A few years back I came into possession of a book called The Anti-Federalists. It was published by
the Regnery Publishing Company in Washington, D.C. I am not even sure at this point where I got it, but it was a treasure I did not fully appreciate at the time. I looked at it when it arrived and thought "I'll hang onto this and read some out of it someday when I get a chance." The "chance" came nine or ten years later, when I started working on this series and realized that, along with the folks I had been quoting who had problems with the Constitution, I needed to begin checking more thoroughly into those people whose problems with it were up close and personal, so to speak. I've noted Patrick Henry's arguments and George Mason's arguments, and agree with both men. Both were giants in their time, and too little appreciated in our day when, thinking we know everything about everything, we fail to realize how little we really know about anything.
Some of the other prominent Anti-Federalists and their cogent writings have hardly been heard of by today's audiences. That's not by accident. It's really too bad some of the Tea Party people have not read nor enunciated what the Anti-Federalists had to say.
Needless to say, the media never mentions these folks, and your "history" books aren't about to either to any meaningful extent. Better for those behind the scenes both yesterday and today if the public at large remains fat, dumb and happy. This particular book I have just mentioned is over 700 pages in length and has an excellent forward by the late Joseph Sobran, a writer I have always admired. While alive, Sobran told truths others were afraid to touch and I have no doubt it harmed his writing career, but he did it anyway because I believe the truth was important to him.
In his forward for The Anti-Federalists Sobran observed:
"The question, of course, was whether the national government could actually be confined to its enumerated powers. And here is where the Anti-Federalists, often ridiculed by their opponents, have been vindicated by history. For the national government has far surpassed the darkest predictions of the Constitution's most pessimistic opponents...Today the national government arbitrarily decides what the Constitution means. It claims a monopoly of interpreting the very document that was intended to restrain it. As Jefferson warned in the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, it has become the sole and final judge of the extent of its own powers. And it has used the prerogative to enlarge those powers to monstrous dimensions."
This proves that the so-called "checks and balances" provided in the Constitution to supposedly restrain the various branches of the national government have not worked. (Were they ever fully intended to?)
One fair segment of Anti-Federalist writing was something called "Letters from the Federal Farmer." There were five of them and they appeared in a New York newspaper from October 1787 through January 1788. At this point they are thought to have been written by a Melancton Smith, who was not only a merchant, but also Alexander Hamilton's staunchest Anti-Federalist opponent during New York's ratifying convention.
In Letter One, Mr. Smith noted the real reason for the Philadelphia Convention when he said:
"Our object has been all along, to reform our federal system, and to strengthen our governments--to establish peace, order and justice in the community--but a new object now presents. The plan of government now proposed is evidently calculated totally to change, in time, our condition as a people. Instead of being thirteen republics, under a federal head, it is clearly designed to make us one consolidated government...This consolidation of the states has been the object of several men in this country for sometime past."
Now there is an interesting statement. It almost sounds as if Smith knew who some of these men were. A cabal?
"A general convention for mere commercial purposes was moved for--the authors of this measure saw that the people's attention was turned solely to the amendment of the federal system; and that, had the idea of a total change been started, probably no state would have appointed members to the convention. The idea of destroying ultimately, the state government, and forming one consolidated system, could not have been admitted--a convention, therefore, merely for vesting in Congress the power to regulate trade was proposed...The states, still unsuspecting, and not aware that they were passing the Rubicon, appointed members to the new convention, for the sole and express purpose of revising and amending the confederation--and, probably, not one man in ten thousand in the United States, till within these ten or twelve days, had an idea that the old ship was to be destroyed, and he put to the alternative of embarking in the new ship presented, or of being left in danger of sinking--The States, I believe, universally supposed the convention would report alterations in the confederation, which would pass an examination in congress, and after being agreed to there, would be confirmed by all the legislatures, or be rejected."
It almost seems, from Smith's comments, that there was a prearranged plan among some of these men to put forth a new consolidated government, under the guise of meeting to reform the Articles of Confederation, because these men knew, should their intent become known ahead of time, most states would simply have refused to take part. It reminds one of a coup. (That couldn't happen here in America, could it?) Smith noted that there were eight or nine men appointed by their states that did not attend, and he considered this a tragedy for the United States, for he said "Had they attended, I am pretty clear that the result of the convention would not have had that strong tendency to aristocracy now discernible in every part of the plan."
And he recapitulated by noting that:
"The plan proposed appears to be partly federal, but principally, however, calculated ultimately to make the states one consolidated government."
In other words, mostly form and no real substance.
No matter how he has to chew it up and spit it back out, Smith comes back, again and again, to the fact that there was a group of men behind this whole thing whose agenda was to form a centralized, consolidated government, a national government with just enough federalism sprinkled over it to fool most men, but not enough to do their consolidation agenda and real harm. So, bit by bit, for over 220 years, we have been fed a consolidated brand of pabulum, laced with political arsenic--not enough to kill us right away, but enough to do away with us somewhere down the road once the arsenic had worked its way into our state systems. Truly, it was a "conspiracy in Philadelphia."
To be continued.
Also see the other parts of this series by Al Benson, Jr.:
| Part 2
| Part 3
| Part 4
| Part 5
| Part 6
| Part 7
| Part 9
| Part 10
| Part 11
| Part 12
| Part 13
| Part 14
If you found this article interesting, you might also like:
What is States' Rights
by Mike Crane
Get US Off the USS Titanic
Excerpt from What is States Rights - Part 6
As a brief recap on the debate concerning the Virginia Plan (See Parts 4 & 5), a model for a
"national" government, Mr. Morris of Pennsylvania clearly explained the difference between a federated and a national government as follows:
Mr. Govr. Morris explained the distinction between a federal and national, supreme, Govt.; the former being a mere compact resting on the good faith of the parties; the latter having a compleat and compulsive operation. He contended that in all Communities there must be one supreme power, and one only.
Now let's look at the continuing debate to further clarify the actions of the Framer's of the Constitution of The United States.
who took his seat today, admitted that the Confederation had not given sufficient power to Congs. and that additional powers were necessary; particularly that of raising money which he said would involve many other powers. He admitted also that the General & particular jurisdictions ought in no case to be concurrent.
Mr. Sherman is basically agreeing with Mr. Morris in that the General (central government) and particular (State governments) jurisdictions should not be concurrent. But all delegates were not of a like mind on this issue. What follows is an effort or parliamentary move to remove the word "national."
It was moved by Mr. Read,2 2ded. by Mr. Chs. Cotesworth Pinkney, to postpone the 3d. proposition last offered by Mr. Randolph viz that a national Government ought to be established consisting of a supreme Legislative Executive and Judiciary, in order to take up the following,—viz. "Resolved that in order to carry into execution the Design of the States in forming this Convention, and to accomplish the objects proposed by the Confederation a more effective Government consisting of a Legislative, Executive and Judiciary, ought to be established."
Mr. Read moved and seconded by Mr. Pinkney to replace the word "national" with "effective" and eliminate the word "supreme."
In other words he is clearly stating that the problems of the Articles of Confederation can be fixed without resorting to a totally new form of government, specifically that a "national" or "consolidated" government was not required. Mr. Pinkney also urged his fellow delegates to return to their charter, to propose amendments to the Articles of Confederation.
The motion to postpone for this purpose was lost:
Yeas Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, S. Carolina—4 Nays. N. Y. Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina—4. (4-4-0)
On the question as moved by Mr. Butler, on the third proposition it was resolved in Committee of whole that a national governt. ought to be established consisting of a supreme Legislative Executive & Judiciary,—Massts. being ay—Connect.—no. N. York divided (Col. Hamilton ay Mr. Yates no) Pena ay. Delaware ay. Virga. ay. N. C. ay. S. C. ay. (6-1-1)
But let me summarize what these two votes mean in very simple terms:
The Virginia Plan was submitted as an initial draft or model. It was a plan for a national or consolidated government. A motion was made to lay this plan side and instead work toward an effective government, rather than a national government.
This motion to lay aside failed by a tie vote (4-4).
The delegates then voted to affirm the draft model of a national or consolidated government (6-1-1).
In the very early days of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the delegates, the framers of the Constitution made a deliberate and conscious decision to discontinue a federated form of government and to replace it … let me emphasize … REPLACE IT … with a national form of government in their deliberations.
Let me summarize what this means for the concept of States Rights …
By the votes of May 30, 1787 the framers of the Constitution began debating the ultimate elimination of States Rights! The concept of States Rights is mutually exclusive with the concept of a national or consolidated government as clearly explained ("…the latter having a compleat and compulsive operation …") by Gov. Morris.
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