Federalists vs Anti-Federalists
Political, economic and government views.
After the American Revolutionary War, the founding fathers had to build a government virtually from scratch, they drew up the Articles of Confederation in 1781 as the first national law. But this was considered weak because it placed too much power in the hands of individual states without establishing an effective national government.
The founders wanted a republican form of government where voters would elect officials to represent them. Many, like George Washington, were Federalists. This meant they wanted a strong federal government that would unite the states as one nation. Many Federalists were educated, wealthy men like those who had drawn up the Declaration of Independence.
Others opposed the creation of a national government that would have power over the states. They were called Anti-Federalists. They believed that each state should have the right to decide its own laws. They also thought the Constitution gave the president and Congress too much power.
The Constitution passed by 1790, giving the Federalists a victory. But the Anti-Federalists were able to persuade the country’s leaders in 1791 to add the first ten amendments to the Constitution, now called the Bill of Rights.
During President Washington’s administration, the arguments continued with Alexander Hamilton serving as the leader for the Federalists and Thomas Jefferson for the anti-Federalists. Hamilton argued that the Constitution should be interpreted loosely so that the government could function as it saw fit. Jefferson believed that the Constitution should be followed strictly. The country’s second president, John Adams, was also a Federalist.
As new states entered the union, the anti-Federalists, sometimes called Jeffersonian Republicans, gained strength. Jefferson was elected president in 1800. But even though Jefferson was a strict constructionist, he occasionally interpreted the...