Too Big to Fail? Democratic Republics and the Federalist/AntiFederalist Debate

In the wake of the Constitutional Convention, a ratification debate took place in each of the thirteen

United States. Numerous essays were published in newspapers and pamphlets arguing for the adoption

of the Constitution (a collection known as the Federalist Papers). An equally numerous, though less

centrally-organized, group of essays were published in the same fashion and opposed ratification of the


Read all four documents provided in the Scenario Files folder:

Excerpts from Brutus I

Excerpts from Cato III

The Federalist Papers-Congress No. 10

The Federalist Papers-Congress No. 51

Evaluate the Federalist/Anti-Federalist arguments with respect to the central question: Is the United

States governable as a large republic?

Write a response to the question, Is the United States governable as a large republic? in the form of an

op-ed, similar to those that appear in major newspapers. Your op-ed must address the following:

• What position did the Federalist and Anti-Federalists take with respect to whether or not

the newly formed United States was too large to be ruled by the people?

• What types of evidence did opponents of ratification provide to support their argument

that the United States was too large to govern?

• According to the Federalists, what mechanisms did the Constitution provide to assuage the

concerns of those who thought the United States was too large to govern?

• Is the Federalist or Anti-Federalist argument more convincing?

• If the authors of these essays were alive today, would they still believe their original

arguments regarding the Constitution, the size of the United States, and the ability of a

democratic republic to function? Why or why not?

Your op-ed should be no longer than 2 pages (excluding headers and references which should be on

Page 3). It should include a clearly developed thesis statement, as well as references. A sample op-ed is

provided for you in the Scenario Files.

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