Does the Constitution represent a fulfillment or a betrayal?

Comparing and contrasting the ideas of the Federalists and Anti-Federalists.

Introduction

The constitution of the United States was and still is the highest governing republic’s supreme law of the United States. It was put into action as the supreme law in 17th September, 1787 by the constitutional convention held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[1] Ever since it was drafted, ratified and subsequently amended, it has withstood the tests of time until it ended up being one of the best constitutions in the world.

The relationship between the American Revolution and the constitution

The American revolutionary war for independence was the war rebelling the American colonies against the Britons that led to the successful attainment of independence of the United States in 1776.However, since the main purpose for the American Revolution was to set free the American colonies from foreigners or even the British rule, the American Constitution thought it was best to set up a frame work that would ensure freedom without limitations for all American citizens.[2]

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The constitution was drafted in such a way that it was very difficult or rather impossible for any other person or group of persons to deny Americans their freedom. This made sure that no one was able to impose their will on the American people without approval.

However, in order to make the constitution a citizen based constitution, there was need to have it ratified in order to show the togetherness of the American people. The preamble to the American constitution was changed to start with the words, “we the people…”

The Comparison and the contrast of the ideas of the Federalists and Anti-Federalists

The term federalists in American history mainly referred to two instances and in the first case the term is used to refer to the public figures or statesmen who made the ratification of the proposed constitution of the United States possible and it is closely related to the federalist papers which were an 85 articled document written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison.[3] They advocated for the ratification of the American constitution.

However, the anti-federalists were the distinct counter movement group that was did not like the bringing up of a stronger national government under the constitution. This group made up their minds to leave the government under the auspices of the articles of confederation intact. This article of confederation and perpetual union was the American republic’s first governing document that had been made in 1777.[4]

In the second perspective, the term is used to refer to the people who were in support of George Washington’s administration and were later given the name the federalist ‘party’. The federalists favored the system of power where the national power is shared between the national and the state governments. They expected it to be met by coming up with a system of separation of powers, checks and balances.

By using the federalist essays namely b45 and 46 the federalists explained the form of government they wanted in the United States. The federalists obviously faced stiff competition from the second group of anti-federalists that were mostly against Alexander Hamilton, who was the chief federalist, had aggressive fiscal policies of George Washington’s first administration. The anti-federalists later decided to form one of the first political parties in United States politics which was the Democratic-Republican ‘Party’ of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.[5]

Both groups noted the fact that power was being abused and they took note of what had happened in the war and that there had been negative effects of power and the results were very clear to them. The British vocation had made them very aware of the threat brought about by corruption.

Therefore, they wanted to make a government that would ascertain a just republic. The federalists maintained their stand that the constitution was the only way they could get to reach the goal of a just society. James Wilson said that the constitution would not give all the power to the legislature and it should be legally written down to ensure power was not mistreated or misused. In the constitution, the congress is allowed to make laws that help out the government in the area of execution of foreign powers.

The anti-federalists views were very different from the federalists. They believed that the power given to the congress was not safe saying that it had given them too much control. Hence they came up with the Bill of Rights to establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility and provide for them a common defense.

In addition, the federalists argued that the federalist approach helps enshrine the principle of due process by limiting the arbitrary actions of the state. The federalists also argued that federalism helped to secure democracy in a democratic state. It also helped in improving human rights; this view came to be enhanced by the contemporary public choice theory.However, the anti-federalists were convinced of the fact that a stronger national government would strongly infringe the sovereignty of the individuals, the localities and also the states.[6]

Impact of both individual Philosophies

The first secretary to the secretary of the United States was called Alexander Hamilton. He was very strict in his duties and within his first year as the secretary of the treasury, he came up with some very disturbing reports that led to a financial revolution in the United States, among them were the report on the manufactures and the first report on public credit.[7]

These reports attracted a lot of criticism from the secretary of state Thomas Jefferson and the speaker, James Madison. While Hamilton was in favor of federalism, Jefferson was a staunch anti-federalist.

The never ending conflicts between them in United States politics encouraged the beginning of what some historians call the first party system in America. Hamilton started the Federalist Party while Jefferson helped form the Democratic Republican Party. Hamilton helped to form the bill of rights through the ten amendments that were made to the United States Constitution.

The executive branches of the government in the United States as well as the entire judiciary, through the judiciary act of 1789, were drafted against the criticism of Jefferson and others. The differences between Hamilton and Jefferson did not end and continued even into President Adams’ administration. They highly disagreed on the issue of the ‘French Crisis’ which was sometimes referred to as the ‘quasi-war’.

They also differed strongly on the issue of the Alien and Seditions Act as well as the Naturalization Act that was mainly meant to target French-Irish immigrants that supported the democratic-republicans to which Thomas Jefferson was strongly affiliated to. Jefferson and James Madison sponsored the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions which allowed states to interpose and in practice nullify federal actions as a retaliation act.

Through the Washington and Adams administrations, the government had become too strong on the guidance of federalists led by Alexander Hamilton. Through Jefferson’s idealism and his association with the average American and his increasing attacks on what he called ‘federalist tyranny’, Jefferson managed to change the political landscape to win the 1800 general elections.[8]

James Madison succeeded Jefferson as the president of the United States in 1808.The so-called Jeffersonians’ and the federalists still had their influence on the state behind the scenes .

Their greatest difference arose from the issue of war with Britain that begun in 1812. This war was greatly supported by the democratic-republicans and strongly opposed by the federalists. The aftermath of the war, which was a win for the Americans, was a great blow to the federalists and this marked the beginning of the federalists decline as a political force in the United States politics.[9]

Conclusion

After adopting the constitution of the United States of America and its subsequent amendments, the citizens of the United States have been able to enjoy their freedom over the years. The constitution has made it possible for the state governments to implement laws that have led to an upgrade in level of advancement that is in existence up to date in the United States society. If it were not for the roles of the founding fathers of the United States, American citizens couldn’t afford to sit back and enjoy their lives and freedom.

Works cited

Baker, Thomas. Constitutional Analysis in a Nutshell. St Paul, MN: Thomson/West, 2003. Print.

Barnett, Randy. Restoring the Lost Constitution: the Presumption of Liberty. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004. Print.

Brinkley, Alan. New Federalist Papers: Essays in Defense of the Constitution. New York: Norton, 1997. Print.

Brownson, Orestes. The American Republic: its Constitution, Tendencies and Destiny. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2003. Print.

CQPress. “CQPress in Context.” CQPress. 2011. Web. 2011.

Gilder Lehrman Institute. “United States.” The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. 2010. Web. 2011.

National Constitution Center. “Constitution Center.” National Constitution Center. 2010. Web. 2011.

Squidoo. “Culture and Society.” Squidoo, LLC. 2010. Web. 2011.

Usconstitution.net. “The United States Constitution Online.” Usconstitution.net. 2010. Web. 2011.

Barnett, Randy. Restoring the Lost Constitution: the Presumption of Liberty. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004, 96.
CQPress. “CQPress in Context.” CQPress. 2011. Web. 2011.
Squidoo. “Culture and Society.” Squidoo, LLC. 2010. Web. 2011.
Brownson, Orestes. The American Republic: its Constitution, Tendencies and Destiny. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2003, 109.
Brinkley, Alan. New Federalist Papers: Essays in Defense of the Constitution. New York: Norton, 1997, 263.
National Constitution Center. “Constitution center.” National Constitution Center. 2010. Web. 2011.
Baker, Thomas. Constitutional Analysis in a Nutshell. St Paul, MN: Thomson/West, 2003, 159-204.
Usconstitution.net. “The United States Constitution Online.” Usconstitution.net. 2010. Web. 2011.
Gilder Lehrman Institute. “United States.” The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. 2010. Web. 2011.

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