Skip to comments.The Antifederalists Were Right
Posted on 05/22/2010 3:40:40 AM PDT by RogerFGay
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That’s a great article!!! Brutus was certainly right. Thanks for posting!
The framers of the Constitution did not foresee the possibility of an anti-American president who would need to be removed immediately by an impeachment originating from among a majority of the populace, not the House of representatives. Now we see the flaw.
Robert Yates a Yankee I can agree with!
One of the most insightful of the Antifederalists was Robert Yates, a New York judge who, as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, withdrew because the convention was exceeding its instructions. Yates wrote as Brutus in the debates over the Constitution. Given his experience as a judge, his claim that the Supreme Court would become a source of almost unlimited federal over-reaching was particularly insightful.
History furnishes no example of a free republic, anything like the extent of the United States. The Grecian republics were of small extent; so also was that of the Romans. Both of these, it is true, in process of time, extended their conquests over large territories of country; and the consequence was, that their governments were changed from that of free governments to those of the most tyrannical that ever existed in the world.
-- Robert Yates
We have to post the entire Anti-Federalist papers on Free Republic!
Good read thank you for posting.
Patrick Henry - “The rights of conscience, trial by jury, liberty of the press, all your immunities and franchises, all pretensions to human rights and privileges, are rendered insecure, if not lost, by this change, so loudly talked of by some, and inconsiderately by others.”
Also, the necessity of a virtuous electorate to the continuance of our republic was widely discussed at the time. An immoral people will elect dirtbags. We've got the government we deserve, not the one designed by our Framers.
We now live in a color coded anti-white male feminized society that has been rubber stamped by the Supreme Disappointment. A Constitution not followed is worse than no Constitution at all. This state of affairs breeds contempt for the government in the intelligent, and a sentimental belief in the phony protections it was supposed to have in the weak minded. As such, the Constitution now provides a fig leaf for the naked aggression of the socialist statist agenda.
Also, why do we look to the failed systems of the past to point to the way it should be? And I don't see any suggestion of a better way proposed. 50 independent states without an elected central system is called Europe. Ours has been the most successful system yet, and all it needs is a few patriots with balls to set it right again! It is not irreparable; it is in need of some serious house-cleaning and return to the Founders' guiding intentions.
” did not foresee the possibility of an anti-American president “
Unfortunately, the “all we gotta do is get rid of Obama” solution is a non-solution which completely misses the point...
Obama did not spring whole from the Earth brandishing his terrible swift sword to bring about the ruination of our once-great nation — he is merely the culmination, the current manifestation, of a process which, the author of this article says - correctly, IMO - traces its roots to flaws in the original Constitution, and began in earnest with the 14th amendment....
The removal of the current claque is necessary, but only as a step towards addressing the core problems that brought us to this sorry state...
FReeper Book Club: The Debate over the Constitution, Federalist #21
A Publius/Billthedrill Essay | 20 May 2010 | Publius & Billthedrill
We will post two threads per week, every Monday and Thursday, starting February 1, for 55 weeks. Again, we will use the keyword freeperbookclub to mark these threads.
What is old has become new again. Its time to explore federalism and the philosophy of the Framers. The lessons of 1787 are just as valid today.
The thing that gets me is how the power hungry mobsters can use the Antifederalist criticisms as a plan. The intent was well documented as well as what not to do. We have to contend with the fact that what’s been done wrong was done knowing it to be wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson
That's a tagline.
Something left out of these threads is that some powerful people had a personal interest in the continuance of the anarchy under the Articles. Most prominent were southern planters with pre-war debts to English creditors. Without a federal judiciary, these debts could not be collected in accordance with the peace treaty.
With all honesty, the Anti-Federalists were correct. When studying the Anti-Federalist while attending Georgetown, their main problem was - “organization”. They were not as organized as Hamilton, Madison ,and Jay -
Rarely are the Anti-Federalist discussed in Constitutional Law classes. Anti- Federalist books should be read time and time again by Conservatives.
In 1988, I was privileged to be asked to write the Introduction to the reprint of Robert Yates' Secret Proceedings and Debates of the Convention to Form the US Constitution. Judge Yates was the leading Anti-Federalist, and sought to defeat the Constitution in Philadelphia, and later in the New York Ratification Convention.
That lengthy Introduction pointed out that the ratification nearly failed in both Virginia and New York. Most importantly, it pointed out that the claims of the Anti-Federalists were coming true not in their time, but in ours.
Though it was written almost a quarter century ago, I stand by every word of that. And, BTW, it was not just the Anti-Federalists who feared an over-reaching federal judiciary. Thomas Jefferson called it "the most dangerous branch," and gave his reasons.
John / Billybob / Ben
Always remember - People may die, but ideas live for ever. The philosophies from the Ancient Greeks are still with us and the Marxist(Liberals) prove daily their ideas are not new, but they progressively push their agenda in order to get those old ideas in place.
Study James Madison - he is the one who read and researched the older philophies of John Locke and others. Study John Locke’s writings on Social Contract. My students are taught about all of these men and their ideas.
Most of all, the time has come for the Conservatives to be as “dogmatic” as the Marxist. The question is - “Do we Conservatives believe our ideas and agenda are greater than that of the Marxist”? Are Conservatives willing to do whatever has to be done to win in the end?
” restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to an electorate willing to have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails us. “
While it’s virtually, and morally, impossible to ‘legislate common sense’, it would be possible to mitigate the power of the fools by returning, somehow, (and exactly ‘how’, I must leave to those smarter than I..) to the system which limits, if not eliminates, the ability of the populace to vote largesse for itself from the public coffers....
I see freedom of the press as protecting a right to publish and not some profession or industry.
And extolling the virtues of the Anti-federalist ideas ignores the simple fact that they came up with absolutely nothing. They never produced a document, an “Anti-federalist Constitution”, either before, during, or after the adoption of the Constitution. What prevented them from holding their own Constitutional convention, even after the Constitution actually went into effect and proposing their own, better document?
I'm reminded of Churchill's statement: “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
So it is with the Constitution: the worst organizational document, except for all the others proposed. The only other document that was ever come up with was the Articles of Confederation, and its flaws were what led to the Constitution.
In the end there are two types of Anti-federalists:
1) those that have come up with something better,
2) the critics, whiners and complainers.
So far there are no Anti-federalists who qualify for 1).
Perhaps it is long past time for Anti-federalists to actually come up with a document.
“The anti-federalists also got a lot wrong.”
Exactly!! The US Constitution is a brilliant document. It works well....when followed.
Our decay is spiritual and moral. This is the root of our problems.
Ya see, that's the kind of thinkin' ya get when people actually study real history, instead of "social studies"! Lucky the libs are taking care of that! (I don't really need the /s tag, do I?)
In fact, although they didn’t explicitly mention the possibility that you site, the anti-Federalists DID see the flaw.
All of the problems originated long before Obama. He is nothing more than a symptom of it...a figurehead.
I agree with your post, except for one part. I don’t think we would be 50 independent countries. I think we would be 13 colonies reconquered by Britain.
The problem of our having an electorate which allows tyranny because it is capable of electing "liberal" Democrats in general and Barak Obama in particular is, IMHO, the problem of transcending the emotional appeals of Sophists. It should be recalled that the answer to an opponent who claims superior wisdom is not to get into a "he said, she said" contest with them but to adopt the stance of the philosopher. The philosopher does not claim superior wisdom, but claims only to love wisdom. That constitutes a challenge to the sophist to stick to facts and logic.
It is common, even on FR, for people to accept the premise that Fox News Channel is conservative and that other journalism is "objective." A recent example, and my response, follows:
Democrats are cowards for refusing to go on Fox. They would be glad to, if they had facts and logic rather than showmanship behind their snake oil, but they don't - so they stay away from the exposure. The trouble with going on Fox is that you will be asked the second question. If you have the facts and logic to back up your case, that's no problem. Conservatives do have facts and logic behind their cases; it is their defining characteristic.and then turn around and call republicans stupid for going on any of the other networks.
Journalism as we know it did not exist until the era of the Civil War. Prior to that, newspapers were fractiously independent of each other, and didn't accept claims that competing newspapers' reporters were objective. In fact, the newspapers of the pre-Civil War era were more like National Review than like The New York Times. Most were weeklies, and some had no deadline at all and just went to press when the printer decided he was ready. More than modern "hard news," they were about the opinions of their printers. Presses of that ilk naturally were ordinarily associated with political parties. The whole paper was what we'd now think of as an editorial page - and the printers couldn't and didn't try to make that a secret. That was the milieu when the First Amendment was written and ratified.Its hypocritical and pathetic.What changed that?
The telegraph. The telegraph, and the Associated Press. Suddenly the printer had available to him a font of news stories to which his readership could not be privy before he printed them. A wonderful thing for the printer of a paper! But, at a price. It was expensive in money, and the printer needed to get value out of his AP newswire. How to do that, when the printer didn't employ, didn't even know, the reporters who produced the cornucopia of newswire stories? How to vouch for the veracity of the stories? Simple - you simply launch a propaganda campaign to the effect that all reporters are objective!
Here's a news flash for you: journalists actually aren't objective! How do I know? Well, you can do a lot of ponderous research, such as (A Measure of Media Bias (research shows Drudge/Fox centrist, NYT far liberal) ), to prove it - but you need not expect that journalists will do anything but stonewall the results, no matter how thorough the research might be. Far simpler to just be direct - journalists are not objective because they say that they are objective. Simple - the only way anyone can even attempt to be objective is to start your analysis with an up-front declaration of your own interest in the question you are analyzing. If you are arguing that more roads should be built, you declare up front if your father-in-law would be the one to build them, and you would even declare your ownership of a car which would be more useful if there were more roads. Declaring your own objectivity is the precise opposite of that, so you should take it for granted that journalists who never declare anything but their own "objecitivity" are not merely not objective, they are heavily biased.
What is the inherent bias of journalism? Simple again - journalists are biased in favor of the notion that journalists are heroes. In Mark Steyn's expression, they are cardboard heroes - great at attacking "dastardly villains" such as bankers who actually pose no threat, but impotent and cowardly in the presence of actual villains such as ruthless terrorists who'll behead you for crossing them. Cowards who boast that "you never argue with someone who buys ink by the carload" - and then pick on some poor defenseless schlub precisely because he can't effectively argue back, and wouldn't hurt a fly anyway.
How does that bias of journalism play into politics? Simple again - "liberal" politicians are those who cooperate with journalists and essentially exist in symbiosis with them. You can tell that by the way journalists give them positive labels. Americans favored liberalism - which was a word for the advocacy of liberty - so journalists began to call politicians in symbiosis with them "liberals." The meaning of the word "liberal" was inverted in the 1920s, according to Saffire's New Political Dictionary. Journalists also, alternatively, call politicians in symbiosis with them "progressives." What American doesn't favor progress? And as to the label applied to "liberals'" opponents, well, I'll believe that "conservative" is intended as a positive label as soon as you convince me that marketers don't want to label their products New!
Ann Coulter has pointed out that if she goes on a book tour and is put on TV, journalists always "balance" her with one (usually more than one) "liberal" commentator to argue with her. in addition to the "objective journalist" him/herself, who will always attack as well (the usual result is that Ann has to really fight to get a word in edgewise - and as quick-tongued as she is, that's saying something). If a "liberal" goes on a book tour, when have you ever seen him/her "balanced" by a conservative? When have you ever seen him/her attacked by the "objective" journalist?
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2518098/postsNot only is there no hypocrisy involved in advocating that conservative politicians go on Fox but keep the "objective" journalist at arm's length, it is IMHO actually pathetic to think that they are obligated to do otherwise.
A constitutional revival, IMHO, must begin with the recognition - first by the courts, and then by the public - that the government is not a safe repository for the judgement of what is, and what is not, "objectivity." With all that that implies for the authority of "Campaign Finance Reform" and the "Federal Communication Commission."
“If ever a man debauched a nation, George Washington debauched the United States.” That’s not journalism. That's opinion, boldly stated. And that's what the early American press largely deal it.
It was as raucous as the supermarket tabloids today. All the surviving early newspapers are available in the Madison Building, across the street from the Jefferson Building, main building of the Library of Congress.
John / Billybob / Ben
You’re probably right. I am guilty of optimism in my weaker moments. Can’t wait for November so I can assess just how much trouble we are in.
FReeper Book Club: The Debate over the Constitution
5 Oct 1787, Centinel #1
6 Oct 1787, James Wilsons Speech at the State House
8 Oct 1787, Federal Farmer #1
9 Oct 1787, Federal Farmer #2
18 Oct 1787, Brutus #1
22 Oct 1787, John DeWitt #1
27 Oct 1787, John DeWitt #2
27 Oct 1787, Federalist #1
31 Oct 1787, Federalist #2
3 Nov 1787, Federalist #3
5 Nov 1787, John DeWitt #3
7 Nov 1787, Federalist #4
10 Nov 1787, Federalist #5
14 Nov 1787, Federalist #6
15 Nov 1787, Federalist #7
20 Nov 1787, Federalist #8
21 Nov 1787, Federalist #9
23 Nov 1787, Federalist #10
24 Nov 1787, Federalist #11
27 Nov 1787, Federalist #12
27 Nov 1787, Cato #5
28 Nov 1787, Federalist #13
29 Nov 1787, Brutus #4
30 Nov 1787, Federalist #14
1 Dec 1787, Federalist #15
4 Dec 1787, Federalist #16
5 Dec 1787, Federalist #17
7 Dec 1787, Federalist #18
8 Dec 1787, Federalist #19
11 Dec 1787, Federalist #20
12 Dec 1787, Federalist #21
Publius has a biweekly thread on the Federalist papers.
All the surviving early newspapers are available in the Madison Building, across the street from the Jefferson Building, main building of the Library of Congress.
It would be fascinating if they were on the WWW!
With the nomination of Rand Paul, the neo-confederates are feeling their oats.
Go back even earlier than Locke, and read Hobbes..(leviathan, et al)..Madison was certainly the cerebral member of the bunch, but Adams (John) was also well read and understood well the lessons of history.....he has taken a rough rap from history, however, primarily due to his early loyalty to King George.
I do tend to agree with much the antt-federalists argued about, although it is clear that the Federalist group never considered the possibility, and eventuality, of life-long politicians, such as we have today..it was dismissed as folly...after all, what kind of person would want to make a career of that?? As such, the Federalists were proven to be right on most of their concerns.
As Franklin so eloquently said, when asked what they had accomplished in the continental congress...”a republic, if you can keep it”
The antifederalists were certainly right—the central government behemoth we now have is undeniably authoritarian and is supra-constitutional. It has been a slow but inexorable march to tyranny, with occasion periods of sharp racheting up of central government power (e.g., King Lincoln, FDR, LBJ, Ohaha).
May the Lord’s grace preserve our nation and return us to the limited government our forefathers thought they were bequeating us.
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.
Jacquerie: The anti-federalists also got a lot wrong.
Could you point out a few or is that an oblique reference to the Articles of Confederation? Does it strike you as ironic that many of the anti's arguments are the same ones we hear from consertatives today? Even so, revisionist histories have left us with little meat to actually chew on when considering the pros and cons of the Articles. Historians would have us believe the Articles were a complete and total failure, which is patently false. Did the Federalists, who of course wanted an overbearing NATIONAL government hoodwink the anti delegates into believing the convention had been called to tweak the Articles? Can you say "budding progressives"???
The Articles were treaties between sovereign states, not a government.
In the north, the deadbeats of Shay's rebellion were demanding the state inflate the currency and allow debtors to pay off debts in whatever they had on hand (corn, pigs, whatever).
A corrupt southern aristocracy which had refused to sell off British property in lots even the middle class (what existed of a middle class in the south) could afford were getting out of their debts by running to judges. Everything the colonies had fought for in the Revolution was about to turn into mob rule and a fractious economic race to the bottom as each state positioned itself fight other states.
The Federalists stopped all that from happening...for a while. Delegated powers were not enough to stop centralization but it did postpone it for generations.
The real error, the original sin of the Constitution, was allowing for purposes of representation, slaves to be counted as 3/5ths of a person. That allowed the corrupt aristocracy Jefferson represented which had allied itself with an ignorant underclass and a venal press to wipe out what the federalists had created. Fisher Ames, a Federalist who was critical to the ratification of the constitution and who drafted the first amendment wrote in 1805:
Federalism was therefore manifestly founded upon a mistake, on the supposed existence of sufficient political virtue, and on the permanency and authority of the public morals. The party now in power committed no such mistake. They acted upon what men actually are, not what they ought to be . . .They inflamed the ignorant; they flattered the vain; they offered novelty to the restless; and promised plunder to the base. The envious were assured that the great should fall; and the ambitious that they should become great . . . we are descending from a supposed orderly and stable republican government into a licentious democracy . . .The Federalists weren't the problem. The Jeffersonians were. Look at what Ames wrote. He's describing the Democratic party of today.
Thanks for your reply. I have gone back further. Some of the ideas from the left go as far back as Ancient Greece. One of my passions is studying history. The other passion is studying and understanding Constitutional Law. :)
Ridiculous. First, the antifederalists (the real federalists) had a document--The Articles of Confederation.
Second, the delegates in Philly were sent to the convention to fix the Articles by adding a few specific powers--they weren't supposed to create a new system. In other words, the antifeds had already offered their ideas and sent delegates to act on those ideas.
Third, The antifeds didn't create a constitution because they were against consolidating the government. They believed in a union of states--not a single, unified, consolidated, supreme government.
Finally, they didn't hold a convention after ratification because they had lost the political battle. Most antifeds followed Patrick Henry's example. Once the Constitution was ratified, they accepted it and moved on.