The Home of American Intellectual Conservatism — First Principles

December 14, 2018

Focusing on the Anti-Federalists on "Bill of Rights Day"
Bill Kauffman Gary L. Gregg II - 12/15/10

As today is “Bill of Rights Day,” perhaps it is worthwhile to focus on the Anti-Federalists, who, through their objections and efforts, greatly influenced the events that led to the inclusion of the Bill of Rights.

With this in mind, why not draw attention to the following question: were the Anti-Federalists right to oppose the Constitution?

Gary Gregg and Bill Kauffman debated this question last year at the University of Colorado.

Regarding the signing of the Constitution, Gregg states: “There are particular times, there are particular moments in world history when great things, and good things are possible. This was one of those moments. I submit to you that the Anti-Federalists would have doomed our nation to lope along for decades if they would have rejected the Constitution. For this summer of 1787 may well have been the only real chance we had for the only kind of . . . conservative and reformed constitutionalism that we so needed.”

Kauffman responds by defending the Anti-Federalists and their contributions, noting that they “stood for decentralism, local solutions, anti-militarism, and a deep suspicion of far-off governments. And they stood on what they stood for, local attachments, local knowledge.”

To see these statements fleshed out, click here.

Learn more about Anti-Federalist Luther Martin from Bill Kauffman by buying his book Forgotten Founder, Drunken Prophet: A Life of Luther Martin (ISI Books).

To learn more about the Constitution, visit the ISI short course on the American Experience .

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