The real problem for the modern analyst is that both sides had very good points, and they weren't often arguing about the same things. Hamilton's case for a strong central government was bolstered by the strong historical suggestion that those nations without one tended to have their futures dictated by those who had one. The anti-Federalists replied that even were this the case, the proposed Constitution contained in it the seeds of a despotism with potential expressions of power that would be abusive and in excess of that necessary to maintain independence in a hostile world.
Where the anti-Federalists seemed to be at their best was in the arena of enumerated powers, more specifically how best to ensure that the government would not exceed them. Hamilton insisted that the very structure of the Constitution made it impossible for the government to exceed them - the government had, in his view, no possible way to do so. The anti-Federalists thought this approach the political equivalent of fairy-dust and with two centuries of hindsight we can hardly disagree. That was, however, one argument for the existence of a Bill of Rights, an argument shared by thinkers on both sides of the debate. But not Hamilton, who pointed out that such a Bill would tend to imply that those rights enumerated were the only ones the people possessed, a point of view which those same two centuries of hindsight will also uphold. That the very ones specified in such a Bill of Rights would also be encroached upon was not something either side cared to contemplate, although those two centuries of hindsight sometimes make us with that they had.
Great stuff. It is a bit questionable how much influence the furious debate in three New York newspapers that is the Federalist Papers had on the ultimate ratification, but there really isn't anything quite like them for articulating the point-counterpoint that had already taken place in the writing of the Constitution. That there even is a Bill of Rights is largely a consequence of this controversy.
What amazes me personally is how timely and relevant these same issues continue to be two centuries later. We're still fighting about the same things, and perhaps this is one secret to the Constitution's longevity. Even long-lived things can be killed by determined enemies. Sometimes they can be kept alive by equally determined friends.
All are encouraged to join Publius and me for a twice-weekly discussion of the Federalist Papers and the anti-Federalist replies. Every little bump helps.