DBQ Federalist vs Antifederalist



Federalist DBQ

It can be argued that the Federalists were the first political party in the United States. Their goal was simple; to unite the states and form a strong central government. There were various attempts at uniting the states, the first of which was the Articles of Confederation. These articles were not effective due to the fact that they did not have the power to tax the States or the power to enforce a uniform commercial policy. This caused the government to basically go bankrupt, and when this occurred, it was evident that the Federalists had failed in their plan of union. Their next attempt, the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, was successful in uniting the States, but still lacked the necessary acceptance of the people. Due to the failure of the Articles, the people did not trust the Federalists who created them, and in effect, would not allow those same men to gain supreme power of the country by creating a strong central government. The Federalists were not successful in handling the problems that faced this newly created nation because they lacked the power of a strong central government.
The people of the United States were not satisfied with the way that the government was handling matters which pertained directly to them; which was without their consent. This is shown in the case of the Whiskey Rebellion (Document D). The Whiskey Tax was implemented due to the fact that the federal government needed to raise money to pay off state debts. Hamilton’s plan was to tax Jefferson’s supporters; this way he would not lose any of his own supporters, and at the same time he would be raising the necessary funds with which he would pay off the states debts. The fact that the farmers took violent action against government officers, such as tax collectors and federal marshals, shows that this government was not as strong as it thought it was, in that the people still thought that violence was an acceptable measure in accomplishing your goals. The Treaty of New York with the Creeks (Document A) is another example of the government passing laws without the consent of the people. People did not feel that this treaty was just, because ceasing their alliance with France, who helped them in the war, and starting a “friendship” with the Native Americans who fought against them in the war, was not a smart thing to do (Document C). This treaty, as well as the Whiskey Rebellion, are examples of the Federalist government being selfish, and putting their own personal beliefs over those of the people. The men who ran the government were not kings; they were representatives; and the fact that they enacted laws which portrayed what they wanted, and not what the people for whom they were representing wanted, shows that this republic was not a strong government simply based on the fact that in a republic, power is supposed to come from the people; and the ideas of the people should therefore be the ideas which are acted upon by the government (Document E).
The fact that the government had to spend time fighting internally contributed greatly to its general weaknesses. The reason that fighting took place was because the government was run by two sets of people: the Republicans and the Federalists. These groups had conflicting opinions on many, if not all, of the issues that were discussed while they were in session. One of their arguments was based on the Alien and Sedition Acts, which were created and passed by the largely Federalist government of the time. These acts gave the government power that was clearly unconstitutional, but since the Federalists were in charge and the acts benefited them, they were passed. The Republican’s argument against these acts was explained in the Virginia Resolutions and the Kentucky Resolutions (Document I). These resolutions explained that the power being given to the federal government by these acts was unconstitutional, and the power which was in fact constitutional, was constitutionally that of the states. Arguments such as this took a lot of time to complete, and in the end, they were counterproductive. The Federal government was not able to comply with the rules that they themselves made in writing the constitution;