Federalists and Anti-Federalists
During the history of politics in the United States, there have been two groups of people, Anti-Federalists, those who opposed the development of a strong federal government; and Federalists, those who were in favor of a strong national or federal government.
The Anti-Federalists were not in favor of the Constitution becoming ratified in 1688. They wanted the power to remain in the hands of the state and local governments and jurisdictions. On the other hand, the Federalist were in favor of the Constitution. They wanted it used to properly manage the debt and the tensions that occurred following the American Revolution.
In fact, the Federalist Party was formed by Alexander Hamilton and existed between 1792 and 1824, and was the first political party in the United States. John Adams became the second president of the United States and was the only elected Federalist president.
Anti-Federalists were mostly farmers living in small rural areas, and they opposed the Constitution until the Bill of Rights were added. They felt that the states should be free to manage revenues and spend it as they see fit for the state's needs. In addition, a concern for the Anti-Federalists was a fiscal policy that would lead to burdensome and unfair taxation. Today, Anti-Federalists would be recognized as conservative in their beliefs.
Other prominent Anti-Federalists included Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, Patrick Henry, and Richard Henry Lee, with Jefferson considered a leader among the Anti-Federalists.
On the other hand, the Federalists mostly lived in urban areas such as cities and towns and fully supported the Constitution prior to the Bill of Rights being added. Most of them had interests related to big businesses and wanted the government to help regulate the economy. They believed if every state had to manage their revenue it would lead to many monetary policies resulting in economic struggles and weakness across the nation. In addition, they proposed central banking and financial policies. Today, Federalist may be recognized as liberal in their beliefs.
Other prominent Federalists included George Washington and John Jay. Hamilton was the chief of staff under Washington, and he helped oversee the development of a national bank and a taxation system.
One prominent figure had a mixed ideology. James Madison supported Hamilton's intentions for a constitution and national identity, but was not pleased with the fiscal policies and would side with the Anti-Federalists on matters related to money. He influenced the addition of the Bill of Rights to the Constitution.
Finally, the most important part of the debate between federalism and anti-federalism did take place in the 1700s and 1800s, but the debate continues today as the two ideologies sometimes clash in left and right wing American politics.
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