Essay on Grievances of the Antifederalists

Published: 2021-08-16
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Vanderbilt University
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Antifederalists were a diverse group of people who opposed the endorsement of the constitution. The group had prominent state political leaders who were impressive though not well organized like the federalist. Antifederalists elites included James Winthrop in Massachusetts, George Mason of Virginia and Melancton Smith of New York. These leaders were joined by other ordinary Americans especially the yeomen farmers who dominated the rural America. Nevertheless, despite the different characteristics of the antifederalists, they shared a common view of the American politics. They believed that the future of United States was under threat if the government imposed more power against the Americans. Moreover, they believed that the implementation of the constitution would lead to more corrupt nations as leaders would have more authority. Furthermore, they believed that the president would gain more powers to be able to overturn the decision of the Americans representatives in the legislature because he would have the final say regarding any decision made. The paper will discuss the various grievances of the anti-federalists and the similarities between antifederalists and the other political theorists.

The antifederalists found the constitution to have many faults. The argued that the new constitution would give the country an entirely new and untested form of government. Furthermore, they claimed that the Federalists had ignored the existing problems in the country and thus there was no need to overthrow the current form of government before solving those issues. They insisted that the framers of the constitution had met a particularly elite group of people with the aim of violating the provisions of the Articles of Confederation using the new constitution (Berkin, Carol 527). One of the greatest grievances of the antifederalists was that it violated the rights of the Americans. The implementation of the new constitution would lead to the formation of a large federal government which would control all the arms of the government. Furthermore, the constitution would give power to the national Congress who would make all decisions that govern the nation. Instead, they argued that this would deny the Americans the right to make decisions that affect their lives. Moreover, the federal government would encourage corruption which leads to misuse of tax paid by the Americans. Additionally, antifederalists argued that the constitution did not have the bill of rights. This is the reason why certain states such as North Carolina refused to approve the constitution until the bill of rights was encompassed. Antifederalists oppose the constitution claiming that it threatened the liberties of the Americans and also failed to protect the individual rights (Berkin, Carol 527). Some of the federalists argued that the exercise of listing the rights of the Americans was a silly exercise since all listed rights inherently belonged to the Constitution.

Antifederalists claimed that people would not rely on the national representatives like they could have relied on the state representatives. The elected officials were close to the people that they served. They would represent the middle-class farmers and local businessmen voters, though such individuals could not be elected to the national congress. Antifederalists argued that it is only the rich and wealthy who could be elected to the national legislature thus making the congress an upper-class bias (Storing, Herbert 53). They claimed that the poor could not get the opportunity of representing other people in the national congress. Moreover, the representatives would pass laws that favored their interest such as increment of taxation and passage of laws that increase their allowances. As a result of this, there would be an increased cost of living as people would be forced to pay high taxes. Therefore, they advocated for the expansion of the House of Representatives to accommodate people from different classes regardless of whether they are disabled or not. Moreover, they suggested that the house representatives should not be allowed to vie for more than one term as was stipulated in the constitution. This would let people with different ideas to govern the country thus resulting in economic growth.

Furthermore, there are similarities between most of the political theorists and the antifederalists. For instance, Locke and Hobbes supported the creation of a limited government which would protect the rights of all citizens. Hobbes argued that people form a government with the aim of self-preservation. Moreover, the formation of a government is driven by the fear of peoples lives (Hobbes, Thomas and Andrew Crooke). He rejected the creation of a federal government. Instead, he supports the formation of people's government which would protect the people's rights to self- preservation. Furthermore, Hobbes claimed at people can attain sovereignty if they hand over power to a particular individual or an assembly of individuals who represent them in decision making. He claims that the created government has the authority of declaring peace, and charging of taxes and would exploit the citizens. Moreover, he emphasized that a central government could not be able to provide people with the necessary rights. A federal government would take advantage of the fear of the people and take actions to oppress m.

Moreover, Saint Simon opposed the formation of a federal and military form of government. However, he supported the formation of a technocratic socialism that would allow the industrial chiefs to take control of the society. He claimed that the society should be ruled by people who can organize the society to productive labor (Grossman, Henryk 384). Simon criticized the creation of a central government arguing that it could not reduce the idleness in the society by improving the economy. His political thought against the creation of a federal government is similar to that of the federalists who were also against its creation. Moreover, Aristotle was against the establishment of the Constitution. He claimed that a democratic government was not good because it led competition between the different classes of people thus making leaders govern with the use of emotions rather than following the constitution. Additionally, Aristotle emphasized that the elected leaders would pass laws that serve the interest of the rich and oppressed the poor. Therefore, his ideas are similar to those of the antifederalist because he was also against the establishment of a central government.

In conclusion, antifederalists opposed the creation of a federal government because it would deny people their rights. They claimed that the power should remain in the local governments of the thirteen states. Moreover, they argued that the articles of confederation were effective because it provided international diplomacy and equal treatment of all people. Also, the national representatives in the Congress would enact laws that favored themselves. Furthermore, different political theorists such as Saint Simon, Hobbes, and Locke were against the formation of a central government. They claimed that the government should be controlled the industrial people who knew the need and problems of the society.

Works Cited

Berkin, Carol. "To Counteract the Impulses of Interest & Passion: James Madison's Insistence on a Bill of Rights." Geo. JL & Pub. Poly 15 (2017): 527.

Grossman, Henryk. "The Evolutionist Revolt Against Classical Economics: I. in France--Condorcet, Saint-Simon, Simonde de Sismondi." Journal of Political Economy 51.5 (1943): 381-396.

Hobbes, Thomas, and Andrew Crooke. Leviathan, or, the matter, forme, & power of a common-wealth ecclesiasticall and civill. Vol. 1651. London: Andrew Crooke, 2010.

Storing, Herbert J. What the anti-Federalists were for: The political thought of the opponents of the Constitution. Vol. 1. University of Chicago Press (2008): 7-101

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