As opposed to Federalists, people that feared a strong central government,
supported states' rights, and opposed ratification of the U.S.
Constitution. Anti-federalists insisted that a Bill of Rights must be
included in the Constitution to protect individual's rights against a powerful
central government. Anti-federalists typically were members of the poorer
classes, but also included patriots Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, James
Monroe, and Richard Henry Lee. Anti-federalists strongly opposed the
ratification of the U.S. Constitution in Virginia and New York.
Articles of Confederation
The document that served as the first official constitution of the United States
from 1781 through 1789. The Articles of Confederation
dictated a loose
organization of 13 independent states, joined together with equal representation
in a Congress, in order to provide for the common defense. The Articles proved
too weak to effectively govern the young nation, however, and delegates meeting
at the Annapolis Convention in 1786 recommended that a new convention be
called to discuss revision of the Articles. SparkNote on the Articles of
A confederacy is a form of government in which independent states are
loosely joined, typically for common defense. Each independent state maintains
power over the majority of its own affairs.
As opposed to anti-Federalists, people that favored a strong central
government, feared too much power in the hands of the masses, and strongly
supported the U.S. Constitution. Federalists were typically members
of the cultured and propertied classes, and included Alexander Hamilton,
James Madison, and John Jay. The Federalist perspective was codified in
the form of 85 essays that appeared in New York newspapers between 1787 and
1788, and later published as The Federalist.
To approve or accept an official or legal document. Article VII of the U.S.
Constitution states that 9 states must ratify the document before it
became the official law of the land.
The official document that is the basis of the U.S. Government. The U.S.
was officially put into effect on March 4, 1789 and has been in
effect, with some amendments, ever since. SparkNote on the U.S.
Beginning his political career through a close military association with
George Washington in the Continental Army,
Hamilton soon distinguished himself as a strong proponent of federalism. He
represented New York at the Annapolis Convention, and participated as a
delegate to the Constitutional Convention at which he proposed a
tremendously strong centralized government with a president who served for life.
When the U.S. Constitution
was delivered to the states for
ratification, Hamilton played an integral role to pass the document in New York
State through his joint authorship of a series of persuasive essays called the
He served as Secretary of the Treasury during
Washington's presidency and distinguished himself through his strong financial
policy and leadership. He died as a result of a duel fought with Aaron
Burr in 1804, thus depriving the Federalist Party
of its strongest leader.
John Jay was the most moderate of the three authors of The Federalist,
having resisted independence from England until the Declaration of
After the formal dedication of
war, Jay was a devoted statesman and foreign ambassador, serving in New York
State as Chief Justice, as delegate to the Confederation Congress, as one of the
negotiators for the Treaty of Paris, and as ambassador to Spain. Although Jay
was struck with a bout of rheumatism that prevented him from writing a
significant portion of the federalist essays, he worked closely with Alexander
Hamilton throughout the ratification process in New York to spread the
federalist ideas. He later served as Chief Justice of the United States.
James Madison was a delegate from Virginia to both the Annapolis Convention
and the Constitutional Convention who strongly clamored for a vigorous and
powerful central government. Prior to attending the Constitutional Convention,
Madison prepared two papers on government, A Study of Ancient and Modern
and Vices of the Political System of the United States,
from which he drew most of the ideas for the plan of government that was
proposed on May 29th, 1787. Because of his central role in creating the
, and because of the diligence with which he
maintained records during the Convention, he is known as "the father of the
Constitution." He faced off against Patrick Henry in the Virginia debate over
ratification, and contributed his nationalist arguments, along with
Hamilton and Jay, to the series of federalist propaganda compiled in
Later in his political career, he moved away from the
federalist political party and became a strong supporter of the Jeffersonian
Republicans. Madison followed
Jefferson as the fourth president of the United
The name used by all three authors of The Federalist
to conceal their
true identity. Publius referred to the legendary Publius Valerius Puplicolo,
the founder of republican government in ancient Rome.
Held in September 1786 at the request of Virginia, this meeting of the states
aimed to improve the uniformity of commerce. Only 12 delegates participated,
including Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. Sensing a statewide
agreement on the importance of revising the Articles of
Confederation, this convention resolved to call another statewide
convention in May of 1787. This convention would become known as the
Scheduled to begin on May 14, 1787 in Philadelphia PA, the Constitutional
Convention progressed through the summer to establish a new form of government
as described by the U.S. Constitution. Although the convention was
called for the purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation,
delegates from 12 of the 13 states (Rhode Island was absent) expressed an
overwhelming interest in a totally new, and stronger, form of central
government. Upon ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1789, this
agreed upon form of government was put into effect and has operated as the
government of the United States ever since.
Ratification of the U.S. Constitution
Article VII of the U.S. Constitution indicates that the document
would officially go into effect upon the ratification of 9 of the 13 state
ratifying conventions. When New Hampshire, the 9th state to do so, formally
ratified the Constitution, the Constitutional Convention appointed a committee
to begin planning the transition to the new government. Planning for the new
government was underway even before Virginia, New York, North Carolina and Rhode
Island had formally approved of the government plan.
Daniel Shays organized farmers throughout New England to protest legislation
that increased taxes and demanded immediate debt-repayment. When the state
legislature refused to respond, Shays and his armed followers closed the courts
in Western Massachusetts in protest of foreclosed properties. The rebellion came
to a head when Shays was defeated while trying to seize a federal arsenal of
weapons in Springfield, MA on January 25, 1787. This rebellion demonstrated the
weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation, and convinced many
states of the need for a stronger central government.