The New International Encyclopædia/Anti-Federalists

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AN'TI-FED'ERALISTS. The name given to a certain political faction and party in the United States as a means of conveniently distinguishing those in opposition to the so-called Federalist party. As a matter of theory and analysis, the Federalists believed in a national system of government, while the Anti-Federalists believed in a decentralized and strictly federal system of government. The Federalists had the advantages of possessing a positive programme, and of gaining the first two points in the conflict when the national constitution was adopted and when they committed the national government to the exercise of such extensive powers as the creation of a national bank. The Anti-Federalists were thus merely a party of political opposition to the party in power. When, however, the Federalists, in the Alien and Sedition Acts (q.v.), seemed to encroach both upon the liberty of the individual and upon the jurisdiction of the States, the opposition of the Anti-Federalists became acute and their fundamental propositions were stated in the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions (q.v.). This crisis resulted in the triumph of the Anti-Federalists under the leadership of Jefferson in the election of 1800; but soon thereafter the leaders of the party began to abandon its original creed of the strict interpretation of the Constitution and the narrow limitation of the powers of the national government. The first step in this direction was the purchase of Louisiana; and when finally the Federalist party was driven entirely out of existence, its characteristic principles remained effective as the chief principals of the Anti-Federalist party. The party soon received the name Republican party, then Democratic-Republican Party, and finally Democratic party. See Democratic Party; Federalists; Republican Party; Party Names; United States.