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Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists

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Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists
Mark Sheen – 529794668
POS 442 – American Political Tradition
12 October, 2006

During the period between its proposal in September 1787 and ratification in 1789, the United States Constitution was the subject of numerous debates. The contending groups consisted of Federalists, those who supported ratification, and Anti-Federalists, those opposed to the constitution. Each group published a series of letters known as the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers. The Anti-Federalist papers objected to provisions of the proposed constitution while the Federalist Papers defended the rationale behind the document. Anti-Federalist objections included that; the United States was too extensive to be governed by a republic, the constitution included no bill of rights, and the federal judiciary was vaguely defined and could become too powerful. Each of these arguments is worthy of attention as an examination of the debate between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists over the proposed Constitution. Anti-Federalists contended that a republican form of government is unworkable over extensive territory for two reasons. First, government is frustrated by large territories because of logistical matters (Ex: will rural constituency find a federal courthouse within a reasonable distance?). Second, with a large, diverse population federal law will not reflect the will of the people, and debate will be endless. Let’s look at how each of these reasons was articulated and how they were answered by Federalists. First, anti-federalists argue that republican government is best within a small territory, governing a small group of people for logistical reasons; it is difficult for large populations to be active in their government and receive the benefits thereof. This objection was enumerated in one of the first Anti-Federalist writings, by The Federal Farmer. He wrote: “Independent of the opinions of many great authors, that a free elective government cannot be

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