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The American Constitution - Research Paper Example

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The American Constitution

The Anti-Federalists, those opposed to the proposed constitution, included John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Patrick Henry who also wrote a series of essays now referred to as the Anti-Federalist papers. They were fearful the will of the states would be dominated by the potential authority of centralized federal government. The Federalists attempted to reassure the doubters that they did not intend to create a governing system much like the tyrannical in British system which the colonists had just fought a protracted war to escape. The Anti-federalists ensured this stated intention by opposing the Constitution as written and insisting it contain further clarification of civil liberties by inserting the first ten Amendments, the Bill of Rights. The first ten amendments to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights were crafted as a compromise that was forged between the two differing viewpoints. The terminology describing these divergent viewpoints is somewhat misleading. The Anti-Federalists could actually be better described as federalists because they wanted the government to be a federation of independent states. Federalists would be better defined as Nationalists because they wanted an authoritative federal government. This paper examines the point of view of both Federalists and Anti-Federalists and the method by which they reached a compromise after two years of contentious debate and an explanation as to why one was ultimately the best choice. The Necessity of the Constitution The Federalist Papers expressed the limitations of the loosely associated union between the states that was present at the time as well as the benefits of uniting the states into an efficient central government. The Federalists were wealthy business and land owners who believed that a powerful centralized federal government governed by influential, learned persons would promote commerce which was both to their and the country’s benefit. John Jay specified this reason first over all other motives to unite the states by ratifying a constitution in the second of the Federalist Papers, “It has until lately been a received and uncontradicted opinion that the prosperity of the people of America depended on their continuing firmly united, and the wishes, prayers, and efforts of our best and wisest citizens have been constantly directed to that object” (Jay, 1787: Fed. #2). The Federalists’ interests were positioned principally in a robust economy which they argued would contribute to the security and prosperity of all citizens. It is probable that at least part of their motivation to create a strong federal government was their own economic interest. Essentially, the Papers defended the idea of republicanism within the Constitution. In addition to financial advantages, the Federalists made a persuasive case for the forming of a powerful federal government by emphasizing the necessity for securing and preserving the lives, liberty and property of the new nation’s citizens. By combining interests and resources, the military and economic weaknesses of the loosely allied states would be significantly strengthened which would act to safeguard the entire country from both internal and external dissension. The nation as a whole would become less susceptible from a ...Show more

Summary

The American Constitution Federalists versus Anti-Federalists Instructor name Date The U.S. Constitution was proposed, debated and drafted at a convention assembled in Philadelphia in 1787 by a distinguished collection of influential men presided over by Alexander Hamilton…
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