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Early in the life of our Constitution two parties rose, which, under various names, have continued ever since. During the strife for and against adoption, those favoring this had been styled Federalists, and their opponents, Anti-Federalists. After adoption--no one any longer really antagonizing the Constitution--the two words little by little shifted their meaning, a man being dubbed Federalist or Anti-Federalist according to his preference for strong national government or for strong state governments. The Federalist Party gave birth to the Whig Party, and this to the modern Republican Party. The Anti-Federalists came to be called "Republicans," then "Democratic-Republicans," then simply "Democrats."

The central plank of the federalist platform was vigorous single nationality. In aid of this the Federalists wished a considerable army and navy, so that the United States might be capable of ample self-defence against all foes abroad or at home. Partly as a means to this, partly to build up national feeling, unity, self-respect, and due respect for the nation abroad, they sought to erect our national credit, which had fallen so low, and to plant it on a solid and permanent basis. As still further advancing these ends they proposed so to enforce regard for the national authority and laws and obedience to them, that within its sphere the nation should be absolutely and beyond question paramount to the State.

In many who cherished them these noble purposes were accompanied by a certain aristocratic feeling and manner, a carelessness of popular opinion, an inclination to model governmental polity and administration after the English, and an impatience with what was good in our native American ideas and ways, which, however natural, were unfortunate and unreasonable. Puffed up with pride at its victory in carrying the Constitution against the opposition of the ignorant masses, this party developed a haughtiness and a lack of republican spirit amounting in some cases to deficient patriotism.

The early Federalists were of two widely different stripes. There were among them Washington, Adams, Hamilton, and Jay; and there were the interested and practical advocates of the same, made up of business men and the wealthy and leisurely classes, who, without intending to be selfish, were governed in political sympathy and action mainly by their own interests.

The greatest early Anti-Federalists were Jefferson, Madison, and Randolph, all of whom had been ardent for the Constitution. The party as a whole, indeed, not only acquiesced in the re-creation of the general Government, but was devotedly friendly to the new order. But while Republicans admitted that a measure of governmental centralization was indispensable, they prized the individual State as still the main pillar of our political fabric, and were hence jealous of all increased function at the centre. It became more and more their theory that the States, rather than the individuals of the national body politic, had been the parties to the Constitution, so making this to be a compact like the old Articles, and the government under it a confederacy as before 1789.

Another issue divided the parties, that between the strict and the more free interpretation of the Constitution--between the close constructionists and the liberal constructionists. The question dividing them was this: In matters relating to the powers of the general Government, ought any unclear utterance of the Constitution to be so explained as to enlarge those powers, or so as to confine them to the narrowest possible sphere? Each of the two tendencies in construction has in turn brought violence to our fundamental law, but the sentiment of nationality and the logic of events have favored liberality rather than narrowness in interpreting the parchment. When in charge of the government, even strict constructionists have not been able to carry out their theory. Thus Jefferson, to purchase Louisiana, was obliged, from his point of view, to transcend constitutional warrant; and Madison, who at first opposed such an institution as unconstitutional, ended by approving the law which chartered the Second United States Bank.

The Federalists used to argue that Article I, Section VIII., the part of the Constitution upon which debate chiefly raged, could not have been intended as an exhaustive statement of congressional powers. The Government would be unable to exist, they urged, to say nothing of defending itself and accomplishing its work, unless permitted to do more than the eighteen things there enumerated. They further insisted that plain utterances of the Constitution presuppose the exercise by Congress of powers not specifically enumerated, explicitly authorizing that body to make all laws necessary for executing the enumerated powers "and all other powers vested in the Government of the United States or in any department or officer thereof."

In reply the Anti-Federalists made much of the titles "United States," "Federal," and the like, in universal use. They appealed to concessions as to the nature of our system made by statesmen of known national sympathies. Such concessions were plentiful then and much later. Even Webster in his immortal reply to Hayne calls ours a government of "strictly limited," even of "enumerated, specified, and particularized" powers. Two historical facts told powerfully for the anti-federalist theory. One was that the government previous to 1789 was unquestionably a league of States; the other was that many voted for the present Constitution supposing it to be a mere revision of the old. Had the reverse been commonly believed, adoption would have been more than doubtful.