s Democratic Party was once the Republican Party…Dude?!?