Federalists and Antifederalists
While the Constitutional Convention was held to revise the Articles of Confederation, an entirely new constitution was drafted.
Explain the arguments made by the Federalists and Anti-Federalists over the new U.S. Constitution
The Constitutional Convention
In 1787, a convention was called in Philadelphia with the declared purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation. However, many delegates intended to use this convention to draft a new constitution. All states except for Rhode Island sent delegates, though not all delegates attended the Convention. At the Convention, the primary issue was representation of the states. Under the Articles, each state had one vote in Congress. The more populous states wanted representation to be based on population (proportional representation). James Madison of Virginia crafted the Virginia Plan, which guaranteed proportional representation and granted wide powers to the Congress. The smaller states, on the other hand, supported equal representation through William Patersons New Jersey Plan. The New Jersey Plan also increased the Congress power, but it did not go nearly as far as the Virginia Plan. The conflict threatened to end the Convention, but Roger Sherman of Connecticut proposed the Great Compromise (or Connecticut Compromise) under which one house of Congress would be based on proportional representation, and the other house would be based on equal representation. Eventually, the Compromise was accepted, and the Convention was saved.
Compromises were important in settling other disputes at the Convention. The Three-Fifths Compromise designated that three-fifths of slave population would be counted toward representation in Congress. In another compromise, the Congress agreed to ban slave trade after 1808. Similarly, issues relating to the empowerment and election of the President were resolved. This led to the Electoral College system in choosing the Chief Executive of the nation.
Federalists vs. Anti-federalists
The Constitution required ratification by nine states in order to come into effect. The fight for ratification was long and difficult. The Constitution was to be ratified by special ratifying conventions, not by state legislature. Interested in retaining power, states were resistant to ratifying a new, stronger central government. Those who favored ratification were known as Federalists,while those who opposed it were considered Anti- Federalists.The Federalists attacked the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation. On the other hand, the Anti-Federalists also supported a House of Representative with substantive power. They acknowledged that the Constitution was not perfect, but they said that it was much better than any other proposal. Three FederalistsAlexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jaywrote a series of essays called The Federalist Papers. These essays explained the Constitution and defended its provisions. The documents were intended for the state of New York, though people from across the country read them. The Federalists defended the weakest point of the Constitutiona lack of a Bill of Rightsby suggesting that current protections were sufficient and that the Congress could always propose Amendments. Anti-Federalists such as Patrick Henry attacked the Constitution, suggesting that it would lead to a dangerously powerful national government. One of the Anti-Federalists strongest arguments was the Constitutions lack of a Bill of Rights. Many Anti-Federalists were eventually persuaded by the Federalists arguments.
Alexander Hamilton: Alexander Hamilton was a key player at the Constitutional Convention.
The Federalist Papers
The Federalist Papers were written between 1788-9 and encouraged people to ask their representatives to ratify the Constitution.
Identify the three authors of, the individual papers in, and the principal reasons behind the Federalist Papers.
The Federalist Papers
During 1788 and 1789, there were 85 essays published in several New York State newspapers, designed to convince New York and Virginia voters to ratify the Constitution. The three people who are generally acknowledged for writing these essays are Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. Since Hamilton, Madison, and Jay were considered Federalists, this series of essays became known as The Federalist Papers. One of the most famous Federalist Papers is Federalist No. 10, which was written by Madison and argues that the checks and balances in the Constitution prevent the government from falling victim to factions. Anti-Federalists did not support ratification. Madison also wrote Federalist No. 51, under the name Publius or Public. He argues here that each branch of government would not be dependent on other branches and, thus, forming factions within the national government. That way, the government can work in the best interests of the people and not each other.
The Federalist Papers: Title page of the first printing of the Federalist Papers.
Many individuals, such as Patrick Henry, George Mason, and Richard Henry Lee, were Anti-Federalists. The Anti-Federalists had several complaints with the Constitution. One of their biggest was that the Constitution did not provide for a Bill of Rights protecting the people. They also thought the Constitution gave too much power to the federal government and too little to individual states. A third complaint of the Anti-Federalists was that senators and the president were not directly elected by the people, and the House of Representatives was elected every two years instead of annually. On December 7, 1787, Delaware was the first state to ratify the Constitution. The vote was unanimous, 30-0. Pennsylvania followed on December 12, and New Jersey ratified on December 18, also in a unanimous vote. By summer 1788, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, and New York had ratified the Constitution, and it went into effect. On August 2, 1788, North Carolina refused to ratify the Constitution without amendments, but it relented and ratified it a year later.
Ratification of the Constitution
In order for all states to ratify, a compromise over a bill of rights had to be made.
Discuss differences among the states on the question of ratifying the Constitution
Ratification of the Constitution
Delaware was the first state to ratify the Constitution on December 7, 1787. The vote was unanimous, 30-0. Pennsylvania followed on December 12 and New Jersey ratified on December 18, also in a unanimous vote. The Constitution went into effect by the summer of 1788 after the following states had ratified the Constitution: Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, and New York.
On August 2, 1788, North Carolina refused to ratify the Constitution without amendments, but relented and ratified it a year later. North Carolina was not the only state that wanted amendments. New York and Virginia ratified the Constitution under the condition that a Bill of Rights be added. On September 26, 1789, Congress sent a list of twelve amendments to the states for ratification. Ten of the amendments would become the Bill of Rights.
Congress of Confederation and the Constitution: The signing of the Constitution of the United States.
North Carolina ratified the Constitution in November of 1789, followed by Rhode Island in May 1790. Vermont became the last state to ratify the Constitution on January 10, 1791.
The Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights was enacted on December 15, 1791. Here is a summary of the ten amendments ratified on that day: