Empire of Liberty: Federalists Versus Anti-Federalists

 Excerpt from Dr. Jack Bankston’s “The Founding Years”, University of New South Wales Press, 2017.

I. Ratification

“Any constitutional delegate worth his salt would have known that even though the Philadelphia Convention had adjourned sine die, the hard work was only beginning [1]. The first public copies of the new constitution were distributed in the Pennsylvania Packet the day after the convention ended. Copies slowly ebbed out from Philadelphia to the American periphery. Baltimore had copies within two days while Jamaica received its replications in the late fall of 1788. On May 20, the Articles Congress formally received the proposed constitution and voted on May 28 to transmit the proposal to the states for ratification. On May 27 the first of the infamous anti-federalist papers were published under the pseudonym “Cato” (most likely George Clinton). “Centinel” (Samuel Bryan), “Federal Farmer” (possibly Richard Henry Lee, Mercy Otis Warren or Melancton Smith), “Spartacus” (Guy Carleton) and “Brutus” (Melancton Smith or Robert Yates) followed within two weeks of the first publication. Patrick Henry, arguably the most ardent anti-federalist, shucked anonymity altogether and published his arguments directly.

The Anti-Federalist positions were simple. They believed the proposed federal government would have too much power over the states. For some of the anti-federalists from larger states they feared a “tyranny of the minority” from the smaller states. Many founding fathers from Virginia, Pennsylvania, Quebec and Massachusetts never quite reconciled that their states were supposed to be equal to the Virgin Islands or Delaware. There was a belief that this new political class of Congressmen, Senators, Presidents and Supreme Court Justices would evolve into a new aristocracy. Some believed the powers of the president were not far off from being a monarch albeit without a crown. The concerns of the anti-federalists are, in my ways, still alive in modern political debates.

 

Excerpt from Centienel’s (probably Samuel Bryant) Letter No. 1, July 1788 [2]

“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, Quebec or Pennsylvania. – The Senate, besides its legislative functions, has a very considerable share in the executive; none of the principal appointments to office can be made without its advice and consent. The term and mode of its appointment, will lead to permanency; the members are chosen for six years, the mode is under the control of Congress, and as there is no exclusion by rotation, they may be continued for life, which, from their extensive means of influence, would follow of course. The President, who would be a mere pageant of state, unless he coincides with the views of the Senate, would either become the head of the aristocratic junto [3] in that body, or its minion; besides their influence being the most predominant, could the best secure his reelection to office. And from his power of granting pardons, he might screen from punishment the most treasonable attempts on the liberties of the people, when instigated by the Senate.

From this investigation into the organization of this government, it appears that it is devoid of all responsibility or accountability to the great body of the people, and that so far from being a regular balanced government, I would be in practice a permanent ARISTOCRACY.”

 

Excerpt from Dr. Jack Bankston’s “The Founding Years”, University of New South Wales Press, 2017.

“Arguably, the reason the federalists won had little to do with who had the philosophical high ground but rather strategy and practicality. For example, Madison and Hamilton began engineering a new constitution as early as the Annapolis Convention. Many anti-federalists were content with the Articles. Madison’s Virginia Plan quickly usurped the Philadelphia Convention from changes to the existing Articles of Confederation to an entirely new system of government. The anti-federalists were largely caught off guard and their champion, Patrick Henry, voluntarily chose to abstain from the convention altogether. Other notable anti-federalists could not make the Convention at all. Guy Carleton was Governor of Quebec at the time and remained in Montreal. Thomas Jefferson sent dozens of letters to allies in Philadelphia but had to watch affairs from afar as he was ambassador to France at the time. The on-the-ground problems of the Articles convinced a majority of the population that a drastic change was needed allowing the new constitution to be politically feasible. Lastly, there were simply more “big name” federalist advocates than anti-federalist advocates. For this variety of reasons, the federalists emerged victorious. The only real “win” the anti-federalists were able to claim was the eventual adoption of the Bill of Rights.

***

“One of the main arguments of the anti-federalists was the sheer size of the United States. They argued that a confederation made far more sense for such varied states over such a mammoth distance. They believed, in the vein of Montesquieu, that a consolidated republic could not exist over such a large territory.”

 

Excerpt from Montesquieu’s “Spirit of the Laws”, 1748. [4]

“It is natural for a republic to have only a small territory; otherwise it cannot long subsist. In an extensive republic there are men of large fortunes, and consequently of less moderation; there are trusts too considerable to be placed in any single subject; he has interests of his own; he soon begins to think that he may be happy and glorious, by oppressing his fellow-citizens; and that he may raise himself to grandeur on the ruins of his country.

In an extensive republic the public good is sacrificed to a thousand private views; it is subordinate to exceptions, and depends on accidents. In a small one, the interest of the public is more obvious, better understood, and more within the reach of every citizen; abuses have less extent, and, of course, are less protected.

The long duration of the republic of Sparta was owing to her having continued in the same extent of territory after all her wars. The sole aim of Sparta was liberty; and the sole advantage of her liberty, glory.

It was the spirit of the Greek republics to be as contented with their territories as with their laws. Athens was first fired with ambition and gave it to Lacedaemon; but it was an ambition rather of commanding a free people than of governing slaves; rather of directing than of breaking the union. All was lost upon the starting up of monarchy–a government whose spirit is more turned to increase of dominion. . . .

***

A monarchical state ought to be of moderate extent. Were it small, it would form itself into a republic; were it very large, the nobility, possessed of great estates, far from the eye of the prince, with a private court of their own, and secure, moreover, from sudden executions by the laws and manners of the country–such a nobility, I say, might throw off their allegiance, having nothing to fear from too slow and too distant a punishment.

Thus Charlemagne had scarcely founded his empire when he was obliged to divide it; whether the governors of the provinces refused to obey; or whether, in order to keep them more under subjection, there was a necessity of parcelling the empire into several kingdoms.

***

A large empire supposes a despotic authority in the person who governs. It is necessary that the quickness of the prince’s resolutions should supply the distance of the places they are sent to; that fear should prevent the remissness of the distant governor or magistrate; that the law should be derived from a single person, and should shift continually, according to the accidents which incessantly multiply in a state in proportion to its extent.”

Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu was a French lawyer and political philosopher who advocated for the concept of “separation of powers” and was tremendously influential on the drafters of the U.S. Constitution. 

Excerpt from Cato’s (probably George Clinton) Letter No. 5, May 1788 [5]

“It is a very important objection to this government, that the representation consist of so few; too few to resist the influence of corruption, and the temptation to treachery, against which all governments ought to take precautions – how guarded you have been on this head, in your own state constitution, and yet the number of senators and representatives proposed for this vast union, which stretches very nearly from the equator to the pole, does not equal those of your own state…”

 

Excerpt from George Mason’s “Objections to the Constitution of Government Formed by the Convention”, June 1788 [6]

“The President of the United States has no constitutional Council (a thing unknown in any safe and regular Government): he will therefore be unsupported by proper Information and Advice; and will generally be directed by Minions and Favorites – or He will become a Tool o the State – or a Council of State will grow out of the principal Officers of the great Departments; the worst and most dangerous of all Ingredients for such a Council, in a free Country; for they may be induced to join in any dangerous or oppressive measures, to shelter themselves, and prevent an Inquiry into their own Misconduct in Office; whereas had a constitutional council been formed (as was proposed) of ten Members; viz. two from the north, two from the east, two from the middle, two from the southern mainland, one from the upper Caribbean and one from the lower Caribbean, to be appointed by Vote of the States in the House of Representatives, with the same Duration and Rotation of Office as the Senate, the Executive would always have had safe and proper Information and Advice.”

 

Excerpt from Dr. Jack Bankston’s “The Founding Years”, University of New South Wales Press, 2017.

The anti-federalists were met head on by the Federalists: Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, James Madison and Roger English [7]. Unlike the anti-federalists who mostly made their arguments independent of one another and under various pseudonyms, the Federalists worked and published as a group and utilized the unified pseudonym of Publius, in honor of Roman consul Publius Valerius Publicola [8].

 

Excerpt from “The Annotated Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers” by Rodrigo de la Cruz, University of New Granada Press, 1992.

“Federalist No. 1 is the first in a series of essays printed in the Independent Journal, the New-York Packet and the Daily Advertiser in response to anti-federalist opposition as debate began over ratification of the proposed Philadelphia Constitution. The essay, likely written by Alexander Hamilton, was extremely critical of the then current government organized under the Articles of Confederation. It was also overtly biased in favor of the proposed constitution. Hamilton, in the guise of Publius, goes on to lay out the six core concepts to be discussed in the succeeding months:

  1. The Constitution as a means for prosperity;
  2. The insufficiency of the existing Articles of Confederation going forward;
  3. The necessity of a more powerful government;
  4. The alignment of the Constitution with the ideals of Republican government;
  5. The Constitution’s basis in existing state constitutions;
  6. The stability the Constitution would provide and how it would preserve liberty among the states.

 

Excerpt from Publius’ (probably John Jay) Federalist No. 2, Aug. 1788 [9]

“It has often given me pleasure to observe, that Independent America is a vast country ranging from the frozen tundras of Canada to the tropical shores of the Antilles. This beachhead of liberty dominates North America and will act as a beacon for the rest of the world for its existence. A compact country might be more defensible but its libertous ambition would be far lesser. Similarly, the union of nations under this new country provides its challenges but also its rewards. Americans might differ in tongues, religion, environments and experiences but the unifying goal of Liberty and Independence unites us into a cohesive republican empire.

This country and this people seem to have been made for each other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence, that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest tie, should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous and alien sovereignties.”

 

Excerpt from Publius’ (probably Alexander Hamilton) Federalist No. 7, Sept. 1788

“A man must be far gone in Utopian speculations who can seriously doubt, that if these States should be wholly disunited, or only united in partial confederacies, the subdivisions into which they might be thrown would have frequent and violent contests with each other.”

Alexander Hamilton was George Washington’s protege, a delegate from New York, and the chief author of the Federalist Papers. 

Excerpt from “The Annotated Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers” by Rodrigo de la Cruz, University of New Granada Press, 1992.

“From Federalist No. 2 through No. 12, Jay, English and Hamilton make the argument that a union trumps disunion from a martial perspective. Jay argues in Nos. 2-5 that a centralized government would be able to correct the problems of the Articles and make the United States cohesive and strong. This in turn would allow the United States to better counter foreign influence and meddling. He argued in No. 3 that a unified power would be more respected and therefore better able to engage in meaningful diplomacy with other powers. Citing a 1685 conflict between France and the Italian city-state of Genoa, where the entire government of Genoa was forced to travel to Paris to achieve a peace treaty, Jay questions if such a demand would have been made to a stronger power. English in No. 6 essentially dictates an open letter about imperial strategy [10]. He argues that, if discord and disunion were allowed to continue, such procrastination and confusion would only embolden European powers and disenchant particular states. He argued that an independent Quebec might one day be tempted to rejoin the French Empire or that any number of the sugar islands might find independence to be a mistake and rejoin the Crown. Hamilton in Nos. 7 and 8 discusses the real possibility of eventual war between the sovereign states and cites numerous historical examples where neighboring countries allowed passions to get the better of commercial reason. In No. 9, Hamilton argues that the constant wars and tensions that would be brought about by disunion would necessitate permanent standing armies and other institutions unfriendly to liberty. In Nos. 10 and 11, Hamilton argues that union safeguards against internal rebellion. In No. 12, Hamilton begins to transition from military arguments to commercial ones by focusing on the need for a federal navy. He argues that a powerful navy would assist with controlling commerce and protecting liberty in the Caribbean.

In Nos. 13 and 14, Hamilton argues that union would lead to greater wealth for the states and marks the papers’ transition towards domestic arguments. In No. 15, Madison takes on the Montesquieuan argument of the anti-federalists that the country was too large for a consolidated republican government.

 

Excerpt from Publius’ (probably James Madison) No. 15, July 1788 [11]

“It is, that in a democracy, the people meet and exercise the government in person; in a republic they assemble and administer it by their representatives and agents. A democracy consequently must be confined to a small spot. A republic may be extended over a large region.

***

As the natural limit of a democracy is that distance from the central point which will just permit the most remote citizens to assemble as often as their public functions demand, and will include no greater number than can join in those functions; so the natural limit of a republic is that distance from the centre which will barely allow the representatives to meet as often as may be necessary for the administration of public affairs. Can it be said that the limits of the United States exceed this distance? It will not be said by those who recollect that the Atlantic coast is the longest side of the Union, that during the term of fourteen years, the representatives of the States have been almost continually assembled, and that the members from the most distant States are not chargeable with greater intermissions of attendance than those from the States in the neighborhood of Congress.

***

Let it be remarked, in the third place, that the intercourse throughout the Union will be facilitated by new improvements. Roads will everywhere be shortened, and kept in better order; accommodations for travelers will be multiplied and meliorated; an interior navigation on our eastern side will be opened throughout, or nearly throughout, the whole extent of the country. The communication between the Western and Atlantic districts, and between different parts of each, will be rendered more and more easy by those numerous canals with which the beneficence of nature has intersected our country, and which part finds it so little difficult to connect and complete. The most remote states are fortunate enough to be islands through which the sea allows easier communications than any land route of even intermediate distance.

A fourth and still more important consideration is, that as almost every State will, on one side or other, be a frontier, and will thus find, in regard to its safety, an inducement to make some sacrifices for the sake of the general protection; so the States which lie at the greatest distance from the heart of the Union, and which, of course, may partake least of the ordinary circulation of its benefits, will be at the same time immediately contiguous to foreign nations, and will consequently stand, on particular occasions, in greatest need of its strength and resources. It may be inconvenient for Jamaica, or the States forming our western or southern borders, to send their representatives to the seat of government; but they would find it more so to struggle alone against an invading enemy, or even to support alone the whole expense of those precautions which may be dictated by the neighborhood of continual danger. If they should derive less benefit, therefore, from the Union in some respects than the less distant States, they will derive greater benefit from it in other respects, and thus the proper equilibrium will be maintained throughout.”

 

Excerpt from “The Annotated Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers” by Rodrigo de la Cruz, University of New Granada Press, 1992.

After Madison concluded July 1788 with his counter-attack against the widespread concept that the country was too large, Hamilton levied six essays against the Articles in early August. It should be noted that, during this portion of the Papers’ publication, the first of the state ratification conventions began.

Federalist Nos. 16 through 23 attack the Articles of Confederation for their failings. Hamilton lamented the current situation as “the last stage of national humiliation” and referred to the debts owed to foreign powers, the lack of respect given to ambassadors, Spain’s prohibition of American use of the Mississippi River, decreasing values of land and a collapsing monetary system as reasons for the “melancholy situation.” Hamilton goes on to relate the problem to a core concept in the Articles of Confederation stating:

“The great and radical vice in the construction of the existing Confederation is in the principle of LEGISLATION for STATES or GOVERNMENT, in their CORPORATE or COLLECTIVE CAPACITIES and as contradistinguished from the INDIVIDUALS of whom they consist.”

Hamilton waxed philosophic on the issue of power and honesty but concludes that a confederation cannot work since the power of the confederational government is only as strong as the consent of distinct sovereign states which must then all agree with each other for any important measure to be executed. This was effectively impossible because selfish interest dictated disunity and the varied interests of the states often conflicted. Hamilton ends No. 16 stating [12]:

“Each state yielding to the persuasive voice of immediate interest and convenience has successively withdrawn its support, until the frail and tottering edifice seems ready to fall upon our heads and to crush us beneath its ruins.”

Hamilton goes on in the next two essays to argue that strong national institutions, in this case the military and the states, would help bind the country together. Madison uses Nos. 19-21 to compare the Articles to ineffective systems of government in history and contemporary Europe. Hamilton then makes more arguments against the Articles in Nos. 22 and 23.

The arguments against confederation made in No. 16 would be of extreme importance when the Baltimore Convention began deliberating the Realm System.

Federalist No. 24 shifts the conversation away from the importance of union and the failures of the Articles and instead argues in favor of an “energetic” federal government. No. 24 is the first of 14 essays that argue this cause. Hamilton begins by laying out the purpose of a union:

“The common defence of the members—the preservation of the public peace as well against internal convulsions as external attacks—the regulation of commerce with other nations and between the States—the superintendence of our intercourse, political and commercial, with foreign countries.”

Hamilton argues in the first several essays that a centralized government would be able to raise armies and provide for the common defense as opposed to the Articles which allowed the Confederation to requisition supplies and troops from the states. In No. 25, he argues in favor of the constitutional framework for military forces and that, at minimum, a powerful standing navy was immediately necessary to counter the threat of Britain, France and Spain, especially towards the Caribbean states. Even in this section, Hamilton cannot help but jab at the Articles. In No. 26 he theorizes an attack on New York under the Articles in which no aid comes from other states.

In No. 31, Hamilton shifts from an effective military to an effective method of collecting taxes. Over the course of several essays, he notes the importance of this power to any government. He argues that an effective government needs to be able to achieve its goals and to do so it needs the tools to do that, taxation being one of those tools. Nowhere is this goal more evident than No. 34 where Hamilton discusses the controversial “necessary and proper clause”. Hamilton admits the clause was the subject of considerable public anxiety but then asks a series of questions:

“What is a power, but the ability or faculty of doing a thing? What is the ability to do a thing but the power of employing the means necessary to its execution? What is a LEGISLATIVE power but a power of making laws? What are the means to execute a LEGISLATIVE power but LAWS? What is the power of laying and collecting taxes, but a legislative power, or a power of making laws, to lay and collect taxes? What are the proper means of executing such a power but necessary and proper laws?”

Hamilton answers his question stating:

“It conducts us to this palpable truth, that a power to lay and collect taxes must be a power to pass all laws necessary and proper for the execution of that power; and what does the unfortunate and culumniated provision in question do more than declare the same truth, to wit, that the national legislature, to whom the power of laying and collecting taxes had been previously given, might, in the execution of that power, pass all laws necessary and proper to carry it into effect?”

In response to the anti-federalist concern that the government could abuse the clause, Hamilton rebuts that the government would have to be its own judge and if it abused its power, the recourse would be left to the people.

Hamilton then shifts to the equally controversial Supremacy Clause in the same argument and concludes that “a LAW by the very meaning of the term includes supremacy.” Hamilton wraps up the essay concluding that a law that lays a tax by the federal government would be supreme and not subject to opposition or prevention (such would be usurpation) while at the same time the states could levy taxes as they see fit in concurrent jurisdiction with the federal government. Nos 35 through 37 see Hamilton continue these basic arguments in detail.

It should be noted that in these masterful arguments there is a hidden indirect statement being made as well. From Hamilton’s point of view, a government is another word for “POLITICAL POWER AND SUPREMACY” which, in reverse, means that a Confederation is not a true government. This underlying indirect argument advocated for the new Constitution and against the Articles at the same time. It is also why Federalist No. 34 was one of the most discussed papers at the Baltimore Convention.

Essentially, Hamilton was arguing for giving the government complete power in these areas so it could do the job effectively.

***

Federalists Nos. 38 to 41 were written by Madison and examined debates and authority in the Philadelphia Convention.

***

Federalist No. 42 begins a section of essays by Madison examining the powers granted to the federal government by the new constitution. In No. 42, he outlined six powers granted to the federal government:

 

  1. Security against foreign danger;
  2. Regulation of intercourse with foreign nations;
  3. Maintenance of the harmony and proper intercourse among the States;
  4. Miscellaneous objects of general utility;
  5. Restraining the States from certain injurious acts;
  6. Provisions for giving due efficacy to all of these powers.

 

Madison then dives into these powers in detail before arriving to the question of state power in No. 45. Madison uses No. 45 partly to justify the reasons for delegations of power to the federal government from the states and partly to attack the problems the Articles were creating and which the anti-federalists wished to retain. He argued against the minting of individual state currencies as “confusing” and argued in favor of the prohibition on bills of attainder and ex post facto laws that he cited would ensure sound legislation and basic individual rights. Madison brings the arguments home in No. 46 stating that the balance of power between the federal and state governments would work to ensure happiness amongst the people. From this point, Madison published several essays about detailed constitutional structures such as separation of powers and checks and balances.

In this manner, a pattern is seen for the overall structure of the Papers themselves. Hamilton begins by arguing for union over disunion, transitions to attacking the Articles, shifts to arguing why the new constitution is a good idea and why it has the powers that is has and then Madison, one of the constitution’s chief architects, extensively discusses and argues for details of the constitution itself. Madison makes most of the arguments for the detailed decisions regarding the legislature and elections. Hamilton finishes the essays by discussing the details of executive and judicial power.

 

Excerpt from Dr. Jack Bankston’s “The Founding Years”, University of New South Wales Press, 2017.

While the Federalist Papers were a uniformly published and coherent group work that took on a life of its own, the anti-federalist papers were written over many years by various authors. Until the mid-1900’s there was no unified “anti-Federalists papers” and considerable debate continues over which papers belong and even which pen names correlate to their real life authors. The arguments of the papers were largely critiques about the dangers of a national government. The Federalist Papers began rapid publication in three New York City newspapers in the fall of 1788. They were widely read and distributed from there. Demand was so high that, before the compilation was even complete, the first 30 essays were published as a bound volume in the winter of 1789. Speculation about authorship began immediately but by the 1810’s it was largely known who the authors were, though who authored each specific essay is still debated.

The impact of both the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers on ratification is questionable. While readership demand was high, it was largely limited to New York City. The essays would not reach the far ends of the Caribbean until the mid-1790’s, long after the ratification proceedings had concluded. The first anti-federalist essays and Federalist No. 1 were only in circulation a month before the start of Pennsylvania’s ratification convention. More than anything, these philosophical debates influenced how Americans were to interpret their new constitution rather than why they should adopt it.

Amongst the states, the debates over ratification took very different forms. In most cases, the proposed constitution was measured against two documents: the Articles of Confederation and that state’s own constitution. In places like Massachusetts and Virginia where the delegates to the state conventions were highly divided, and there was a strong tradition of constitutional state governance, the debates were fierce and ratification votes narrow. In places like the Caribbean where the populations were small and the state constitutions were more or less a copy and paste job of another state’s existing constitution, the debates were more succinct.

By the end of 1788, Delaware, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, the Bahamas, Rhode Island, Maryland and Nova Scotia had all at least begun a ratification convention. Rhode Island submitted the constitution to the voters at the beginning of November who, in turn, overwhelmingly rejected it. In the meantime, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maryland all approved ratification by the end of 1788. The 17th state to ratify the constitution, thus formally establishing it, was the Leeward Islands on May 28, 1789. The ratification conventions and formal ratification dates are as follows:

 

Delaware……………….….Convention Begins: August 3, 1788………….Ratification: August 7, 1788

Pennsylvania…………….Convention Begins: July 20, 1788…………….Ratification: August 12, 1788

New Jersey…………….….Convention Begins: August 11, 1788…….….Ratification: August 18, 1788

Georgia……………………..Convention Begins: August 25, 1788…….….Ratification: September 2, 1788

Connecticut………………Convention Begins: Sept. 4, 1788………….….Ratification: Sept. 9, 1788

Massachusetts………….Convention Begins: Sept. 9, 1788……………..Ratification: October 6, 1788

Maryland………………….Convention Begins: December 18, 1788……Ratification: December 23, 1788

South Carolina………….Convention Begins: January 12, 1789…….….Ratification: January 23, 1789

Nova Scotia………………Convention Begins: January 8, 1789………….Ratification: January 25, 1789

New Hampshire……….Convention Begins: December 13, 1788…….Ratification: February 21, 1789

St. John’s Island……….Convention Begins: February 19, 1789….…….Ratification: February 25, 1789

Virginia……………….…..Convention Begins: February 2, 1789…………Ratification: February 25, 1789

Dominica……………..….Convention Begins: December 12, 1788…….Ratification: February 27, 1789

New York……………..….Convention Begins: February 17, 1789…….….Ratification: March 26, 1789

Virgin Islands………..….Convention Begins: March 24, 1789…………..Ratification: March 27, 1789

Barbados………………….Convention Begins: April 8, 1789……………….Ratification: April 19, 1789

Leeward Islands…….…Convention Begins: April 11, 1789………….….Ratification: May 28, 1789

Quebec………………..…..Convention Begins: April 15, 1789………….….Ratification: August 14, 1789

Grenada………………….Convention Begins: June 6, 1789………….…….Ratification: August 27, 1789

St. Vincent………….…..Convention Begins: June 10, 1789…………..….Ratification: October 18, 1789

Jamaica………………..….Convention Begins: July 19, 1789……………….Ratification: November 17, 1789

North Carolina……..….Convention Begins: November 16, 1789…….Ratification: November 21, 1789

The Bahamas………….Convention Begins: November 2, 1789…..….Ratification: November 24, 1789

Newfoundland……….Convention Begins: January 4, 1790…………….Ratification: January 31, 1790

Rhode Island……….….Convention Begins: March 1, 1790…………..….Ratification: May 29, 1790

 

Just about every prospective state had wrapped up the ratification process by the summer of 1789. Scattered Caribbean islands took their time due to information lag, Quebec and Newfoundland’s conventions stalled due to serious anti-federalist concerns (bordering on talk of foregoing union with the other states and remaining independent, at least for a term of years) and Rhode Island and the Bahamas were never comfortable with the Philadelphia Convention to begin with nor did they ever send delegates. Rhode Island, with its independent streak under British and American rule (which earned it the moniker “Rogue’s Island”), and the Bahamas, with its piratical past, both had deep misgivings about a strong national government.

After the Leeward Islands ratified the Constitution, it took several weeks for news to make its way back to the mainland. The Articles Congress was informed on June 25, 1789. On September 3, the Articles Congress formally certified that the new constitution had been duly ratified and set the dates and first election of the new government. The first presidential election was held over the course of about a month from December 1789 to January 1790 with the Electoral College convening in February of 1790. George Washington was unanimously elected the first president while John Adams became the first vice president.

The Election of 1789 saw George Washington elected the first President of the United States. John Adams would be his Vice President

—————————–Author’s Notes—————————-

 

[1]: Sine Die is Latin for “without a day”. Sessions of government will adjourn sine die when that session has concluded its work. This is typical for state legislatures which typically convene at the start of the year and adjourn “sine die” sometime around the beginning of the summer.

[2]: With the exception of my addition of “Quebec” this is a copy of Centinel’s letter from our timeline.

[3]: “Junto” basically means cabal or cartel.

[4]: This is an exact copy from Montesquieu’s works

[5]: With the slight change about “equator to pole” this is an exact copy as well.

[6]: With the slight change about the division of councilors this is also a copy from our timeline.

[7]: Roger English is a fictitious constitutional delegate from the Leeward Islands in this timeline.

[8]: Publius was one of the four Roman aristocrats who overthrew the monarchy and helped to found the republic in 509 BC.

[9]: This an extensively edited alternate timeline version of Federalist No. 2. In our timeline, Jay spends three paragraphs thanking God that the United States is compact along the east coast in between a series of defensive rivers and positions. He also thanks God that the population is homogenous in language and religion. Basically the polar opposite of the in-timeline version of the United States. In this timeline, Jay’s thinking has evolved to match the country before him.

[10]: Federalist No. 6 in this timeline is its own publication and does not exist in our timeline. It ties in with the foreign influence theme of the section with a particular focus on Quebec and the Caribbean. Because of this, all of the subsequent Federalist Papers are one number off.

[11]: Most of this essay is actually from our own timeline but I added some in-timeline edits.

[12]: Almost all of this section is straight from our timeline.

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