Founding Documents: The Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers
Civics. Wanna one is supported in part by the corporation for public broadcasting. He did you ever have to write one of those what I did over my summer vacation essays in grade school. Yeah. All the time. In fact, my find is summer vacations playing Sam GAM gay in an eight hour production award rings. I wasn't expecting that. That is that's really that's ambitious. But still your thing is not as ambitious as designing a, you know, new system of government. Yeah. Nowhere near as in businesses that now right because that's totally insane. You can't pull that off in four months. And yet that is how we got our current system of government a bunch of guys in the stifling, heat and Philadelphia in this airless room with the windows nailed shut in the middle of the summer wrote our constitution in four months, and then they stepped outside and showed the world there. You know, what I did on my summer vacation essay by say, you mean the constitute? Listen, I do. The delegates to the convention publish their constitution in newspapers throughout the thirteen states, and they were probably hoping for pretty positive response. But that is not what they got a mere ten days after the constitution is signed. I mean, the ink is barely dry on this thing. Some guy named Kato rates this audit, basically saying, I know that it's really exciting that this new constitution was signed by people like George Washington. But just be careful about it. It might not be all it's cracked up to be what someone's already constitution bashing. What is this Kato guy? No, who is Kato anyways has even read the constitution. Well, he has. But before we get into that introductions. I am Hannah McCarthy DJ, and this is civics one. Oh one and today, we are diving into one of the most high stakes eloquent intense public battles in the history of the United States. It's the battle that pitted. The pro constitution federalists against the anti-constitution, anti federalists. And it sounds like the whole thing started with this guy named Kato. It did indeed the op-ed that launched a thousand ships as far as who Kato is. And what he actually knows. We're not totally sure about that. It's most likely George Clinton, the governor of New York, but it could also be this New York politician, John Williams, whoever it is he almost certainly did not attend the constitutional convention or Takeda's assume them, correct. It's referring to a politician in ancient Rome who killed himself because he didn't wanna live in Julius Caesar's. New government Kato was all about defending the Roman Republic. That is a little on the nose Kato saying he'd rather die than live under this new constitution. Bingo at the time. Most educated men would have picked up on the symbolism of this the name. Kato had actually been used to. Critique the British government in the past. Okay. So the framers are a bunch of classics nerds, I can appreciate that. I think it's kind of endearing, but why New York this as gets published in New York, it's written by New York. Politician, New York, what's your damage? Well, New York is not super happy with the new constitution of the three delegates. They send to the constitutional convention to walk out only Alexander Hamilton stayed behind. But he's pretty thrilled with the constitution. A lot of New York. Congressman do not feel the same way. They do not want to see the state's consolidated under this one powerful central government. And they really don't believe that the constitution can guaranteed equal and permanent liberty like its proponents claim. So who's writing the op-ed four exactly the whole KEDO Roman Republic metaphor seems like pretty inside baseball like your average farmer. Probably doesn't know what's being referenced here. You know, the average farmer is not who Kato is speaking to right now. The constitution is only a piece of paper with a bunch of ideas. It doesn't carry any real power and Kato wants to stop that power from happening altogether. So he's talking to the guys in charge. Yeah. Politicians delegates white literate men. Of course, those are the ones who were at the constitutional convention. Those were the ones who are going to be in the ratifying conventions. This is Claire Griffin. She's a former government and history teacher, and a consultant and civic education. Like, she said, the Cato letter is addressed to the people who will be voting on whether or not to ratify the constitution nine out of thirteen states have to ratify in order for the constitution to go into effect. And the Cato letter is the first of many many op-eds criticizing the constitution while they were series of about a hundred and fifty articles written by by literally dozens of opponents to the constitution. These were published not just in New York. But in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, again, kind of the same timeframe September seventy eighty seven through December seventeen eighty eight and their purpose was to dissuade the delegates to the ratifying conventions from supporting the constitution. Just. Nope. They had a Brutus a sentinel. They had an old wig. And that's W H I G collectively these writers were known as the anti. By federalists. And these were really smart men with really, well, informed ideas. All right. So being an anti-federalist doesn't make you unreasonable or post government of any kind necessarily. Now did all before we go on. I should almost apologize for calling them anti federalist because nobody wants to be called anti anything. And that name anti-federalist actually came from the federalist to describe their opponents. And because history is often written by the victors the name anti federalists has stuck and we'll use that in our conversation. They would have called themselves. Pro Republicans we publican with a small are we what does she mean? By that small are Republicans. Oh, what she means is as opposed to the big are Republican party small are Republicans are just in favor of a Republic. Which most basically is a government where power rests with the people there anti federalists. Because they're not thrilled with strict federalism, which is basically a centralized federal government that works with smaller state and local governments the anti federalists would prefer government closer to the articles of confederation with it's really weak central government. And plenty of state power of the guys who are writing what we call the anti-federalist papers. They wouldn't have actually call themselves into federalist, right? No, no way. Their opponents gave them that label which is actually a pretty strong PR move calling a group anti anything. It just makes them seem negative. And in this case the other group of guys calls themselves. The federalists the anti-federalists probably would have called them. The anti little are Republicans is a win to the federalists actually enter the fight so far. We've just got this op-ed by Kato. Yeah. It's actually quite a while before the anti. Lists make their move. The little are Republicans have published Twenty-one statements by the time we hear from the pro constitution guys which I found pretty surprising because when I learned about this time period in school. I learned about the federalists the federalists were this big deal. These guys who explained the constitution. And I'm almost certain that I didn't read a single anti-federalist paperback then and yet they were the ones who kicked everything off. We might not have the federalist papers as we know them today without the anti federalists. I'm guessing the pro-constitution framers get to a point where they're like. All right enough. We can't let this go anymore. These guys are killing us with bad press. Exactly. And they're not just in New York anymore. Kato inspired critics and other states as well. But the soon to be capital F federalists aren't just sitting there twiddling their thumbs. While all of this is going on they're making plans, and then on Tober, twenty-seventh it happens. The first federalist essay hits the presses of New York paper. Number one, did the very first one written by Alexander Hamilton in which he's laying out the case for a new constitution. Something to replace the articles of confederation federalist one otherwise known as Pugliese one. Who is? Yes. Yes. It's a silly sounding name Pugliese was a guy in ancient Rome who helped to overthrow the monarchy and create the Republic of the people that is a clever move by Hamilton right 'cause Cato kick things off the name that's in defense of the Republic. And then Hamilton comes back at him. Like, no way, man. You got this all wrong. I'm the guy who establishes a Representative government. I'm the guy gives power to the people. You must be the other guy. What I love about that Bush number one is that Hamilton B, I should have stacked that the American people now have a chance to make decisions to create a government based on reflection and choice, not accident and force. Meanwhile, and anti-federalist calling himself John DeWitt publishes in Massachusetts. He reads, the constitution, and what he sees is this permanent document that will never change. He basically. Don't let them fool you. That amendment. Clause is useless. Congress has never going to achieve that three fourths majority. They're talking about because that would require too many people to agree. He calls it an absolute impossibility. It's interesting because we know that the constitution does end up getting amended, but back then there must have been so much anxiety about this new system of government. How could they possibly know? It was going to work out the anti-federalist just saying, hey, we can't take this gigantic radical leap into a brand new system, especially one that throws us into a stronger government. We just escaped a stronger government. Right. And the federalists were saying, look, we have got to beef up the federal government because the way that it is. Now is a disaster. We got it wrong. We went too far toward a government of the people. It is too divided. So the first anti-federalist drops in LA. Late September Pugliese one arrives about a month later, and it says, okay? So we've heard some concerns we are going to write a series of essays that are going to answer all your questions about this new constitution. This is Cheryl cook Kallio who's a former teacher and former council member in Pleasanton, California. And then he and John Jay and Madison methodically went through every single thing that was concerning and try to answer those questions in eighty five essays eighty five hour, we're gonna get through eighty-five essays in one episode, actually, it's probably more than eighty-five because when you lump in the anti federalists. And a few other things written at the time, you're really looking at closer two hundred forty plus articles. But don't despair the point of this episode is to get a sense of what this fight actually looked like what were the arguments for and against this nation changing document. And how did the federalists approach to these ads help their game? They were put in a collection, and they started to disseminate that collection throughout the colonies. And again in contrast to the anti-federalists that were very much individual essays that were now written in defense of their position. So the federalists are working together guys like Kato and Buddhists and the old whig are just coming at it from their own individual perspectives. The anti-federalists were certainly sharing their opinions with one another. But it wasn't a unified front the way that it was with Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, and John J J by the way, wasn't at the constitutional convention, but he was a powerful New Yorker and secretary of foreign affairs under the articles of confederation. So while the anti-federalists comprised over a dozen different authors and pseudonyms those three federalists published. Only publiz there were certainly other pro-constitution people writing op EDS, but it was Pugliese who shown the brightest. Do you think that's part of the reason why the federalist ended up being successful, you know, in my opinion? Yes. And I base this on a on a couple of things one is that Hamilton and Madison in particular were planners. They had written out their justifications for particular things, even before they would get into the constitutional convention. They would have the ammunition. They needed to support something. Also, I think Madison James Madison in particular is a pragmatist. He knew that there needed to be a different type of government. He knew that under the articles confederation. The government was way too weak to survive. And he was prepared to do what he needed to do to get a different structure in place. You listen to civics wanna one because you're looking for accessible and credible information about how our demain. Macher ac- was created and how it works as fans of the show. We think you'll enjoy the great courses. Plus, it's a streaming service where you can learn about virtually anything, you can do all those deep dives into topics that you've always wanted to know more about in history, politics, human behaviour, science business travel. 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Start your free trial today. Go to the great courses plus dot com slash civics. That's the great courses plus dot com slash civics. Here is another agreed upon favourite that shed some real light this one is by James Madison than actually a lot of the favorites. Are by James, Madison. I do like federalists ten I think that Madison was right when he said that factions are bad, but their inevitable, and that the only way to mitigate these factions is to balance them out Madison published federalist ten on November twenty second. This is after anti-federalists like Kato expressed concerns about this centralized congress with so many different special interests. Basically, he was saying how is the government going to get anything done with this system? It'll be a house divided. It'll be useless. Just a bunch of factions Madison has to prove that the new system of government is actually the best way to deal with factions. But what did medicine actually mean by factions like political parties well back in the day, the US? Didn't really have the party system the way that it looks today. So it'd be less party factions and more like opposed special interest groups and Madison's biggest concern was over the special interest groups who would fight against what was best for everybody. A good example back then would have been slave owners versus abolitionists here's Clara again, he's writing about the bandages of a large Republic again Republic with a small are where individuals choose their elected representatives, political philosophers before Madison were pretty certain that a Republic would only work in a small geographically small area with a fairly homogeneous population. And Madison says just the opposite. He set up be public works best when the territory is large and expand it, and when there are so many different interests and groups he used the word faction that all. All these different interest groups offset each other, no minority is persecuted against no Mudge already ever has complete sway Madison. Also focuses on the economy in federalist ten and at this point in history. The US economy is really not doing so hot. He describes unequal property distribution with some people having everything in some people having nothing, and this he says can create factions to the wealthy versus the poor his large Republic where you've got a congress representing the many scattered views of the common people will work to balance this out. It seems like Madison and the other federalists are going to have an answer for every concern the anti-federalist put their way. Yeah, they pretty much do. And a big part of defending the constitution is explaining the constitution. Like when anti-federalist Brutus argues that the supreme court would be quote exalted above all other power in the government and subject to no control. And Hamilton is like, okay, let me break it down for you number seventy eight Alexander Hamilton, again is writing about the importance of the independent judiciary. And I'm not sure whether or not he really believed it, but he said that of the three branches the judiciary would be the weakest. He said they have neither the fourth of the sword nor the pen the idea being they have no way to enforce what their judgment is and the also emphasized that they were called upon to exercise judgment about laws, but not will as in. They are not the lawmakers. So when you hear discussions about activist judges or judicial overreach or even questions about your digital review today Hamilton raising those questions back in seventeen eighty eight. And then there's the president the anti-federalists looked at article to and they were not happy with what they saw. I would imagine the anti federalists are looking at the role of the president thinking. This looks mighty familiar. Yep. But the federalists believed that there is a very good reason for this executive power number seventy written by Alexander Hamilton, this is where he writes about the importance of energy in the executive branch. The right is of the constitution. We're looking at the immediate past history. When we were governed under the articles of confederation one of the major weaknesses of the government under the articles. There was no chief executive and so- Hamilton whom some. Some have called a monarchist which I think is unfair Hamilton was arguing for a strong executive individual and a strong executive branch and the executive branch that's laid out in the constitution. Doesn't say all that much about putting check on this new executive the anti federalists feared that between veto power. Pardon power. You'd end up with a president who could bend the nation to his will. Well, if you look, you know, throughout American history, we've had a series of very strong executive, and usually it's in times of crisis. But is a strong executive the best for our nation. You know, and the anti-federalist would say, you know, no, that's not such a good idea. You know, the federalists were arguing generally in favor of a large government or lease a government larger than that which had existed prior, and certainly big government can do great and wonderful things. But the anti-federalist were saying well, not so fast. Maybe we don't want a huge government bureaucracy. So it's kind of interesting you could say that the federalist were successful. You know, they got their desired outcome. The constitution was ratified and the federalist papers have become integral to our understanding. Of our founding. However, if you look at the anti-federalist giving some of the questions and concerns that that they raise then they're still with us today. We may decide that after all they ended up having the last laugh. A really interesting point the federalist one. So that's the history that counts. Right. And we look to the federalist papers to better understand the constitution. And that makes them an amazing resource. But it does seem like the anti-federalists are raising valid points. Absolutely. And remember the anti federalists are posing a real threat, first of all these essays are public. So if you can read, and you don't like what you're reading about this proposed constitution, you might just give your Representative and ear full down at the tavern or doubt on the street, or after church, and then there's the fact that some of these anti federalists are going to be voting on whether or not to adopt the constitution. So they have a very real say in the future of the country and on top of all that the constitution only needs the support of nine states to be ratified. Right. But that means that as many as four. Dates could choose not to ratify and potentially even sever ties with the new nation. So no more union union over in the country ends up being the very failure. That so many framers were anxious to prevent so the federalists do have to listen to the anti-federalists to an extent and not just to calm their fears or do damage control with Antiphon op-eds, right? The constitution is up for a vote in ratifying conventions across the country and some states like Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey. They're quick to ratify. They do it in December of seventeen eighty seven. But the op-eds don't stop the federalists and anti federalists are still battling it out into the spring and then into the summer of seventeen eighty eight because there are a lot of very loud dissenters, arguing that the constitution is illegal under the articles of confederation. That it's a document written by wealthy upper class people to benefit their own interests that it deprives states of their. Individual rights in favor of this big central government. How do the federalist reconcile that issue is it sounds like anti-federalists are all about states having sovereignty and looking out for their own and making their own choices. So how can the federalists make this big government remotely appealing to them? Well, Madison does dig into that by explaining how in broad terms. This government is going to work here's Cheryl again when he's trying to explain it one of the things he says this is a quote from federalists thirty nine in its foundation. It is sterile not national in the sources from which the ordinary powers of government are drawn. It is partly federal and partly national in the operation of these powers. It is national not federal in the extent of them. Again, it is steadily not national and finally in the authoritative mode. Introducing amendments it is neither holy federal or holy national. Now that's enough to make anybody's is cross two or three times. It sounds like double speak. Yeah. I really don't understand what Madison is talking about is. He canceling out his own argument. And what does he mean by federal versus national aren't they the same thing when you deconstruct the paragraph? It really does illustrate the nature of federalism. Sometimes the states are in charge, sometimes the national governments in charge, and sometimes the federal government, which is the combination of the two is in charge, and these things change depending on the circumstance, he would then go on to say that this is really a check this idea that you have state power that doesn't belong to the federal government. An example of this. Police powers that's a state power. There's a number of things like that. And sometimes the lines are blurred. And sometimes they're not. All right. So in other words, Madison is saying look this strong federal government. It is not designed to deprive states of all power, sometimes the states get to decide and sometimes the federal government gets to decide sometimes they decide together. Right. He's saying this document is not as extreme as these anti federalists are making it out to be don't worry, you'll retain some states rights. Of course, that doesn't adjust the little problem of the federal government being at the top of the food chain. And the anti-federalists are like we're afraid of tyranny. Remember, and this constitution doesn't say anything about protecting the little guy. You can't just kind of vaguely say don't worry individual citizens. You'll be fine. The anti-federalist want this in writing. Okay. I've been waiting for this. This is the big old glaring omission in the constitution of seventeen eighty seven. And we're talking about the Bill of rights. Where's that Bill writes? That is exactly what the anti federalists were saying where is the Bill of rights. It might seem like a no brainer for us. But at the time the federalists were like, no, no, no. We don't need to add anything to the constitution. It's overkill. It's redundant. The last federalist paper, which is probably significant for what it argues against not. What it argues in favour of is number eighty four in which Hamilton argues against a Bill of rights now today for us in the twenty first century, a Bill of rights is sacrosanct. It's right up there with the declaration in the constitution. It is one of the founding documents. It's hard for us to understand. How could we not have a Bill of rights? But if you look at Hamilton's arguments, they could be pretty persuasive. Humiliations main argument was that there's protection kind of built into the constitution already. The federal government only has the powers that are laid out in the constitution. And this idea of making a list of what the government is not allowed to do to individuals or two states. Well, Hamilton says if you start listing them at all you've got to list all of them. And by the way, you're bound to forget something. And if it doesn't end up on the list. Well, the government might have the power to impose it. All. Right. So I know we've been saying the. Federalists lost the war, but they did win. This battle big time. At the end of the federalist anti-federalist saga. We are going to have a constitution. But I the anti federalists need a little something. Actually, they need. Ten little something's ten somethings that will change the course of history and come to me and everything to the American people in a last ditch effort to save the union. Our civil liberties will be born. But how does it happen? How insane hill? Does it happen? Nick next time on civics one to one. Thanks for joining us for another installment of our foundational document series. Here uncivil one one this episode was produced by me Hannah McCarthy with Nick capita J or stuff includes Jackie Hilbert, Daniela, dull Lee and been Henry Erica Janik is our executive producer. Maureen McMurray is that other glaring emission from the US constitution. We could only cover so many federalists and anti federalists thoughts in this episode, but we've got links to plenty more on our website civics one a one podcast dot org music. In this episode by keen, SaaS Moreira, blue dot sessions and Jasar civics. Wanna one is a production of HP our New Hampshire public radio.