Anti-Federalist No. 1 – 14


Antifederalist No. 1


From The Boston Gazette and Country Journal, November 26, 1787.
I am pleased to see a spirit of inquiry burst the band of constraint upon the subject of the NEW
PLAN for consolidating the governments of the United States, as recommended by the late
Convention. If it is suitable to the GENIUS and HABITS of the citizens of these states, it will
bear the strictest scrutiny. The PEOPLE are the grand inquest who have a RIGHT to judge of its
merits. The hideous daemon of Aristocracy has hitherto had so much influence as to bar the
channels of investigation, preclude the people from inquiry and extinguish every spark of liberal
information of its qualities. At length the luminary of intelligence begins to beam its effulgent
rays upon this important production; the deceptive mists cast before the eyes of the people by the
delusive machinations of its INTERESTED advocates begins to dissipate, as darkness flies
before the burning taper; and I dare venture to predict, that in spite of those mercenary
dectaimers, the plan will have a candid and complete examination. Those furious zealots who are
for cramming it down the throats of the people, without allowing them either time or opportunity
to scan or weigh it in the balance of their understandings, bear the same marks in their features as
those who have been long wishing to erect an aristocracy in THIS COMMONWEALTH [of
Massachusetts]. Their menacing cry is for a RIGID government, it matters little to them of what
kind, provided it answers THAT description. As the plan now offered comes something near
their wishes, and is the most consonant to their views of any they can hope for, they come boldly
forward and DEMAND its adoption. They brand with infamy every man who is not as
determined and zealous in its favor as themselves. They cry aloud the whole must be swallowed
or none at all, thinking thereby to preclude any amendment; they are afraid of having it abated of
its present RIGID aspect. They have strived to overawe or seduce printers to stifle and obstruct a
free discussion, and have endeavored to hasten it to a decision before the people can duty reflect
upon its properties. In order to deceive them, they incessantly declare that none can discover any
defect in the system but bankrupts who wish no government, and officers of the present
government who fear to lose a part of their power. These zealous partisans may injure their own
cause, and endanger the public tranquility by impeding a proper inquiry; the people may suspect
the WHOLE to be a dangerous plan, from such COVERED and DESIGNING schemes to
enforce it upon them. Compulsive or treacherous measures to establish any government
whatever, will always excite jealousy among a free people: better remain single and alone, than
blindly adopt whatever a few individuals shall demand, be they ever so wise. I had rather be a
free citizen of the small republic of Massachusetts, than an oppressed subject of the great
American empire. Let all act understandingly or not at all. If we can confederate upon terms that
wilt secure to us our liberties, it is an object highly desirable, because of its additional security to
the whole. If the proposed plan proves such an one, I hope it will be adopted, but if it will
endanger our liberties as it stands, let it be amended; in order to which it must and ought to be
open to inspection and free inquiry. The inundation of abuse that has been thrown out upon the
heads of those who have had any doubts of its universal good qualities, have been so redundant,
that it may not be improper to scan the characters of its most strenuous advocates. It will first be
allowed that many undesigning citizens may wish its adoption from the best motives, but these
are modest and silent, when compared to the greater number, who endeavor to suppress all
attempts for investigation. These violent partisans are for having the people gulp down the gilded
pill blindfolded, whole, and without any qualification whatever. These consist generally, of the
NOBLE order of C[incinnatu]s, holders of public securities, men of great wealth and
expectations of public office, B[an]k[er]s and L[aw]y[er]s: these with their train of dependents
form the Aristocratick combination. The Lawyers in particular, keep up an incessant declamation
for its adoption; like greedy gudgeons they long to satiate their voracious stomachs with the
golden bait. The numerous tribunals to be erected by the new plan of consolidated empire, will
find employment for ten times their present numbers; these are the LOAVES AND FISHES for
which they hunger. They will probably find it suited to THEIR HABITS, if not to the HABITS
OF THE PEOPLE. There may be reasons for having but few of them in the State Convention,
lest THEIR ‘0@’ INTEREST should be too strongly considered. The time draws near for the
choice of Delegates. I hope my fellow-citizens will look well to the characters of their
preference, and remember the Old Patriots of 75; they have never led them astray, nor need they
fear to try them on this momentous occasion.

Antifederalist No. 2


This essay is an excerpted from a speech of William Grayson, June 11, 1788, in Jonathan Elliot
(ed.), The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal
(Philadelphia, 1876) 5 vols., III, 274-79.
The adoption of this government will not meliorate our own particular system. I beg leave to
consider the circumstances of the Union antecedent to the meeting of the Convention at
Philadelphia. We have been told of phantoms and ideal dangers to lead us into measures which
will, in my opinion, be the ruin of our country. If the existence of those dangers cannot be
proved, if there be no apprehension of wars, if there be no rumors of wars, it will place the
subject in a different light, and plainly evince to the world that there cannot be any reason for
adopting measures which we apprehend to be ruinous and destructive. When this state [Virginia]
proposed that the general government should be improved, Massachusetts was just recovered
from a rebellion which had brought the republic to the brink of destruction from a rebellion
which was crushed by that federal government which is now so much contemned and abhorred.
A vote of that august body for fifteen hundred men, aided by the exertions of the state, silenced
all opposition, and shortly restored the public tranquility. Massachusetts was satisfied that these
internal commotions were so happily settled, and was unwilling to risk any similar distresses by
theoretic experiments. Were the Eastern States willing to enter into this measure? Were they
willing to accede to the proposal of Virginia? In what manner was it received? Connecticut
revolted at the idea. The Eastern States, sir, were unwilling to recommend a meeting of a
convention. They were well aware of the dangers of revolutions and changes. Why was every
effort used, and such uncommon pains taken, to bring it about? This would have been
unnecessary, had it been approved of by the people. Was Pennsylvania disposed for the reception
of this project of reformation? No, sir. She was even unwilling to amend her revenue laws, so as
to make the five per centum operative. She was satisfied with things as they were. There was no
complaint, that ever I heard of, from any other part of the Union, except Virginia. This being the
case among ourselves, what dangers were there to be apprehended from foreign nations? It will
be easily shown that dangers from that quarter were absolutely imaginary. Was not France
friendly? Unequivocally so. She was devising new regulations of commerce for our advantage.
Did she harass us with applications for her money? Is it likely that France will quarrel with us? Is
it not reasonable to suppose that she will be more desirous than ever to cling, after losing the
Dutch republic, to her best ally? How are the Dutch? We owe them money, it is true; and are
they not willing that we should owe them more? Mr. [John] Adams applied to them for a new
loan to the poor, despised Confederation. They readily granted it. The Dutch have a fellowfeeling
for us. They were in the same situation with ourselves.
I believe that the money which the Dutch borrowed of Henry IV is not yet paid. How did they
pass Queen Elizabeth’s loan? At a very considerable discount. They took advantage of the
weakness and necessities of James I, and made their own terms with that contemptible monarch.
Loans from nations are not like loans from private men. Nations lend money, and grant
assistance, to one another, from views of national interest-France was willing to pluck the fairest
feather out of the British crown. This was her object in aiding us. She will not quarrel with us on
pecuniary considerations. Congress considered it in this point of view; for when a proposition
was made to make it a debt of private persons, it was rejected without hesitation. That
respectable body wisely considered, that, while we remained their debtors in so considerable a
degree, they would not be inattentive to our interest.
With respect to Spain, she is friendly in a high degree. I wish to know by whose interposition
was the treaty with Morocco made. Was it not by that of the king of Spain? Several predatory
nations disturbed us, on going into the Mediterranean. The influence of Charles III at the Barbary
court, and four thousand pounds, procured as good a treaty with Morocco as could be expected.
But I acknowledge it is not of any consequence, since the Algerines and people of Tunis have not
entered into similar measures. We have nothing to fear from Spain; and, were she hostile, she
could never be formidable to this country. Her strength is so scattered, that she never can be
dangerous to us either in peace or war. As to Portugal, we have a treaty with her, which may be
very advantageous, though it be not yet ratified.
The domestic debt is diminished by considerable sales of western lands to Cutler, Sergeant, and
Company; to Simms; and to Royal, Flint, and Company. The board of treasury is authorized to
sell in Europe, or any where else, the residue of those lands.
An act of Congress has passed, to adjust the public debts between the individual states and the
United States.
Was our trade in a despicable situation? I shall say nothing of what did not come under my own
observation. When I was in Congress, sixteen vessels had had sea letters in the East India trade,
and two hundred vessels entered and cleared out, in the French West India Islands, in one year.
I must confess that public credit has suffered, and that our public creditors have been ill used.
This was owing to a fault at the head-quarters-to Congress themselves-in not selling the western
lands at an earlier period. If requisitions have not been complied with, it must be owing to
Congress, who might have put the unpopular debts on the back lands. Commutation is abhorrent
to New England ideas. Speculation is abhorrent to the Eastern States. Those inconveniences have
resulted from the bad policy of Congress.
There are certain modes of governing the people which will succeed. There are others which will
not. The idea of consolidation is abhorrent to the people of this country. How were the
sentiments of the people before the meeting of the Convention at Philadelphia? They had only
one object in view. Their ideas reached no farther than to give the general government the five
per centum impost, and the regulation of trade. When it was agitated in Congress, in a committee
of the whole, this was all that was asked, or was deemed necessary. Since that period, their views
have extended much farther. Horrors have been greatly magnified since the rising of the
We are now told by the honorable gentleman (Governor Randolph) that we shall have wars and
rumors of wars, that every calamity is to attend us, and that we shall be ruined and disunited
forever, unless we adopt this Constitution. Pennsylvania and Maryland are to fall upon us from
the north, like the Goths and Vandals of old; the Algerines, whose flat-sided vessels never came
farther than Madeira, are to fill the Chesapeake with mighty fleets, and to attack us on our front;
the Indians are to invade us with numerous armies on our rear, in order to convert our cleared
lands into hunting- grounds; and the Carolinians, from the south, (mounted on alligators, I
presume,) are to come and destroy our cornfields, and eat up our little children! These, sir, are
the mighty dangers which await us if we reject dangers which are merely imaginary, and
ludicrous in the extreme! Are we to be destroyed by Maryland and Pennsylvania? What will
democratic states make war for, and how long since have they imbibed a hostile spirit?
But the generality are to attack us. Will they attack us after violating their faith in the first
Union? Will they not violate their faith if they do not take us into their confederacy? Have they
not agreed, by the old Confederation, that the Union shall be perpetual, and that no alteration
should take place without the consent of Congress, and the confirmation of the legislatures of
every state? I cannot think that there is such depravity in mankind as that, after violating public
faith so flagrantly, they should make war upon us, also, for not following their example.
The large states have divided the back lands among themselves, and have given as much as they
thought proper to the generality. For the fear of disunion, we are told that we ought to take
measures which we otherwise should not. Disunion is impossible. The Eastern States hold the
fisheries, which are their cornfields, by a hair. They have a dispute with the British government
about their limits at this moment. Is not a general and strong government necessary for their
interest? If ever nations had inducements to peace, the Eastern States now have. New York and
Pennsylvania anxiously look forward for the fur trade. How can they obtain it but by union? Can
the western posts be got or retained without union? How are the little states inclined? They are
not likely to disunite. Their weakness will prevent them from quarrelling. Little men are seldom
fond of quarrelling among giants. Is there not a strong inducement to union, while the British are
on one side and the Spaniards on the other? Thank Heaven, we have a Carthage of our own . . .
But what would I do on the present occasion to remedy the existing defects of the present
Confederation? There are two opinions prevailing in the world-the one, that mankind can only be
governed by force; the other, that they are capable of freedom and a good government. Under a
supposition that mankind can govern themselves, I would recommend that the present
Confederation should be amended. Give Congress the regulation of commerce. Infuse new
strength and spirit into the state governments; for, when the component parts are strong, it will
give energy to the government, although it be otherwise weak….
Apportion the public debts in such a manner as to throw the unpopular ones on the back lands.
Call only for requisitions for the foreign interest and aid them by loans. Keep on so till the
American character be marked with some certain features. We are yet too young to know what
we are fit for. The continual migration of people from Europe, and the settlement of new
countries on our western frontiers, are strong arguments against making new experiments now in
government. When these things are removed, we can with greater prospect of success, devise
changes. We ought to consider, as Montesquieu says, whether the construction of the
government be suitable to the genius and disposition of the people, as well as a variety of other

Antifederalist No. 3


Like the nome de plume “Publius” used by pro Constitution writers in the Federalist Papers,
several Antifederalists signed their writings “A FARMER.” While the occupation of the writers
may not have coincided with the name given, the arguments against consolodating power in the
hands of a central government were widely read. The following was published in the Maryland
Gazette and Baltimore Advertiser, March 7, 1788. The true identity of the author is unknown.
There are but two modes by which men are connected in society, the one which operates on
individuals, this always has been, and ought still to be called, national government; the other
which binds States and governments together (not corporations, for there is no considerable
nation on earth, despotic, monarchical, or republican, that does not contain many subordinate
corporations with various constitutions) this last has heretofore been denominated a league or
confederacy. The term federalists is therefore improperly applied to themselves, by the friends
and supporters of the proposed constitution. This abuse of language does not help the cause;
every degree of imposition serves only to irritate, but can never convince. They are national men,
and their opponents, or at least a great majority of them, are federal, in the only true and strict
sense of the word.
Whether any form of national government is preferable for the Americans, to a league or
confederacy, is a previous question we must first make up our minds upon….
That a national government will add to the dignity and increase the splendor of the United States
abroad, can admit of no doubt: it is essentially requisite for both. That it will render government,
and officers of government, more dignified at home is equally certain. That these objects are
more suited to the manners, if not [the] genius and disposition of our people is, I fear, also true.
That it is requisite in order to keep us at peace among ourselves, is doubtful. That it is necessary,
to prevent foreigners from dividing us, or interfering in our government, I deny positively; and,
after all, I have strong doubts whether all its advantages are not more specious than solid. We are
vain, like other nations. We wish to make a noise in the world; and feel hurt that Europeans are
not so attentive to America in peace, as they were to America in war. We are also, no doubt,
desirous of cutting a figure in history. Should we not reflect, that quiet is happiness? That content
and pomp are incompatible? I have either read or heard this truth, which the Americans should
never forget: That the silence of historians is the surest record of the happiness of a people. The
Swiss have been four hundred years the envy of mankind, and there is yet scarcely an history of
their nation. What is history, but a disgusting and painful detail of the butcheries of conquerors,
and the woeful calamities of the conquered? Many of us are proud, and are frequently
disappointed that office confers neither respect or difference. No man of merit can ever be
disgraced by office. A rogue in office may be feared in some governments-he will be respected
in none. After all, what we call respect and difference only arise from contrast of situation, as
most of our ideas come by comparison and relation. Where the people are free there can be no
great contrast or distinction among honest citizens in or out of office. In proportion as the people
lose their freedom, every gradation of distinction, between the Governors and governed obtains,
until the former become masters, and the latter become slaves. In all governments virtue will
command reverence. The divine Cato knew every Roman citizen by name, and never assumed
any preeminence; yet Cato found, and his memory will find, respect and reverence in the bosoms
of mankind, until this world returns into that nothing, from whence Omnipotence called it. That
the people are not at present disposed for, and are actually incapable of, governments of
simplicity and equal rights, I can no longer doubt. But whose fault is it? We make them bad, by
bad governments, and then abuse and despise them for being so. Our people are capable of being
made anything that human nature was or is capable of, if we would only have a little patience
and give them good and wholesome institutions; but I see none such and very little prospect of
such. Alas! I see nothing in my fellow-citizens, that will permit my still fostering the delusion,
that they are now capable of sustaining the weight of SELF-GOVERNMENT: a burden to which
Greek and Roman shoulders proved unequal. The honor of supporting the dignity of the human
character, seems reserved to the hardy Helvetians alone. If the body of the people will not govern
themselves, and govern themselves well too, the consequence is unavoidable-a FEW will, and
must govern them. Then it is that government becomes truly a government by force only, where
men relinquish part of their natural rights to secure the rest, instead of an union of will and force,
to protect all their natural rights, which ought to be the foundation of every rightful social
Whether national government will be productive of internal peace, is too uncertain to admit of
decided opinion. I only hazard a conjecture when I say, that our state disputes, in a confederacy,
would be disputes of levity and passion, which would subside before injury. The people being
free, government having no right to them, but they to government, they would separate and
divide as interest or inclination prompted-as they do at this day, and always have done, in
Switzerland. In a national government, unless cautiously and fortunately administered, the
disputes will be the deep-rooted differences of interest, where part of the empire must be injured
by the operation of general law; and then should the sword of government be once drawn (which
Heaven avert) I fear it will not be sheathed, until we have waded through that series of
desolation, which France, Spain, and the other great kingdoms of the world have suffered, in
order to bring so many separate States into uniformity, of government and law; in which event
the legislative power can only be entrusted to one man (as it is with them) who can have no local
attachments, partial interests, or private views to gratify.
That a national government will prevent the influence or danger of foreign intrigue, or secure us
from invasion, is in my judgment directly the reverse of the truth. The only foreign, or at least
evil foreign influence, must be obtained through corruption. Where the government is lodged in
the body of the people, as in Switzerland, they can never be corrupted; for no prince, or people,
can have resources enough to corrupt the majority of a nation; and if they could, the play is not
worth the candle. The facility of corruption is increased in proportion as power tends by
representation or delegation, to a concentration in the hands of a few. . . .
As to any nation attacking a number of confederated independent republics … it is not to be
expected, more especially as the wealth of the empire is there universally diffused, and will not
be collected into any one overgrown, luxurious and effeminate capital to become a lure to the
enterprizing ambitious. That extensive empire is a misfortune to be deprecated, will not now be
disputed. The balance of power has long engaged the attention of all the European world, in
order to avoid the horrid evils of a general government. The same government pervading a vast
extent of territory, terrifies the minds of individuals into meanness and submission. All human
authority, however organized, must have confined limits, or insolence and oppression will prove
the offspring of its grandeur, and the difficulty or rather impossibility of escape prevents
resistance. Gibbon relates that some Roman Knights who had offended government in Rome
were taken up in Asia, in a very few days after. It was the extensive territory of the Roman
republic that produced a Sylla, a Marius, a Caligula, a Nero, and an Elagabalus. In small
independent States contiguous to each other, the people run away and leave despotism to reek its
vengeance on itself; and thus it is that moderation becomes with them, the law of selfpreservation.
These and such reasons founded on the eternal and immutable nature of things have
long caused and will continue to cause much difference of sentiment throughout our wide
extensive territories. From our divided and dispersed situation, and from the natural moderation
of the American character, it has hitherto proved a warfare of argument and reason.

Antifederalist No. 4

Patrick Henry was a somewhat the antithesis to James Madison of Federalist note. While every
bit as emotional a writer, Henry (who penned the well remembered “Give Me Liberty of Give
Me Death” phrase) opposed the new Constitution for many reasons. He delivered long speeches
to the Virginia Ratification convention June 5, 7, and 9, 1788. The following is taken from
Elliot’s Debates, 111, 46, 48, 141-42, 150-56.
If we recollect, on last Saturday, I made some observations on some of those dangers which
these gentlemen would fain persuade us hang over the citizens of this commonwealth [Virginia]
to induce us to change the government, and adopt the new plan. Unless there be great and awful
dangers, the change is dangerous, and the experiment ought not to be made. In estimating the
magnitude of these dangers, we are obliged to take a most serious view of them–to see them, to
handle them, and to be familiar with them. It is not sufficient to feign mere imaginary dangers;
there must be a dreadful reality. The great question between us is: Does that reality exist? These
dangers are partially attributed to bad laws, execrated by the community at large. It is said the
people wish to change the government. I should be happy to meet them on that ground. Should
the people wish to change it, we should be innocent of the dangers. It is a fact that the people do
not wish to change their government. How am I to prove it? It will rest on my bare assertion,
unless supported by an internal conviction in men’s breasts. My poor say-so is a mere nonentity.
But, sir, I am persuaded that four fifths of the people of Virginia must have amendments to the
new plan, to reconcile them to a change of their government. It is a slippery foundation for the
people to rest their political salvation on my or their assertions. No government can flourish
unless it be founded on the affection of the people. Unless gentlemen can be sure that this new
system is founded on that ground, they ought to stop their career.
I will not repeat what the gentlemen say-I will mention one thing. There is a dispute between us
and the Spaniards about the right of navigating the Mississippi … Seven states wished to
relinquish this river to them. The six Southern states opposed it. Seven states not being sufficient
to convey it away, it remains now ours….
There is no danger of a dismemberment of our country, unless a Constitution be adopted which
will enable the government to plant enemies on our backs. By the Confederation, the rights of
territory are secured. No treaty can be made without the consent of nine states. While the consent
of nine states is necessary to the cession of territory, you are safe. If it be put in the power of a
less number, you will most infallibly lose the Mississippi. As long as we can preserve our
unalienable rights, we are in safety. This new Constitution will involve in its operation the loss of
the navigation of that valuable river.
The honorable gentleman [either James Madison or Edmund Randolph], cannot be ignorant of
the Spanish transactions [the Jay-Gardoqui negotiations]. A treaty had been nearly entered into
with Spain, to relinquish that navigation. That relinquishment would absolutely have taken place,
had the consent of seven states been sufficient … This new government, I conceive, will enable
those states who have already discovered their inclination that way, to give away this river….
We are threatened with danger [according to some,] for the non-payment of our debt due to
France. We have information come from an illustrious citizen of Virginia, who is now in Paris,
which disproves the suggestions of such danger. This citizen has not been in the airy regions of
theoretic speculation-our ambassador [Thomas Jefferson] is this worthy citizen. The ambassador
of the United States of America is not so despised as the honorable gentleman would make us
believe. A servant of a republic is as much respected as that of a monarch. The honorable
gentleman tells us that hostile fleets are to be sent to make reprisals upon us. Our ambassador
tells you that the king of France has taken into consideration to enter into commercial
regulations, on reciprocal terms, with us, which will be of peculiar advantage to us. Does this
look like hostility? I might go farther. I might say, not from public authority, but good
information, that his opinion is, that you reject this government. His character and abilities are in
the highest estimation; he is well acquainted, in every respect, with this country; equally so with
the policy of the European nations. Let us follow the sage advice of this common friend of our
It is little usual for nations to send armies to collect debts. The house of Bourbon, that great
friend of America, will never attack her for her unwilling delay of payment. Give me leave to
say, that Europe is too much engaged about objects of greater importance, to attend to us. On that
great theatre of the world, the little American matters vanish. Do you believe that the mighty
monarch of France, beholding the greatest scenes that ever engaged the attention of a prince of
that country, will divert himself from those important objects, and now call for a settlement of
accounts with America? This proceeding is not warranted by good sense. The friendly
disposition to us, and the actual situation of France, render the idea of danger from that quarter
absurd. Would this countryman of ours be fond of advising us to a measure which he knew to be
dangerous? And can it be reasonably supposed that he can be ignorant of any premeditated
hostility against this country? The honorable gentleman may suspect the account; but I will do
our friend the justice to say, that he would warn us of any danger from France.
Do you suppose the Spanish monarch will risk a contest with the United States, when his feeble
colonies are exposed to them? Every advance the people make to the westward, makes them
tremble for Mexico and Peru. Despised as we are among ourselves, under our present
government, we are terrible to that monarchy. If this be not a fact, it is generally said so.
We are, in the next place, frightened by dangers from Holland. We must change our government
to escape the wrath of that republic. Holland groans under a government like this new one. A
stadtholder, sir, a Dutch president, has brought on that country miseries which will not permit
them to collect debts with fleets or armies … This President will bring miseries on us like those
of Holland. Such is the condition of European affairs, that it would be unsafe for them to send
fleets or armies to collect debts.
But here, sir, they make a transition to objects of another kind. We are presented with dangers of
a very uncommon nature. I am not acquainted with the arts of painting. Some gentlemen have a
peculiar talent for them. They are practised with great ingenuity on this occasion. As a
counterpart to what we have already been intimidated with, we are told that some lands have
been sold, which cannot be found; and that this will bring war on this country. Here the picture
will not stand examination. Can it be supposed, if a few land speculators and jobbers have
violated the principles of probity, that it will involve this country in war? Is there no redress to be
otherwise obtained, even admitting the delinquents and sufferers to be numerous? When
gentlemen are thus driven to produce imaginary dangers, to induce this Convention to assent to
this change, I am sure it will not be uncandid to say that the change itself is really dangerous.
Then the Maryland compact is broken, and will produce perilous consequences. I see nothing
very terrible in this. The adoption of the new system will not remove the evil. Will they forfeit
good neighborhood with us, because the compact is broken? Then the disputes concerning the
Carolina line are to involve us in dangers. A strip of land running from the westward of the
Alleghany to the Mississippi, is the subject of this pretended dispute. I do not know the length or
breadth of this disputed spot. Have they not regularly confirmed our right to it, and relinquished
all claims to it? I can venture to pledge that the people of Carolina will never disturb us. . . .
Then, sir, comes Pennsylvania, in terrible array. Pennsylvania is to go in conflict with Virginia.
Pennsylvania has been a good neighbor heretofore. She is federal- -something terrible–Virginia
cannot look her in the face. If we sufficiently attend to the actual situation of things, we shall
conclude that Pennsylvania will do what we do. A number of that country are strongly opposed
to it. Many of them have lately been convinced of its fatal tendency. They are disgorged of their
federalism. . . . Place yourselves in their situation; would you fight your neighbors for
considering this great and awful matter? . . . Whatever may be the disposition of the aristocratical
politicians of that country, I know there are friends of human nature in that state. If so, they will
never make war on those who make professions of what they are attached to themselves.
As to the danger arising from borderers, it is mutual and reciprocal. If it be dangerous for
Virginia, it is equally so for them. It will be their true interest to be united with us. The danger of
our being their enemies will be a prevailing argument in our favor. It will be as powerful to
admit us into the Union, as a vote of adoption, without previous amendments, could possibly be.
Then the savage Indians are to destroy us. We cannot look them in the face. The danger is here
divided; they are as terrible to the other states as to us. But, sir, it is well known that we have
nothing to fear from them. Our back settlers are considerably stronger than they. Their
superiority increases daily. Suppose the states to be confederated all around us; what we want in
numbers, we shall make up otherwise. Our compact situation and natural strength will secure us.
But, to avoid all dangers, we must take shelter under the federal government. Nothing gives a
decided importance but this federal government. You will sip sorrow, according to the vulgar
phrase, if you want any other security than the laws of Virginia….
Where is the danger? If, sir, there was any, I would recur to the American spirit to defend us; that
spirit which has enabled us to surmount the greatest difficulties–to that illustrious spirit I address
my most fervent prayer to prevent our adopting a system destructive to liberty. Let not gentlemen
be told that it is not safe to reject this government. Wherefore is it not safe? We are told there are
dangers, but those dangers are ideal; they cannot be demonstrated….
The Confederation, this despised government, merits, in my opinion, the highest encomium–it
carried us through a long and dangerous war; it rendered us victorious in that bloody conflict
with a powerful nation; it has secured us a territory greater than any European monarch
possesses–and shall a government which has been thus strong and vigorous, be accused of
imbecility, and abandoned for want of energy? Consider what you are about to do before you
part with the government. Take longer time in reckoning things; revolutions like this have
happened in almost every country in Europe; similar examples are to be found in ancient Greece
and ancient Rome- -instances of the people losing their liberty by their own carelessness and the
ambition of a few. We are cautioned . . . against faction and turbulence. I acknowledge that
licentiousness is dangerous, and that it ought to be provided against. I acknowledge, also, the
new form of government may effectually prevent it. Yet there is another thing it will as
effectually do- -it will oppress and ruin the people.

Antifederalist No. 5


The ongoing Federalist essays appeared from October of 1787 to May of 1788. Rebuttals
(Antifederalist in nature) to Federalist writers seldom were published. This selection was an
answer to Publius [John Jay] Federalist No. 5. This article by “AN OBSERVER,” was printed in
The New-York Journal and was reprinted in the [Boston] American Herald on December 3,
A writer, under the signature Publius or The Federalist, No. V, in the Daily Advertiser, and in the
New York Packet, with a view of proving the advantages which, he says, will be derived by the
states if the new constitution is adopted, has given extracts of a letter from Queen Anne to the
Scotch parliament, on the subject of a union between Scotland and England.
I would beg leave to remark, that Publius has been very unfortunate in selecting these extracts as
a case in point, to convince the people of America of the benefits they would derive from a
union, under such a government as would be effected by the new system. It is a certainty, that
when the union was the subject of debate in the Scottish legislature, some of their most sensible
and disinterested nobles, as well as commoners! (who were not corrupted by English gold),
violently opposed the union, and predicted that the people of Scotland would, in fact, derive no
advantages from a consolidation of government with England; but, on the contrary, they would
bear a great proportion of her debt, and furnish large bodies of men to assist in her wars with
France, with whom, before the union, Scotland was at all times on terms of the most cordial
amity. It was also predicted that the representation in the parliament of Great Britain, particularly
in the house of commons, was too small; forty-five members being very far from the proportion
of Scotland, when its extent and numbers were duly considered; and that even they, being so
few, might (or at least a majority of them might) at all times be immediately under the influence
of the English ministry; and, of course, very little of their attention would be given to the true
interest of their constituents, especially if they came in competition with the prospects of views
of the ministry. How far these predictions have been verified I believe it will not require much
trouble to prove. It must be obvious to everyone, the least acquainted with English history, that
since the union of the two nations the great body of the people in Scotland are in a much worse
situation now, than they would be, were they a separate nation. This will be fully illustrated by
attending to the great emigrations which are made to America. For if the people could have but a
common support at home, it is unreasonable to suppose that such large numbers would quit their
country, break from the tender ties of kindred and friendship and trust themselves on a dangerous
voyage across a vast ocean, to a country of which they can know but very little except by
common report. I will only further remark, that it is not about two or three years since a member
of the British parliament (I believe Mr. Dempster) gave a most pathetic description of the
sufferings of the commonalty of Scotland, particularly on the sea coast, and endeavored to call
the attention of parliament to their distresses, and afford them some relief by encouraging their
fisheries. It deserves also to be remembered, that the people of Scotland, in the late war between
France and Great Britain, petitioned to have arms and ammunition supplied them by their general
government, for their defense, alleging that they were incapable of defending themselves and
their property from an invasion unless they were assisted by government. It is a truth that their
petitions were disregarded, and reasons were assigned, that it would be dangerous to entrust them
with the means of defense, as they would then have it in their power to break the union. From
this representation of the situation of Scotland, surely no one can draw any conclusion that this
country would derive happiness or security from a government which would, in reality, give the
people but the mere name of being free. For if the representation, stipulated by the constitution,
framed by the late convention, be attentively and dispassionately considered, it must be obvious
to every disinterested observer (besides many other weighty objections which will present
themselves to view), that the number is not, by any means, adequate to the present inhabitants of
this extensive continent, much less to those it will contain at a future period.
I observe that the writer above mentioned, takes great pains to show the disadvantages which
would result from three or four distinct confederacies of these states. I must confess that I have
not seen, in any of the pieces published against the proposed constitution, any thing which gives
the most distant idea that their writers are in favor of such governments; but it is clear these
objections arise from a consolidation not affording security for the liberties of their country, and
from hence it must evidently appear, that the design of Publius, in artfully holding up to public
view [the bugbear of] such confederacies, can be with no other intention than wilfully to deceive
his fellow citizens. I am confident it must be, and that it is, the sincere wish of every true friend
to the United States, that there should be a confederated national government, but that it should
be one which would have a control over national and external matters only, and not interfere
with the internal regulations and police of the different states in the union. Such a government,
while it would give us respectability abroad, would not encroach upon, or subvert our liberties at

Antifederalist No. 6


One of largest series of Antifederalist essays was penned under the pseudonym “CENTINEL.”
The Philadelphia Independent Gazetteer ran this 24 essay series between October 5, 1787 and
November 24, 1788.
Some historians feel most of the “Centinel” letters were written by Samuel Bryan, and a few by
Eleazer Oswald, owner of the Independent Gazetteer. A more recent study by Charles Page
Smith, James Wilson, Founding Father (Chapel Hill, 1956), refrains from making such theory
This selection is from the eleventh letter of “Centinel,” appearing in the Independent Gazetteer
on January 16, 1788.
The evils of anarchy have been portrayed with all the imagery of language in the growing colors
of eloquence; the affrighted mind is thence led to clasp the new Constitution as the instrument of
deliverance, as the only avenue to safety and happiness. To avoid the possible and transitory
evils of one extreme, it is seduced into the certain and permanent misery necessarily attendant on
the other. A state of anarchy from its very nature can never be of long continuance; the greater its
violence the shorter the duration. Order and security are immediately sought by the distracted
people beneath the shelter of equal laws and the salutary restraints of regular government; and if
this be not attainable, absolute power is assumed by the one, or a few, who shall be the most
enterprising and successful. If anarchy, therefore, were the inevitable consequence of rejecting
the new Constitution, it would be infinitely better to incur it, for even then there would be at least
the chance of a good government rising out of licentiousness. But to rush at once into despotism
because there is a bare possibility of anarchy ensuing from the rejection, or from what is yet
more visionary, the small delay that would be occasioned by a revision and correction of the
proposed system of government is so superlatively weak, so fatally blind, that it is astonishing
any person of common understanding should suffer such an imposition to have the least
influence on his judgment; still more astonishing that so flimsy and deceptive a doctrine should
make converts among the enlightened freemen of America, who have so long enjoyed the
blessings of liberty. But when I view among such converts men otherwise pre-eminent it raises a
blush for the weakness of humanity that these, her brightest ornaments, should be so dimsighted
to what is self-evident to most men, that such imbecility of judgment should appear where so
much perfection was looked for. This ought to teach us to depend more on our own judgment
and the nature of the case than upon the opinions of the greatest and best of men, who, from
constitutional infirmities or particular situations, may sometimes view an object through a
delusive medium; but the opinions of great men are more frequently the dictates of ambition or
private interest.
The source of the apprehensions of this so much dreaded anarchy would upon investigation be
found to arise from the artful suggestions of designing men, and not from a rational probability
grounded on the actual state of affairs. The least reflection is sufficient to detect the fallacy to
show that there is no one circumstance to justify the prediction of such an event. On the contrary
a short time will evince, to the utter dismay and confusion of the conspirators, that a
perseverance in cramming down their scheme of power upon the freemen of this State
[Pennsylvania] will inevitably produce an anarchy destructive of their darling domination, and
may kindle a flame prejudicial to their safety. They should be cautious not to trespass too far on
the forbearance of freemen when wresting their dearest concerns, but prudently retreat from the
gathering storm.
The other specter that has been raised to terrify and alarm the people out of the exercise of their
judgment on this great occasion, is the dread of our splitting into separate confederacies or
republics, that might become rival powers and consequently liable to mutual wars from the usual
motives of contention. This is an event still more improbable than the foregoing. It is a
presumption unwarranted, either by the situation of affairs, or the sentiments of the people; no
disposition leading to it exists; the advocates of the new constitution seem to view such a
separation with horror, and its opponents are strenuously contending for a confederation that
shall embrace all America under its comprehensive and salutary protection. This hobgoblin
appears to have sprung from the deranged brain of Publius, [The Federalist] a New York writer,
who, mistaking sound for argument, has with Herculean labor accumulated myriads of
unmeaning sentences, and mechanically endeavored to force conviction by a torrent of misplaced
words. He might have spared his readers the fatigue of wading through his long-winded
disquisitions on the direful effects of the contentions of inimical states, as totally inapplicable to
the subject he was professedly treating; this writer has devoted much time, and wasted more
paper in combating chimeras of his own creation. However, for the sake of argument, I will
admit that the necessary consequence of rejecting or delaying the establishment of the new
constitution would be the dissolution of the union, and the institution of even rival and inimical
republics; yet ought such an apprehension, if well founded, to drive us into the fangs of
despotism? Infinitely preferable would be occasional wars to such an event. The former,
although a severe scourge, is transient in its continuance, and in its operation partial, but a small
proportion of the community are exposed to its greatest horrors, and yet fewer experience its
greatest evils; the latter is permanent and universal misery, without remission or exemption. As
passing clouds obscure for a time the splendor of the sun, so do wars interrupt the welfare of
mankind; but despotism is a settled gloom that totally extinguishes happiness. Not a ray of
comfort can penetrate to cheer the dejected mind; the goad of power with unabating rigor insists
upon the utmost exaction; like a merciless taskmaster, [it] is continually inflicting the lash, and is
never satiated with the feast of unfeeling domination, or the most abject servility.
The celebrated Lord Kaims, whose disquisitions of human nature evidence extraordinary
strength of judgment and depth of investigation, says that a continual civil war, which is the most
destructive and horrible scene of human discord, is preferable to the uniformity of wretchedness
and misery attendant upon despotism; of all possible evils, as I observed in my first number, this
is the worst and the most to be dreaded.
I congratulate my fellow citizens that a good government, the greatest earthly blessing, may be
so easily obtained, that our circumstances are so favorable, that nothing but the folly of the
conspirators can produce anarchy or civil war, which would presently terminate in their
destruction and the permanent harmony of the state, alone interrupted by their ambitious

Antifederalist No. 7


“PHILANTHROPOS,” (an anonymous Virginia Antifederalist) appeared in The Virginia Journal
and Alexandria Advertiser, December 6, 1787, writing his version of history under the proposed
new Constitution.
The time in which the constitution or government of a nation undergoes any particular change, is
always interesting and critical. Enemies are vigilant, allies are in suspense, friends hesitating
between hope and fear; and all men are in eager expectation to see what such a change may
produce. But the state of our affairs at present, is of such moment, as even to arouse the dead …
[A certain defender of the Constitution has stated that objections to it] are more calculated to
alarm the fears of the people than to answer any valuable end. Was that the case, as it is not, will
any man in his sober senses say, that the least infringement or appearance of infringement on our
liberty -that liberty which has lately cost so much blood and treasure, together with anxious days
and sleepless nights-ought not both to rouse our fears and awaken our jealousy? … The new
constitution in its present form is calculated to produce despotism, thraldom and confusion, and
if the United States do swallow it, they will find it a bolus, that will create convulsions to their
utmost extremities. Were they mine enemies, the worst imprecation I could devise would be,
may they adopt it. For tyranny, where it has been chained (as for a few years past) is always
more cursed, and sticks its teeth in deeper than before. Were Col. [George] Mason’s objections
obviated, the improvement would be very considerable, though even then, not so complete as
might be. The Congress’s having power without control-to borrow money on the credit of the
United States; their having power to appoint their own salaries, and their being paid out of the
treasury of the United States, thereby, in some measure, rendering them independent of the
individual states; their being judges of the qualification and election of their own members, by
which means they can get men to suit any purpose; together with Col. Mason’s wise and
judicious objections-are grievances, the very idea of which is enough to make every honest
citizen exclaim in the language of Cato, 0 Liberty, 0 my country! Our present constitution, with a
few additional powers to Congress, seems better calculated to preserve the rights and defend the
liberties of our citizens, than the one proposed, without proper amendments. Let us therefore, for
once, show our judgment and solidity by continuing it, and prove the opinion to be erroneous,
that levity and fickleness are not only the foibles of our tempers, but the reigning principles in
these states. There are men amongst us, of such dissatisfied tempers, that place them in Heaven,
they would find something to blame; and so restless and self- sufficient, that they must be
eternally reforming the state. But the misfortune is, they always leave affairs worse than they
find them. A change of government is at all times dangerous, but at present may be fatal, without
the utmost caution, just after emerging out of a tedious and expensive war. Feeble in our nature,
and complicated in our form, we are little able to bear the rough Posting of civil dissensions
which are likely to ensue. Even now, discontent and opposition distract our councils. Division
and despondency affect our people. Is it then a time to alter our government, that government
which even now totters on its foundation, and will, without tender care, produce ruin by its fall?
Beware my countrymen! Our enemies- -uncontrolled as they are in their ambitious schemes,
fretted with losses, and perplexed with disappointments-will exert their whole power and policy
to increase and continue our confusion. And while we are destroying one another, they will be
repairing their losses, and ruining our trade.
Of all the plagues that infest a nation, a civil war is the worst. Famine is severe, pestilence is
dreadful; but in these, though men die, they die in peace. The father expires without the guilt of
the son; and the son, if he survives, enjoys the inheritance of his father. Cities may be thinned,
but they neither plundered nor burnt. But when a civil war is kindled, there is then forth no
security of property nor protection from any law. Life and fortune become precarious. And all
that is dear to men is at the discretion of profligate soldiery, doubly licentious on such an
occasion. Cities are exhausted by heavy contributions, or sacked because they cannot answer
exorbitant demand. Countries are eaten up by the parties they favor, and ravaged by the one they
oppose. Fathers and sons, sheath their swords in anothers bowels in the field, and their wives and
daughters are exposed to rudeness and lust of ruffians at home. And when the sword has decided
quarrel, the scene is closed with banishments, forfeitures, and barbarous executions that entail
distress on children then unborn. May Heaven avert the dreadful catastrophe! In the most limited
governments, what wranglings, animosities, factions, partiality, and all other evils that tend to
embroil a nation and weaken a state, are constantly practised by legislators. What then may we
expect if the new constitution be adopted as it now stands? The great will struggle for power,
honor and wealth; the poor become a prey to avarice, insolence and oppression. And while some
are studying to supplant their neighbors, and others striving to keep their stations, one villain will
wink at the oppression of another, the people be fleeced, and the public business neglected. From
despotism and tyranny good Lord deliver us.

Antifederalist No. 8


“A FEDERAL REPUBLICAN” (from Virginia) had his `letter to the editor’ appear in The
Norfolk and Portsmouth Register March 5, 1788.
…. By the Articles of Confederation, the congress of the United State was vested with powers for
conducting the common concerns of the continent. They had the sole and exclusive right and
power of determining on peace and war; of sending and receiving ambassadors; of entering into
treaties and alliances; and of pointing out the respective quotas of men and men which each state
should furnish. But it was expressly provided that the money to be supplied by each state should
be raised by the authority and direction of the legislature thereof– thus reserving to the states the
important privilege of levying taxes upon their citizens in such manner as might be most
conformable to their peculiar circumstances and form of government. With powers thus
constituted was congress enabled to unite the general exertions of the continent in the cause of
liberty and to carry us triumphantly through a long and bloody war. It was not until sometime
after peace and a glorious independence had been established that defects were discovered in that
system of federal government which had procured to us those blessings. It was then perceived
that the Articles of Confederation were inadequate to the purposes of the union; and it was
particularly suggested as necessary to vest in congress the further power of exclusively
regulating the commerce of the United States, as well to enable us, by a system more uniform, to
counteract the policy of foreign nations, as for other important reasons. Upon this principle, a
general convention of the United States was proposed to be held, and deputies were accordingly
appointed by twelve of the states charged with power to revise, alter, and amend the Articles of
Confederation. When these deputies met, instead of confining themselves to the powers with
which they were entrusted, they pronounced all amendments to the Articles of Confederation
wholly impracticable; and with a spirit of amity and concession truly remarkable proceeded to
form a government entirely new, and totally different in its principles and its organization.
Instead of a congress whose members could serve but three years out of six-and then to return to
a level with their fellow citizens; and who were liable at all times, whenever the states might
deem it necessary, to be recalled– Congress, by this new constitution, will be composed of a
body whose members during the time they are appointed to serve, can receive no check from
their constituents. Instead of the powers formerly granted to congress of ascertaining each state’s
quota of men and money-to be raised by the legislatures of the different states in such a mode as
they might think proper- -congress, by this new government, will be invested with the formidable
powers of raising armies, and lending money, totally independent of the different states. They
will moreover, have the power of leading troops among you in order to suppress those struggles
which may sometimes happen among a free people, and which tyranny will impiously brand
with the name of sedition. On one day the state collector will call on you for your proportion of
those taxes which have been laid on you by the general assembly, where you are fully and
adequately represented; on the next will come the Continental collector to demand from you
those taxes which shall be levied by the continental congress, where the whole state of Virginia
will be represented by only ten men! Thus shall we imprudently confer on so small a number the
very important power of taking our money out of our pockets, and of levying taxes without
control-a right which the wisdom of our state constitution will, in vain, have confided to the most
numerous branch of the legislature. Should the sheriff or state collector in any manner aggrieve
you either in person or property, these sacred rights are amply secured by the most solemn
compact. Beside, the arm of government is always at hand to shield you from his injustice and
oppression. But if a Continental collector, in the execution of his office, should invade your
freedom (according to this new government, which has expressly declared itself paramount to all
state laws and constitutions) the state of which you are a citizen will have no authority to afford
you relief. A continental court may, indeed, be established in the state, and it may be urged that
you will find a remedy here; but, my fellow citizens, let me ask, what protection this will afford
you against the insults or rapacity of a continental officer, when he will have it in his power to
appeal to the seat of congress perhaps at several hundred miles distance, and by this means
oblige you to expend hundreds of pounds in obtaining redress for twenty shillings unjustly
extorted? Thus will you be necessarily compelled either to make a bold effort to extricate
yourselves from these grievous and oppressive extortions, or you will be fatigued by fruitless
attempts into the quiet and peaceable surrender of those rights, for which the blood of your
fellow citizens has been shed in vain. But the latter will, no doubt, be the melancholy fate of a
people once inspired with the love of liberty, as the power vested in congress of sending troops
for suppressing insurrections will always enable them to stifle the first struggles of freedom.

Antifederalist No. 9


“MONTEZUMA,” regarded as a Pennsylvanian, wrote this essay which showed up in the
Independent Gazetteer on October 17, 1787.
We the Aristocratic party of the United States, lamenting the many inconveniences to which the
late confederation subjected the well-born, the better kind of people, bringing them down to the
level of the rabble-and holding in utter detestation that frontispiece to every bill of rights, “that
all men are born equal”-beg leave (for the purpose of drawing a line between such as we think
were ordained to govern, and such as were made to bear the weight of government without
having any share in its administration) to submit to our Friends in the first class for their
inspection, the following defense of our monarchical, aristocratical democracy.
lst. As a majority of all societies consist of men who (though totally incapable of thinking or
acting in governmental matters) are more readily led than driven, we have thought meet to
indulge them in something like a democracy in the new constitution, which part we have
designated by the popular name of the House of Representatives. But to guard against every
possible danger from this lower house, we have subjected every bill they bring forward, to the
double negative of our upper house and president. Nor have we allowed the populace the right to
elect their representatives annually . . . lest this body should be too much under the influence and
control of their constituents, and thereby prove the “weatherboard of our grand edifice, to show
the shiftings of every fashionable gale,”-for we have not yet to learn that little else is wanting to
aristocratize the most democratical representative than to make him somewhat independent of his
political creators. We have taken away that rotation of appointment which has so long perplexed
us-that grand engine of popular influence. Every man is eligible into our government from time
to time for life. This will have a two-fold good effect. First, it prevents the representatives from
mixing with the lower class, and imbibing their foolish sentiments, with which they would have
come charged on re-election.
2d. They will from the perpetuality of office be under our eye, and in a short time will think and
act like us, independently of popular whims and prejudices. For the assertion “that evil
communications corrupt good manners,” is not more true than its reverse. We have allowed this
house the power to impeach, but we have tenaciously reserved the right to try. We hope
gentlemen, you will see the policy of this clause-for what matters it who accuses, if the accused
is tried by his friends. In fine, this plebian house will have little power, and that little be rightly
shaped by our house of gentlemen, who will have a very extensive influence-from their being
chosen out of the genteeler class … It is true, every third senatorial seat is to be vacated
duennually, but two-thirds of this influential body will remain in office, and be ready to direct or
(if necessary) bring over to the good old way, the young members, if the old ones should not be
returned. And whereas many of our brethren, from a laudable desire to support their rank in life
above the commonalty, have not only deranged their finances, but subjected their persons to
indecent treatment (as being arrested for debt, etc.) we have framed a privilege clause, by which
they may laugh at the fools who trusted them. But we have given out, that this clause was
provided, only that the members might be able without interruption, to deliberate on the
important business of their country.
We have frequently endeavored to effect in our respective states, the happy discrimination which
pervades this system; but finding we could not bring the states into it individually, we have
determined … and have taken pains to leave the legislature of each free and independent state, as
they now call themselves, in such a situation that they will eventually be absorbed by our grand
continental vortex, or dwindle into petty corporations, and have power over little else than
yoaking hogs or determining the width of cart wheels. But (aware that an intention to annihilate
state legislatures, would be objected to our favorite scheme) we have made their existence (as a
board of electors) necessary to ours. This furnishes us and our advocates with a fine answer to
any clamors that may be raised on this subject. We have so interwoven continental and state
legislatures that they cannot exist separately; whereas we in truth only leave them the power of
electing us, for what can a provincial legislature do when we possess the exclusive regulation of
external and internal commerce, excise, duties, imposts, post-offices and roads; when we and we
alone, have the power to wage war, make peace, coin money (if we can get bullion) if not,
borrow money, organize the militia and call them forth to execute our decrees, and crush
insurrections assisted by a noble body of veterans subject to our nod, which we have the power
of raising and keeping even in the time of peace. What have we to fear from state legislatures or
even from states, when we are armed with such powers, with a president at our head? (A name
we thought proper to adopt in conformity to the prejudices of a silly people who are so foolishly
fond of a Republican government, that we were obliged to accommodate in names and forms to
them, in order more effectually to secure the substance of our proposed plan; but we all know
that Cromwell was a King, with the title of Protector). I repeat it, what have we to fear armed
with such powers, with a president at our head who is captain- -general of the army, navy and
militia of the United States, who can make and unmake treaties, appoint and commission
ambassadors and other ministers, who can grant or refuse reprieves or pardons, who can make
judges of the supreme and other continental courts-in short, who will be the source, the fountain
of honor, profit and power, whose influence like the rays of the sun, will diffuse itself far and
wide, will exhale all democratical vapors and break the clouds of popular insurrection? But again
gentlemen, our judicial power is a strong work, a masked battery, few people see the guns we
can and will ere long play off from it. For the judicial power embraces every question which can
arise in law or equity, under this constitution and under the laws of “the United States” (which
laws will be, you know, the supreme laws of the land). This power extends to all cases, affecting
ambassadors or other public ministers, “and consuls; to all cases of admiralty and maritime
jurisdiction; to controversies to which the United States shall be a party; to controversies
between two or more States; between a State and citizens of another State; between citizens of
different States; between citizens of the same State, claiming lands under grants of different
States; and between a State or the citizens thereof, and foreign States, citizens or subjects.”
Now, can a question arise in the colonial courts, which the ingenuity or sophistry of an able
lawyer may not bring within one or other of the above cases? Certainly not. Then our court will
have original or appellate jurisdiction in all cases-and if so, how fallen are state judicatures-and
must not every provincial law yield to our supreme flat? Our constitution answers yes. . . . And
finally we shall entrench ourselves so as to laugh at the cabals of the commonalty. A few
regiments will do at first; it must be spread abroad that they are absolutely necessary to defend
the frontiers. Now a regiment and then a legion must be added quietly; by and by a frigate or two
must be built, still taking care to intimate that they are essential to the support of our revenue
laws and to prevent smuggling. We have said nothing about a bill of rights, for we viewed it as
an eternal clog upon our designs, as a lock chain to the wheels of government-though, by the
way, as we have not insisted on rotation in our offices, the simile of a wheel is ill. We have for
some time considered the freedom of the press as a great evil-it spreads information, and begets a
licentiousness in the people which needs the rein more than the spur; besides, a daring printer
may expose the plans of government and lessen the consequence of our president and senate-for
these and many other reasons we have said nothing with respect to the “right of the people to
speak and publish their sentiments” or about their “palladiums of liberty” and such stuff. We do
not much like that sturdy privilege of the people-the right to demand the writ of habeas corpus.
We have therefore reserved the power of refusing it in cases of rebellion, and you know we are
the judges of what is rebellion…. Our friends we find have been assiduous in representing our
federal calamities, until at length the people at large-frightened by the gloomy picture on one
side, and allured by the prophecies of some of our fanciful and visionary adherents on the otherare
ready to accept and confirm our proposed government without the delay or forms of
examination–which was the more to be wished, as they are wholly unfit to investigate the
principles or pronounce on the merit of so exquisite a system. Impressed with a conviction that
this constitution is calculated to restrain the influence and power of the LOWER CLASS-to draw
that discrimination we have so long sought after; to secure to our friends privileges and offices,
which were not to be … [obtained] under the former government, because they were in common;
to take the burden of legislation and attendance on public business off the commonalty, who will
be much better able thereby to prosecute with effect their private business; to destroy that
political thirteen headed monster, the state sovereignties; to check the licentiousness of the
people by making it dangerous to speak or publish daring or tumultuary sentiments; to enforce
obedience to laws by a strong executive, aided by military pensioners; and finally to promote the
public and private interests of the better kind of people-we submit it to your judgment to take
such measures for its adoption as you in your wisdom may think fit.
Signed by unanimous order of the lords spiritual and temporal.

Antifederalist No. 10


his essay follows a theme similar to Federalist No. 10, and appeared in the Maryland Gazette
and Baltimore Advertiser, March 18, 1788.
The opposite qualities of the first confederation were rather caused by than the cause of two
parties, which from its first existence began and have continued their operations, I believe,
unknown to their country and almost unknown to themselves-as really but few men have the
capacity or resolution to develop the secret causes which influence their daily conduct. The old
Congress was a national government and an union of States, both brought into one political
body, as these opposite powers-I do not mean parties were so exactly blended and very nearly
balanced, like every artificial, operative machine where action is equal to reaction. It stood
perfectly still. It would not move at all. Those who were merely confederal in their views, were
for dividing the public debt. Those who were for national government, were for increasing of it.
Those who thought any national government would be destructive to the liberties of America . . .
assisted those who thought it our only safety-to put everything as wrong as possible. Requisitions
were made, which every body knew it was impossible to comply with. Either in 82 or 83, ten
millions of hard dollars, if not thirteen, were called into the continental treasury, when there
could not be half that sum in the whole tract of territory between Nova-Scotia and Florida. The
States neglected them in despair. The public honor was tarnished, and our governments abused
by their servants and best friends. In fine, it became a cant word things are not yet bad enough to
mend. However, as [a] great part of the important objects of society were entrusted to this
mongrel species of general government, the sentiment of pushing it forward became general
throughout America, and the late Convention met at Philadelphia under the uniform impression,
that such was the desire of their constituents. But even then the advantages and disadvantages of
national government operated so strongly, although silently, on each individual, that the conflict
was nearly equal. A third or middle opinion, which always arises in such cases, broke off and
took the lead-the national party [thus] assisted, pursued steadily their object- the federal party
dropped off, one by one, and finally, when the middle party came to view the offspring which
they had given birth to, and in a great measure reared, several of them immediately disowned the
child. Such has been hitherto the progress of party; or rather of the human mind dispassionately
contemplating our separate and relative situation, and aiming at that perfect completion of social
happiness and grandeur, which perhaps can be combined only in ideas. Every description of men
entertain the same wishes (excepting perhaps a few very bad men of each)-they forever will
differ about the mode of accomplishment-and some must be permitted to doubt the practicability.
As our citizens are now apprized of the progress of parties or political opinions on the continent,
it is fit they should also be informed of the present state, force and designs of each, in order that
they may form their decisions with safety to the public and themselves-this shall be given with
all the precision and impartiality the author is capable of.
America is at present divided into three classes or descriptions of men, and in a few years there
will be but two.
[First]. The first class comprehends all those men of fortune and reputation who stepped forward
in the late revolution, from opposition to the administration, rather than the government of Great
Britain. All those aristocrats whose pride disdains equal law. Many men of very large fortune,
who entertain real or imaginary fears for the security of property. Those young men, who have
sacrificed their time and their talents to public service, without any prospect of an adequate
pecuniary or honorary reward. All your people of fashion and pleasure who are corrupted by the
dissipation of the French, English and American armies; and a love of European manners and
luxury. The public creditors of the continent, whose interest has been heretofore sacrificed by
their friends, in order to retain their services on this occasion. A large majority of the mercantile
people, which is at present a very unformed and consequently dangerous interest. Our old native
merchants have been almost universally ruined by the receipt of their debts in paper during the
war, and the payment in hard money of what they owed their British correspondents since peace.
Those who are not bankrupts, have generally retired and given place to a set of young men, who
conducting themselves as rashly as ignorantly, have embarrassed their affairs and lay the blame
on the government, and who are really unacquainted with the true mercantile interest of the
country-which is perplexed from circumstances rather temporary than permanent. The foreign
merchants are generally not to be trusted with influence in our government– they are most of
them birds of passage. Some, perhaps British emissaries increasing and rejoicing in our political
mistakes, and even those who have settled among us with an intention to fix themselves and their
posterity in our soil, have brought with them more foreign prejudices than wealth. Time must
elapse before the mercantile interest will be so organized as to govern themselves, much less
others, with propriety. And lastly, to this class I suppose we may ultimately add the tory interest,
with the exception of very many respectable characters, who reflect with a gratification mixed
with disdain, that those principles are now become fashionable for which they have been
persecuted and hunted down-which, although by no means so formidable as is generally
imagined, is still considerable. They are at present wavering. They are generally, though with
very many exceptions, openly for the proposed, but secretly against any American government.
A burnt child dreads the fire. But should they see any fair prospect of confusion arise, these
gentry will be off at any moment for these five and twenty years to come. Ultimately, should the
administration promise stability to the new government, they may be counted on as the Janizaries
of power, ready to efface all suspicion by the violence of their zeal.
In general, all these various people would prefer a government, as nearly copied after that of
Great Britain, as our circumstances will permit. Some would strain these circumstances. Others
still retain a deep rooted jealousy of the executive branch and strong republican prejudices as
they are called. Finally, this class contains more aggregate wisdom and moral virtue than both
the other two together. It commands nearly two thirds of the property and almost one half the
numbers of America, and has at present, become almost irresistible from the name of the truly
great and amiable man who it has been said, is disposed to patronize it, and from the influence
which it has over the second class. This [first] class is nearly at the height of their power; they
must decline or moderate, or another revolution will ensue, for the opinion of America is
becoming daily more unfavorable to those radical changes which high-toned government
requires. A conflict would terminate in the destruction of this class, or the liberties of their
country. May the Guardian Angel of America prevent both!
[Second]. The second class is composed of those descriptions of men who are certainly more
numerous with us than in any other part of the globe. First, those men who are so wise as to
discover that their ancestors and indeed all the rest of mankind were and are fools. We have a
vast overproportion of these great men, who, when you tell them that from the earliest period at
which mankind devoted their attention to social happiness, it has been their uniform judgment,
that a government over governments cannot exist- -that is two governments operating on the
same individual-assume the smile of confidence, and tell you of two people travelling the same
road-of a perfect and precise division of the duties of the individual. Still, however, the political
apothegm is as old as the proverb-That no man can serve two masters-and whoever will run their
noddles against old proverbs will be sure to break them, however hard they may be. And if they
broke only their own, all would be right; but it is very horrible to reflect that all our numskulls
must be cracked in concert. Second. The trimmers, who from sympathetic indecision are always
united with, and when not regularly employed, always fight under the banners of these great
men, These people are forever at market, and when parties are nearly equally divided, they get
very well paid for their services. Thirdly. The indolent, that is almost every second man of
independent fortune you meet with in America-these are quite easy, and can live under any
government. If men can be said to live, who scarcely breathe; and if breathing was attended with
any bodily exertion, would give up their small portion of life in despair. These men do not swim
with the stream as the trimmers do, but are dragged like mud at the bottom. As they have no
other weight than their tat flesh, they are hardly worth mentioning when we speak of the
sentiments and opinions of America. As this second class never can include any of the yeomanry
of the union, who never affect superior wisdom, and can have no interests but the public good, it
can be only said to exist at the birth of government, and as soon as the first and third classes
become more decided in their views, this will divide with each and dissipate like a mist, or sink
down into what are called moderate men, and become the tools and instruments of others. These
people are prevented by a cloud from having any view; and if they are not virtuous, they at least
preserve the appearance, which in this world amounts to the same thing.
[Third]. At the head of the third class appear the old rigid republicans, who although few in
number, are still formidable. Reverence will follow these men in spite of detraction, as long as
wisdom and virtue are esteemed among mankind. They are joined by the true democrats, who are
in general fanatics and enthusiasts, and some few sensible, charming madmen. A decided
majority of the yeomanry of America will, for a length of years, be ready to support these two
descriptions of men. But as this last class is forced to act as a residuary legatee, and receive all
the trash and filth, it is in some measure disgraced and its influence weakened. 3dly. The
freebooters and plunderers, who infest all countries and ours perhaps as little as any other
whatever. These men have that natural antipathy to any kind or sort of government, that a rogue
has to a halter. In number they are few indeed such characters are the offspring of dissipation and
want, and there is not that country in the world where so much real property is shared so equally
among so few citizens, for where property is as easily acquired by fair means, very few indeed
will resort to foul. Lastly, by the poor mob, infoelix pecus!l The property of whoever will feed
them and take care of them-let them be spared. Let the burden of taxation sit lightly on their
shoulders. But alas! This is not their fate. It is here that government forever falls with all its
weight. It is here that the proposed government will press where it should scarcely be felt. . . .
In this [third] class may be counted men of the greatest mental powers and of as sublime virtue
as any in America. They at present command nearly one-third of the property and above half the
numbers of the United States, and in either event they must continue to increase in influence by
great desertions from both the other classes. . . . If the [proposed] government is not adopted,
theirs will be the prevalent opinion. The object of this class either is or will be purely federal-an
union of independent States, not a government of individuals. And should the proposed federal
plan fail, from the obstinacy of those who will listen to no conditional amendments, although
such as they cannot disapprove; or should it ultimately in its execution upon a fair trial,
disappoint the wishes and expectations of our country-[then] an union purely federal is what the
reasonable and dispassionate patriots of America must bend their views to. My countrymen,
preserve your jealousy-reject suspicion, it is the fiend that destroys public and private happiness.
I know some weak, but very few if any wicked men in public confidence. And learn this most
difficult and necessary lesson: That on the preservation of parties, public liberty depends.
Whenever men are unanimous on great public questions, whenever there is but one party,
freedom ceases and despotism commences. The object of a free and wise people should be so to
balance parties, that from the weakness of all you may be governed by the moderation of the
combined judgments of the whole, not tyrannized over by the blind passions of a few

Antifederalist No. 11


Scholars regard James Winthrop of Cambridge, Mass. to be the “Agrippa” who contributed the
series to The Massachusetts Gazette from November 23, 1787 to February 5, 1788. This is a
compilation of excerpts from “Agrippa’s” letters of December 14, 18, 25, and 28, 1787, taken
from Ford, Essays, pp. 70-73, 76-77, 79-81.
It has been proved, by indisputable evidence, that power is not the grand principle of union
among the parts of a very extensive empire; and that when this principle is pushed beyond the
degree necessary for rendering justice between man and man, it debases the character of
individuals, and renders them less secure in their persons and property. Civil liberty consists in
the consciousness of that security, and is best guarded by political liberty, which is the share that
every citizen has in the government. Accordingly all our accounts agree, that in those empires
which are commonly called despotic, and which comprehend by far the greatest part of the
world, the government is most fluctuating, and property least secure. In those countries insults
are borne by the sovereign, which, if offered to one of our governors, would fill us with horror,
and we should think the government dissolving.
The common conclusion from this reasoning is an exceedingly unfair one, that we must then
separate, and form distinct confederacies. This would be true if there was no principle to
substitute in the room of power. Fortunately there is one. This is commerce. All the states have
local advantages, and in a considerable degree separate interests. They are, therefore, in a
situation to supply each other’s wants. Carolina, for instance, is inhabited by planters, while
Massachusetts is more engaged in commerce and manufactures. Congress has the power of
deciding their differences. The most friendly intercourse may therefore be established between
them. A diversity of produce, wants and interests, produces commerce; and commerce, where
there is a common, equal and moderate authority to preside, produces friendship.
The same principles apply to the connection with the new settlers in the west. Many supplies
they want, for which they must look to the older settlements, and the greatness of their crops
enables them to make payments. Here, then, we have a bond of -union which applies to all parts
of the empire, and would continue to operate if the empire comprehended all America.
We are now, in the strictest sense of the terms, a federal republic. Each part has within its own
limits the sovereignty over its citizens, while some of the general concerns are committed to
Congress. The complaints of the deficiency of the Congressional powers are confined to two
articles. They are not able to raise a revenue by taxation, and they have not a complete regulation
of the intercourse between us and foreigners. For each of these complaints there is some
foundation, but not enough to justify the clamor which has been raised. . . .
The second article of complaint against the present confederation . . . is that Congress has not the
sole power to regulate the intercourse between us and foreigners. Such a power extends not only
to war and peace, but to trade and naturalization. This last article ought never to be given them;
for though most of the states may be willing for certain reasons to receive foreigners as citizens,
yet reasons of equal weight may induce other states, differently circumstanced, to keep their
blood pure. Pennsylvania has chosen to receive all that would come there. Let any indifferent
person judge whether that state in point of morals, education, [or] energy, is equal to any of the
eastern states; the small state of Rhode Island only excepted. Pennsylvania in the course of a
century has acquired her present extent and population at the expense of religion and good
morals. The eastern states have, by keeping separate from the foreign mixtures, acquired their
present greatness in the course of a century and an half, and have preserved their religion and
morals. They have also preserved that manly virtue which is equally fitted for rendering them
respectable in war, and industrious in peace.
The remaining power for peace and trade might perhaps be safely lodged with Congress under
some limitations. Three restrictions appear to me to be essentially necessary to preserve that
equality of rights to the states, which it is the object of the state governments to secure to each
citizen. 1st. It ought not to be in the power of Congress, either by treaty or otherwise, to alienate
part of any state without the consent of the legislature. 2nd. They ought not to be able, by treaty
or other law, to give any legal preference to one part above another. 3rd. They ought to be
restrained from creating any monopolies….
The idea of consolidation is further kept up in the right given to regulate trade. Though this
power under certain limitations would be a proper one for the department of Congress, it is in
this system carried much too far, and much farther than is necessary. This is, without exception,
the most commercial state upon the continent. Our extensive coasts, cold climate, small estates,
and equality of rights, with a variety of subordinate and concurring circumstances, place us in
this respect at the head of the Union. We must, therefore, be indulged if a point which so nearly
relates to our welfare be rigidly examined. The new constitution not only prohibits vessels,
bound from one state to another, from paying any duties, but even from entering and clearing.
The only use of such a regulation is, to keep each state in complete ignorance of its own
resources. It certainly is no hardship to enter and clear at the custom house, and the expense is
too small to be an object.
The unlimited right to regulate trade, includes the right of granting exclusive charters. This, in all
old countries, is considered as one principal branch of prerogative. We find hardly a country in
Europe which has not felt the ill effects of such a power. Holland has carried the exercise of it
farther than any other state, and the reason why that country has felt less evil from it is, that the
territory is very small, and they have drawn large revenues from their colonies in the East and
West Indies. In this respect, the whole country is to be considered as a trading company, having
exclusive privileges. The colonies are large in proportion to the parent state; so that, upon the
whole, the latter may gain by such a system. We are also to take into consideration the industry
which the genius of a free government inspires. But in the British islands all these circumstances
together have not prevented them from being injured by the monopolies created there.
Individuals have been enriched, but the country at large has been hurt. Some valuable branches
of trade being granted to companies, who transact their business in London, that city is, perhaps,
the place of the greatest trade in the world. But Ireland, under such influence, suffers
exceedingly, and is impoverished; and Scotland is a mere by-word. Bristol, the second city in
England, ranks not much above this town [Boston] in population. These things must be
accounted for by the incorporation of trading companies; and if they are felt so severely in
countries of small extent, they will operate with tenfold severity upon us, who inhabit an
immense tract; and living towards one extreme of an extensive empire, shall feel the evil,
without retaining that influence in government, which may enable us to procure redress. There
ought, then, to have been inserted a restraining clause which might prevent the Congress from
making any such grant, because they consequentially defeat the trade of the out-ports, and are
also injurious to the general commerce, by enhancing prices and destroying that rivalship which
is the great stimulus to industry. . . .
There cannot be a doubt, that, while the trade of this continent remains free, the activity of our
countrymen will secure their full share. AR the estimates for the present year, let them be made
by what party they may, suppose the balance of trade to be largely in our favor. The credit of our
merchants is, therefore, fully established in foreign countries. This is a sufficient proof, that
when business is unshackled, it will find out that channel which is most friendly to its course.
We ought, therefore, to be exceedingly cautious about diverting or restraining it. Every day
produces fresh proofs, that people, under the immediate pressure of difficulties, do not, at first
glance, discover the proper relief. The last year, a desire to get rid of embarrassments induced
many honest people to agree to a tender act, and many others, of a different description, to
obstruct the courts of justice. Both these methods only increased the evil they were intended to
cure. Experience has since shown that, instead of trying to lesson an evil by altering the present
course of things, that every endeavor should have been applied to facilitate the course of law, and
thus to encourage a mutual confidence among the citizens, which increases the resources of them
all, and renders easy the payment of debts. By this means one does not grow rich at the expense
of another, but all are benefited. The case is the same with the States. Pennsylvania, with one
port and a large territory, is less favorably situated for trade than Massachusetts, which has an
extensive coast in proportion to its limits of jurisdiction. Accordingly a much larger proportion
of our people are engaged in maritime affairs. We ought therefore to be particularly attentive to
securing so great an interest. It is vain to tell us that we ought to overlook local interests. It is
only by protecting local concerns that the interest of the whole is preserved. No man when he
enters into society does it from a view to promote the good of others, but he does it for his own
good. All men having the same view are bound equally to promote the welfare of the whole. To
recur then to such a principle as that local interests must be disregarded, is requiring of one man
to do more than another, and is subverting the foundation of a free government. The
Philadelphians would be shocked with a proposition to place the seat of general government and
the unlimited right to regulate trade in Massachusetts. There can be no greater reason for our
surrendering the preference to them. Such sacrifices, however we may delude ourselves with the
form of words, always originate in folly, and not in generosity.

Antifederalist No. 12


“CINCINNATUS” is an Antifederalist writer. In this essay, from an Address to a Meeting of the
Citizens of Philadelphia, the writer responds to James Wilson’s statements about Congress’
powers to tax under the Constitution. It appeared in the November 29 and December 6, 1787,
New-York Journal, as reprinted from a Philadelphia newspaper.
On the subject of taxation, in which powers are to be given so largely by the new constitution,
you [James Wilson of Pennsylvania] lull our fears of abuse by venturing to predict “that the great
revenue of the United States must, and always will, be raised by impost”-and you elevate our
hopes by holding out, “the reviving and supporting the national credit.” If you have any other
plan for this, than by raising money upon the people to pay the interest of the national debt, your
ingenuity will deserve our thanks. Supposing however, that raising money is necessary to
payment of the interest, and such a payment [is] requisite to support the credit of the union-let us
see how much will be necessary for that end, and how far the impost will supply what we want.
The arrearages of French and Spanish interest amount now to–1,500,000 dollars; Interest and
installments of do. for 1788–850,227; Support of government; and its departments, for 1788–
500,000; Arrears and anticipations of 1787– 300,000; Interest of domestic debt– 500,000 {total}
4,650,227 [3,650,227]
The new Congress then, supposing it to get into operation towards October, 1788, will have to
provide for this sum, and for the additional sum of 3,000,000 at least for the ensuing year; which
together will make the sum of 7,650,227 [6,650,227].
Now let us see how the impost will answer this. Congress have furnished us with their estimate
of the produce of the whole imports of America at five per cent and that is 800,000 dollars. There
will remain to provide for, by other taxes, 6,850,227 [5,850,227].
We know too, that our imports diminish yearly, and from the nature of things must continue to
diminish; and consequently that the above estimate of the produce of the impost, will in all
probability fall much short of the supposed sum. But even without this, it must appear that you
[were] either intentionally misleading your hearers, or [were] very little acquainted with the
subject when you ventured to predict that the great revenue of the United States would always
flow from the impost. The estimate above is from the publications of Congress, and I presume is
right. But the sum stated, necessary to be raised by the new government, in order to answer the
expectations they have raised, is not all. The state debts, independent of what each owes to the
United States, amount to about 30,000,000 dollars; the annual interest of this is 1,000,000.
It will be expected that the new government will provide for this also; and such expectation is
founded, not only on the promise you hold forth, of its reviving and supporting public credit
among us, but also on this unavoidable principle of justice-that is, the new government takes
away the impost, and other substantial taxes, from the produce of which the several states paid
the interest of their debt, or funded the paper with which they paid it. The new government must
find ways and means of supplying that deficiency, . . . in hard money, for . . . paper . . . cannot
[be used] without a violation of the principles it boasts. The sum then which it must annually
raise in specie, after the first year, cannot be less than 4,800,000. At present there is not one half
of this sum in specie raised in all the states. And yet the complaints of intolerable taxes has
produced one rebellion and will be mainly operative in the adoption of your constitution. How
you will get this sum is inconceivable and yet get it you must, or lose all credit. With magnificent
promises you have bought golden opinions of all sorts of people, and with gold you must answer
them, . . .
To satisfy [our fellow citizens] more fully on the subject of the revenue, that is to be raised upon
them, in order to give enormous fortunes to the jobbers in public securities, I shall lay before
them a proposition to Congress, from Mr. Robert Morris, when superintendent of finance. It is
dated, I think,’ the 29th of June, 1782, and is in these words:
[1 say, I think, because by accident the month is erased in the note I have, and I have not access
to public papers which would enable me to supply the defect.]
“The requisition of a five per cent impost, made on the 3d of February, 1781, has not yet been
complied with by the state of Rhode Island, but as there is reason to believe, that their
compliance is not far off, this revenue may be considered as already granted. It will, however, be
very inadequate to the purposes intended. If goods be imported, and prizes introduced to the
amount of twelve millions annually, the five per cent would be six hundred thousand, from
which at least one sixth must be deducted, as well for the cost of collection as for the various
defalcations which will necessarily happen, and which it is unnecessary to enumerate. It is not
safe therefore, to estimate this revenue at more than half a million of dollars; for though it may
produce more, yet probably it will not produce so much. It was in consequence of this, that on
the 27th day of February last, I took the liberty to submit the propriety of asking the states for a
land tax of one dollar for every hundred acres of land-a poll-tax of one dollar on all freemen, and
all male slaves, between sixteen and sixty, excepting such as are in the federal army, or by
wounds or otherwise rendered unfit for service-and an excise of one eighth of a dollar, on all
distilled spiritous liquors. Each of these may be estimated at half a million; and should the
product be equal to the estimation, the sum total of revenues for funding the public debts, would
be equal to two millions.”
You will readily perceive, Mr. Wilson, that there is a vast difference between your prediction and
your friend’s proposition. Give me leave to say, sir, that it was not discreet, in you, to speak upon
finance without instructions from this great financier. Since, independent of its delusive effect
upon your audience, it may excite his jealousy, lest you should have a secret design of rivalling
him in the expected office of superintendent under the new constitution. It is true, there is no real
foundation for it; but then you know jealousy makes the food it feeds on. A quarrel between two
such able and honest friends to the United States, would, I am persuaded, be felt as a public
calamity. I beseech you then to be very tender upon this point in your next harangue. And if four
months’ study will not furnish you with sufficient discretion, we will indulge you with six.
It may be said, that let the government be what it may, the sums I have stated must be raised, and
the same difficulties exist. This is not altogether true. For first, we are now in the way of paying
the interest of the domestic debt, with paper, which under the new system is utterly reprobated.
This makes a difference between the specie to be raised of 1,800,000 dollars per annum. If the
new government raises this sum in specie on the people, it will certainly support public credit,
but it will overwhelm the people. It will give immense fortunes to the speculators; but it will
grind the poor to dust. Besides, the present government is now redeeming the principal of the
domestic debt by the sale of western lands. But let the full interest be paid in specie, and who
will part with the principal for those lands? A principal, which having been generally purchased
for two shillings and six pence on the pound, will yield to the holders two hundred and forty per
cent. This paper system therefore, though in general an evil, is in this instance attended with the
great benefit of enabling the public to cancel a debt upon easy terms, which has been swelled to
its enormous size, by as enormous impositions. And the new government, by promising too
much, will involve itself in a disreputable breach of faith. . . .
The present government promises nothing; the intended government, everything. From the
present government little is expected; from the intended one, much. Because it is conceived that
to the latter much is given; to the former, little. And yet the inability of the people to pay what is
required in specie, remaining the same, the funds of the one will not much exceed those of the
other. The public creditors are easy with the present government from a conviction of its inability
[to pay]. They will be urgent with the new one from an opinion, that as is promised, so it can and
will perform every thing. Whether the change will be for our prosperity and honor, is yet to be
tried. Perhaps it will be found, that the supposed want of power in Congress to levy taxes is, at
present a veil happily thrown over the inability of the people; and that the large powers given to
the new government will, to every one, expose the nakedness of our land. Certain it is, that if the
expectations which are grafted on the gift of those plenary powers, are not answered, our credit
will be irretrievably ruined.

Antifederalist No. 13


Part 1: From The Feeeman’s Oracle and New Hampshire Advertiser, January 11, 1788, by “A
Part 2: An unsigned essay from The Connecticut Journal, October 17, 1787.
. . . . Great complaint has been made, that Congress [under the Articles] has been too liberal in
their grants of salaries to individuals, and I think not without just cause. For if I am rightly
informed, there have been men whose salaries have been fifteen hundred dollars per year, and
some of them did not do business at any rate, that the sum they negotiated would amount to their
yearly salary. And some men [are] now in office, at twenty five hundred dollars per year, who I
think would have been glad to have set down at one hundred pounds a year before the war, and
would have done as much or more business. The truth is, when you carry a man’s salary beyond
what decency requires, he immediately becomes a man of consequence, and does little or no
business at all. Let us cast our eyes around us, in the other departments-the judges of the superior
court have but about one hundred pounds salary a year. The judges of the courts of common
pleas, on an average, not more than sixty dollars per year. The ministers of the gospel-a very
valuable set of men, who have done honor to themselves, and rendered great service to their
country, in completing the revolution-have salaries but from sixty to an hundred pounds a year in
general. The contrast is striking. I heartily wish that all ranks of men among us, ministers of the
gospel as well as others, would turn their attention toward the Constitution they may be more
concerned in the event than they at present think of.
Rouse up, my friends, a matter of infinite importance is before you on the carpet, soon to be
decided in your convention: The New Constitution. Seize the happy moment. Secure to
yourselves and your posterity the jewel Liberty, which has cost you so much blood and treasure,
by a well regulated Bill of Rights, from the encroachments of men in power. For if Congress will
do these things in the dry tree when their power is small, what won’t they do when they have all
the resources of the United States at their command? They are the servants of the public. You
have an undoubted right to set their wages, or at least to say, thus far you and those under you
may go and no further. This would in the end ease Congress of a great deal of trouble, as it
would put a stop to the impertinence of individuals in asking large salaries. I would say that the
wages of a Representative in Congress do not exceed five dollars per day; a Senator not to
exceed six; and the President seven per day, with an allowance for his table. And that the wages
of no person employed in the United States exceed the daily pay of a Representative in Congress,
but be paid according to their service, not exceeding that sum. Perhaps it may be said that money
may depreciate, or appreciate. Let a price current be taken when this Constitution is completed,
of the produce of each state, and let that be the general standard.
My friends and countrymen, let us pause for a moment and consider. We are not driven to such
great straits as to be obliged to swallow down every potion offered us by wholesale, or else die
immediately by our disease. We can form a Constitution at our leisure; and guard and secure it
on all sides. We are paying off our state debt, and the interest on the domestic, as fast as
Congress call upon us for it. As to the foreign debt, they have the promise of more interest from
us than they can get anywhere else, and we shall be able to pay them both interest and principal
shortly. But it is said they win declare war against us if we don’t pay them immediately.
Common sense will teach them better. We live at too great a distance, and are too hardy and
robust a people, for them to make money out of us in that way.
But it is said, the trading towns are fond of this Constitution. Let us consider how they stand,
including their interest.
lst. The merchant wishes to have it adopted, that trade might be regulated. 2dly. Another set of
men wishes to have it adopted, that the idea of paper money might be annihilated. 3dly. Another
class of men wish to have it take place, that the public might be enabled to pay off the foreign
debt, and appear respectable abroad among the nations. So do I, with all my heart. But in neither
of these cases do I wish to see it adopted without being guarded on all sides with a Magna
Charta, or a Bill of Rights, as a bulwark to our liberties. Again, another class of men wish to
have it adopted, so that the public chest might be furnished with money to pay the interest on
their securities, which they purchased of the poor soldiers at two shillings on the pound. I wish
the soldiers were now the holders of those securites they fought so hard for. However, as the
public finances were such that they could not be paid off as they became due, and they have
carried them to market, and sold them as the boy did his top-we must pay them to the holders.
But we need not be in a hurry about it; certificates will do for that. Consider, my friends, you are
the persons who must live and die by this Constitution. A merchant or mechanic may dispose of
his goods, or pack them up in trunks and remove to another clime in the course of a few months.
But you cannot shoulder your lands, or dispose of them when you please. It therefore behooves
you to rouse up, and turn your most serious and critical attention to this Constitution. . . .
. . A large representation has ever been esteemed by the best whigs in Great Britain the best
barrier against bribery and corruption. And yet we find a British king, having the disposition of
all places, civil and military, and an immense revenue SQUEEZED out of the very mouths of his
wretched subjects, is able to corrupt the parliament, to vote him any supplies he demands, to
support armies, to defend the prerogatives of his crown, and carry fire and sword by his fleets
and armies; to desolate whole provinces in the eastern world, to aggrandize himself, and satisfy
the avarice of his tyrannical subjects.
No wonder our American ambassador, struck with the brilliancy of the British court [John
Adams], where everything around St. James’s wears the appearance of wealth, ease and plenty,
should imagine a three branched legislature only can produce these effects, and make the
subjects happy, should write a book in favor of such a government, and send it over for the
illumination of this western world. If this is the sole fruit of his embassy, America will not
canonize him for a saint on account of his services, when they have experienced the
consequences of such a kind of government as be has planned out. In order to have formed a
right judgment, he should have looked into the ditches which serve for graves for many of the
human race-under hedges which serve as dreary habitations for the living; into the cottages of the
poor and miserable, and critically examine with how much parsimony the mechanics, the day
laborers, cottagers and villagers live in order to support their high pampered lords-before he had
wrote a book to persuade his country to pursue the same road to greatness, splendor and glory,
and have reflected in his own mind, whether he could wish to see that country which gave him
birth reduced to the same situation….
Now I submit it to the good sense of the people of these states, whether it is prudent we should
make so liberal and extensive a grant of power and property to any body of men in these United
States, before they have ever informed the public, the amount of the public debt, or what the
annual expenses of the federal government is, or will be. It is now almost five years since the
peace. Congress has employed thirteen commissioners, at 1500 dollars per annum, as I am
informed, to settle the public accounts, and we know now no more what the national debt is, than
at the first moment of their appointment. Nor do we know any more what is the amount of the
annual expenses of the federal government, than we do of the empire of China. To grant
therefore such an ample power of taxation, and the right of soil, to the amount of millions, upon
the recommendation of this honorable Convention, without either knowing the amount of the
national debt, or the annual expenses of government, would not argue, in my opinion, the highest
degree of prudence.

Antifederalist No. 14


George Clinton, Governor of New York, was an adversary of the Constitution. He composed
several letters under the nome de plume “CATO.” This essay is from the third letter of “Cato,”
The New-York Journal of October 25, 1787.
. . . The recital, or premises on which the new form of government is erected, declares a
consolidation or union of all the thirteen parts, or states, into one great whole, under the form of
the United States, for all the various and important purposes therein set forth. But whoever
seriously considers the immense extent of territory comprehended within the limits of the United
States, together with the variety of its climates, productions, and commerce, the difference of
extent, and number of inhabitants in all; the dissimilitude of interest, morals, and politics, in
almost every one, will receive it as an intuitive truth, that a consolidated republican form of
government therein, can never form a perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility,
promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to you and your posterity, for to
these objects it must be directed. This unkindred legislature therefore, composed of interests
opposite and dissimilar in their nature, will in its exercise, emphatically be like a house divided
against itself.
The governments of Europe have taken their limits and form from adventitious circumstances,
and nothing can be argued on the motive of agreement from them; but these adventitious
political principles have nevertheless produced effects that have attracted the attention of
philosophy, which have established axioms in the science of politics therefrom, as irrefragable as
any in Euclid. It is natural, says Montesquieu, to a republic to have only a small territory,
otherwise it cannot long subsist: in a large one, there are men of large fortunes, and consequently
of less moderation; there are too great deposits to trust in the hands of a single subject, an
ambitious person soon becomes sensible that he may be happy, great, and glorious by oppressing
his fellow citizens, and that he might raise himself to grandeur, on the ruins of his country. In
large republics, the public good is sacrificed to a thousand views, in a small one, the interest of
the public is easily perceived, better understood, and more within the reach of every citizen;
abuses have a less extent, and of course are less protected. He also shows you, that the duration
of the republic of Sparta was owing to its having continued with the same extent of territory after
all its wars; and that the ambition of Athens and Lacedemon to command and direct the union,
lost them their liberties, and gave them a monarchy.
From this picture, what can you promise yourselves, on the score of consolidation of the United
States into one government? Impracticability in the just exercise of it, your freedom insecure,
even this form of government limited in its continuance, the employments of your country
disposed of to the opulent, to whose contumely you will continually be an object. You must risk
much, by indispensably placing trusts of the greatest magnitude, into the hands of individuals
whose ambition for power, and aggrandizement, will oppress and grind you. Where, from the
vast extent of your territory, and the complication of interests, the science of government will
become intricate and perplexed, and too mysterious for you to understand and observe; and by
which you are to be conducted into a monarchy, either limited or despotic; the latter, Mr. Locke
remarks, is a government derived from neither nature nor compact.
Political liberty, the great Montesquieu again observes, consists in security, or at least in the
opinion we have of security; and this security, therefore, or the opinion, is best obtained in
moderate governments, where the mildness of the laws, and the equality of the manners, beget a
confidence in the people, which produces this security, or the opinion. This moderation in
governments depends in a great measure on their limits, connected with their political
The extent of many of the states of the Union, is at this time almost too great for the
superintendence of a republican form of government, and must one day or other revolve into
more vigorous ones, or by separation be reduced into smaller and more useful, as well as
moderate ones. You have already observed the feeble efforts of Massachusetts against their
insurgents; with what difficulty did they quell that insurrection; and is not the province of Maine
at this moment on the eve of separation from her? The reason of these things is, that for the
security of the property of the community-in which expressive term Mr. Locke makes life,
liberty, and estate, to consist the wheels of a republic are necessarily slow in their operation.
Hence, in large free republics, the evil sometimes is not only begun, but almost completed,
before they are in a situation to turn the current into a contrary progression. The extremes are
also too remote from the usual seat of government, and the laws, therefore, too feeble to afford
protection to all its parts, and insure domestic tranquility without the aid of another principle. If,
therefore, this state [New York], and that of North Carolina, had an army under their control,
they never would have lost Vermont, and Frankland, nor the state of Massachusetts suffered an
insurrection, or the dismemberment of her fairest district; but the exercise of a principle which
would have prevented these things, if we may believe the experience of ages, would have ended
in the destruction of their liberties.
Will this consolidated republic, if established, in its exercise beget such confidence and
compliance, among the citizens of these states, as to do without the aid of a standing army? I
deny that it will. The malcontents in each state, who will not be a few, nor the least important,
will be exciting factions against it. The fear of a dismemberment of some of its parts, and the
necessity to enforce the execution Of revenue laws (a fruitful source of oppression) on the
extremes and in the other districts of the government, will incidentally and necessarily require a
permanent force, to be kept on foot. Will not political security, and even the opinion of it, be
extinguished? Can mildness and moderation exist in a government where the primary incident in
its exercise must be force? Will not violence destroy confidence, and can equality subsist where
the extent, policy, and practice of it will naturally lead to make odious distinctions among
The people who may compose this national legislature from the southern states, in which, from
the mildness of the climate, the fertility of the soil, and the value of its productions, wealth is
rapidly acquired, and where the same causes naturally lead to luxury, dissipation, and a passion
for aristocratic distinction; where slavery is encouraged, and liberty of course less respected and
protected; who know not what it is to acquire property by their own toil, nor to economize with
the savings of industry-will these men, therefore, be as tenacious of the liberties and interests of
the more northern states, where freedom, independence, industry, equality and frugality are
natural to the climate and soil, as men who are your own citizens, legislating in your own state,
under your inspection, and whose manners and fortunes bear a more equal resemblance to your
It may be suggested, in answer to this, that whoever is a citizen of one state is a citizen of each,
and that therefore he will be as interested in the happiness and interest of all, as the one he is
delegated from. But the argument is fallacious, and, whoever has attended to the history of
mankind, and the principles which bind them together as parents, citizens, or men, will readily
perceive it. These principles are, in their exercise, like a pebble cast on the calm surface of a
river-the circles begin in the center, and are small, active and forcible, but as they depart from
that point, they lose their force, and vanish into calmness.
The strongest principle of union resides within our domestic walls. The ties of the parent exceed
that of any other. As we depart from home, the next general principle of union is amongst
citizens of the same state, where acquaintance, habits, and fortunes, nourish affection, and
attachment. Enlarge the circle still further, and, as citizens of different states, though we
acknowledge the same national denomination, we lose in the ties of acquaintance, habits, and
fortunes, and thus by degrees we lessen in our attachments, till, at length, we no more than
acknowledge a sameness of species. Is it, therefore, from certainty like this, reasonable to
believe, that inhabitants of Georgia, or New Hampshire, will have the same obligations towards
you as your own, and preside over your lives, liberties, and property, with the same care and
attachment? Intuitive reason answers in the negative. . . .

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