Federalist vs. Anti-Federalist
Grade Level: 8th Grade
United States History
Time Required: 1-2 Days
This lesson explores the differences and similarities between the Federalists and the Anti-
The students should be able to
1. Identify Federalist and Anti-Federalist ideas.
2. Compare and contrast the Federalist to Anti-Federalists.
Society Time Period Society
Federalist Late 1700’s Anti-Federalist
Senate Politeia/Regime House of Representatives
citizens Politeuma/Ruling Class citizens
Constitution Paideia/What makes a Bill of Rights
society what it is
Union/Federal Law Virtue/ The highest moral States Rights/Individual
Federalist: political party in the United States that favored a strong centralized federal
Anti-Federalist: party opposed to the adoption of the constitution of the United States
until a Bill of Rights was added.
Ratify: to confirm by expressing consent, approval, or formal sanction
Bill of Rights: first ten Amendments to the Constitution
Amendment: a change made by correction, addition, or deletion
Historical Background for the Teachers:
Federalists consisted of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and the
writer of the Constitution, James Madison. They were supporters of the Constitution and
believed that the separation of powers into three independent branches protected the
rights of the people. Each branch represents a different aspect of the people, and because
all three branches are equal, no one group can assume control over another. They were
against a Bill of Rights because they felt a listing of rights can be a dangerous thing. If
the national government were to protect specific listed rights, what would stop it from
violating rights other than the listed ones? Since they can't list all the rights, the
Federalists argued that it's better to list none at all. By June of 1788, the Constitution was
close to ratification. Nine states had ratified it, and only one more (New Hampshire) was
needed. To achieve this, the Federalists agreed that once Congress met, it would draft a
bill of rights. Finally, New York and Virginia approved, and the Constitution ratified.
Anti-federalist: They consisted of Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, George Mason,
among others. The Anti- federalists did not want to ratify the Constitution. They believed
that it gave too much power to the national government at the expense of the state
governments. They also did not like the executive branch thinking the president was
given too much power. There was no bill of rights that protected the individual citizen
Of these complaints, the lack of a bill of rights was the most effective. The American
people had just fought a war to defend their rights, and they did not a national
government taking those rights away again. The lack of a bill of rights was the focus of
the Anti-Federalist campaign against ratification
Anticipatory Set: Students read their handbook for school. What rules would they
change, take away, or add?
Do Now Activity:
In pairs students must decide on only 1 change to the school rules. After a few minutes of
bickering or compromise, explain that the ratification of the Constitution was very similar
and that two factions came out of this: Federalist and Anti-Federalist.
1) Use 5-10 minutes to engage students in meaningful discussion pertaining to the Do
2) Give notes based from Historical Background on basic information about both
4) Have students create a Venn Diagram of the differences and similarities between the
Federalists and Anti-Federalists.
5) List similarities and differences on the board and give students additional notes based
on Historical Background.
6) Have half the students read the Federalist Papers #10 by James Madison. Write down
main ideas that prove Federalist ideas.
The other half reads article from Brutus and write down main ideas that prove Anti-
Federalist ideas. (http://www.constitution.org/afp/brutus01.htm)
7) Partner up a Federalist and Anti-Federalist and have them share ideas.
Based on learned information partners will create a two-person poem reflecting what they
learned as a Federalist and Anti-Federalist. The poem must have a ‘voice’ for both
factions and could either be written as an argument, or difference of opinions.
Complete attached worksheet.
Extension: Have students research and read more portions of the Federalists papers or
Brutus writing and write a summary of their findings.
Author of Lesson:
Marlboro Township Schools