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The Anti-Federalist Papers and the Constitutional Convention Debates

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4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  2,742 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
The dissenting opinions of Patrick Henry and others who saw the Constitution as a threat to our hard-won rights and liberties.

Edited and introduced by Ralph Ketcham.
Paperback, 480 pages
Published May 6th 2003 by Signet (first published October 7th 1986)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Rebecca
Jan 09, 2009 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
After you read the federalist papers it is so mind blowing to read the counter arguments. Both are such a study in government and propaganda. Again, I would recommend reading these essays over any american history text book to anyone that wants to really understand our government. They are facinating.
Tony
Feb 27, 2007 Tony rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
I enjoy this even more than the federalist papers, really interesting to anyone who cares about politics or the nature of political thought in this country. This is where it all started.
Kevin
Aug 12, 2012 Kevin rated it did not like it
Shelves: horrible
I picked up the Federalist Papers with a thirst for the wisdom of men who understood freedom. Even though I accidently ordered two editions of the book the vast volume of the wisdom I was going to partake made this seem almost trifle.

As I began to read, I began to realize that there was no wisdom in what I was reading, that it was old propaganda written by an evil man. The descriptions of the Federalist Papers contained in the beginning and their history is all you will need for once you start r
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Jacob Aitken
Overall it is hit and miss. Ketcham gives a VERY detailed review of the Constitutional Convention (180 pages). If you have read The Federalist Papers then you can probably skip it. He does provide a fine annotated bibliography at the end (this is one of those things that separates good books from great ones).

Summarizing the Anti-Federalist Position

(1) It is agreed that the Articles were defective, but that does not logically prove that the new Constitution is good (Melancton Smith).

(2) The probl
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trivialchemy
Jun 08, 2007 trivialchemy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I would argue that the anti-Federalists' papers are more important than those of the Federalists. I predicate this on the belief that greater comprehension of the status quo comes through studying that which dissents from it.

Believe that or not, either way if you had a teacher who forced you to read the Federalist papers and not the anti-Federalist papers, he was most assuredly a fascist.
Murray
Sep 18, 2012 Murray rated it really liked it
Kind of tough to read, but if you want to know what went wrong with the country, it's that these guys were right.
Grace
Dec 03, 2014 Grace rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm very thankful for Hemingway.
Barry
Nov 01, 2014 Barry rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, politics
Students of US History have likely read the Federalist papers, or some of them, and even if they haven't , they refer to them. This is the next course, the Anti- Federalist papers. These are source documents of what the opposition of the time had to say, on perhaps why this Constitution business may not have been such a good idea. Some of their thoughts and criticisms are not only timely, some seemed ripped right out of todays news from voices of both the Right and the Left.


Some of these source
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Larry Killion
The Anti-Federalist Papers. By Ralph Ketcham.

Here is 406 pages about some of the most important events in the history of America. The decade of 1770 – 1780 was a crucial time. After the Revolutionary War and the break from Briton, most modern Americans do not realize how much thought, discussion and debate occurred in the establishment of the founding documents of the Constitution. After the Declaration of Independence and the Colonial Rebellion, a Constitutional Convention was held by our found
...more
Zinger
Oct 27, 2010 Zinger rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010
I really enjoyed reading the Anti-Federalist Papers. Before reading the book, I had thought of those who didn’t sign the Constitution at the Convention as …not bright enough to get it. Great men, but just a little short compared to those that signed. Now having read the arguments against, I realized that these men were patriots and statesmen who contributed much by their voice of caution and their criticisms. This resistance I feel helped improve the dialogue, discussions, and ultimately the ...more
Catherine
Nov 14, 2012 Catherine rated it liked it
The Anti-Federalist Papers were written less in response to the Federalist arguments than I had anticipated. The true discussion was between the Anti-Federalist Papers and the Constitution itself. The Anti-Federalist Papers were not less enjoyable a read for all that; in fact, they were impassioned, with moments of stunningly powerful rhetoric. Their downfall lay more in the repetition of or contradiction between the different arguments, the natural result of their not having been designed to be ...more
Shawn
May 25, 2013 Shawn rated it really liked it
This volume is an excellent companion to the Federalist Papers. Although far from being a comprehensive collection of Anti-Federalist writings, it provides an excellent summary of key points of debate in the shaping of the U.S. Constitution.

The book's introduction provides a brief summary of Federalist and Anti-Federalist principles, as well as some historical context, a brief chronology, and a summary of Anti-Federalist arguments. The book then moved on to James Madison's notes on the Federal
...more
Briana
I have nothing interesting to say. I know very little about the Anti-Federalists, other than the pro-"small government" idea, since according to the blurb, "Although the Anti-Federalists lost, they came close to winning..."

They say the winners write the history books...

*EDIT*

Another 1776 moment...Edward Rutledge saying that slavery has to do with interest, not religion, and that South Carolinans and Georgians are not such fools as to abolish slavery...

Eerily close to the musical...guess the prod
...more
Brad
May 25, 2010 Brad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Okay, being a collection of primary source documents it seems a bit silly to rate them. But I found them to be precious, informative and stimulating. This edition especially gave some keen insights into the process by which our country was created, the players, their thoughts. The things I have always taken for granted about our government and the way it runs. So many statements I agreed with, so many persons that seemed interesting. I don't know that this would be fun reading for all, but if ...more
John Johnson
Feb 24, 2016 John Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
This is a compilation of articles written by men who opposed the ratification of the Constitution of the United States, or at least had some reservations about it as it had been originally written. These articles provide a thorough understanding of the arguments for and against the constitution as presented at the Constitutional Convention. The book also includes a copy of the Articles of Confederation, the document the colonies held before the ratification of the constitution.

I felt this book
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Brandon
This was an excellent collection of essays written in competition with the Federalist Papers. The Federalist Papers were written primarily (at the time at least) by men who were arguing in favor a large centralized federal government, and even a central bank independent from the government itself (later to become The Fed). The lead writer of the Federalist Papers was knowingly supported by and an agent of the European bankers (even argued in favor of a monarchy). The writers of the ...more
Trey
May 12, 2009 Trey added it
The most fascinating part of this book is the Constitutional Convention debates, via Madison's daily journal. The day-to-day accounts of the major events in the construction of the U.S. government remind you that the people who organized the American government were really just a bunch of guys in a room who'd been allowed the unusual privilege to organize their ideal political system. The only question was what did that look like and how would it actually work? Really strips away the facade of ...more
Dayla
Feb 22, 2015 Dayla rated it liked it
Needless to say, I wasn't rooting for Patrick Henry during his anti-federalist discussion. However, it does give you a list of accomplishments under the Articles of Confederation. For example, under the A of C, America won the Revolutionary War.
Alex Schwerdt
Nov 08, 2013 Alex Schwerdt is currently reading it
Sort of. I bought it a LONG time ago, read a few pages and haven't finished yet. It's on my list. Someday I will finish, and I want to read The Federalist Papers at the same time, or afterwards. Either way.
Kristin
Jul 16, 2009 Kristin rated it liked it
It was good to read this to get the perspective of those who believed in something that didn't come to be the reality of what America is. However, when read with the Federalist Papers, the Anti-Federalist Papers really couldn't hold a candle to them.
Angie Libert
Jan 19, 2013 Angie Libert rated it really liked it
Shelves: scholar
I loved seeing the opposing views of the makers of our Constitution, especially the views expressed by the unknown Federal Farmer. He drew out some really good points about the House of Representatives not being adequately represented, among other things.
Aaron Crofut
This would make a decent book for a class, but otherwise you are better off just finding the complete anti-federalist works and Madison's notes on the Constitutional Convention online. Both are definitely worth reading.
Michael Taylor
Nice collection of Anti-Federalist papers. Extremely useful to have the other side of the story. Not definitive, but the book to start with for the side of the story of our founding that has received much less attention.
Benjamin Spurlock
A must-read for anyone curious about America, or the origins of the system of government in which we find ourselves. In particular, it's good to note the predictions made of some of the Anti-Federalists, and how, sadly, they were exactly right about the nature of this government.
Michael Gibb
Jun 29, 2016 Michael Gibb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I hoped it would have a little more of the actual anti-federalist papers, but it is still a great read. Understanding what was being discussed during the birth or our country should be required reading in schools!
Jason
Aug 02, 2009 Jason rated it it was amazing
Is it bad to enjoy these more than the Federalist Papers? These arguments came to pass as the government DID overstretch and usurp power from the rest. these guys were right.
Craig Bolton
The Anti-Federalist Papers and the Constitutional Convention Debates (Signet Classics) by Ralph Ketcham (2003)
John Yelverton
Mar 02, 2013 John Yelverton rated it it was amazing
A wonderful, classic rebuttal to the argument that the United States needed a Constitution. It was through the works of these arguments that the Bill of Rights was passed.
Elaine
Jan 17, 2013 Elaine rated it really liked it
Interesting read...shows that the so-called "Libertarian" viewpoint was actually a prominent minority one at the time of the founding.
Gracie
Aug 27, 2008 Gracie rated it liked it
well written on the whole, but the best part is being able to see what the anti federalists predicted so long ago. we became exactly what they didn't want, an empire.
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  • The Federalist Papers
  • The Debate on the Constitution : Federalist and Antifederalist Speeches, Articles, and Letters During the Struggle over Ratification : Part One, September 1787-February 1788 (Library of America)
  • Collected Writings: Common Sense/The Crisis/Rights of Man/The Age of Reason/Pamphlets/Articles & Letters
  • Selected Speeches and Writings
  • Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Reported by James Madison
  • Anti-Federalist Papers (1787-1789)
  • Writings: Autobiography/Notes on the State of Virginia/Public & Private Papers/Addresses/Letters
  • Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century
  • The Heritage Guide to the Constitution
  • New Deal or Raw Deal?: How FDR's Economic Legacy Has Damaged America
  • Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647
  • The Constitution of Liberty
  • I Have a Dream / Letter from Birmingham Jail
  • America's Constitution: A Biography
  • Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution
  • Writings
  • Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788
  • Original Intent: The Courts, the Constitution, & Religion

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