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The Ratification Debate

John Jay,liberty,bill of rights,Articles of Confederation,Constitution,James Madison,Federalist Papers,Alexander Hamilton

The Ratification Debate Activity: Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers

Have student complete Handout A: State-by-State Ratification Summary to show the details of the ratification convention action in each state.

Using Handout E: Excerpts from Federalist No. 10, James Madison, November 22, 1787 and Handout F: Summary of Federalist No. 10, work through reading primary sources with the students. Break the students into 6 groups and assign each group one of the following primary sources from the Federalists and Anti-Federalists:

  • Background on Handouts B-I
  • Handout B: Excerpts from Brutus I, Brutus, October 18, 1787
  • Handout C: Excerpts from Federalist No. 1, Alexander Hamilton, October 27, 1787 Handout D: Excerpts from Brutus II, Brutus, November 1, 1787
  • Handout E: Excerpts from Federalist No. 10, James Madison, November 22, 1787
  • Handout F: Summary of Federalist No. 10
  • Handout G: Excerpts from Federalist No. 44, James Madison, January 25, 1788
  • Handout H: Excerpts from Federalist No. 51, James Madison, February 6, 1788
  • Handout I: Excerpts from Patrick Henry Speeches, Virginia Ratifying Convention, June, 1788

After each group has read their primary source, break them into two groups – Federalists and Anti-Federalists based on which of the sources they read. Each group should determine what their side thought about the structure of government, the ratification of the Constitution, and a bill of rights. Additional research on these groups and historic figures may be needed. After students have completed their research, hold a debate between the two sides.