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The Anti-Federalist Papers: excerpts, part 1

July 27, 2010

I’m going to start pulling quotes and excerpts from the Anti-Federalist Papers, the series of newspaper articles written at the same time as the Federalist Papers but arguing against the proposed US Constitution. Am I really anti-Constitution? No. It’s the best plan for a country devised by men so far. However, it’s not perfect. Many of the things the anti-Federalists warned their countrymen about have come true, unfortunately. It’s pretty chilling. I talked about the audio lecture series in my previous post. I recommend it to you as a way to get a good understanding of how the debate went on at the time.

These men were not crackpots. Most had fought in the Revolution, and these men felt very strongly about making their new nation a success. They just felt a central government as strong as one the Constitution created would not do so – or could be twisted to make the country less of a success. Most specifically, they were concerned about rule by an aristocracy of some sort. In fact, Antifederalist No.1 is titled “A Dangerous Plan of Benefit Only to the ‘Aristocratick Combination’.” It particularly points to “men of great wealth and expectations for public office, Bankers and Lawyers: these with their train of dependents form the Aristocratic combination.”

So as I go through the Anti-Federalist Papers, I’ll quote or excerpt some portions here. The Federalist Papers have been promoted time and time again as part of the foundation of the understanding of the Constitution. I think the Anti-Federalist Papers are just as important because they show what was left out, or rejected, when the Constitution was written. We think of the anti-Federalists as mainly having an effect only in making the Bill of Rights possible. Their effects were much more far-reaching. You may find that you wish their influence had been wider still.

NOTE: Both documents are in the Public Domain. The version I am using for reference was obtained from Amazon, for the Kindle.

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