Federalists Versus Anti-Federalists

The Federalists and Anti-Federalists conducted a spirited debate over ratification of the U.S. Constitution beginning in late 1787 and continuing through the following year. This momentous struggle about the nature of the American union and its future central government had its genesis in the American Revolution, which had ended 6 years earlier.

The Revolution succeeded by virtue of a temporary coalition of competing viewpoints and conflicting interests. At one end of the coalition stood the American radicals— men such as Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, Thomas Paine, Richard Henry Lee, and Thomas Jefferson. The radicals objected to excessive government power in general and not simply to British rule in particular. Spearheading the Revolution's opening stages, the radicals were responsible for all the truly revolutionary alterations in the ...

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