Social Studies - 2018-19

VUS.5c - Federalists and Anti-Federalists

The student will apply social science skills to understand the development of the American political system by

c) assessing the arguments of Federalists and Anti-Federalists during the ratification debates in defense of the principles and issues that led to the development of political parties

Adopted: 2015


Unit Themes

Unit Essential Questions


How do systems, ideas, or beliefs change over time?

Constitutional Principles 

How does the US Constitution shape our lives as Americans?  


How does democracy shape the American experience?


The debates between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists set the stage for the development of political parties in the United States.


Debates over the ratification of the U.S. Constitution 

 George Washington and the Federalists supported ratification because they advocated the importance of a strong central government, especially to promote economic development and public improvements. 

 Anti-Federalists, including Patrick Henry, George Mason, and Thomas Jefferson, were opposed to the ratification of the Constitution because they feared an overly powerful central government destructive of the rights of individuals and states, leading to their demand for the incorporation of the United States Bill of Rights.

Issues leading to the formation of political parties 

 Controversy over the Federalists’ support for Hamilton’s financial plan, especially the Bank of the United States; Washington’s Proclamation of Neutrality including the Jay Treaty; and the undeclared war on France during the John Adams administration contributed to the emergence of an organized opposition party, the Democratic-Republicans, led by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

Formation of political parties 

 The Federalists, led by John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, typically believed in a strong national government and commercial economy. They were supported by bankers and business interests in the Northeast. 

 The Democratic-Republicans, led by Thomas Jefferson, believed in a weak national government and an agricultural economy. They were supported by farmers, artisans, and frontier settlers in the South. 

 The presidential election of 1800, won by Thomas Jefferson, was the first American presidential election in which power was peacefully transferred from one political party to another.


Terms & EventsPeoplePlaces

Articles of Confederation






House of Representatives

Three-Fifths Compromise

Equal Branches: Judicial, Executive, Legislative

Population-based legislature


Checks and Balances

Limited Government

Virginia Plan

Bill of Rights

Virginia Declaration of Rights

Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom


Supreme Court

Constitutional Convention

James Madison

George Washington

George Mason

Thomas Jefferson

Patrick Henry



Philadelphia, PA

Updated: May 18, 2018