09 May 2015

Constitution Ratified

The Anti-Federalists by Jackson Main, 1961, Edited Excerpts

1787-88: ratification by nine states. Since the Federalists were a minority in at least six and probably seven states, they ought surely to have been defeated. Yet they came from behind to win. Wealth and position supported the Constitution. Lower ranking army officers and men of lesser economic and social distinction tended to be Antifederal; doctors were to be found on both sides.

The Antifederalists asserted that the Constitution created a consolidated government, and if this were so, the members of the Philadelphia Convention had violated their instructions. The convention had acted illegally. If the Antifederalists had dominated the Philadelphia Convention, the government of the nation would have continued to be a confederation of sovereign states, and the democratic principle of local self-government would have been emphasized.

The pro-Constitution attitude of the newspapers was undoubtedly important. The number of papers which opposed ratification or even of those which presented both sides impartially was very few. This was natural, for the city people were overwhelmingly Federal, and the printers were influenced by local opinion as well as by their own convictions; moreover, it was profitable to agree with the purchasers and the advertisers.

The Federalist domination of news coverage permitted them not only to obtain more space for their own publications but to conceal or distort the facts. The objections of the Antifederalists were sometimes twisted so as to make them appear foolish; at other times it was denied that there was any opposition at all to the Constitution.

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