Arguments of Fedrealists V. Anti-Federalists

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When the members of the Constitutional Convention, after several months of vigorous debating, finally finished their work, many of the members still objected to this document. The Federalists were the group of people who desired to get the finished new constitution ratified and the Anti-Federalists were the group of people who disliked the new constitution and believed it shouldn't be ratified because it was missing several key parts. The Anti-Federalists formulated arguments based on the weaknesses they found in the new constitution and used them against the Federalists in order to gain support, while the Federalists convinced citizens of the righteousness of the new constitution in order to gain their support.

The Anti-Federalists were led by George Mason, Elbridge Gerry, Richard Henry Lee, Patrick Henry, Mercy Otis Warren, Luther Martin, Robert Yeates, and George Clinton. The biggest flaw the Anti-Federalists found in the new constitution was that it did not include a Bill of Rights. The House of Representatives was the only group of governmental officials elected directly by the people and the Anti-Federalists believed the government is too far removed from the people to care for the people it's representing. Another concern of the Anti Federalists was how the government's powers were so vague and general that can give almost an infinite amount of power. The "necessary and proper" clause was one example of the government's vague powers, which gives the legislative body the ability to make all laws "necessary and proper." The new constitution did not include anything about how to stop the government from infringing on the rights it did not mention. This meant that the government could violate the freedom of speech, religion, assembly, or press because they were not specifically mentioned in the new constitution. According to the beliefs of the Anti-Federalists, if a bill of rights was created, it would diminish the fears of the federal government being able to violate their rights and it would remind the people of the fundamental rights they have in our political system. The Revolutionary War had recently scared citizens of a government with the ability to violate their rights. The Anti-Federalists worried that, with all the power given to it by the constitution, the executive branch would dominate the other branches. Anti-Federalists embraced a republican form of government and thought this new government would undermine the government they preferred. Civic virtue was valued by the Anti-Federalists and agrarian communities were thought to be the place most likely for citizens to possess civic virtue. Governments were thought to be best in small places because governments would be more close and representative of the people. The Anti-Federalists feared diverse communities because the government would be very far removed from the people, and possibly less interested in their needs. The Anti-Federalists united behind these major arguments in order to hopefully get the Federalists to revise the constitution and edit it according the things it was lacking.

The Federalists believed that the new constitution was an outstanding document which would provide for an effective government. The advantage between these two opponents belonged to the federalists because of their idea of ratifying conventions in each state. The Federalists responded to the Anti-Federalists belief of civic virtue in small agrarian communities by saying that peoples' civic virtue alone cannot protect basic rights and promote their general welfare. Through the course of history, it is evident that communities which relied on the civic virtue of the people failed because there are always some people who will ignore the common good and pursues selfish desires. It was clear to the Federalists that government could not rely on citizens to possess civic virtue. The basic rights of the citizens would be protected by the way the government...
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