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Federalists and Anti-federalists

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Federalists & Anti-federalists Federalism- System of government in which power is constitutionally divided and delimited between a central government and that of provinces or states. Each level of government has its own powers and obligations to provide services and raise revenues. Unlike Confederations, federal systems give the central authority some amount of control over its citizens, thus endowing it with a degree of sovereignty.

The difference is simple: one group agrees with Federalism while anti-Federalist do not believe in a federally governed nation with divided regions having their own rights. The conflict between federalists and anti- federalists is that, the anti-federalists believed the constitution and formation of a national government would lead to a monarchy or aristocracy, the federalists vision of the country supported the belief that a national government based on the articles of confederation was inadequate to support an ever growing and expanding nation.

After the constitution was signed the next step was ratification by at least nine states. Ratification by the states was by no means a fore gone conclusion in 1887. Any state not ratifying the constitution would be considered a separate country. The federalists and anti-federalists had very different opinions on what kind of government should be formed. The anti-federalists were made up mostly of farmers and tradesmen, common people working to support their families, whereas the federalists were made up of the wealthy and elite plantation owners and businessmen. Three issues were the cause of great apprehension to the anti-Federalists upon reading the proposed Constitution the size of the new nation, the problem of political representation and the disconcerting concentration of governmental powers. In interpreting the Constitution, the anti-Federalists believed that because of these key issues and how they were dealt with in the new government, their freedom was seriously at risk. Their fear and distrust of the new government was focused on the relatively few individuals who, under the new government, would hold the political reigns of the nation.

To the opponents of the Constitution, many warning signs of potential despotism were visible in the proposed government the sole power of taxation, the lack of protection of freedoms, the formation of a large military force, the dissolving of states powers, and above all, the concentration of powers in the hands of a few. It is this last issue that seemed to be of greatest concern to the anti-Federalists, and logically so, because all other powers and laws prescribed by the Constitution were to be interpreted and executed by these men.

Throughout the anti-Federalist writings, one of the recurring themes was the fear that because of the centralization of power, it was inevitable that an oppressive form of government, rather than a popular, democratic one, was soon to follow.

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