The Anti-federalist Papers - incubator of the Bill of Rights (pdf download)

Posted by freedomforall 1 week, 5 days ago to History
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"The second meaning of “federal” had a particular American character. In the 1780s, those folks who wanted a firmer and more connected union became known as federal men. People like George Washington., Gouverneur Morris, James Madison., Alexander Hamilton., and James Wilson. were known as federal men who wanted a firmer federal, or even national, union. And those people like Patrick Henry., Richard Henry Lee., George Clinton., Melancton Smith., and Roger Sherman., who opposed or who raised doubts about the merits of a firmer and more energetic union acquired the name of antifederal men who opposed an inclination to strengthen the ties of Union with a focus on centralized direction."
"The Antifederalists would have preferred to be known as democratic republicans or federal republicans, but they acquired the name antifederal, or Anti-federal, or Antifederal as a result of the particular events of American history. If we turn to principles to define what they stood for, the content of their position was what was known in history as an attachment to federal principles: a commitment to local government and limited general government, frequent elections and rotation in office, and to writing things down because our liberties are safer as a result."
SOURCE URL: https://www.firearmsandliberty.com/AntiFederalist/TheAntiFederalistPapers.pdf


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  • Posted by 1 week, 5 days ago
    The first kind of Antifederalist is represented by politicians such as Roger Sherman. and Oliver Ellsworth. of Connecticut. They entered the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia with a suspicious disposition toward the Virginia Plan and its attempt to give sweeping powers to Congress and to reduce the role of the states in the new American system. This first group achieved considerable success in modifying this national plan back in the direction of federal principles. Thus, thanks to anti-federalists, in the final document, the powers of Congress are listed, each state is represented equally in the Senate and composed of Senators elected by the state legislatures, the president is to be elected by a majority of the people plus a majority of the states, the Constitution is to be ratified by the people of nine states, and the Constitution is to amended by 2/3 of the House plus 2/3 of the Senate plus 3/4 of the state legislatures. Put differently, Sherman and Ellsworth secured the federal principles in the very Constitution itself and thus the Constitution is actually partly national and partly federal. In the end, Sherman and Ellsworth. supported the adoption of the Constitution and thus secured the presence of the Antifederalist position in the American tradition.

    The second kind of Antifederalist is one who was not privy to the debate in Philadelphia, and has some deep concerns about the POTENTIALITY of the Constitution to lead to the concentration of power in the new government. We are talking about people such as Melancton Smith, Abraham Yates (Brutus), and George Clinton in New York, Richard Henry Lee (Federal Farmer) in Virginia, Samuel Bryant (Centinel) in Pennsylvania, and John Winthrop (Agrippa) in Massachusetts. They warned that without certain amendments, including a bill of rights that stated clearly what the new government could and could not do, the new Constitution had the POTENTIALITY to generate a consolidated government over a large territory in which one of the branches of government——the Presidency and the Judiciary were the leading candidates——would come to dominate. They warned that the partly national and partly federal Constitution would veer naturally in the direction of wholly national unless certain precautions were put in place to secure the partly-national and partly-federal arrangement.
    (Above from https://teachingamericanhistory.org/r...

    Without the work (and writings) of Anti-federalists, it's likely that our freedoms would have quickly evaporated like raindrops in the Sahara.
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    • Posted by CircuitGuy 1 week ago
      "the new Constitution had the POTENTIALITY to generate a consolidated government over a large territory in which one of the branches of government [...]would come to dominate. They warned that the partly national and partly federal Constitution would veer naturally in the direction of wholly national"
      Is this essentially what happened? Their fears came true.
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    • Posted by  $  blarman 1 week, 3 days ago
      Well stated and detailed! I have read the Anti-Federalist Papers (as well as the Federalist Papers) and they make a variety of cogent points. And it was not so much that they were against a well-run Federal/National Government, but as you stated they were wary of that power completely subsuming the States. They were prescient on that last one because the authority of the individual States has significantly waned in the past 100 years...
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      • Posted by LibertyBelle 1 week, 2 days ago
        On the other hand, I am not for the notion of unlimited "states' rights" to violate the rights of man, as was done in the case of slavery and Jim Crow.--
        Yes procedurally, it has to be a Federation of states, but if a state insists on violating its citizens' rights, there has to be some sort of appeal.
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        • Posted by  $  blarman 6 days, 6 hours ago
          Agreed. I think the one thing the Federalists got right was that what they were calling for was more of a separation of duties - with the Federal government taking the lead in some things (where it made since and involved coordination among the States) but leaving the majority of decisions to the States. Unfortunately, the power-hungry have used erroneous interpretation of many Constitutional Clauses to pervert this separation of jurisdiction and move power away from the States to the Federal Government. This has only been made worse with the Seventeenth Amendment.
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        • Posted by 1 week, 1 day ago
          People are free to leave that jurisdiction for another competing jurisdiction. Then the jurisdiction will suffer failure after failure and no federal military force is needed to intervene. But that is not what gives more power to the federal government; the feds always want to meddle where they are not needed because it gives them more power over more people and gradually makes the people dependent (and enslaved.)
          Americans may have been better off under the Articles of Confederation.
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          • Posted by LibertyBelle 1 week ago
            When a state is violating the rights of its citizens (e.g., with Jim Crow laws), the victims should not have to leave the state in order the have them respected. "The phrase 'states' rights" is a contradiction in terms; there can be no such thing as the right of some men to violate the rights of others." (Ayn Rand).
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            • Posted by DrZarkov99 6 days, 6 hours ago
              Remember, the tenth amendment does not allow states to usurp the Federal powers, only to exercise authority not identified as Federal in the Constitution. Jim Crow laws were a violation of the fourteenth amendment, so your example doesn't hold. Where it becomes an issue, e.g. neglected infrastructure, the state voters have to hold their state government accountable, and elect new representatives if the incumbents don't respond. With the abusive California government, people in the minority (Republicans) have no choice but to leave the state when high taxes and restrictive construction laws make it impossible for anyone not earning seven figures to own a home.
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              • Posted by LibertyBelle 5 days, 22 hours ago
                "Are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.(italics added). So the states are referred to as separate from the people, not entitled to just run roughshod over the rights of their people.
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                • Posted by DrZarkov99 5 days, 8 hours ago
                  Right. The action of any state that infringes on our natural or civil rights can be called to account both in state and federal courts. Unfortunately socially destructive acts, such as excessive taxation do not infringe on citizens' rights, and may be oppressive, but have to be confronted in the offending state.
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                  • Posted by LibertyBelle 4 days, 6 hours ago
                    They infringe on natural rights, but unfortunately the Federal Constitution does not specifically provide against that. If only the voters in those states would stop being idiots and vote against those things. But that is why we have to promote Objectivism. It's going to be a long, hard job.
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              • Posted by 6 days, 5 hours ago
                I think the passage of the 14th amendment was while the southern states had no freely elected representatives in con-gress and the ratification in southern states was also done only with state legislatures as approved by the conquerors to assure rubber stamps. Lincoln and the GOP showed the Soviets how to run "elections" and how to treat designated "enemies" of the current administration.
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                • Posted by LibertyBelle 4 days, 6 hours ago
                  Well, that is what happens when you commit treason against your country and go to war against it. I think those Confederates got off easy as it was.
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                  • Posted by 4 days, 5 hours ago
                    The south tried to resolve the issue peacefully and Lincoln, who wanted war, refused to even see their representatives. Lincoln then acted to lure the south into action so you would believe his lying propaganda. Read The Real Lincoln, by Thomas DiLorenzo, for the true history of the actions that led to the war, instead of the propaganda rubbish that you were taught in government schools and is still spouted by the Lincoln historian cult.
                    Here is a transcript of an interview with DiLorenzo: https://www.wnd.com/2002/04/13521/
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            • Posted by 6 days, 6 hours ago
              You have grown up under the federal meddling state. Freedom isn't free. If you want to keep it sometimes you must sacrifice convenience in the short term. Very few accept that responsibility today. The founders pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor. Many lost their lives for freedom. Moving to another place is trivial in comparison. Human culture improves through peaceful competition.
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              • Posted by LibertyBelle 5 days, 22 hours ago
                Trivial? Maybe. But you shouldn't have to. The rights of man are natural. The state government has no right to violate them. (Of course, neither does the Federal government).
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                • Posted by 5 days, 22 hours ago
                  The founders shouldn't have had to declare independence. Government is rarely fair to everyone.
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                  • Posted by LibertyBelle 5 days, 21 hours ago
                    That's an excuse for injustice?!
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                    • Posted by 5 days, 21 hours ago
                      Consenting to the federal government growing to enslave people in every state is not a solution to injustice. We are currently experiencing the resulting loss of freedom of such policies that you are apparently supporting in your posts. The free market approach is much superior and that is what I am supporting.
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                      • Posted by LibertyBelle 5 days, 1 hour ago
                        The free market is exactly what I support. But I am in favor of certain Supreme Court decisions of the "60's, including Brown vs. Board of Education, and the decision against state-enforced school prayer.--Of course, there are a lot of matters which government per se should stay out of, whether Federal, state, or local.
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  • Posted by  $  AJAshinoff 1 week, 4 days ago
    It is very interesting how much foresight our forefathers had. Thanks for sharing this.
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    • Posted by JuliBMe 1 week, 3 days ago
      ALL of those men were definitely VERY stable geniuses! :-)

      As we now know, almost 250 years later, they were correct in their fears. Human nature, easily leaning towards evil, is what it is and will never be changed. The stop gaps for corruption need to be updated and renewed. I believe Trump is in the process of doing just that. He MUST have the full 8 years.
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  • Posted by  $  mminnick 1 week, 4 days ago
    Many people have heard of the Federalist Papers and some have read one or more of them. Almost no one has heard of the Anti-Federalist Papers and very few have read even one of them.
    This is a shame. They should be reead and discussed along with the Fereralist papers. Both played an important part in the ratification of the Constitution by the early 13 states.
    +1
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    • Posted by 1 week, 4 days ago
      Public (government) school makes certain that the statist side of the story is pounded into every child, and that the side of history that helped keep individual liberty is conspicuously avoided.
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  • Posted by  $  splumb 1 week, 3 days ago
    One of my favorite Antifederalists is Luther Martin of Maryland. He may have been a heavy drinker, but he had a brilliant mind, and all of his dire predictions about a strong federal system of government have come to pass.
    He was appalled when he arrived at the Constitutional Convention, thinking (like a lot of members) that it was just to tighten up the Articles of Confederation, only to discover that he would be locked inside a secret event, designed to create an all-powerful federal system.
    They were ordered not to reveal anything to the outside world, but he went straight home and shouted it from the rooftops, bless him.
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