Writing this blog is good for me because it "forces" me to write something on a regular basis. In order to have something to write, I need to gather ideas, decide what I think about them, and then actually put my thoughts into words.
Today I've been thinking about the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. The Federalists were those who wrote and supported the Constitution, which called for a strong central government. The Anti-Federalists opposed a strong central government.
The supporters recognized that the Constitution was a very important experiment in popular government. They knew that a vote against it in the state ratifying conventions could destroy it. They were particularly concerned about some of the more populated states, especially New York whose governor, George Clinton, opposed the Constitution.
There was good reason for the Federalists to be concerned: The Constitution was being attacked in the New York City press in a series of essays signed "Cato." These essays by "Cato" became The Anti-Federalist Papers. The Anti-Federalists had a number of concerns about this new kind of government. They were concerned that there was no bill of rights: there was nothing written to protect the individual. They were concerned that the states would lose sovereignty. They were concerned about direct taxation. Many charged that the Constitution was written by aristocratic men who just wanted more power. Some of the newspaper articles were about imagined horrors that would come about under the Constitution.
Alexander Hamilton could see that the essays by "Cato" were having some effects on the minds of the people. He decided to accept the challenge to win over his home state and began writing essays about the Constitution, explaining and defending it. He wrote under the pseudonym of "Publius," and his essays were also published in the New York City newspapers. They became The Federalist Papers.
Hamilton was joined in his endeavor by John Jay and James Madison. Between the three men, they eventually wrote eighty-five essays. John Jay penned five of The Federalist Papers, and Hamilton wrote most of the remaining eighty with some assistance from Madison.
The Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787. By January 9, 1788, five of the nine states necessary for ratification had approved the Constitution - Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, and Connecticut. There were some concerns about some of the states such as Massachusetts, New York, and Virginia and whether they would ratify.
Massachusetts ratified by a vote of 187-168 on February 6 after Federalists agreed to add amendments or a bill of rights. South Carolina accepted the Constitution in May. New Hampshire ratified in July to become the ninth state.
Virginia and then New York ratified within the next two months, thanks largely to the efforts of Madison and Hamilton in their home states. The margin between Federalists and Anti-Federalists in both states was very narrow. Hamilton thought that the majority of people in New York and maybe the entire country opposed the Constitution. The only thing that ensured a Federalist victory was the promise of amendments, ensuring the rights of the people and the states.
North Carolina and Rhode Island ratified after George Washington was inaugurated as our first president. Thus, we can see that the "battle" to establish our Constitution continued long after the Constitutional Convention was over.
PatriotPost.com attributes this statement to W. E. Gladstone: "As the British Constitution is the most subtle organism which has proceeded from the womb and long gestation of progressive history, so the American Constitution is, so far as I can see, the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man."
Is it any wonder, then, that we consider the United States Constitution to be divinely inspired?