Lesson 6: “Analysis of Federalist Papers/Federalism vs. States’ Rights” (Grades 11-12)
Background: Due to the many problems that arose from attempting to govern effectively under the Articles of Confederation it became necessary for our Founders to start over and draft a new document that would centralize power in a federal government; however, opposition to such an idea was fierce from advocates of states’ rights. In an attempt to win over voters in New York State throughout 1787 and 1788, John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison would publish what would become known as The Federalist Papers in several New York newspapers under the pen name “Publius.” The papers became famous and remain so to this day as a means of gaining insight into the minds of the Framers as they made their case for federalism.
On the flip side, those opposed to federalism—not surprisingly called anti-federalists—felt that too much power had been taken out of the hands of the states and that they were headed down the path back to tyranny. Those beliefs continued to grow throughout the waning years of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century, surfacing most obviously during Jackson’s presidency and again as a contributor to the Civil War. During the Nullification Crisis of the 1830’s, John C. Calhoun took the lead in advocating for states’ rights and his views encapsulate the issues of that movement perfectly then and still today.
This lesson seeks to allow students the chance to analyze difficult primary source materials looking for insights into the authors’ views and opinions, as well as giving them a thorough working understanding of the many issues surrounding both federalism and anti-federalism. They can also begin to draw conclusions about their own beliefs about the role of the federal government in the lives of citizens, as well as make connections to today’s political parties and their ideas on the subject.
Objective: Students will read and analyze various sources to be able to understand and speak knowledgably about the following:
DCPS Social Studies Standards covered:
US History Content Standards covered:
Virginia History and Social Studies Content Standards covered:
Maryland State Social Studies Curriculum Standards covered: