Constitutional Law by Yale 听课笔记(二)


Anti-Federalists and the Federalists


The Anti-Federalists opposed the new U.S. Constitution for numerous reasons.

  • They distrusted large, powerful national governments and believed liberty could only be protected in small republics in which the rulers were closely checked by the public.
  • They believed a large nation could best be governed by a confederation, with local governments having the most control. A strong national government would be distant from the people and not capable of protecting the rights of the citizens. Congress would tax too heavily and the Supreme Court would overrule state courts.
  • They distrusted the president having too much power, including a standing army under his control.
  • They also favored the addition of a Bill of Rights to protect the citizens from the national government. They wanted the House of Representatives increased in size so it would reflect a greater variety of popular interests.
  • The wanted a council created to check the actions of the president.
  • They also favored leaving military affairs in the hands of the state militias.

Federalists favored a strong national government with supreme power over state governments.

  • The rights of citizens would be protected from the government via legislation, the courts, and the Bill of Rights.
  • Federalists distrusted the masses to select the best candidates so they made only the House of Representatives directly elected by the people. Checks and Balances within the Constitution would make sure no one branch became too powerful.
  • The President would have control over the military, necessary for national defense, but could not violate the laws.The Secretary of War would advise the President.
  • The national government needed the power to tax and enforce the laws, or the ills of the Articles would hamper the development, agriculture and industry, of the new nation.


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