History of the Constitution
Did the Anti-Federalists have their own published writings?
Yes, the Anti-Federalists also relied on a series of anonymous essays. Several Anti-Federalists also wrote articles under pen names attacking various aspects of the Constitution. An Anti-Federalist who called himself the “Federal Farmer” critiqued the Constitution in a series of letters published in the Poughkeepsie Country Journal from November 1787 to January 1788. The letters also appeared in pamphlet form. For many years, it was assumed that Richard Henry Lee of Virginia was the author. Now, some historians believe the author was the New York Anti-Federalist Melancton Smith.
The “Letters from the Federal Farmer” criticized the new Constitution and its proponents as showing a “strong tendency to aristocracy.” The Federal Farmer argued that the Constitution concentrated too much power in the central government. The Federal Farmer also made some accurate predictions about the future of our government. For example, the Federal Farmer wrote: “This system promises a large field of employment to military gentlemen and gentlemen of the law.”
Robert Yates, a New York judge who served in the Convention, wrote a series of articles under the pen name “Brutus.” Brutus was the Roman republican who helped assassinate Julius Caesar to prevent Caesar from overthrowing the Roman Republic. In one of his articles he criticized the powers granted to the judicial branch. He wrote that “the supreme court under this constitution would be exalted above all other power in the government, and subject to no control.”