Anti-Federalists – Their Argument

During the epic debates in late 1787 and early 1788, theFederalists were led by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay.

They weren’tnecessarily the “good guys.” They were theindividuals who strongly advocated ratification of the Constitution as approvedduring the Philadelphia Convention of 1787.

The Anti-Federalists were a diverse coalition of patriots and were NOT the “bad guys.”

They were strong advocates of personal liberties and felt that the proposed Constitution threatened to lead the United States down theall-too-familiar road of political corruption – perhaps even tyranny.

They were a diverse coalition of people, and while less well organized than the Federalists, they also had an impressive group of leaders who were especially prominent in state politics. These people included:

  • PatrickHenry
  • SamuelAdams
  • RichardHenry Lee
  • RobertYates
  • JamesMonroe
  • AmosSingletary
  • JamesWinthrop
  • GeorgeClinton
  • MercyOtis Warren
  • GeorgePinckney
  • MelanctonSmith

The Anti-Federalists complained that the new system threatened liberties and failed to protect individual rights.

  • One faction opposed the Constitution because they thought stronger government threatened the sovereignty of the states;
  • Others argued that a new centralized government would have all the characteristics of the despotism of Great Britain they had fought so hard to remove themselves from;
  • And still others feared that the new government threatened their personal liberties.

During the push for ratification, many of the articles in opposition were written under pseudonyms, such as “Brutus,” “Centinel,” and “Federal Farmer,” but some famous revolutionary figures such as Patrick Henry came out publicly against the Constitution.

  • They were NOT “Losers.”
  • While the Constitution was ultimately ratified, the Anti-Federalists were “Winners,” too.

Their efforts were responsible for the creation and adoption of the Bill of Rights.

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