During the Constitution’s ratification process (1787–1790), both those who supported and those who opposed the Constitution used the press to advance their ideas. Those in favor were known as Federalists because of their support for a strong federal government. Those opposed were thus the Anti-Federalists, and their opposition centered on their fear of a strong federal government. As a result they sought the inclusion of a bill of rights to limit these powers.


The Federalist Papers were a series of articles written primarily by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay under the pseudonym “Publius” to promote ratification of the new Constitution. The articles appeared in newspapers across the country. Anti-Federalists, like Thomas Jefferson, who preferred power be kept in the states, also printed their own editorials in support of a bill of rights.


Read the article by Thomas Jefferson, which favors a bill of rights, and answer the questions in the boxes below.


Thomas Jefferson argues in support of a bill of rights. National Gazette. Philadelphia. Sept. 29, 1792. Library of Congress


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Read “Federalist No. 84” by Alexander Hamilton, which argues against a bill of rights in the Constitution. Use the magnifier to help you and answer the questions below.

Directions: Read the article by Alexander Hamilton, published on July 16, 1788, in the Independent Journal and other newspapers. The article argues against including a bill of rights in the Constitution. Utilize the magnifier to help you read through the article. Then use the annotation tool to take notes on the following questions:

  1. What do you notice first about the tone and style of Hamilton’s writing?
  2. Why is Hamilton advocating against a bill of rights? Include an example that best captures the reader’s attention in support of a bill of rights.
  3. Does Hamilton make his case effectively?
  4. Why do you think newspapers published The Federalist Papers?

Download the notes to share with your class.

Source: Edited version of Federalist 84, “Certain General and Miscellaneous Objections to the Constitution Considered and Answered,” by Alexander Hamilton under pseudonym Publius. July 16, 1788. See the full text at the Library of Congress.

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