The Federalists and Antifederalists were two political groups that emerged during the ratification of the United States Constitution in the late 18th century. The Federalists were in favor of a strong central government, while the Antifederalists feared that too much power would be given to the central government, at the expense of individual liberty. Despite their conflicting views, these two groups eventually came to an agreement on the ratification of the Constitution. So, how did they do it?

Precursor to Federalists and Antifederalists

Before we delve into the agreement, it is essential first to understand the precursor of the two groups. When the thirteen American colonies were fighting for independence from Britain, the Second Continental Congress appointed a committee to draft a document that would serve as a basis for their government. The result was the Articles of Confederation, which was ratified in 1781. However, this confederation was weak and unable to provide a strong central government needed to govern the country successfully.

The Federalist Solution

As a response to this problem, the Federalists, led by Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and James Madison, proposed a new Constitution that would establish a strong central government with the power to tax, regulate commerce, and maintain a standing army. They believed that such a government was necessary to ensure order and stability in the new nation.

The Antifederalist Response

On the other side, the Antifederalists, led by Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, and Samuel Adams, were wary of the Federalists` proposal. They feared that the new Constitution would give too much power to the central government, thereby infringing on states` rights and individual liberties. They demanded a Bill of Rights to protect citizens` freedom of speech, religion, and press, among other rights.

The Compromise

The Federalists and Antifederalists held different views on various aspects of the Constitution. Still, they agreed on one thing – the need for a united and strong nation. With this in mind, the two groups came together to address their differences and reach a compromise. The Federalists agreed to include a Bill of Rights in the Constitution to protect individual liberties, while the Antifederalists accepted the idea of a strong central government.

The ratification of the Constitution was not an easy process. It took several months of intense debate and discussion before a compromise was reached. However, the result was a document that laid the foundation for the United States government and has endured for over two centuries.


The Federalists and Antifederalists were two opposing political groups that came to an agreement on one of the most crucial documents in American history. Despite their conflicting views, they recognized the importance of creating a strong and united nation. The compromise they reached ensured that individual liberties were protected while establishing a government with the power to govern the country effectively. Ultimately, this agreement between the Federalists and Antifederalists laid the foundation for the government that governs the United States today.