Anti-Federalist Papers

During the period from the drafting and proposal of the federal Constitution in September, 1787, to its ratification in 1789 there was an intense debate on ratification. The principal arguments in favor of it were stated in the series written by Madison, Hamilton, and Jay called the Federalist Papers, although they were not as widely read as numerous independent local speeches and articles. The arguments against ratification appeared in various forms, by various authors, most of whom used a pseudonym. Collectively, these writings have become known as the Anti-Federalist Papers. We here present some of the best and most widely read of these. They contain warnings of dangers from tyranny that weaknesses in the proposed Constitution did not adequately provide against, and while some of those weaknesses were corrected by adoption of the Bill of Rights, others remained, and some of these dangers are nowcoming to pass.


  • The Antifederalist Papers, edited with an Introduction by Morton Borden, Michigan State University Press, 1965 — The collection included here, without the introduction and footnotes.
  • Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution, edited by John P. Kaminski and others, Wisconsin Historical Society, now up to 19 volumes and growing — Promises to become a complete and definitive collection when it is finished.
  • The Debate on the Constitution: Federalist and Antifederalist Speeches, Articles, and Letters During the Struggle over Ratification, edited by Bernard Bailyn, Library of America, 1993, 2 vol. — Good collection if you can't afford the Kaminski series.
  • The Complete Anti-Federalist, edited by Herbert Storing and Murray Dry, University of Chicago Press, 1981, 7 vol.— Not really complete, but very extensive.
  • The Anti-Federalist, edited by Herbert Storing, University of Chicago Press, 1985 — Storing's selection of the best from his "Complete" collection above.
  • The Anti-Federalist Papers and the Constitutional Convention Debates, edited by Ralph Ketcham, Penguin, 1986 — Affordable paperback, a selection of some of the best parts, with some useful commentary connecting them. Ketcham is one of those who think the "Federal Farmer" was more likely Melancton Smith than Richard Henry Lee. We include here all the papers in this collection not in the Borden collection.

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Original URL:
Jon Roland of the Constitution Society
Original date: 1996/5/12 —