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James Madison and the Anti-Federalists

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James Madison was the fourth president of the United States from 1809 to 1817. Born in 1751, James Madison served as one of the founding fathers of the constitution of the United States of America. He is known as the “Father of the Constitution” on account of his down trodden efforts to put together a document that represented and addressed to all rights of the citizens and catered to the foundation of a strong nation. He described the constitution as “a republican remedy for the diseases most incident to republican government." This was met with strong criticism and opposition on part of the anti-federalists which feared the new constitution would shape up into a monarchy later on with the sole power vested in the president. But before going to the discussion of what arguments they put up against the constitution it is important to first consider their ideology and philosophy behind this opposition and strong disagreement.

Anti Federalists followed anti-federalism which is a political philosophy where the Federalism is strongly opposed to. According to them, the central government should have fewer powers than the state government, but should not have more power than them. They mass communicated their ideology through the means of the published document titled “The Anti-Federalist Papers.”

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They ventured on a movement against the imposition of the constitution that was highly federal. It began in 1787 when the new constitution emerged owing to James Madison.  They did not want the creation of a pure federal state whereby the state government enjoyed the maximum authority. Their main focus on having the president removed from all rights vested on them through this constitution. According to them this was an easy route to monarchy from which the state had to be saved from. They did not at all like the idea of having a president that attained all power. This was nothing less than having a dictatorship rule from a king in a monarch system. They proposed the idea in 1780s that the structure of the government under the previous constitution titled the Articles of Confederation was rather hollow or weak. They called for amendments to put in action. These oppositions were noticed and the constitution was readily revised (Mancall, 1995).

The anti-federalists constituted diverse groups. There were some who opposed the constitution based on the notion that the highly geared and powered state government was a threat to the sovereignty of the state and those of the citizens. On the other hand there were some who were merely catering to their personal well beings. There were also those who actually liked the idea of the disguised monarchy and also some who though the Articles of Confederation were relevant and right. The stronger lot contained people who thought the constitution which vests more powers on to the national government is rather more acceptable and sufficient (Brown and Shannon, 2007).

James Madison produced a ratification of the constitution with amendments considering the opposition’s strong influence. The anti-federalists were surely not a light political group. They had a strong inclination and they presented with relevant arguments. The main anti-federalists were Patrick Henry, who opposed the Articles of Confederation, Samuel Adams, George Mason, Richard Henry Lee and Robert Yates, who was a politician. Although, according to Madison, the constitution was “a republican remedy for the diseases most incident to republican government,” it still appeared rather weak to the anti-federalists, who put forward further amendment suggestions to enhance its appeal to the masses. Their argument was mainly against the monarch orientation of the new constitution and strongly opposed the delegation of authority entirely to the state government.

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