The U.S. Constitution and the Federalist v. Antifederalist Papers

But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.” – James Madison

On September 17, 1787, 39 of the 55 delegates from 12 of the 13 states signed the newly crafted U.S. Constitution in Independence Hall, Philadelphia, PA. (OConnor & Sabato, 2019) The new U.S. Constitution was approved by the United States’ current government, the Congress of the Confederation, and a resolution was sent to all 13 states that sought ratification of the Constitution: Article VII: “The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.” (U.S. Constitution, Article VII)

Now, it was up to the individual states to either ratify or not ratify the new Constitution.

As each of the thirteen colonial legislatures sought to ratify the U.S. Constitution, newspapers published the U.S. Constitution so that “we the people” could understand and debate the new, governmental document. During the fall of 1787 and into the summer of 1788, newspapers published hundreds of letters to the editor penned by individual citizens that argued for and against ratification.

Additionally, the debate over ratification saw the emergence of two, opposed political parties composed of this nation’s founding fathers: the Federalists and Antifederalists. The Federalists advocated for the adoption of the new Constitution, and the Anti-Federalists opposed it. Members from both parties produced newspaper articles that explained their ideological rationale for or against ratification.

More information regarding the Federalist v Anti-Federalist debate can be found in the National Constitution Center and the U.S. Archives.

In this assignment, you will examine and explain how the Federalist and Anti-Federalist plans shaped the U.S. Constitution.

Directions: Within a 500 word, APA formatted expository essay, please include:

  • A title page
  • An introduction
  • How do Federalists and Anti-Federalists plan to organize the federal government?
    • Executive Branch
      • How does the U.S. Constitution reflect the Federalist plan?
    • Legislative Branch
      • How does the U.S. Constitution reflect the Federalist plan?
    • Judicial Branch
      • How does the U.S. Constitution reflect the Federalist plan?
  • How did the Federalists and Anti-Federalists understand the relationship between the federal government and the states?
    • How does the U.S. Constitution reflect the Federalist plan?
  • How did the Federalists and Anti-Federalists articulate their arguments within local newspapers’ letter to the editor that argued for and against ratification?
    • Although you may pick other Federalist and/or Anti-Federalist documents, you may find these documents of particular interest:
      • Federalist No. 10
      • Federalist No. 51
      • Federalist No. 78
      • Brutus No. 15
      • A list of all Federalist Papers
      • A list of all Anti-Federalist Papers
  • Based on your academic understanding of federalism which party would you align yourself with? Why?
  • Support your analysis with information obtained from the text, the U.S. Constitution, and at least two Federalist and/or Anti-Federalist essays.
  • A conclusion
  • A reference page
 

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