The supporters of the proposed Constitution called themselves "FEDERALISTS." Their adopted name implied a commitment to a loose, decentralized system of government. In many respects "FEDERALISM" — which implies a strong central government — was the opposite of the proposed plan that they supported. A more accurate name for the supporters of the Constitution would have been "NATIONALISTS."
The "nationalist" label, however, would have been a political liability in the 1780s. Traditional political belief of the Revolutionary Era held that strong centralized authority would inevitably lead to an abuse of power. The Federalists were also aware that that the problems of the country in the 1780s stemmed from the weaknesses of the central government created by the Articles of Confederation.The ANTIFEDERALISTS were a diverse coalition of people who opposed ratification of the Constitution. Although less well organized than the Federalists, they also had an impressive group of leaders who were especially prominent in state politics.
Ranging from political elites like JAMES WINTHROP in Massachusetts to MELANCTON SMITH of New York and Patrick Henry and George Mason of Virginia, these Antifederalist were joined by a large number of ordinary Americans particularly yeomen farmers who predominated in rural America. The one overriding social characteristic of the Antifederalists as a group was their strength in newer settled western regions of the country.The Virginia Plan (also known as the Randolph Plan, after its sponsor, or the Large-State Plan) was a proposal by Virginia delegates for a bicameral legislative branch. The plan was drafted by James Madison while he waited for a quorum to assemble at the Constitutional Convention of 1787.The Northwest Ordinance, adopted July 13, 1787, by the Second Continental Congress, chartered a government for the Northwest Territory, provided a method for admitting new states to the Union from the territory, and listed a bill of rights guaranteed in the territory. Following the principles outlined by Thomas Jefferson in the Ordinance of 1784, the authors of the Northwest Ordinance (probably Nathan Dane and Rufus King) spelled out a plan that was subsequently used as the country expanded to the Pacifi