What is Federalism? Federalism is a system of government in which power is divided between a central authority and constituent political units. (The American Heritage Dictionary, 2005). The system is divided into levels: the national government, regional and local governments. Each of these levels has areas in which they have power. The levels however, by themselves cannot change the power that the constitution has given them. Each level operates through its own agencies and acts directly on the people through its own officials and laws.
Overview of the Federalists The Federalists favored a strong central government, policies were favorable to trade, finance and business. The Federalists were also in favor of national bank and favored ratification of the Constitution. The first Federalist movement was distinguished by a belief that the national government under the Articles of Confederation was too weak and that a stronger federal government was needed. The Federalists were able to get the national government to sanction a convention to mend the Articles.
Nelson and Lynn state, “Federalism enables positive cooperation between state and national governments in programs pertaining to education, interstate highway construction, environmental protection and health, unemployment and social security concerns. ” Overview of the Anti-federalists The first Anti-federalist movement of the 18th century was against The Anti-federalists in the 1780’s opposed the creation of a stronger national government under the Constitution. There were different reasons for this opposition; they believed that a stronger government would threaten the sovereignty of the states and individuals.
In addition, the Anti-federalist believed that the existing government was sufficient and getting a national government under the constitution would be too strong. The Anti-federalists believed in free trade, a government controlled by ordinary citizens, policies that were favorable to farmers, artisans, and skilled workers and wanted strong ties with France. Ratification of the Constitution The adoption or otherwise called ratification of the Constitution took place from September 1787 through July 1788.
The controversy of the ratification had the supporter of the constitution (Federalists) against the Anti-federalists who did not support the Constitution. The Anti-federalist openly condemned the constitution as a centralizing legal form that would put an end to American freedom and lead away from the basic laws of the Revolution. The federalists on the other hand, had entreated strongly that the nation’s problems were a direct result of the weak incapable Confederation. They also believed only the Constitution would allow the people of America to maintain unchanged their freedom and independence, which was an outcome of the Revolution.
The Federalists had some advantages; they presented a clear decree for the nation’s problems. The Federalists were organized and had money. The Federalists had the advantage of thinking nationally and working with the politicians from the states, in addition, the federalists were supported by Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, the only true political figures of the time. The advantages of the Anti-federalist were that they had the support of the state politicians and the fact that the people did not have any trust in the idea of a strong central government.
Importantly, the Anti-federalist’s most powerful argument was that the constitution did not have a Bill of Rights. Conclusion The ratification of the Constitution struggle was a contest for votes and a moving argument about constitutional theory and politics. The ratification was also the first time that a nation’s people freely decided on the type of government they wanted. According to Bernstein (2007 “Ratification was a catalyst for the creation of a national political community. ” Americans can now say that the ratification of the constitution was instrumental in the type of society that exists today.
References Bernstein, Richard B. (2008). Ratification of the Constitution. Retrieved March 13, 2008 from http://www. answers. com/topic/ratification-of-the-constitution Drake, Frederick D. – Nelson, Lynn R. (2002). Teaching about Federalism in the United States. Retrieved March 14, 2008 from http://www. ericdigests. org/2003-1/usa. htm The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition (2005) Retrieved 13, 2008 from http://www. ask. com/reference/dictionary/ahdict/38776/federalism