Federalist Vs. Anti-Federalist Debates

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University of Massachusetts Amherst
Political Science
Roberto Alejandro

Luke Lu Western Political Thought Exam 1 10/18/13 Gabriel Mares 1) Of all the essays written in The Federalist, number 10 must be one of the most crucial explications of why the Articles of Confederation is flawed and inefficient. However, Federalist no. 10, written by Alexander Hamilton, is also an intricate analysis on the cause of inequitable legislation that could negatively affect the citizens of the newborn United States. Hamilton, states that the causes of such inequitable legislation is the formation of factions, and that a fair government has “a tendency to break and control violence of factions.” The formation and causes of factions are explored by Hamilton when he states that factions is created, “From the protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property, the possession of different degrees and kinds of property immediately results; and from the influence of these on the sentiments and views of the respective proprietors, ensues a division of the society into different interests and parties.” In retrospect, Hamilton believes that the quantity and quality of each individual’s property, and the “faculties” of which they obtain it is the main reason in which a community, however large or small, splits into factions. Thus, it is clear that “The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man.” The combinations of human nature and unequal classes are the catalysts in which factions are born. Hamilton emphasizes that “The most common seed of faction is the various and unequal distribution of property”. The amount of property owned by an individual clearly represents the different class of individuals within a society, as the poor have less property than those of wealth and influence. This argument is very convincing, for we see examples of historical and modern faction disputes in almost every textbook. Different classes of people want to achieve different ends; the poor might seek equality and justice, while the rich might seek honor and even more property (). Therefore, the separation of interests will place each into their own faction. Common examples can be seen in the American Civil War, where the factions of the industrious northeast clashes with the factions of the pro-slavery, agricultural south, and the Modern Occupy Wall Street movement, in which the faction of the “99 percent” clashes with the faction of wealthy “1 percent”. 2) After the writing of the Federalist Papers, it was expected that many arguments against it would arise as an attempt to challenge the ideals stated in the former, thus, the Anti-Federalist papers were written. One of the main challenges that Anti-Federalists invoked against the Federalists were the concepts of representation within a Republican government. Proponents of the Federalists, like Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, advocated for a national Republic, in which officials elected by popular vote from each state makes national legislation with a considerable amount of power, would be the most logical and equitable method of legislating federal laws. The Anti-Federalist countered with the proposal that elected officials are more susceptible to corruption and self-interest, thus, the powers of a federal Congress should be limited, the number of representatives increased with the increase of legislative districts (“Sixty- five men cannot be found in the United States, who hold the sentiments, possess the feelings, or are acquainted with the wants and interests of this vast country” [Brutus III]). They understood the Republican government as a government with less federal power and with more involvement from individual citizens. In contrast, the Federalists understood the Republic as an entity with sufficient power that not even the majority could undermine and oppress the minority, no matter what faction it is. The Federalists, namely Alexander Hamilton, view Republican representations in a more optimistic light, while the Anti-federalist sees it as a potential breed for self-gain. One of the arguments towards a Republic by Anti-Federalists is a quote from Montesquieu that Brutus uses, which states that a Republican government is only useful when it’s small for “the interest of the public is easier perceived, better understood, and more within the reach of every citizen; abuses are of less extent, and of course are less protected” [Brutus I]. In other words, representation is only useful for when the population is small, and thus, the needs of everyone is better comprehended by their representative. They felt that federal laws enacted by representatives will deem states power ineffective, resulting in the nullification of a Confederation, in which they supported. Federalists like Alexander Hamilton rebuts that due to certain limitations of holding office, like election term and election by popular vote, would keep representatives in check, resulting in some fidelity towards their own constituents. Due to the argument of individual’s potential for enacting legislature for the common good, each side’s reflection of human nature could also be distinguished. Both sides agree on one perspective however and that is “all men are by nature free” [Brutus II], however, the disagreements arise in the degree of human nature in which ambition and greed could compromise the integrity of representatives. Brutus viewed that “In a state of nature every individual pursues his own interest; in this pursuit it frequently happened, that the possessions or enjoyments of one were sacrificed to the views and designs of another; thus the weak were a prey to the strong, the simple and unwary were subject to impositions from those who were more crafty and designing” [Brutus II]. Anti-Federalists sees that given powers like direct taxation, representatives would without a doubt abuse it for their own gain, which could result in the rise of wealthy aristocrats, who then would use nepotism to gain further power (“According to the common course of human affairs, the natural aristocracy of the country will be elected.”[Brutus III]). Naturally, we a common distrust of human nature by the Anti-Federalists, who sees individuals as power-hungry and relentlessly ambitious. Federalists on the other hand, recognize the devil within individuals by realizing that “No man is
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