Free Essay: Federalists and Anti-Federalist Parties
Developed in 1787, the Constitution of the United States of America is the foundation of the US government (Ball 7). It is upheld as one of the longest serving political agreements in the history of the nation. The Constitutions was realized after a long lasting political tussle between two opposing sides called the Federalists and Anti-Federalists parties. The two rivaling sides had ideas of either dismantling or making amends to the Constitution in order to come up with another version that would be friendlier to the people. The era of the Federalist culminated into two political parties known as the Federal party and the Anti-Federalist party (Democratic Republican Party). This took place between 1789 and 1801 when the Federalist Party dominated the American political arena. The Federalists were in support of the Constitution while the other side of the divide was against the new Constitution that had created a centralized government and led to the loss of prestige for the states.
This paper discusses the differences between the Federalists and Anti-Federalist parties. What were some of their disagreements? Did they ever get into an agreement?
The Anti-Federalists were focused on two main things; creating a tyrannical monarchy and lack of individual power in case the central government became more powerful (Kaminski et al 3). They held the belief that the Constitution gave the central government a lot of powers through the legislature, judiciary and executive. They were of the argument that, just like King George III, the executive would be oppressive to the people instead of protecting their individual rights. In supporting their claim, the anti-Federalists argued that Americans had been involved in a bloody and highly costly revolutionary conflict to become independent from British rule. Putting themselves in a position similar to that of an unregulated government would not be beneficial to the future of the nation. They dreaded that the United States would begin to act in the same colonial spirit of the Great Britain. The Antis did not like the British government on grounds that it had taken advantage and continued to exploit the U S as their colony. One of the views of the Anti-Federalist party was not to be like the Great Britain.
The Necessary and Proper Clause also called the Elastic Clause inserted in the Constitution by the Federalists states that, ‘’the Congress shall have the power of formulating all laws which shall be ideal and necessary for the execution of foreign powers and all other rules embodied in the Constitution of the US government, or any Department thereof.’’ This brought a lot of concern from the Anti-Federalists because it gave the congress the authority of making and enforcing laws that they considered were proper and necessary. The Antis therefore believed that congress could potentially justify any law irrespective of how much it would hinder personal freedom, and neither the state nor the people would reject the decision. The Anti-Federalists argued that if all the states were not properly represented in the Constitution, the federal government could be oppress their rights and views with regards to issues of slavery and economic conduct. According to them, the Constitution designated excess powers to the central government at the expense of the states (Kaminski et al p.4)
Another claim that was raised by the Ant-Federalists party was that the Constitution presented certain dangers because it was written without consideration of the bill of rights. The central government had the power of denying basic rights like freedom of speech, movement and religion to the people since there was not even one right guaranteed to them or the state governments. A great number of Antis alleged that the type of government that had been termed as agrarian republicanism was much better. They were in agreement with this idea and felt that the qualities of democratic freedoms would be ideal if imposed on agrarian or agricultural society and that owing to the growing centralization, urbanization and commercialization of power would help in taming eventual tyranny and the political temperatures. If the citizens are not guaranteed unalienable, the Anti-Federalists argued that Americans could experience a dictatorial government that the soldier died trying to end. Patrick Henry was among the leaders of the Anti-Federalists whom together with other members of the party, stirred up the development of the first ten amendments called the Bill of Rights (Kaminski et al p.151). They argued that the Articles of Confederation may perhaps be adjusted in a way such that they would make it easier for the confederation to work effectively.
The Federalists on the other hand, acclaimed that the Constitution was an appropriate framework for the US government. They advocated for a tough federal government instead of the feeble federal government and strong state government that the anti-Federalists wanted (Kaminski et al p.4). The Federalists were nationalists who proposed a loose Constitutional elucidation. They argued that, assimilating the three branches of government (executive, judiciary and legislature) would be effective in defending the rights of the American people on equal grounds across all sections. The Sedition and Alien Acts included in the new Constitution introduced new rules for the deportation of foreigners and also made it hectic for foreigners to take part in voting.
The Federalists did not want to have the Bill of Rights contained in the Constitution since they claimed that it was not possible to list all the rights, thus, the unspecified ones would be abused. The Federalists wanted to pay back the debts of Revolutionary wars and increase tariffs so as to support the manufacturing sector. The Federalists party was made up of wealthy and prominent people who commanded great influence. The Federal government wanted to ensure the maintenance of a good relationship with Britain. This wish was communicated in 1794 by Alexander Hamilton in the Jay’s Treaty that signaled the British Army to pull out its divisions from the pre-revolutionary forts that had not vacated the Northwest Territory.
The Federalists expressed their claims on the setbacks of a national government as outlined in the Articles of Confederation and the merits of a national government as impacted by the new Constitution. The Federalists were more concerned with business unlike their rivals. They advocated for a tough central government that would promote the growth of commerce in the newly independent nation. Besides, the idea of society according to the Federalists was more holistic compared to their counterparts. The Federalists did not look at the society as if it predominantly consisted of farmers; instead, it viewed it as if it was made up of many diverse and contending groups whereby none would entirely command dominance in a Federal government structure. With regards to this, many scholars have later come up with the argument that the Federalists were more conscious of the changes in the social and economic platforms than the transformation of the American society.
Despite the various differences between Federalists and Ant-Federalists, they shared certain common beliefs. One of them was the belief in the voting process for electing presidents. Both parties held the belief that the public should make the decision on who is to be president. They both shared the feeling that the nations required to have in place, some form of government. According to Jefferson- secretary of state and an Anti-Federalist, and Hamilton, a Federalist and secretary of treasury, there is need for the protection of the freedoms of the people.
Ball, Lea. The Federalist-Anti-Federalist Debate Over States’ Rights: A Primary Source Investigation. New York, NY: Rosen Central Primary Source, 2005. Print.
Kaminski, John P, and Richard Leffler. Federalists and Antifederalists: The Debate over the Ratification of the Constitution. Madison, Wis: Madison House, 1998. Print.