H CS 08

Historic Documents

Some documents in American history have considerable importance for the development of the nation. Students use historical thinking to examine key documents which form the basis for the United States of America.

Content Statement

8. The Federalist Papers and the Anti-Federalist Papers structured the national debate over the ratification of the Constitution of the United States.

Content Elaborations

The Constitution of the United States represented a significant departure from the Articles of Confederation. The document required ratification by nine states for the national government to be established among the ratifying states.

Proponents and opponents of the Constitution attempted to sway the deliberations of the ratifying conventions in the states. The proponents became known as Federalists and the opponents as Anti-Federalists.

New York was a pivotal state in the ratification process and Federalists prepared a series of essays published in that state’s newspapers to convince New York to support the Constitution. These essays have become known as the Federalist Papers and they addressed issues such as the need for national taxation, the benefits of a strong national defense, the safeguards in the distribution of powers and the protection of citizen rights.

What has become known as the Anti-Federalist Papers is a collection of essays from a variety of contributors. While not an organized effort as the Federalist Papers were, the Anti-Federalist Papers raised issues relating to the threats posed by national taxation, the use of a standing army, the amount of national power versus state power and the inadequate protection of the people’s rights.

Expectations for Learning

Compare the arguments of the Federalists and Anti- Federalists on a common topic related to the ratification of the Constitution of the United States and hypothesize why the winning argument was more persuasive.