Anti-Federalists Law and Legal Definition

Anti-Federalists is a term used to describe the opponents of ratification or adoption of the U.S. Constitution in 1787. They advocated that the central government of the nation should be equal or inferior to its sub-national states. The opponents of the federal constitution continued to argue for strong state governments and a weaker national government, even after ratification of the constitution. They contended that the federal constitution would give the country an entirely new and untested form of government. The leaders of Anti-federalists included some of the most influential figures like Patrick Henry and George Mason who were also national figures during the Revolutionary War period.

The term Anti-Federalist was later applied to the emerging political faction headed by Thomas Jefferson during the administration of George Washington. This faction became the Democratic-Republican Party and later the Democratic Party.