Course 19 March 2011 Analyzing the Differing Conceptions of Separation of Power Held by Publius and Anti-Federalists The debate over the ratification of the Constitution of the United States, which took place in 1787-8, was one of important political processes of the early history of the USA…
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THE NECESSITY OF SEPARATION OF POWERS The idea of the necessity of limitation of powers within the framework of written Constitution was a basic premise shared by Federalists and Anti-Federalists alike. For instance, Cato argues that “a general presumption that rulers will govern well is not a sufficient security” (“Cato”), while Federalist James Madison observes that “the separate... exercise of the different powers of government... is admitted on all hands to be essential to the preservation of liberty” (“The Federalist No. 51”). At the same time, there existed views sceptical of universality of separation of powers. Centinel, an Anti-Federalist, considered the scheme of separation of state power into rival branches insufficient for the establishment of a truly democratic government (“Centinel”). In a sense, both Anti-Federalists and Federalists accepted the necessity of limitation of powers and of delineating the functions of different governmental bodies. Nevertheless, while Federalists ascribed higher qualities to the principle of separation of powers (“The Federalist No. 47”), the Anti-Federalists viewed it just as one of many, and not the most important, safeguards against the abuse of power. THE SEPARATION OF POWERS AND THE CONSTITUTION According to the Federalists, the separation of powers was to be maintained through the relevant organization of the internal structure of the government. The Federalist authors were convinced that by enabling independent agency to each “department” of government while simultaneously restricting their ability to interfere in proceedings of the other branches, the institution of truly republican government was perfectly feasible (“The Federalist No. 51”). Accordingly, the Federalists objected to the idea of recurrence to the people in the event of conflicts between the branches, cautioning against the strengthening of the legislative power at the expense of the others (“The Federalist No. 49”). They found the independence of the judiciary especially important, warning against the possible encroachments by the legislature on the aforesaid independence (“The Federalist No. 78”). Anti-Federalists viewed the model of separation of powers established in the Constitution as abstract, pointing at excessive powers of the Executive and at the mixture of the executive and legislative branches of power found in the Senate (“Cato”). Both Cato and Centinel regarded the Senate as an aristocratic institution; whereas Cato proposed to institute direct election of the Senators and to establish annual rotation of its members (“Cato’), Centinel advocated the abolition of the Senate and the House of Representatives in favour of creating unitary federal legislature (“Centinel”). In short, the Federalists feared the possibility of “tyranny of majority” expressed through the legislative branch and maintained the necessity of curbing the excesses of popular majority (“The Federalist No. 10”, “The Federalist No. 49”). The Anti-Federalists, on the other hand, thought that strong Presidency and non-elected Senate undermined the proper distribution of powers and advocated their reform (“Cato”) or abolition (“Centinel”). ALTERNATIVE MECHANISMS TO ASSURE THE APPROPRIATE CONDUCT OF PUBLIC OFFICIALS Both Federalists and Anti-Federalists believed in the necessity of
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On the other hand, those who had various objections to the constitution were labeled as the Anti-federalists. The Anti-federalists had a variety of objections to the constitution. However, they were all united by their belief that liberty could only be secured in a small republic with limited powers in which the rulers were close to.
Were the Anti-Federalists Correct? Was the 1787 Constitution a Betrayal of the American Revolution? Why or Why not?
The founding fathers of federalism for United States of America had great expectation and a desire for a functional government, to maintain order in the nation.
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams and John Adams were all parts of their particular Colonial councils some years soon after the Declaration of Independence. This exposed them to the means of governance and enabled them to administer the new country soon after the independence and plant the ideals of federalism.
The view held and maintained by each of these groups was based on their perceived projection as to what lay in stock for them once the constitution either came into force or did not. These interest or pressure groups if so to speak became grouped along two main conflicting ideological positions known as the proponents of federalism and the opponents of federalism.
Too many of the former British colonists, any centralized government represented the possibility of unchecked despotism, and it was this objection that galvanized the anti-Federalist resistance. The memory of the intrusive acts passed by Parliament made many fear that an unchecked federal government would behave in much the same fashion, swiftly casting aside its mandate to create a free land, deciding instead to establish domination over a people that had just left that sort of existence behind them.