Debates between Federalists and Anti-Federalists

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Debates between Federalists and Anti-Federalists

This essay will examine the historical debates between Federalists and Anti-Federalists, focusing on their differing views on the Constitution and the role of federal government. PapersOwl offers a variety of free essay examples on the topic of Federalism.

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 The Great Awakening was a religious revival that spread through the colonies from about 1730 to 1740. The revival was all about questioning religious leaders and beliefs, and it also contributed to the separation of state and church in the colonies. One thing that contributed to the separation was the decline of theocracies. The Puritan church had been tied closely with government and the ruling of the colonies since it first came to the new world. With the new morals and ideals that arose during the great awakening people no longer support the heavy influence that Church members had in politics.

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Many people also switched out from the Puritan church to a different denomination. This caused for the theocracy established by the Puritan Church in so many areas to decline and eventually end.

Another reason the church and state separated was the new morals and views, that were reflected in the “New Lights”. The New Lights were people that left the congregational church and founded 12 different separatist churches. Separatist churches, were christian churches that believed the church and state needed to have no effect on the other. They also allowed for women to speak in public and participate in the church, and they refused to be silenced by the “Old Lights”. The Old Lights were clergy who tried to fight the influence the great awakening and keep the long standing church traditions of the colonies alive.

The French and Indian War was a conflict fought from 1754 to 1763 and it was between the British and French and their Native allies. The war resulted in Britain gaining all French territory from the coast to the mississippi river, however they are left with a massive debt, ended the policy of salutary neglect, and passed the Proclamation of 1763. The effects of the war caused two major things to occur; one was the roots of unification had begun to grow, and two the colonist began to disagree and fight against British policies. The colonies were not yet an “American” country, but the war showed that colonies could work together and unify to better support and protect themselves. This is illistraighted with the Albany Plan of Union, which was created by Ben Franklin, and was a response to French domination of the war, and its goal was to coordinate the colonial war effort and promote unity. The plan ultimately failed with only 7 of 13 colonies showing, but it showed the start of a collective society. The colonies also began to realise that they were not entirely british citizens because they were left to fight the war on their own for 2 years, and not offered the same protection as the citizens living in the Homeland.

The war also directly caused the revolution because it led to much of the civil unrest and protest between the colonies and Britain, because Britain ended its policy of salutary neglect and began to impose high taxes on the colonist to pay of the debt. The colonist thought it was unfair because they did not have any representation in government that was taxing them. They also thought they should be paid for the two years they fought alone. With the end of salutary neglect, colonist now had to follow all mandated laws, rules, and acts, including navigation acts which heavily restricted their trade and lead them to boycott British goods and smuggle in goods from other countries.

I disagree with the statement that England lost the war rather than America won it because America had several decisive victories that changed the tide of the war and the american soldiers were more spirited and faithful to their cause. America had very disorganized, untrained, and undisciplined troops that were a very meger army when compared to the British. This ragtag team was still however able to get pivotal wins at the Battle of Trenton and the Battle of Saratoga. In the victory at Trenton the Americans were able to capture 1000 Hessian mercenaries, which discouraged more of the Germans from being in fight, and the fight also raised troop morale after the long winter at valley forge. The win in the Battle of Saratoga officially marked the turning point of the war, snd momentum was now in favor of the Americans. At this battle to Patriots were able to get their first major and convincing victory. This win convinced the French to get involved and support the colonies.

The American soldiers also were fighting for a cause and their home, while the British troops did not have a reason to fight and had been shipped away from their homes. British expectations going into the fight were very arrogant because they believed that they at most fight a couple scrimmishes before the would have beaten the colonist back into submission and scatter the rebellion. They did not plan to be pulled into a long, drawn out war, or the fighting spirit of America. The British soldiers also were only fighting because they were ordered to by the King, and wanted to return home.

The Articles of Confederation and Constitution are extremely different documents, although they do have a few similarities. The Articles created a very limited national government that could not levy taxes, could not raise arms, and it did not have an executive branch, which in turn made it extremely weak. The constitution on the other hand, created an extremely strong and powerful national government, that could do collect taxes and raise arms. The constitution had all 3 branches of government, with the strongest to be the legislative branch, although they could all check and balance each other out. The Articles also put a big emphasis on states rights, and made the states more powerful than the federal government. The constitution limited states rights and firmly placed the federal government above it.

Both the Articles and Constitution carry many of the same principles and policies. Both documents outlined a legislative branch that would have at least one house with equal representation for all states. They both also granted the national government the power to control foreign policy, borrow money, and make treaties. They both were also constructed using ideals from the enlightenment, such as John Locke’s principle of natural rights.

The Federalist and Anti-Federalist were the first two political parties in the United States. Both political parties believed in having a representative democracy that was outlined by the constitution. The Federalist believed in a strong national government, loose interpretation of the constitution, and the “Necessary and Proper Clause” or the federal government should have power to do what it deems needed. They also agreed with Hamilton’s financial Plan, which was designed to restore public credit, boost the economy, reduce national debt, and proposed a national bank. The federalist used the principles of isolationism and neutrality as their foreign policy. Both of these allowed for the US to try and avoid more conflicts and wars.

The Anti-Federalist believed in a weak national government, a strict interpretation of the constitution, and wanted states rights. They did not agree with Hamilton’s Financial Plan, and deemed the national bank unconstitutional. They did however, come to accept the plan after compromises were made. The Anti-Federalists also envisioned America as an agrarian society. The Anti-federalist at first were adamant about the foreign policy allowing for us to help our allies from the Revolutionary war. They again however, eventually conformed to using isolationism and neutrality as their foreign policy.

Hamilton’s Financial Plan was composed of three phases, with the first being the national government assumes the debt from all the states. This Assumption Plan allowed for public credit to grow, and was only agreed upon by the Federalist and Anti-Federalist after the capital was moved to D.C.. The second phase was to implement high tariffs, including an import tax and an excise tax on goods, which protected businesses and raised money to pay off the debt. The last, and most controversial of the phases was Phase three, which planned on creating a national bank to help promote a healthy economy.

The creation of the National Bank was the most controversial part of the plan because the Anti-Federalist believed it was unconstitutional, while the Federalist argued it was constitutional to establish the National Bank. The Anti-federalist had a very strict interpretation of the constitution, so since it was not deliberately said that the national government could establish a bank, then it was not allowed. The only banks that could be established were the ones chartered by states. Federalist argued that the “Necessary and Proper Clause” made it constitutional for them to establish the bank, because the Bank was needed for the country’s economy to become profitable.

The The National Banks purpose was to help manage the debt, make the economy health again, and create a uniform currency. The National Bank was the first federal bank, and it it was the first bank to not be chartered by state authorities. The creation of the national bank was part of phase three of Hamilton’s financial plan, and was the most controversial. The Federalist and Anti-Federalist had complete opposite viewpoints when it came to establishing the bank.

The Federalist believed that the National Bank was a constitutional establishment, while the Anti-Federalist believed that the bank was an unconstitutional establishment. Both sides used the constitution to defend their argument and debase the other. The Federalist argued that “Necessary and Proper Clause” allowed for them to legally establish the bank, because the bank was in the best interest of the country. The Anti-Federalist on the other hand, had a very strict interpretation of the constitution, so since it did not blatantly say the Federal government could establish a bank, then it was not constitutional.

The Whiskey Rebellion was a rebellion in Pennsylvania that occured when poor farmers began to protest the excise tax on whiskey. Under the new constitution President Washington was able to quickly put it down. The quick way the rebellion was ended highlighted the fact that the constitution was stronger than the Articles of Confederation. The Constitution allowed for the government to effectively deploy troops and respond to and take control of the situation.

The defeat of the Whiskey Rebellion also illustrated that the national government was now powerful enough to stop state and regional interests from gaining too much power. The National government could now firmly assert itself above the powers of local and state governments because it had proven with the Whiskey Rebellion that it did not lack structural integrity, like the Articles of Confederation did. The constitution was better suited to respond and control a rebellion, because it had the power to raise arms.

The Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions were political statements in response to the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. Both the legislature of Virginia and Kentucky declared that the acts were unconstitutional, and that the states had the right to nullify laws they believed were unconstitutional. Nullification is the idea that states can invalidate laws they believe are not in accordance with the constitution. The states also used the compact theory to justify their use and legitimacy of nullification.

Theses documents are key in American history because they help justify North Carolina’s, and other states, secession from the Union during the Civil War. North Carolina believed in the compact theory, which outlined that the states created the federal government and agreed to a compact with it, and that the states had the final say in whether or not the federal government overstep the compacts rules and terms, and used nullification to void their compact with the Union. The Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions gave the seceding states an argument for why they could legally leave the union.

Jay’s treaty was a treaty between the British and Americans signed in 1795 that was suppose to clear up any issues still remaining after the Treaty of Paris 1783. The first provision of it was that Britain had to withdrawal its troops from the Northwest Territory. The second provision was that Americans had to pay their debt to British creditors. Lastly, the third provision is that the British must compensate American shippers for vessels and cargos seized from them. The treaty however, did nothing to stop the impressment of US sailors, and allowed for the practice to continue until the War of 1812.

The second provision and lack of provision on impressment were the most unsatisfactory for American interest. The second provision was not good for American interest because it made them pay for the pre-revolutionary debt of English merchants. This caused many americans to be unhappy because we already had payed Britain back for their revolutionary war debt, and we had no reason to have to pay for there pre-revolutionary debt. The lack of a provision for impressment was extremely bad for american interest because it left our sailors under threat of being taken by the British Navy. It would take 17 more years after this treaty was signed for the government to final protect the sailors and ended the practice of impressment.

The Neutrality Proclamation and Washington’s Farewell address both heavily influenced the foreign policy of the United States. The Neutrality Proclamation made America a neutral in the conflict between Britain and France. This practice of Neutrality continued on even after Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo. The principle of Neutrality became a common part of America’s foreign policy until the 1820. Washington’s Farewell address also urged America to keep with the principle of Neutrality and isolationism. He wanted the US to keep to themself mostly and not get heavily involved with other countries. Of course we could still have trade agreements with other nations, but we needed to not gain any emotional attachment to another country.

Having neutrality and isolationism being the many principles that defined our foreign policy was a crucial part of the success of the new country. Following the principle of neutrality allowed for us to almost totally avoid war with other countries, and keep us out of trouble. In the beginning the new United states could not afford to fight another war because they lack the resources, manpower, and government structure. By adopting Neutrality they could protect themselves and ensure that the country could grow and prosper. Isolationism was crucial because it kept the US from becoming relient or ensnared in an alliance or other agreement with a country. It allowed for us to focus on ourselves more, grow and become more solid as a nation.

Marbury Vs. Madison was a Supreme Court case that occurred in 1803. William Marbury was given a job by President John Adams during the midnight appointments, however James Madison failed to notify him in time and William Marbury was not allowed to assume the position. Marbury then challenged the government to get the job he believed was rightfully his. The supreme court ruled that Marbury had the right to his job and that parts of the Judiciary Act of 1789 were unconstitutional.

This case was extremely significant because it established Judicial Review, which is the Supreme Court’s right to review legislative acts to see if a law is in accordance with the constitution. Judicial Review became a precedent because of this case, and has been used ever since then. This was important because it was the first time the supreme court assumed its legal authority to overrule acts of other branches of the government. This allowed for the Supreme Court to properly participate in the “checking and balancing” of the other branches, and established the court as a true power in the government.

Thomas Jefferson believed that American trade could be used as a diplomatic tool because it was important to the British and French Empires. Jefferson thought that the British and French both relied heavily on the American exports of raw materials including, timber and cash crops, but they did not because they had other areas they could receive the same raw materials from. Britain had its other colonies in South America to provide it the goods that America could. France on the other hand, was getting what it needed by plundering all of Europe at Napoleons command.

Jefferson’s view on the importance of American trade is one of the causes for him passing the Embargo Act of 1807. This act banned all trade with Europe, no imports or exports were allowed and goods had to be smuggled instead. Jefferson believed that by passing it he would be able to gain respect from Britain and France because they would finally realize America’s importance and power. However, it just caused the American economy to plummet and lost America millions of dollars.

Before 1800 Thomas Jefferson and the Anti-federalist supported the policies of a strict constitutional interpretation, equality, and states rights. The Anti-federalist believed that the constitution outlines the powers given to government and ensures that they can all be properly carried out, which means that the government can not do anything not specifically said in the constitution. They also thought that all men were created equal and that the federal government should have little power, so no tyranny could occur within it. Thomas Jefferson’s presidency was the first real chance the Anti-federalist had at implementing these policies into the government.

During Jefferson’s presidency however, these beliefs were either contradicted or not acted upon. When it came to the interpretation of the constitution, Jefferson broke the normally strict views of the Anti-federalist to complete and rectify the Louisiana Purchase. If he had followed the traditional views of the Anti-federalist the Louisiana Purchase would have been considered unconstitutional because Jefferson did not have permission from Congress to do so. When it came to equality Jefferson did little to support it during his presidency because there was still slavery, few women’s rights, and not universal suffrage for men. He did however, pass an act prohibiting the importation of slaves in 1807, but the damage had already been done in Africa and there was a still a huge number of slaves in america from before the act was passed. When Jefferson first entered office he tried to keep the anti-federalist belief of strong state rights prevalent by cutting taxes and shrinking the army. This attitude did not last throughout his presidency because he expanded the federal government’s power by passing the Embargo Act of 1807 and the Enforcement Act of 1809.  

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Debates Between Federalists and Anti-Federalists. (2021, Mar 23). Retrieved from