The legacy of colonial religious and political ideas

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The legacy of colonial religious and political ideas

The Anti-Federalists who opposed ratification of the Constitution have not fared well among American historians and politicalscientists. Nothing reveals more starkly the near-complete disinterest in Anti-Federalist thought than a bibliographical check of books and essays on the Constitution and the American political tradition published since the late nineteenth century.

Resource: The Western Tradition

The noted historian, Cecelia M. Americans love an underdog, but not a loser. Then they promptly vanished from the American political scene, never to be seen again.


The possibility that such a spasmodic event as Anti-Federalism could have exerted any lasting influence on the American political tradition seemed remote The legacy of colonial religious and political ideas. Added to this, their ideas and insights, even their prophesies, most of them scattered in old newspapers and recondite pamphlets, were soon forgotten.

Lacking the organization and leadership of their opponents, the Anti-Federalists failed to produce a political or constitutional treatise that could match the appeal and substance of The Federalist. When Ford published his modest collection of Anti-Federalist Pamphlets on the Constitution inthere were already twenty-nine editions of The Federalist extant, the first dating all the way back to To appreciate the original meaning and purpose of the Constitution, and virtually every clause in it, generations of Americans had worshiped The Federalist like hot gospel.

This was not evident at first, for the Anti-Federalists emerged from the struggle over ratification with a commitment from the Federalists to add a bill of rights to the Constitution. As the defenders of State sovereignty, strict construction, and decentralization, the Anti-Federalists achieved these ends, and more, inwhen the Bill of Rights was adopted.

But the Bill of Rights was the only victory of the Anti-Federalists in their campaign to clarify and limit the new Federal power—achieved, ironically enough, after they had disbanded and gone home. Fortunately, this picture is changing, and there has been a noticeable resurgence of interest in Anti-Federalist thought since Professor Kenyon delivered her requiem.

Bradford went one step further in his Original Intentions, which persuasively argues that the original understanding of the Constitution derives not simply from the collective intent of the delegates to the Federal Convention, but also from the multifaceted intentions of those who participated in the State ratifying conventions.

More recently, Christopher M. Duncan, a political scientist at Mississippi State, has challenged many of the popular misconceptions about Anti-Federalism in his work on The Anti-Federalists and Early American Political Thoughtwhich contends, much in the tradition of John Taylor of Caroline, that the Anti-Federalists were the true representatives of the American Revolution.

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But what of the legacy of Anti-Federalism after all the shouting stopped and the country returned to business as usual under the newly adopted Constitution?

It has commonly been assumed that the Anti-Federalist heartbeat dropped off the screen, ratification of the Constitution signaling the last blip.

From tohowever, when the Federalists enjoyed a monopoly of power and controlled all three branches of the central government, there were faint yet familiar Anti-Federalist murmurs of discontent-declamations against consolidation, inordinate executive and judicial power, and alleged encroachments on the reserved powers of the States.

As Saul Cornell amply demonstrates in this well-written, carefully researched study of the Anti-Federalist mind, the Anti-Federalists continued to influence political and constitutional debate in the new republic well into the nineteenth century.

To a very great extent, it was the Anti-Federalists, through their rhetoric and writings, who kept alive the spirit of localism and salvaged the great ideal of limited government inherited from the Revolution.

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The Other Founders is thus a fresh and much-welcomed reinterpretation of the role played by Anti-Federalism in the evolution of a dissenting tradition of political and constitutional thought that extends down to the present. Unfortunately, the scope of the book is arbitrarily limited to a period of just forty years.

The first part of the study covers the public debate over the adoption of the Constitution in and the wide-ranging varieties of constitutional thought expressed in prominent Anti-Federalist tracts.

The final section of tins important study discusses the evolution of a dissenting tradition of constitutionalism based on Anti-Federalist ideas in the period As the reader will recall, the Federal Convention of was held in secrecy, and public knowledge of the intent of the Framers was, for more than three decades, limited to the wording of the document, hearsay, and fragmentary references to some of the debates that were occasionally uttered by a few of the delegates who sat in the Convention.

The legacy of colonial religious and political ideas

In keeping with the rule of secrecy they had agreed upon, Madison and the other delegates who recorded the proceedings declined to publish their notes, and the only original sources available besides the Constitution itself were scattered proceedings of a few State ratifying conventions.

None of the Anti-Federalist pamphlets were reprinted, and interested parties were compelled to rely almost exclusively on the essays in The Federalist for an understanding of the reasoning behind many provisions of the Constitution.

All of this changed, as Cornell properly notes, when Congress broke the secrecy agreement and ordered publication of the Convention Journal in Taking these materials, and comparing them with interpretations of the Constitution offered by Publius inJohn Taylor quickly produced his New Views of the Constitution, an analysis of the early debates in Philadelphia contending rather persuasively that The Federalist was a politically biased work that favored more consolidation than the Framers had agreed upon.

The discriminating reader will find, however, that the book falls somewhat short of expectation. Anti-Federalism was a continuation of the debate that began in the Continental Congress, if not earlier. It exerted a powerful force in the Convention and was not, as this study seems to imply, an entirely new theory of government that suddenly erupted during the ratification struggle.

Cornell is an Assistant Professor of History at Ohio State University whose scholarly attributes, as this book indicates, are considerable. Like so many members of his profession, however, he has a proclivity to report events, assemble facts, and describe the political literature of the period without actually examining the merits of a particular work, let alone taking a stand.

Objectivity is a virtue, but carried to an extreme is more likely to produce superficiality than superior scholarship. The author dutifully profiles the basic principles embodied in these documents—the compact theory of the union, nullification, and State sovereignty—but never pauses to examine their substantive content or venture an informed opinion as to their accuracy or merit.

In short, the reader will finish this book with barely a clue about the validity of Anti-Federalism. Goldwater and SDS both grappled with the structure of power within an increasingly centralized federal system.The Anti-Federalists who opposed ratification of the Constitution have not fared well among American historians and political, scientists.

their ideas and insights, even their prophesies, most of them scattered in old newspapers and recondite pamphlets, were soon forgotten.

The legacy of colonial religious and political ideas

But what of the legacy of Anti-Federalism after all the. Polybius expanded on many of these ideas, mostly from the surviving religious texts. These texts do refer to a number of states having Gaṇa sangha, or council-based, Aspects of Political Ideas and Institutions in Ancient .

Nov 22,  · Religious freedom was a basis of America, at least for. Politics & Society History War and Military History American Revolution How did the legacy of colonial religious and political ideas.

For hundreds of years, Western ideas of progress and prosperity have been underpinned by colonial exploitation and the withdrawal of basic rights from others. Our own time, Salcedo is keen to remind us, remains defined by the existence of a huge socially excluded underclass, in Western as well as post-colonial societies.

The legacy of colonial religious and political ideas (92) 6. Analyze the contributions of TWO of the following in helping establish a stable government after the adoption of the.

Parliamentary Taxation The legacy of colonial religious and political ideas British military measures Restrictions of Civil Liberty Some say that the Revolution was destined to happen ever since Settlers set foot on this continent, others argue that it would not have happened if it weren't for a set of issues that finally drove the colonists to revolt.

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