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Federalists Vs Anti Federalists Essay

1342 words - 6 pages

Early in American history, while revolutionary soldiers fought the fight for political independence against the British and important battle over freedom raged between the new nation’s leading revolutionaries. By the end of the war the fighting had reached a fever pitch as pointed, provocative and seemingly anonymous letters were published by the key representatives of two different political factions, many of whom were representatives at the Constitutional Convention, which was endeavoring to write out a document that would more or less define the political structure and trajectory of the whole country. These two factions were the Federalist and the Anti-Federalists and they’re quarrel was ...view middle of the document...

They believed the un-amended Constitution went too far in empowering the federal government over the states and the people.
The Anti-Federalists believed that liberty could only be preserved in a small republic in which the people’s political representatives were close to them in proximity, shared their sensibilities and lived under the same laws as they themselves. They leaned toward a more direct democracy, where “the people can conveniently assemble, be able to debate, understand the subject submitted to them, and declare their opinion concerning it.” As the titles of many of the Anti-Federalists suggest (Brutus, Cato, Centinel, Agrippa, etc), this ideal of direct democracy harkens back to the ancient Athenian republic and the classical republicanism of the ancient world. Essentially, they believed that a huge country with an extremely diverse population like even the America of the 1780s would lead to a constant clash of opinions which would motivate the government to become autocratic in order to maintain unity. They also believed an urban America, disconnected from its agrarian roots would create a confusing government full of banking and merchant dominated influences that would not serve common people well.
So, they rejected the Constitution and opposed its ratification because they believed the national government it created would eventually lead to a tyranny as, “history furnishes no example of a free republic, any thing like the extent of the United States. The Grecian republics were of small extent; so also was that of the Romans.” Interestingly, the Anti-Federalists seemed to earn more historical credibility from the fact that when the Romans expanded their territories and territorial influence the end to the Roman republic soon followed and the empire began. Even before the end, when there were still officially no emperors but so-called Princeps, “first among others,” the executive side of government become extremely apathetic and hostile toward the Roman senate and oppressed the people with hard taxes, land confiscations and even cruel punishments enforced by the roman army in order to fuel their military campaigns and lavish lifestyles. This is what the anti-federalists feared the most; they were afraid of the federal government gaining absolute power over states and local governments while simultaneously building and maintaining a standing army. They were convinced that those two things could be easily used against the American people and gradually lead to the pacifying of people’s will and then, implicit consent to being oppressed. According to Anti-Federalists, in a free republic there is no place for a standing army, rather, the greatest defense to liberty was in the support of its citizens because “when a standing army is kept up, virtue never thrives.” Anti-Federalists identified virtue with the land that ties people to the government. Land, in their view, truly attaches one to America where one can identify his...

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