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The Anti-Federalist Papers and the Constitutional Convention Debates

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  2,266 ratings  ·  31 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

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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
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.
Feb 27, 2007 Tony rated it 5 of 5 stars
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.
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.
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
Kind of tough to read, but if you want to know what went wrong with the country, it's that these guys were right.
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...


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
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
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
Oct 27, 2010 Zinger rated it 5 of 5 stars
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 con ...more
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 yo ...more
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 h ...more
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
John Yelverton
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.
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.
Interesting read...shows that the so-called "Libertarian" viewpoint was actually a prominent minority one at the time of the founding.
essential to understanding how the american experiment works. these arguments are still playing out today. should be mandatory.
Craig J.
The Anti-Federalist Papers and the Constitutional Convention Debates (Signet Classics) by Ralph Ketcham (2003)
I may disagree with the points made, but essential documents to my understanding of America.
Joe Vaughn
Dec 27, 2007 Joe Vaughn rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Citizens
Excellent opposing viewpoints to centralisied gov't.
I had to read this book for a class in college.
Yikes!! The Revolution was hijacked!
Faith Bradham
Same as The Federalist Papers.
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  • The Federalist Papers
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  • Collected Writings: Common Sense/The Crisis/Rights of Man/The Age of Reason/Pamphlets/Articles & Letters
  • Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647
  • Selected Speeches and Writings
  • 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)
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  • Writings: Autobiography/Notes on the State of Virginia/Public & Private Papers/Addresses/Letters
  • New Deal or Raw Deal?: How FDR's Economic Legacy Has Damaged America
  • Reflections on the Revolution in France
  • The Heritage Guide to the Constitution
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  • The Autobiography of Charles G. Finney: The Life Story of America's Great Evangelist-In His Own Words
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  • The Spirit of the Laws (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought)
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  • The Anti-Federalist Papers
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