Anti Federalists Essays

The Federalist Papers

The Federalist Papers were a series of eighty-five essays urging the citizens of New York to ratify the new United States Constitution. Written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, the essays originally appeared anonymously in New York newspapers in 1787 and 1788 under the pen name "Publius." The Federalist Papers are considered one of the most important sources for interpreting and understanding the original intent of the Constitution.

Library of Congress Web Site | External Web Sites | Selected Bibliography

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875

This collection contains congressional publications from 1774 to 1875, including debates, bills, laws, and journals.

  • Elliot's Debates is a five-volume collection compiled by Jonathan Elliot in the mid-nineteenth century. The volumes remain the best source for materials about the national government's transitional period between the closing of the Constitutional Convention in September 1787 and the opening of the First Federal Congress in March 1789.
  • Farrand's Records gathered the documentary records of the Constitutional Convention into four volumes, three of which are included in this online collection, containing the materials necessary to study the workings of the Constitutional Convention. The notes taken at that time by James Madison, and later revised by him, form the largest single block of material other than the official proceedings. The three volumes also include notes and letters by many other participants, as well as the various constitutional plans proposed during the convention.
  • The Making of the U.S. Constitution is a special presentation that provides a brief history of the making of the Constitution followed by the text of the Constitution itself.

Documents from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, 1774 to 1789

This collection contains 277 documents relating to the work of Congress and the drafting and ratification of the Constitution.

George Washington Papers

The complete George Washington Papers collection from the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress consists of approximately 65,000 documents.

The Washington Papers include the following references to the Federalist Papers:

  • George Washington to Alexander Hamilton, November 10, 1787, "I thank you for the Pamphlet and for the Gazette contained in your letter of the 30th Ult. For the remaining numbers of Publius, I shall acknowledge myself obliged, as I am persuaded the subject will be well handled by the Author."
  • George Washington to Alexander Hamilton, August 28, 1788, "As the perusal of the political papers under the signature of Publius has afforded me great satisfaction, I shall certainly consider them as claiming a most distinguished place in my Library."

Search Washington's papers using the word "Publius" to locate additional documents related to the Federalist Papers.

James Madison Papers, 1723 to 1859

James Madison (1751-1836) is one of 23 presidents whose papers are held in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress. The Madison Papers consist of approximately 12,000 items.

  • James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, August 10, 1788. Partly in Cipher, "I believe I never have yet mentioned to you that publication. It was undertaken last fall by Jay, Hamilton, and myself. The proposal came from the two former. The execution was thrown, by the sickness of Jay, mostly on the two others. Though carried on in concert, the writers are not mutually answerable for all the ideas of each other, there being seldom time for even a perusal of the pieces by any but the writer before they were wanted at the press, and sometimes hardly by the writer himself."
  • James Madison to Jacob Gideon, Jr., January 28, 1818, "I send you a Copy of the 1st. Edition of the “Federalist,” with the names of the writers prefixed to their respective numbers."

Search the Madison papers using terms such as "Publius" or "Federalist" to locate additional documents related to this topic.

Thomas Jefferson Papers, 1606 to 1827

The complete Thomas Jefferson Papers from the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress consists of approximately 27,000 documents.

  • Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, November 18, 1788, Sent with Two Plans for Funding Foreign Debt, "With respect to the Federalist, the three authors had been named to me. I read it with care, pleasure & improvement, and was satisfied there was nothing in it by one of those hands, & not a great deal by a second. It does the highest honor to the third, as being, in my opinion, the best commentary on the principles of government which ever was written." [transcription]

Words and Deeds in American History: Selected Documents Celebrating the Manuscript Division's First 100 Years

In honor of the Manuscript Division's centennial, its staff has selected for online display approximately ninety representative documents spanning from the fifteenth century to the mid-twentieth century.

American Treasures of the Library of Congress - The Federalist

James Madison's Federalist no. 10 is one of the most important and enduring statements of American political theory. Its reasoned statement explains what an expanding nation might do if it accepted the basic premise of majority rule, a balanced government of three separate branches, and a commitment to balance all the diverse interests through a system of checks and balances.

Creating the United States

This online exhibition offers insights into how the nation’s founding documents were forged and the role that imagination and vision played in the unprecedented creative act of forming a self–governing country. The exhibition includes a section on Creating the United States Constitution that contains images from Thomas Jefferson's copy of the Federalist Papers.

Madison's Treasures

Includes Thomas Jefferson's annotated copy of the Federalist Papers.

The federalist: a collection of essays, written in favour of the new Constitution, as agreed upon by the Federal convention, September 17, 1787, in two volumes. New-York: Printed and sold by J. and A. M'Lean ..., 1788.

December 12, 1745

John Jay, one of the nation's founding fathers, was born on December 12, 1745, to a prominent and wealthy family in the Province of New York.

March 16, 1751

James Madison, "Father of the Constitution" and fourth president of the United States, was born on March 16, 1751.

September 17, 1787

Members of the Constitutional Convention signed the final draft of the Constitution on September 17, 1787.

October 27, 1787

Known as the Federalist Papers, the first in a series of eighty-five essays by "Publius," the pen name of Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, appeared in the New York Independent Journal on October 27, 1787.

December 15, 1791

The new United States of America adopted the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, confirming the fundamental rights of its citizens on December 15, 1791.

July 11, 1804

On July 11, 1804, political antagonists and personal enemies Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr met on the heights of Weehawken, New Jersey to settle their longstanding differences with a duel. The participants fired their pistols in close succession. Burr's shot met its target immediately, fatally wounding Hamilton and leading to his death the following day. Burr escaped unharmed.

The Federalist Papers, The Avalon Project at Yale Law School

The Founders' Constitution, University of Chicago Press and the Liberty Fund

Our Documents, Federalist Papers, No. 10 & No. 51, National Archives and Records Administration

Adair, Douglass. "The Authorship of the Disputed Federalist Papers." William & Mary Quarterly 1, no. 2 (April 1944): 97-122.

-----. "The Authorship of the Disputed Federalist Papers: Part II." William & Mary Quarterly 1, no. 3 (July 1944): 235-264.

Cooke, Jacob E., ed. The Federalist. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1961. [Catalog Record] [Full Text]

Dietze, Gottfried. The Federalist: A Classic on Federalism and Free Government. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999. [Catalog Record]

Duvall, Edward D. The Federalist Companion: A Guide to Understanding the Federalist Papers. Gilbert, Ariz.: Fremont Valley Books, 2011. [Catalog Record]

Morris, Richard B. Witnesses at the Creation: Hamilton, Madison, Jay, and the Constitution. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1985. [Catalog Record]

Rossiter, Clinton L., ed. The Federalist Papers: Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay. New York: Mentor, 1999. [Catalog Record]

Taylor, Quentin P., ed. The Essential Federalist: A New Reading of the Federalist Papers. Madison, Wis.: Madison House, 1998. [Catalog Record]

Ball, Lea. The Federalist--Anti-Federalist Debate over States' Rights: A Primary Source Investigation. New York: Rosen Central Primary Source, 2005. [Catalog Record]

Anti-Federalist Papers is the collective name given to works written by the Founding Fathers who were opposed to or concerned with the merits of the United States Constitution of 1787. Starting on 25 September 1787 (8 days after the final draft of the US Constitution) and running through the early 1790s, these anti-Federalists published a series of essays arguing against a stronger and more energetic union as embodied in the new Constitution. Although less influential than their written counterparts, The Federalist Papers, these works nonetheless played an important role in shaping the early American political landscape and in the passage of the US Bill of Rights.

History[edit]

Following its victory against the British in the Revolutionary War, the United States was plagued by a variety of internal problems. The weak central government could not raise taxes to cover war debts and was largely unable to pass legislation. Many early American politicians and thinkers believed that these issues were the result of the Articles of Confederation - the first governing document of the United States.[1] In 1787 a convention gathered in Philadelphia to attempt to amend it. Soon, however, the gathering shifted its focus to constructing a newer and more powerful Constitution for the fledgling country. Two main competing factions emerged, the Federalists and the anti-Federalists. The former supported a more powerful central government while the latter opposed it.

During the lengthy and heated national debate following this convention, both groups wrote extensively in favor of their respective positions. The anti-Federalist papers are a selection of the written arguments against the US Constitution by those known to posterity as the anti-Federalists. As with the Federalist papers, these essays were originally published in newspapers. The most widely known are "a series of sixteen essays published in the New York Journal from October, 1787, through April, 1788, during the same period. The anti-Federalist was appearing in New York newspapers, under the pseudonym 'Brutus'."

Structure and content[edit]

The Anti-Federalist papers were written over a number of years and by a variety of authors who utilized pen names to remain anonymous, and debates over authorship continue to this day. Unlike the authors of The Federalist Papers, a group of three men working closely together, the authors of the anti-Federalist papers were not engaged in an organized project. Thus, in contrast to the pro-Constitution advocates, there was no one book or collection of anti-Federalist Papers at the time. The essays were the product of a vast number of authors, working individually rather than as a group.[2] Although there is no canonical list of anti-federalist authors, major authors include Cato (likely George Clinton), Brutus (likely Melancton Smith or Robert Yates or perhaps John Williams), Centinel (Samuel Bryan), and the Federal Farmer (either Melancton Smith, Richard Henry Lee, or Mercy Otis Warren[citation needed]). Works by Patrick Henry and a variety of others are often included as well.

Until the mid-20th century, there was no united series of anti-Federalist papers. The first major collection was compiled by Morton Borden, a professor at Columbia University, in 1965. He "collected 85 of the most significant papers and arranged them in an order closely resembling that of the 85 Federalist Papers." The most frequently cited contemporary collection, The Complete Anti-Federalist, was compiled by Herbert Storing and Murray Dry of the University of Chicago. At seven volumes and including many pamphlets and other materials not previously published in a collection, this work is considered by many the authoritative compendium on the publications.[3]

Considering their number and diversity, it is difficult to summarize the contents of the Anti-Federalist papers. Generally speaking they reflected the sentiments of the anti-Federalists, which Akhil Reed Amar of the Yale Law School generalized as: a localist fear of a powerful central government, a belief in the necessity of direct citizen participation in democracy, and a distrust of wealthy merchants and industrialists.[4] Essays with titles such as "A Dangerous Plan of Benefit Only to The 'Aristocratick Combination'" and "New Constitution Creates a National Government; Will Not Abate Foreign Influence; Dangers of Civil War And Despotism" fill the collection, and reflect the strong feelings of the authors.

In the table below, a selection of Anti-Federalist papers have been contrasted with their Federalist counterparts.[5]

SubjectAnti-FederalistFederalist
Need for stronger UnionJohn Dewitt № I and IIFederalist № 1–6
Bill of RightsJohn Dewitt № IIJames Wilson, 10/6/87 Federalist № 84
Nature and powers of the UnionPatrick Henry, 6/5/88Federalist № 1, 14, 15
Responsibility and checks in self-governmentCentinel № 1Federalist № 10, 51
Extent of Union, states' rights, Bill of Rights, taxationPennsylvania Minority: Brutus № 1Federalist № 10, 32, 33, 35, 36, 39, 45, 84
Extended republics, taxationFederal Farmer № I and IIFederalist № 8, 10, 14, 35, 36
Broad construction, taxing powersBrutus № VIFederalist № 23, 30–34
Defense, standing armiesBrutus № XFederalist № 24–29
The judiciaryBrutus № XI, XII, XVFederalist № 78–83
Government resting on the peopleJohn DeWitt № IIIFederalist № 23, 49
Executive powerCato № VFederalist № 67
Regulating electionsCato № VIIFederalist № 59
House of RepresentativesBrutus № IVFederalist № 27, 28, 52–54, 57
The SenateBrutus № XVIFederalist № 62, 63
Representation in House of Representatives and SenateMelancton Smith, 6/20-6/27-88Federalist № 52–57, 62–63

Legacy[edit]

The Anti-Federalists proved unable to stop the ratification of the US Constitution, which took effect in 1789. Since then, the essays they wrote have largely fallen into obscurity. Unlike, for example, The Federalist No. 10 written by James Madison, none of their works are mainstays in college curricula or court rulings.[6] The influence of their writing, however, can be seen to this day - particularly in the nature and shape of the United States Bill of Rights. Federalists (such as Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist 84) vigorously argued against its passage but were in the end forced to compromise.[7] The broader legacy of the Anti-Federalist cause can be seen in the strong suspicion of centralized government held by many Americans to this day.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^Barron, Jerome A.; Dienes, C. Thomas; McCormack, Wayne; Redish, Martin H. (2012-05-29). Constitutional Law: Principles and Policy, Cases and Materials. LexisNexis. ISBN 9780327174349. 
  2. ^Gordon Lloyd. "Introduction to the Antifederalists". TeachingAmericanHistory.org. Ashland, Ohio: The Ashbrook Center at Ashland University. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 
  3. ^Journal of Politics 45.1 (1983): 263. Academic Search Premier. Web. 3 Nov. 2011.
  4. ^Amar, Akhil. "Anti-Federalists, the Federalist Papers, and the Big Argument for Union". yale.org. Retrieved 2016-03-03. 
  5. ^The Anti-Federalist Papers and the Constitutional Convention Debates. Ed. Ralph Ketcham. Penguin, 2003. Print.
  6. ^Chernow, Ron. "Alexander Hamilton". Penguin Books, 2004. (p. 260)
  7. ^"Bill of Rights". Bill of Rights Institute. Retrieved 2016-03-03. 

References[edit]

  • The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution, Vols. XIII-XVI. Ed. John P. Kaminski and Gaspare J. Saladino. Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1981.
  • The Anti-Federalist Papers. Morton Borden. Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1965.

External links[edit]

Patrick Henry, author of several of the anti-Federalist papers

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