Antifederalist vs. Federalist

Antifederalist vs. Federalist

When the United States of America was in the process of forming, two different groups shaped the direction of the early nation. The anti-federalists and federalists had different ideas about the direction of the new government, and both contributed to the forming of the Constitution of the United States.

Antifederalists supported more power for the states, and opposed a strong central government. They preferred the Articles of Confederation, which preceded the Constitution, because it gave more rights to the states versus the national government. Two key antifederalists were John Hancock and Patrick Henry. The antifederalists influenced the Constitution by insisting on a Bill of Rights, which enumerated rights that were protected from the government.

Federalists supported a more centralized national government in the newly formed United States of America. Essentially, they saw a need for the national government to have some power over the states if the country was going to be unified. Some key federalists Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and George Washington. The antifederalists supported the Constitution as a replacement for the Articles of Confederation, as it gave more powers to the national government.

To further illustrate the differences in ideology between the antifederalists and the federalists, the chart below outlines some of the key differences between the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution.

Articles of Confederation


Congress could request that states pay taxes.

Congress can levy taxes on citizens.

No federal court system

Federal court system

No regulation or control of trade between states

Regulation and control of interstate commerce

Each state gets 1 vote regardless of size

Senate-2 votes; House of Representatives-based on population

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