Essay about Road to Developing a New Constitution

Submitted By xburt0nx
Words: 991
Pages: 4

The road to developing a new constitution for the United States of America was long and difficult. The Articles of Confederation we weak and had to be replaced. Two groups fought for what they believed was the right form of government for the new constitution. These two groups were called the federalists and the antifederalists. Both of these groups arguments have lead to the type of government we have today in America. A famous argument between the federalists and the antifederalists was how much power the national government should get. The federalists believed in a strong national government while the antifederalists believed they were taking away too much power from the states. The federalists believed if they had a strong central government, then they would be able to quell rebellions such as Bacon’s Rebellion much easier. They argued that they weren’t able to stop the rebellion because they didn’t have a stronger, more organized military. The antifederalists argued that the creation of a very strong central government could corrupt the government itself. They believed if the government had control over the military and taxes that it would use it to enforce taxes just like the British did. Even worse, they believed it could use the military to be a dictatorship or even a monarchy. James Winthrop, an antifederalist, even stated “The idea of an uncompounded republic, on an average one thousand miles in length, and eight hundred in breadth, and containing six millions of white inhabitants all reduced to the same standard of morals, of habits, and of laws, is in itself an absurdity, and contrary to the whole experience of mankind. . . . Large and consolidated empires may indeed dazzle the eyes of a distant spectator with their splendour, but if examined more nearly are always found to be full of misery.” As you can see the antifederalists and the federalists had totally different opinions of how government should be run. Another argument disputed between these two groups was the need for a Bill of Rights in the new constitution. The antifederalists argued that the new constitution absolutely needed a set in stone bill of rights. Thomas Jefferson said “Let me add that a bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.” From this statement you can see how they felt about a bill of rights in the constitution. They wanted it there so the government couldn’t abuse their power over the people’s rights. They felt that if the government were too powerful and there was no bill of rights that the members of our government would abuse their authority to benefit only themselves and the wealthy. The federalists on the other hand thought there was no need for a bill of rights in the constitution. Alexander Hamilton, a federalist, believed the constitution already contained provisions that secured the rights of the people noting such clauses as the establishment of the writ of habeas corpus and the prohibition of ex-facto laws and titles of nobility which he affirmed were “greater securities of liberty and republicanism” than any bill of rights could profess. They believed that the inclusion of a bill of rights was not only unnecessary but also dangerous. If certain freedoms were specified unrestricted, what would come of the liberties unmentioned? Why mention that certain freedoms can’t be restricted when these restrictions were never imposed? Therefore the antifederalists were afraid of rights being abused while the federalists thought the constitution already provided protection for them. Finally another debate that had to be settled was the power of the president. The federalists argued that the president had no similarities to a king. In the Federalist Papers No. sixty-nine they compared the president’s power to that of the king of Britain’s. They stated that while…