Essay on Founding Fathers & US Constitution: The Federalists & Anti-Federalists

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1268 Words
Date:  2023-02-23


According to Howie (2017), the terms federalists and the ant-federalists became popular in the United States after the infamous American Revolutionary War. During this period, the founding fathers had to plan and built a government from scratch. As a result, most of the founding fathers relied exclusively on the English Constitution while developing the original articles of the U.S Constitution due to its popularity in Europe. Consequently, the founders created the Articles of Confederation in 1781 to serve as the first United States' national law. The federalists supported these articles content and backed up the need to ratify the new Constitution during a convention held in Philadelphia in 1787. Most of the anti-federalists advocated for the amendment of the Constitution before its adoption (Maggs, 2009; Tulis & Mellow, 2014). This paper seeks to compare the views held by these two factions before evaluating the group that had the right interpretation of the purpose of the Constitution. The comparison puts into consideration the question of whether the Constitution protects or restricts freedom and if at all, it is still a valid way of governance in the 21st Century.

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Comparing the Beliefs of Federalists and Anti-Federalists

Gonchar (2018) asserts that federals supported the Articles of Confederation, which advocated for the establishment of republican form of government to allow electorates to choose their representatives. This federal government could then have the capacity to unite all the 50 states alongside the United States' territories into a single nation. However, many anti-federalists considered this article as a weak document that placed a lot of power in the hands of individual states without necessarily putting in place an efficient national government. This faction supported the need of each state having the right to create, decide, and amend its laws. They also opposed the Constitution citing the fact that it gave more powers to the Congress and the President. Federalists also advocated for the establishment of a robust federal court system. Conversely, the anti-federalists supported the need to limit the powers of such courts (Edling, 2008; Gilbertson, 2018). For instance, anti-federalists opposed the need for the United States Supreme Court having the powers to hear and determine lawsuits involving a particular state with a citizen from a different region.

Tulis and Mellow (2014) ascertain that the federalists also advocated for the central government to have the constitutional powers to raise taxes directly from its people. Federalists argued that their country would neither have a valid defense system nor an effective diplomatic approach if the government lacked had no authority to tax its people. Conversely, the anti-federalists opposed this view and instead advocated for the need of the federal government collecting its money from individual states. They argued that states had the right to keep the federal government in check to prevent it from becoming tyrannical over its people. The federalists also advocated for the need of the central government federalizing the state militia. However, the anti-federalists opposed this move by the central government by supporting the need for each state to exercise control over its army (Gilbertson, 2018; Bodenhamer, 2018). Lastly, federalists wanted the country to set a single commercial policy while the anti-federalists advocated for more flexible laws. These laws could effectively help people to meet their needs depending with the region in which they lived.

Evaluating the Faction that had the Correct Interpretation of the Purpose of the Constitution

According to Gilbertson (2018), the federalists had the right interpretation of the purpose of the U.S Constitution. Their commitment towards advocating for the creation of a stable government alongside a strong executive branch was critical in ensuring that the country remains fully protected from external threats. Besides, a strong federal government would help in unifying each individual state into a single country with unique economic, political, and social policies that would lead to long-term stability in governance. However, anti-federals saw the need have a Bill of Rights in country's laws to increase its effectiveness (Edling, 2008; Maggs, 2009; Tulis & Mellow, 2014). Indeed, the Constitution was not that sufficient putting in mind the fact that it did not necessarily allocate any powers not given to the federal government to innocent people.

Analyzing whether the Constitution Protects or Restricts Freedom

Arguably, the Constitution protects and at the same time restricts freedom across the United States. According to Howie (2017), protecting entails keeping someone or something safe from any form of loss, injury, or damage whereas restricting entails putting limit over something or keeping it under control. Explicitly, the U.S Constitution guarantees its people's freedom in different jurisdictions, including keeping and bearing arms, religion, and expression. Also, the Constitution's protections include sexual freedom, equal protection, and the inherent right to vote. The same Constitution restricts freedom by putting limits on each jurisdiction. For instance, the Constitution restricts the U.S Congress from not only promoting one religion over others but also limiting a person's religious practices (Gonchar, 2018; Bodenhamer, 2018). Lastly, the U.S Constitution guarantees different forms of freedom, such as expression by prohibiting the Congress from issuing any type of restrictions on media or the inherent rights of Americans to speak liberally.

Analyzing whether the Constitution is Still a Valid Form of Governance in the 21st Century

Analytically, the Constitution remains a valid form of governance in contemporary society. The Constitution is highly critical in the 21st century due to its capacity to protect individual freedom (Howie, 2017). Its fundamental principles also play a crucial role in governing each country across the world. Nevertheless, the Constitution serves as a book of laws that in turn, grant people in a given country or state their rights and freedom. The legal document places the power of the government in the hands of its citizens (Gonchar, 2018; Bodenhamer, 2018). Lastly, the Constitution helps in regulating the power of the ruling regime while establishing a unique system of accountability.


The federalists and their counterparts, anti-federalists had contradicting views on the need to ratify the current U.S Constitution. The federalists endorsed the Constitution. However, their rivals opposed it and in turn, advocated for its amendment before ratification. As a result, the Constitution was adopted in 1987 following a ruling that favored the federalist beliefs. Conversely, the decision to consider the views held by the ant-federalists, such as adopting the Bill of Rights, has played a crucial role in sustaining it as a critical, reliable, valid for of governance in contemporary society.


Bodenhamer, D. J. (2018). The U.S. Constitution: A very short introduction. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Edling, M. M. (2008). A Revolution in Favor of Government: Origins of the U.S. Constitution and the Making of the American State. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gilbertson, N. (2018). Return of the Skeptics: The Growing Role of the Anti-Federalists in Modern Constitutional Jurisprudence. The Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy 16(255), 255-28. Retrieved from:

Gonchar, M. (2018 September). Why Is Freedom of Speech an Important Right? When, if Ever, Can It Be Limited? The New York Times. Retrieved from:

Howie, E. (2017). Protecting the human right to freedom of expression in international law. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 20(1), 12-15. Retrieved from:

Maggs, G. E. (2009). A Concise Guide to the Records of the State Ratifying Conventions as a Source of the Original Meaning of the U.S. Constitution. U. Ill. L. Rev. 457-496. Retrieved from:

Tulis, J. K. & Mellow, N. (2014). The Anti-Federal Appropriation. The University of Chicago Press Journals, 3(1), 157-166. Retrieved from:

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Essay on Founding Fathers & US Constitution: The Federalists & Anti-Federalists. (2023, Feb 23). Retrieved from

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