History Expounded Upon

When reading the Federalist Papers, it is instructive to understand why they came about and their purpose.  When the newly formed United States convened a Convention in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787, they were in fact, NOT going to draft a Constitution.  The actual purpose of the Convention was to modify the Articles of Confederation that had been the basis of government among the colonies from around 1776 when they were first drafted.

However, some visionaries such as James Madison and Alexander Hamilton did not think the Articles could be successfully modified and proposed writing a completely brand-new document.  This of course, did not sit well with everyone so when it became time to ratify this new Constitution, and an 18th century verbal food-fight erupted.  Now the really spiffy thing is that when these guys had a throw-down, they didn't mess around- they went at each other verbally in a way that our sad, sad current politicians could only aspire.

SO, each Federalist Paper has a corresponding Anti-Federalist Paper and if you can plow through the atrocious spelling and occasional grammar gaffes (at least by 20th century standards, although they are really quite wonderful in their prose and purpose.

Federalist #1 and Anti-Federalist #1 are merely the warm-up acts for the numerous papers that follow and offer point & counter-point for each major ideas of the proposed Constitution.
So here are a couple of quotes to lay out where each side of this argument is coming from:

In this corner the Federalists:
"On the other hand, it will be equally forgotten that the vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty; that, in the contemplation of a sound and well-informed judgment, their interest can never be separated; and that a dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government." 

and in this corner the Anti-Federalists:
"They will use the power, when they have acquired it, to the purposes of gratifying their own interest and ambition, and it is scarcely possible, in a very large republic, to call them to account for their misconduct, or to prevent their abuse of power."

Ha, Keith Olbermann and Rush Limbaugh, eat your hearts out....