The Anti-Federalist Papers and the Constitutional Convention Debates by Ralph Louis KetchamOverall it is hit and miss. Ketcham gives a VERY detailed review of the Constitutional Convention (180 pages). If you have read The Federalist Papers then you can probably skip it. He does provide a fine annotated bibliography at the end (this is one of those things that separates good books from great ones).
Summarizing the Anti-Federalist Position
(1) It is agreed that the Articles were defective, but that does not logically prove that the new Constitution is good (Melancton Smith).
(2) The problem of representation: In any representative government, there must be a proportion between the size of the population and the ones representing that population. So far, thatís common sense. But when you have a large population, you must either have  a small representation, or  an extremely large representation. If , then you have oligarchy and tyranny. If , you have chaos. Therefore a third position is needed:  new republics. Republican government by necessity MUST remain small(ish).
(3) The problems in the country arenít so much the fault of the confederation itself, but simply that the people havenít yet fully recovered from the war (ďFederal FarmerĒ 258).
(4) Further complicating the problem was that paper currency (and all its instabilities) was introduced during the war and the people were only now overcoming that debt system. And it bears noting that the Anti-Federalists were militantly anti-usury (Dewitt 191)..
(5) The constitutional convention was called in secrecy (238).
(6) A very extensive territory cannot be governed on the principles of freedom, otherwise than by a confederation of Republics (242).
(7) Intermediating structures have been negated. Congress has direct power over the purse to tax. Previously in agricultural and quasi-anarchist societies, the commune or district mediated the tax burden between the man and government.
(8) Since the number of representatives is so small, the ones who represent will always be part of the monied elite (e.g., Goldman Sachs, Koch brothers, etc).
(9) Interestingly enough, the anti-Federalists appear to reject the idea, quite republican in itself, of the Senate electing the president (252). They saw the president as always being buddies with the Senators.
(10) The power to tax directly is inversely proportionate to liberty. The anti-federalists predicted the rise of the IRS.
Conclusions and impressions:
The Federalist ideas arenít wrong as long as you have a unified people sharing a common bond of love (cf Augustine, City of God, Bk. 19.24). And if it is a small area, then it should work. But since self-government is strained (if not impossible) over larger areas, then The Federalist becomes a manifesto for Empire.
As it stood the Anti-Federalist program, while godly and ensuring liberty, was inadequate. There really wasnít a way to withstand a foreign invader (though to be fair, invading a forested, hill-country like America, protected by 2,000 miles of ocean, isnít easy). What is needed is something like the Russian-CIS federation, where a collection of republics find their leadership and direction from a larger, stronger republic like Russia. Such a republic would respect the autonomy and culture of the smaller ones.
But that seems to point back towards the Anti-Federalistsí complaint: what is the difference between this situation and that of a larger republic like Virginia crowding out smaller ones? Admittedly, in 1787 there wasnít a good answer to this. However, today, there might be one: Russia, to go back to that example, cannot survive an economic war with the West. However, smaller republics like Kazakhstan and larger countries like China can band together with Russia in an economic alliance that would counter any move the Atlanticists make. Russia, therefore, would have a vested interests in keeping the smaller republics strong and unique in order to form a counter to Atlantis.
The parallels are worth exploring.
Constitutional Convention: Federalists v. Anti-Federalists
Tags Legal System U. History Political Theory. September 27 marks the anniversary of the publication of the first of the Antifederalist Papers in The Antifederalists were opponents of ratifying the US Constitution. As the losers in that debate, they are largely overlooked today. But that does not mean they were wrong or that we are not indebted to them.
is for Students.
The anti-Federalists and their opposition to ratifying the Constitution were a powerful force in the origin of the Bill of Rights to protect Amercians' civil liberties. The anti-Federalists were chiefly concerned with too much power invested in the national government at the expense of states. Howard Chandler Christy's interpretation of the signing of the Constitution, painted in The Anti-Federalists opposed the ratification of the U. Constitution because they feared that the new national government would be too powerful and thus threaten individual liberties, given the absence of a bill of rights.
Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher. During the debates over the ratification of the U. Constitution in the late s, supporters and opponents of the Constitution evolved into two opposing political parties. Those who endorsed the Constitution were soon called Federalists; those who opposed it or favored waiting until the document was revised to address their concerns about preserving individual rights were termed Anti-Federalists.
Over the next few months we will explore through a series of eLessons the debate over ratification of the United States Constitution as discussed in the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers. We look forward to exploring this important debate with you! One of the great debates in American history was over the ratification of the Constitution in Those who supported the Constitution and a stronger national republic were known as Federalists. Those who opposed the ratification of the Constitution in favor of small localized government were known as Anti-Federalists. Both the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists were concerned with the preservation of liberty, however, they disagreed over whether or not a strong national government would preserve or eventually destroy the liberty of the American people.