January 5, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Social Science, Political Science
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The Economic and Intellectual Influences in The Debate over Ratification of the U.S. Constitution

Rick Riley PSC 499 Fall 2009

Economic Interests


The Competing Schools of Thought on Constitutional History Economic Model • Charles A. Beard, Jackson T. Main • Progressive/Liberal • Constitution was designed to benefit Founders economically • Anti-Federalists and Federalists divided along class lines

Intellectual Model • Forrest McDonald • Conservative • Constitution had ideological roots • Anti-Federalists had localist tendencies • Federalists were Nationalists

McDonald V.S. Beard State by State


Early Ratification States State

Farmer Delegates

Security Holding Delegates



6 members



1 Member

New Jersey



• New Jersey, Delaware, Georgia • All ratified unanimously • Beard: farming interest not given enough time to organize, security holders dominated. • McDonald: large number of farmer delegates • Small number of personality interests

Southern Opposition States • Virginia and North Carolina • Large number of farmers • Holders of Confiscated British wealth in Virginia • Public security holders support Constitution • Debtors divided in North Carolina http://www.gutenberg.org/files/22461/22461-h/images/i5.jpg

Agrarian Dominated States • Connecticut, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire • Beard: personality groups dominated conventions • McDonald: over half of Delegates were farmers in all states • Majority of debtors vote for ratification

Personality States • Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island • Eastern Regions: strong Federalist cities • Western Regions: majority Anti-Federalist • Few members of realty interest, yet, strong opposition


Massachusetts Coins

Jackson T. Main’s Class Model • Federalists were in high leadership positions • Anti-Federalists in lower class • Disproven in many states

McDonald’s Economic Groups • Beard’s economic interests too rigid • Economic interest were complex • Four primary interest groups -farmers, manufacturers, merchants, professionals

• Numerous subgroups

Farmers • Subsistence -permanent group -potentially commercial -all from isolated areas

• Commercial -Slave holding: divided, depending on situation -non-slave holding: mainly Anti-Federalists


Manufacturers • Service Industries -Tied to customer’s interests • Stable producers -Nothing at stake • Capitalists -Heavily Federalist for economic reasons


Mercantile Interests • retail • foreign trade agents

• shipping merchants • non-shipping merchants


Return of The Experiment, By L.F. Tantillo, Depicts Albany, NY in 1787

Professionals • Physicians -Not affected

• Lawyers -Constitution elevates them -some with political careers

• Public Office Holders -Support based on stability of situation

Intellectual Influences


McDonald’s Two forms of Republicanism


Gouverneur Morris


Patrick Henry

Puritanistic Republicanism • Influenced by ancient republics and Great Awakening • Prominent in New England • Private behavior important to public virtue • Community before the Individual • Virtues: Industry, Frugality, Work Ethic • Prominent Founders: John Adams (Federalist, MA.), Richard Henry Lee (AntiFederalist, VA) http://www.reclaimamericaforchrist.org/john%20adams.JPG

John Adams

Agrarian Republicanism •

• •

• • •

John Taylor of Caroline http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=t000086

Influences: 17th and18th Century theorists and The Anglo Saxon Myth. Prominent in the South Property ownership and right to bear arms. Rights of the individual over community Vigilance and jealousy of power Prominent Founders: John Taylor of Caroline (VA, Anti-Federalist), Patrick Henry (Va, Anti-Federalist)

Views of History



Alexander Hamilton

Robert Yates

Views of History • Federalists

• Anti-Federalists

• •

“new science of politics” Hamilton, “Federalist No.9,”

• “The science of politics, like most other sciences, has received great improvement.”

• •

Historical patterns of human nature. Robert Yates, “Brutus” “It is a truth confirmed by the unerring ages that every man, and every body of men, invested with power, are ever deposed to increase it, and to acquire superiority over every thing that stands in their way.”

Interpretations of Montesquieu


Baron de Montesquieu

Interpretations of Montesquieu • Federalists

• Anti-Federalists

• • • •

Ruling elite Madison, “Federalist No. 51” Protection from insurrection Hamilton, “Federalist No.9”



“Moderate governments” and states rights George Clinton, “Cato’s Letter III”



Level of Contact with Outside World • Federalists lived in areas were contact with outside world was common • Anti-Federalists tended to be from isolated areas • This divide consistent in most cases • Exceptions



Conclusion • Multiple and diverse influences • Economic models of Beard, Main discredited by fact, but not in all cases • Diversity of influences

Bibliography •

• • • • • • •

Beard, Charles A. 1960. An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States of America. New York. MacMillan Epstein, David, F. 1984. The Political Theory of the Federalist. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press Frohen, Bruce. 1999. The Anti-Federalists: Selected Writings and Speeches. Washington, D.C.:Regnery Publishing. Main, Jackson Turner. 1961 The Anti-Federalist Critics of the Constitution, 1781-1789. ChapelHill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press McDonald, Forrest. 1979. E Pluribus Unum, The Formation of the American Republic 1776-1790. Indianapolis: Liberty Press McDonald, Forrest, 1992. We The People, the Economic Origins of the Constitution. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers McDonald, Forrest, 1985. Novus Ordo Seclorum, the Intellectual Origins of the Constituion. Lawrence, K.S.: University Press of Kansas Rakove, Jack, N. 1997. Original Meanings, Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution. New York: A.A. Knopf.

White, Morton, 1987. Philosophy, the Federalist, and the Constitution. New York.: Oxford University Press


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