Differences in Slavery
The issues of slavery brought out the differences between states rights and federalism. Anti-federalists believed in strong states' and a weak central government. Most anti-federalists tended to be small farmers, plantation owners and settlers in the south and the west. Federalists believed that a strong central government was created to maintain order and preserve the Union. They were most numerous in New England, along the East Coast and in the large cities.
For the anti-federalists,
slavery was an important issue and something they believed was necessary. Most
anti-federalists or states'rights advocates, were small yeoman farmers or big plantation
owners, like Thomas Jefferson, who needed many slaves to work on their land. " And it
is now clear that slavery was of central importance to both the southern and national
economies and thus to the viability of the American System."(F) The anti-federalists
believed strongly in slavery and thought it was the only way there was. Where else would
you find cheap labor like slaves? Also it was a state's right to choose slavery.The
three-fifths compromise in the Constitution stated that each slave would be counted as
three fifths of a person for the purposes of determining a state's level of taxation and
representation in Congress. Another political issue of the anti-federalists was strict
interpretation of the Constitution. Slaves were seen as property with no rights or
freedoms and this angered many federalists. Federalists believed all men were created
equal but anti-federalists did not see slaves as people but as property, so they did not
feel they were going against the Constitution. They also felt contempt for the northern
federalists, who preached about slavery being wrong, while they were making money off of
the institution by transporting slaves in Yankee ships,in New England. A lot of the cotton
being produced in the south, and being picked by slaves, was sent over to Europe on
northern ships as well. In a sense some northerners were biting their tongues, but they
stood firm on their anti-slavery stance.
The issue of slavery for the federalists was a chance for them to really stress their strong central-government views. Slavery was an issue most people did not want to discuss in public because it was a racial and moral issue. Federalists saw this as a chance to show that government should have the right to regulate something that is so important to its people. Taking a strong stance against slavery early was a good idea according tothe federalists. The party leaders and lawmakers started promoting their anti-slavery stance by using the Constitution. Since it clearly states that all men are created equal, those supporting slavery would be going against the highest law of the land. Telling this to the American people was very important, especially since the Revolutionary War was still fresh in many peoples' minds and going against the Constitution would be a direct violation of freedom, threating democracy. This was a huge boost to the Federalist Party, since the whole anti-federalist platform revolved around how slavery was a state's right to chose. If the anti-federalists went against the Constitution, that could lead to a backlash from the general American public because the nation was young and trying to find respect among the major powers of the world. If there was a division in the country over how seriously to take the Constitution, then how could the rest of the world take the young democracy seriously? Also when there were free blacks in the country, how could one deny them the right to vote and other civil liberties to which they were entitled? Also, since Americans were still bitter over the war, using this was a key tool for the Federalists. Many people made the analogy that Britain had enslaved the American people, so how can we go and enslave Africans, because we should know how it felt. (G) Waving this "bloody flag" in the face of the American public was good because it showed that the institution of slavery was totally hypocritical to the underlying beliefs of a democracy.
The issue that plagued both the Federalists and Anti-Federalists was the Missouri Compromise of 1820. This issue dealt with whether Missouri could be let into the Union as a slave state. This would mean that the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 would be revoked because that said that slavery was prohibited north of the Ohio River. This outraged the old federalists because it would mean a larger number of slave states, and in Congress power would shift to the South. There was a huge debate in the country over the issue and eventually a temporary compromise was adherred. It stated that Missouri would enter as a slave state, but Maine came in as a free state to create a balance of slave and free states. The slavery line was drawn at 36'30, and the issue was resolved for the moment.
In conclusion, the issue of slavery had brought out many differences in the ongoing debate over states' rights verses federalism. Both parties felt their stance on slavery was the right one, and ignored the growing sectionalism in the country. If the two parties had collaborated on a solution, maybe the country would not have ended up in division. These differences ultimately they had led to the Civil War and further injustices against African Americans in the Untied States for many years to come. The issue the parties thought they fixed in the Missouri Compromise would plague the nation creating growing factions between the North and South.
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