The creation of the Constitution was accompanied by the heat debate concerning the future of the US and its structure. Basically, these debates led to the creation of two opposing camps. On the one hand, there were federalist, while, on the other, there were their opponents, anti-federalist. Basically, their arguments concerned the role of the national government and its dominance over the interest of local communities.
In fact, federalists and anti-federalists stood on a totally different ground. Actually, the opposition initially raised from the part of anti-federalists who argued that they could not ratify the Constitution which provided the national government and legislative organs with too much power and decreased the role of local communities. To put it more precisely, they argued that the Constitution gave too much power to the national government at the expanse of the state governments to the extent that the opinion of the local community could be potentially ignored by the central government under certain circumstances.
Furthermore, anti-federalists argued that, according to the Constitution, the national government could maintain an army at peacetime that obviously provided the national government to use military force according to its own, or rather national interests but not the interests of certain states. Moreover, anti-federalist were also dissatisfied with the power of national legislative organs. To put it more precisely, they argued that the Congress, because of the ‘necessity and proper clause’ (Norton 1999), wielded too much power.
However, what was totally unacceptable to anti-federalists was the lack of Bill of Rights which was viewed as a potential threat to the rights of Americans. This apprehension was particularly serious in the current historical situation when Americans had just gained their rights and, according to anti-federalist, were put under the threat of losing them.
Nonetheless, federalist rejected all arguments of anti-federalist and, instead, they underlined that even the lack of the Bill of Rights did not threat to rights of Americans. In fact, they underlined that the separation of powers into three independent branches legislative, executive and judicial would be a guarantee of observance of rights of Americans since branches were supposed to control each other. Moreover, they insisted that the listing of rights, i.e. the Bill of Rights anti-federalists strived for, could be potentially dangerous since they believed that it was impossible to list all the rights that could lead to the situation when the national government could simply violate all the rights that were not listed (Norton 1999).
Unquestionably, both positions seems to be reasonable but federalists seem to be more convincing because the have managed to undermine the backbone of anti-federalist position, i.e. they logically persuaded the public that the Bill of Rights was not just unnecessary but was also dangerous that naturally contributed to the growing support of federalist and not of their opponents.
Finally, it should be said that the leaders of federalists managed to overcome the resistance of their opponents and it is even possible to speak about certain compromise between the leaders of opposing movements since the Constitution was eventually ratified while after that the Bill of Rights was created that could be viewed as a sort of ‘compensation’ to anti-federalists for their support of the Constitution.
1. Norton. A People and a Nation. New York: Touchstone, 1999.
2. United States Constitution.