The Constitution of 1787-1788 is known for having created one of the greatest controversies in the history of the United States. The proponents of the Constitution, who believed in the necessity of strengthening the republic, were referred to as Federalists, whereas those who were against the ratification and opted for a localized government were called Anti-Federalists. Although both parties were primarily concerned with the preservation of the obtained liberty, the paths they chose for pursuing this goal were drastically different. Today, a lot of scholars claim that the ratification of the Constitution was inevitable for further development of the nation. However, a deeper understanding is required to see whose arguments were more grounded in logic and ideology.
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How Federalists and Anti-Federalists Planned to Organize the Federal Government
The Federalists considered that the formation of a unified nation by establishing a strong state government was the major goal of the United States. This view challenged the previously existing belief that the republic could be effective as a form of government only if it was localized. Although it is clear that the federalists wanted to extend the sphere of the republic while preserving the sovereignty of the states, their perception of democracy and partisanship remains rather vague. A lot of scholars argue that the Federalists did not want the government to be partisan. However, it is quite evident from Federalist No. 10 that Madison believed that representative republic, unlike democracy, “opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking” (Madison, 1787, para. 14). Although, he still believed that democracy may come in a “happy combination” with the republic (Madison, 1787, para. 19). The same views were shared by others.
Unlike Federalists, Anti-Federalists were far from being unified and well-organized. The only thing that united them was their protest against ratifying the Constitution and the expansion of the government power that would limit the authority of each state. In Brutus No. 1, they claimed that “a free republic cannot succeed over a country of such immense extent, containing such several inhabitants, and these increasing in such rapid progression” (“To the citizens of the state of New-York,” 1787, para. 14). To prove this point, they analyzed several republics and concluded that “history furnishes no example of a free republic, anything like the extent of the United States” (“To the citizens of the state of New-York,” 1787, para. 15). That is why, according to Anti-Federalists, only a confederacy to separate states was capable of safeguarding national liberty and people.
Even though Federalists had numerous weak points in their arguments, I would still support their party, mostly because they stimulated the market economy. They made it possible for people to sell and purchase goods in stores and export cotton, which created perfect conditions for businesses. Furthermore, I believe that Federalists managed to find a perfect balance between the power and limitations imposed by the government. The Constitution provided the nation with a more representative form of government (unlike the one-house legislature that existed at that time). Finally, splitting power into three branches made it possible to divide authorities and closely control each branch.
Although the present-day Constitution seems to be indispensable to the US government, the ratification of its first version was a complex and controversial procedure. The analysis of the two parties under discussion demonstrated that they had entirely different opinions on the distribution of powers between the national government and the states. Even though the Federalist party won the game, there are still a lot of points that remain debatable in this argument and require more profound investigation to be understood.
Madison, J. (1787). The utility of the Union as a safeguard against domestic faction and insurrection (continued). Web.
To the citizens of the state of New-York. (1787). Web.
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