Q:

Are the Democratic-Republicans the same as the Anti-Federalists?

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Quick Answer

The Anti-Federalists and Democratic-Republicans were not the same parties. The Anti-Federalists opposed the adoption of the United States Constitution prior to its ratification in 1788. Democratic-Republicans formed during George Washington's first presidential term in 1792 and built on many of the ideologies expressed by the Anti-Federalists. After the ratification of the Constitution, the Anti-Federalists dissolved, but fear of an elite ruling class persisted until the Democratic-Republicans were created.

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Full Answer

The Anti-Federalist movement sprang from colonial experiences under British monarchy rule that lead to an extreme distrust of a strong central government. Instead, they favored a confederation of states with localized power. This view was originally shared by most founders due to their perceived treatment under British rule, leading to the drafting of the Articles of Confederation.

Anti-Federalists were not well organized, breaking into smaller factions based on income, business interests, career and education. The elites of the Anti-Federalists thought only the select few who possessed disinterested virtue should rule at the state level. Middling Anti-Federalists thought all classes possessing property held the capacity to rule, so all propertied males should get an equal say. Lower classes pushed for direct democracy within local towns and households.

The Articles of Confederation were unable to regulate interstate conflict, so the United States Constitution was drafted in 1788. During the first part of George Washington's term as president, there were no political parties. However, Alexander Hamilton and his supporters were pushing for more federal powers, which led to the creation of an opposing party by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison called the "Republicans" or "Jeffersonian Republicans" at the time. Modern political scientists refer to it as the Democratic-Republican Party.

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