The American Revolution was one of the most influential wars in the history of the United States. The war shaped America’s political structure. In 1781, the Articles of Confederation were ratified helped lead to the establishment of the Anti-federalists and Federalists. The Anti-federalists formed in opposition to the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, while the Federalists were in favor of ratification. The Federalists and Anti-federalists both believed in preserving the people’s rights. However, the Federalists thought a strong national government could achieve this but, the Anti-federalists felt that state governments would better protect individual liberties.
On October 27, 1787, “John DeWitt” wrote an article supporting the addition of a bill of rights. He, along with the other anti-federalists, believed that people’s rights were extremely important as the United States took the next step in developing and establishing their government. They believed a person’s liberties should be clearly stated so that no person or government could undermine them. This article was written just a few months after the Constitutional Convention and was trying to convince people why a bill of rights should be included in the Constitution (Doc 5). The Federalist No. 51, written by “Publius” (James Madison) discusses how the branches of government will be separated in the Constitution. James Madison was a Founding Father of America and a president. He strongly supported the ratification of the Constitution as well as the addition of the Bill of Rights too. His argument for the Constitution was that each branch of government would also have checks and balances with each other. This system of checks and balances was to ensure no branch abused their power and help protect people’s freedoms (Doc. 7).
The excerpt from The Virginia Journal titled: “Objections to This Constitution of Government” was written by George Mason. He said the Constitution was a bad idea because it did nothing to protect people and their liberties. Without the inclusion of a bill of rights the people would not be guaranteed the government’s protection of their freedoms. The other anti-federalists agreed with George Mason in that the Articles of Confederation gave states more power, and they would protect their rights better than the national government would. The “Objections to This Constitution of Government” was written for people in favor of the ratification of the Constitution, specifically, those who lived in Virginia (Doc. 6). In the article written by “Brutus,” on October 18th, 1787, the author thinks the Constitution gives to much absolute power to the government and has the potential to abuse this power. The purpose of this article was to convince people why having a strong central government would result in failure. The government could do virtually whatever they wanted to the people even if it impeded on people’s rights. In the Articles of Confederation states did not have complete control over every person therefore they were less dangerous. They controlled some aspects of people lives, but not nearly as much as the national government would control if the Constitution was ratified. The idea that wealthy people would be the only ones with power appeared and made anti-federalists more resistant to ratification (Doc. 4).
In the Introduction to the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton discusses the “inefficiency” of their current government and explains why the Constitution was necessary. According to Hamilton, the Constitution would preserve the welfare of the Union and its safety but could only do this by having a strong central government. By increasing the power of the central government, it was thought to help the country function better because they could better enforce laws, expand the economy, and regulate foreign interaction (such as trade). State governments before held more powers but had no way of dealing with these matters. Alexander Hamilton, the author of the article, was one of the Founding Fathers of America. He was a federalist who wanted the country to succeed in protecting the rights of the people. He believed the Constitution was the best way to do this (Doc. 3). George Washington wrote an article on August 15, 1785 discussing how people need to be ruled by a government, but not a monarch. He, along with other federalists, back then they were just people who did not like the A. of C., believed that monarchs limited human rights, often ignored their rights, or neglected to acknowledge that they had any at all. By having a democratic government, specifically with a strong national government, these rights could be better recognized and better enforced. This was written before the Constitutional Convention occurred, so his ideas helped contribute to the establishment of the Constitution (Doc 1.)
The Federalists and Anti-federalists both believed in preserving the people’s rights. However, the Federalists thought a strong national government could achieve this but, the Anti-federalists felt that state governments would better protect individual liberties. The two groups had a lot of different ideas on how to set up the structure of the United States but they both shared a few common goals: establishing a government that would protect the people, allow for growth, and survive through centuries to come. Both groups contributed to history, without the anti-federalists the U.S. might not have the Bill of Rights. Without the federalists, the America might not have the Constitution at all and kept the Articles of Confederation.