Anti-Federalists: Conclusion

While I was planning on continuing to read Anti-Federalist essays and summarize them for you, I’ve decided to take a break from the series indefinitely. There were several reasons for this which I’ll briefly describe before wrapping up the series.

The first reason was that I was using Herbert Storing’s The Complete Anti-Federalist as a reading guide. The work is a very significant piece of scholarship that is hard to access without using a university or government library. I utilized the table of contents as a guide to finding the works, which was easy when I was dealing with major essayists from the period. However, moving towards some of the more esoteric works in later volumes, it became evident that reconstructing the source material from this collection would be difficult to impossible. Several essays in the “Pennsylvania” collection cannot be found on the internet and according to some scholarly reviews of The Complete Anti-Federalist, Storing’s collection is the easiest way to find them. It seems that completing the reading of the source material of this text would require purchasing a copy, which, for a PDF costs $500 and for a hard copy costs several thousand dollars.

The second reason is that The Complete Anti-Federalist is not nearly as complete as the title would suggest. Even if I were to finish all of the essays in the collection, there would still be many other essays & documents I would need to read in order to totally understand the period. Included in this are mud-slinging essays which are now very obscure, and seemingly impossible to find, but would be hilarious and fun to read and link in these essays. The potential scholarship in this field could easily earn someone a Ph.D in history. I’m not particular interested and committing to that level of task.

The third reason is that I have, at this point, read and written about the most important works, I have examined the best and most common arguments and there is not much more to be gained in understanding the stances the Anti-Federalists took. I’ve largely come to the same conclusions as historians have about the nature of Anti-Federalism.

So for all of those reasons, I am going to be ending the Anti-Federalist series here. The major arguments that I’ve seen that are worth remembering are: a lack of Bill of Rights, a tendency towards centralization, and poorly checked federal power. The first argument was remedied just a few years later. The other two are ones that I feel history has proven were correct fears that should have been more adequately remedied at the time.

However, I will agree with Brutus when he argues that ultimately the success of a republic comes down to the quality of the people within it. As we have let government become an aristocracy of lawyers and rent-seekers, freedom has lowered, government power has risen and eventually become inept at its basic functions. The anarcho-tyranny we suffer under is a symptom of this illness.

Hopefully this series has helped you to understand some of the arguments surrounding America’s founding better. For reference, here is an index of my posts:

Part 1: Elbridge Gerry & George Mason 

Part 2: Robert Yates, John Lansing, Luther Martin & Edmund Randolph

Part 3: Cato

Part 4: Centinel

Part 5: Federal Farmer

Part 6: Brutus

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