Hey, I have to write an essay where I have to state my position either supporting Federalists or Anti-Federalists (I chose Federalist), I have to describe the differences between the two parties viewpoints, explain why I disagree with the opposing party, and conclude. I can handle the obvious basics, but I'm not the best with essays like this, it's requiring a lot of evidence, and there are a LOT of pages to the Federalist Papers. Do you think you can help?
Tried to reply as quick as I could.
The basics of what you need to know is that:
Federalists (led by: James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay)
- Favored ratification of the constitution over the Articles of Confederation.
- Favored a powerful federal government.
- Believed a Bill of Rights would be nice to have but not completely necessary as federal power was limited.
Anti-Federalists (led by: Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, George Mason and Samuel Adams)
- Opposed ratification of the constitution and generally favored modifying the Articles of Confederation.
- Wanted a weak federal government that wouldn’t interfere with states rights.
- Wanted a bill of rights which would protect the rights of people.
However, there were many, such as Thomas Jefferson who were not in favor of the constitution but instead wished for ratification on the grounds that it could be amended later but for now they needed a compromise and a way to effective government.
Another example of someone who fits into the gray area of the entire Federalists vs Anti-Federalists stance was James Monroe (I wrote about this here).
Anti-federalists were also of the opinion that the government would interfere within the states frequently with the constitution and that states were entitled to pass and create their own laws. The Articles of Confederate somewhat divided all of the states instead of unifying them as one by creating a type of sovereignty among them. The constitution would bind all the states together into one nation instead of separate individual states relishing in their own rules.
However, when the Constitution’s framers were constructing the constitution it was mainly meant as a mode of structuring a government strong enough to ensure the nation’s future strength and prosperity but without power to threaten the liberty of the people. This was something the anti-federalists wrongly interpreted as an infringement upon their right to fiction governments within their own state.
Jay’s federalist papers focused more on foreign relations, Madison versed the history of republics and confederations, and Hamilton took on the three branches of government: the executive, the judiciary, and some sections of the Senate. He also handed military manners and taxation. If you believe their are too many federalist papers to skim throughout, I suggest you take a look at a key few instead of them all. There is a handy-dandy site here where you can read all the federalist papers in summary so you wouldn’t have to read them all.
- Federalist #1
- Federalist #2
- Federalist #3
- Federalist #4
- Federalist #6
- Federalist #7
- Federalist #9
- Federalist #10
- Federalist #14
- Federalist #15
- Federalist #16
- Federalist #23
- Federalist #27
- Federalist #30
- Federalist #39
- Federalist #44
- Federalist #45
- Federalist #47
- Federalist #48
- Federalist #49
- Federalist #51
- Federalist #52
- Federalist #53
- Federalist #57
- Federalist #62
- Federalist #63
- Federalist #66
- Federalist #67
- Federalist #68
- Federalist #69
- Federalist #70
- Federalist #73
- Federalist #76
- Federalist #78
- Federalist #84
- Federalist #85
In your essay, I propose perhaps, since you are taking the federalist side, you should speak of how badly the Articles of Confederation went about its job, considering most of the anti-federalists yearned for amendment instead of abolishment. Examples of things that went wrong under the Articles of Confederation:
- America was virtually bankrupt and federal governments and state governments found it impossible to retire debt by state inherited by the American Revolution. (Example: federalists wanted the government and nation to retain all debts by states as one; anti-federalists wanted states with debt to pay off their own debts instead of “dragging” down the rest of the states).
- It had a unicameral legislature to one vote per state. A 2/3 majority needed to pass legislation and vote to amend Articles. The unicameral legislature left the states with one legislative or parliamentary chamber. This left the 13 states and the central government with no separation of powers.
- The central government had no national executive or court system and had no power to collect taxes, raise an army, or even regulate trade.
While the Annapolis Convention was gathered there were two different plans that were brought up: The Virginia plan and the New Jersey Plan.
The Virginia Plan:
- Made a clean break with the Articles of Confederation.
- Contained basic design for the future of United States government.
- Provided for bicameral legislature, with both houses based on proportional representation.
- Concentrated extra power in the executive branch by calling for a one-person executive with a seven year term.
- Envisioned a national judiciary, crowned by a supreme tribunal.
- Left little doubt that while states would retain some sovereignty, they would be subservient to the federal government.
The New Jersey Plan:
- Wanted to correct the Articles of Confederation.
- Retains basic state sovereignty.
- Instead of two houses of Congress, the New Jersey Plan envisioned one chamber, with each state casting on vote.
- Retained voluntary system of “requisitions” that hobbled the country’s finances.
- In place of a prescient, the plan contemplated an executive council that would be removed by a majority of the state governors.
Many larger states gravitated towards the Virginia plan while smaller states coalesced around the New Jersey plan.