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Anti-Federalist Party

The Anti-Federalist Party was one of the United States political party, and left a major legacy on the country by initiating the Bill of Rights. The ideological heritage of this party was continued by the Democratic-Republican Party at the start of the 19th century.

Table of contents
1 Formation
2 The debate over Constitution
3 Anti-Federalist legacy
4 The Democratic-Republican Party


After the Revolution, the United States was governed by the Articles of Confederation, which mandated a weak federal government without an executive branch. Many felt that this government was too weak and desired a strong, centralized United States government, and advocated a new United States Constitution. During the debate over the proposed constitution, however, the nationalists became known as federalists (since they wanted a stronger federation), and the federalists (who wanted to keep the weak federation) became known as anti-federalists. The Anti-Federalist Party was formed because of opposition to the centralized federal controls proposed by Alexander Hamilton and the Federalist Party in the original United States Constitution.

The debate over Constitution

Initially, the anti-Federalists were led by famous revolutionary figures such as Patrick Henry. They believed that the Constitution was a threat to the rights of individuals and argued that the president would become a king. In addition, many of the anti-Federalists objected to the federal court system created by the proposed constitution. However, not all anti-federalists thought that the central government created under the Articles of Confederation was sufficient. Many anti-Federalists believed that the central government in the articles was too weak, but believed the Constitution had given the central government too much power.

They anti-federalists initially lost the debate, and the constitution was submitted to the states for approval in 1787. This was partly due to the fact that the nationalists were supported by George Washington, who many believed to be the nation's greatest hero. The Federalists also had the advantages of a stronger party organization and the support of such intellectual giants as Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, the main contributors to the Federalist Papers.

Anti-Federalist legacy

Later, under the leadership of Thomas Jefferson, who was assisted by James Madison, the anti-Federalists were able to pass the Bill of Rights, amending the constitution to provide individuals and states with more rights.

The Democratic-Republican Party

With the presidency of Thomas Jefferson in the 1800s, the Anti-Federalist Party became the Democratic-Republican Party.