Essay on Federalists and Antifederalists

Essay on Federalists and Antifederalists

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Frustration was mounting. As he sat in the North Carolina ratifying convention and listened to the roll call of their membership, William Richardson Davie must have worried that the federalist movement in his state would die a slow and agonizing death before him. Davie, an ardent proponent of federalism and its promotion of a strong national and central government, had spent nearly a year arguing and debating the necessity and importance of ratifying the newly-proposed federal Constitution. The membership’s list of names forebode trouble for Davie and his federalist colleagues and he realized as the names were read aloud that the convention’s membership favored those who opposed the federal Constitution, those gentlemen call the Antifederalists.
A year earlier, during the months of May through September, 1787, delegates from twelve of the thirteen states met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to discuss the current governing document, the Articles of Confederation. Enacted in March 1781 by the Continental Congress, the Articles of Confederation was an agreement that allowed for thirteen separate and independent states to establish the United States of America as a confederation - or an association - of the thirteen sovereign states. With the ratification of the Articles, the United States became, not a government, but rather a “firm league of friendship.” This amalgamation of sovereign states attempted, through the Articles, to ensure unity and strength in numbers during the American Revolutionary War. With its lack of power and authority, however, the Articles created a weak and ineffectual central government.
For Davie and the other delegates who had assembled in Philadelphia in 1787, the intent had been to deliberate over...


... middle of paper ...


...ear later in November 1789.
Of great importance to the citizenery was James Madison’s notice to Congress in May 1789 that he would propose amendments to the federal Constitution. For some Antifederalists, a lack of amendments or a Bill or Rights were their main opposition to the federal Constitution. Thus, Madison’s proposal had the effect of silencing some Antifederalists .


The Fayetteville Convention, November 16-23, 1789

The membership composition of the Fayetteville Convention was the reverse of the ratifying convention held in Hillsborough more than a year earlier; a majority of the delegates were Federalists. With the change in political climate, more Federalists won their local elections than had the Antifederalists. Holding a majority, the Federalists were able to act decisively and quickly to ratify the federal Constitution by a vote of 194 to 77.


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