Customer Reviews: The Anti-Federalist: Writings by the Opponents of the Constitution
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Herbert J. Storing (1928-1977) was a professor of Constitutional History and Law at the University of Virginia. This book is the Introduction to his 1977 complete seven-volume set of letters, pamphlets, and speeches in The Complete Anti-Federalist. The Introduction to his seven-volume set is also available separately: What the Anti-Federalists Were For: The Political Thought of the Opponents of the Constitution by Storing, Herbert J. published by University Of Chicago Press Paperback.

One writer notes, "The senate, the great efficient body in this plan of government, is constituted on the most unequal principles. The smallest state in the union has equal weight with the great states of Virginia, Massachusetts, or Pannsylvania..." (Pg. 19) One writer criticizes the power of the judges: "(T)here is no power above them that can control their decisions, or correct their errors... in many cases their power is superior to that of the legislature." (Pg. 184) Another observes, "The powers of Congress under the new constitution, are complete and unlimited over the PURSE and the SWORD, and are perfectly independent of, and supreme over, the state governments." (Pg. 210)

Another laments, "The non-attendance of eight or nine men, who were appointed members of the convention, I shall ever consider as a very unfortunate event to the United States. Had they attended, I am pretty clear, that the result of the convention would not have had that strong tendency to aristrocracy now discernible in every part of the plan." (Pg. 37) A writer suggests, "It is not possible to collect a set of representatives, who are acquainted with all parts of the continent. Can you find men in Georgia who are acquainted with the situation in New Hampshire?" (Pg. 354)

A writer argues, "A free republic will never keep a standing army to execute its laws. It must depend upon the support of its citizens." (Pg. 115) Another argues in favor of a Bill of Rights, "Ought not a government, vested with such extensive and indefinite authority, to have been restricted by a declaration of rights?" (Pg. 122)

This abridgement is an excellent and broad introduction to the actual writings of the Anti-Federalists.
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on August 18, 2013
Sure, it is abridged, but perhaps not all of us have the time to read all 7 volumes.

I think it is pretty important that you read both sides of the argument (get a copy of the federealist papers as well, I got this one: 1441413049 There are strong reasons both for and against a strong federal government rather than a weaker one where states have most of the power.

It is really quit enlightening to see both sides of the argument. Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Patrick Henry are some of the most recognized names of the time, and they were all anti-federalists. Why were they against the constitution?

1) Too much power to the federal gov, at the expense of states
2) Executive branch was too powerful
3) The government could maintain an army even when not at war (military industrial complex ring a bell, anyone?)
4) "Necessary and proper" or elastic clause gave congress way too much power - seems like our congress today is doing much more than "necessary and proper" to use their enumerated powers

I'd have say at this point in time, seeing what has become of our federal government, the anti-federalists were right. Although I haven't read other editions, from what I have read of what others have to say, Herbert Storing's version in terms of unabridged is unrivaled. Seems like even the abridged version is quite good relative to other editors (from reviews I have read this seems to be the case).
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on August 5, 2013
Storing, one of the foremost experts on the Federalist / Antifederalist debates provides great insight into the thinking of the Antifederalists. His introduction to the sections provide key insights into Antifederalist thinking, illuminating the deep reservations they had over what they saw as a "radical" departure from the Federalist principles of the Articles of Confederation. A wonderful resource for those interested in colonial history and the genesis of our Constitution.
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on April 20, 2012
I think that a reading of the Federalist would not lead to the conclusion that the United States is merely a league and that its bonds are not merely commercial, even though I grant you that etymologically "Federal" comes from the Latin for "league" or "compact" and also that the U.S. Constitution is a "compact". Nevertheless, the founders were concerned that a mere league (or treaty) would not be able to accomplish the ends of union. With the U.S. federal pact, there is a sharing of sovereignty and a contract between the peoples of the respective States as sovereign entities. Essentially, the people in each state agrees to assign (divide) the governmental exercise of that sovereignty between two entities - a state government and a federal one.

So the federal government is empowered as much as the state one directly from the sovereignty residing in the people of each individual state. The Articles of Confederation was closer to being a mere "league" since it was a contract between governments. (See Madison, Federalist 43, where he says, "A compact between independent sovereigns, founded on ordinary acts of legislative authority, can pretend to no higher validity than a league or treaty between the parties.") The Articles were ratified by the respective state legislatures and not directly by the people. So at least in that respect it was more like a treaty (even though it also transcended the limits of a treaty, but I don't have time to go into that).

The Constitution, on the other hand, was ratified by the respective peoples - such that it goes beyond the level of a mere treaty or league. This is why, when the Southern States seceded in the 19th century, they did so by calling conventions and letting their people vote on the articles of secession, effectively withdrawing by the same process that they came in. A legislative vote to withdraw from the Union would have been null and void since the original Constitutional contract was made directly with the people in each state acting in their "highest sovereign capacity" (as Madison says in the Federalist).

Rather than being simply a league, it is a people of peoples in a manner of speaking, sovereignty being shared in its exercise (and only in its exercise, or "operation" as Madison termed it) on a "national" level and sovereignty residing "ultimately" and originally in the people in the individual states, one by one, who are the parties to the Constitutional Contract (see article VII of the Constitution, that it is a Constitution "between the States" and Madison's reply in the Virginia Convention, as well as Federalist 39. For more information on this, I suggest a careful reading of the Federalist, especially number 39 by Madison.)

"On examining the first relation, it appears, on one hand, that the Constitution is to be founded on the assent and ratification of the people of America, given by deputies elected for the special purpose; but, on the other, that this assent and ratification is to be given by the people, not as individuals composing one entire nation, but as composing the distinct and independent States to which they respectively belong. It is to be the assent and ratification of the several States, derived from the supreme authority in each State, the authority of the people themselves. The act, therefore, establishing the Constitution, will not be a national, but a federal act." - Madison, Federalist 39

Thus, the federal government we see today operates on principles completely at odds with the Constitution. The tail now wags the dog, the federal government being the tail and the sovereignty of the people being the dog, the source of the tail's very life. The dog can live without the tail, but the tail cannot live without the dog. And yet the federal government acts as if all sovereignty came from it originally and not from the people, as if it needs no authorization for its actions in the Constitution, as if its judges can boss around the people of the United States.

One final note - Storing's Anti Federalist is a wonderful resource. I, however, have made use of the unabridged version, so I can't really not recommend this edition. However, I endorse the complete unabridged edition, despite the price. But I would guess that this, like other abridgments, is useful for a beginning student or someone who doesn't currently have the resources to buy the complete version. But the serious student of the founding would do well to buy the unabridged version. I have rated this 5 stars regardless because the book is good in itself compared to the other abridged versions available.
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on February 18, 2015
Get into pre-civil war politics. Read it.
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on May 26, 2016
Outstanding collection of documents.
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on August 1, 2015
Good read!!
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on February 21, 2012
Its a textbook folks! Honestly, I have yet to open it (to read), as it is not required reading yet. With that said, the book arrived on time and in perfect condition. Thanks.
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on December 30, 2007
"Federal", as in "federation" and "league", relates to commercial entities and commercial contract. Keep in mind, the United States is not a country but a corporation with no jurisdiction outside it's "ten mile square" district and the 18 enumerated functions of Congress Assembled (aka The United States).
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on May 12, 2007
I missed the "abridgement" description. It's a nice collection otherwise, combining other related writings with some of the published originals.
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