Difference Between Federalists and Anti-Federalists

Federalists vs Anti-Federalists

It was in July 1783 that America broke away from the rule of Great Britain but the big question that confronted people was, to develop a new system of governance to protect the rights of the people as also to maintain law and order. Considering obvious differences between the thinking of people, it was only natural for many to agree and for many to disagree with how this objective was to be achieved. Those groups that supported a strong central government came to be known as federalists, and those who believed a strong centre would usurp the rights of the member states were called anti federalists. This article attempts to high light the differences between federalists and anti-federalists.

One thing has to be said at the outset; that is, the common motive of both the federalists and anti-federalists. This meant that, though federalists and anti-federalists were at loggerheads because of their divergent views, both were concerned with finding a system that could preserve the new found liberty.

Federalists wanted power to be concentrated in the hands of the central or the federal government as they felt more power to states would be counterproductive. They felt that a strong center would be helpful in maintaining peace and order in the country. They also felt that the center should have the power to make uniform rules and regulations for the whole of the country and that giving power to states to make distinct rules and regulations would lead to chaos. However, it was not that federalists wanted states to be powerless as they visualized powers to be retained with the states in areas where all powers were not vested with the federal government.

Anti federalists were in favor of small states as they felt the presence of communities with divergent views would make passing resolutions difficult, and small republic would make it easier to arrive at a consensus, to achieve the common good of the people. On the other hand, federalists believed that, in a large republic, presence of diverse groups would eliminate the fear of tyranny and that groups would compromise from the view points to arrive at a consensus.

Anti-federalists wanted inclusion of bills of rights for the people as they believed the constitution proposed by the federalists would not be able to protect individual rights of the citizens. Their views finally prevailed with the inclusion of bills of rights in the constitution. These rights pertained to freedom of speech and freedom of religion.


What is the difference between Federalists and Anti-Federalists?

• Federalists wanted a strong center as they were convinced that maintaining law and order in the country was possible only with a strong and effective center.

• Anti-federalists feared that, with most powers vested in the federal government, states would be toothless to protect their rights.

• Federalists were in favor of a large republic while anti-federalists favored small communities where arriving at a consensus was rather easier.

• Anti-federalists wanted inclusion of bills of rights for the citizens in the constitution