This common man involvement is reinforced by the fact that the Anti-Federalists wanted to keep government more local, by having strong state governments....
The ongoing Federalist essays appeared from October of 1787 to May of 1788. Rebuttals, Anti-Federalist in nature, to Federalist writers were seldom published. This selection was an answer to Publius [John Jay] Federalist No. 5. This article by "AN OBSERVER" was printed in The New-York Journal and was reprinted in the [Boston] American Herald on December 3, 1787.
It is said, that as the federal head must make peace and war, and providefor the common defense, it ought to possess all powers necessary to that end. That powers unlimited, as to the purse and sword, to raise men and monies andform the militia, are necessary to that end; and therefore, the federal headought to possess them. This reasoning is far more specious than solid. It isnecessary that these powers so exist in the body politic, as to be called intoexercise whenever necessary for the public safety. But it is by no means truethat the man, or congress of men, whose duty it more immediately is to providefor the common defense, ought to possess them without limitation. But clear itis, that if such men, or congress, be not in a situation to hold them withoutdanger to liberty, he or they ought not to possess them. It has long beenthought to be a well founded position, that the purse and sword ought not to beplaced in the same hands in a free government. Our wise ancestors havecarefully separated them - placed the sword in the hands of their king, even underconsiderable limitations, and the purse in the hands of the commons alone. Yetthe king makes peace and war, and it is his duty to provide for the commondefense of the nation. This authority at least goeth thus far - that a nation,well versed in the science of government, does not conceive it to be necessaryor expedient for the man entrusted with the common defense and generaltranquility, to possess unlimitedly the power in question, or even in anyconsiderable degree. Could he, whose duty it is t defend the public, possess inhimself independently, all the means of doing it consistent with the publicgood, it might be convenient. But the people o England know that theirliberties and happiness would be in infinitely great danger from the king'sunlimited possession of these powers, than from al external enemies and internalcommotions to which they might be exposed Therefore, though they have made ithis duty to guard the empire, yet the have wisely placed in other hands, thehands of their representatives, the power to deal out and control the means. InHolland their high mightiness must provide for the common defense, but for themeans they depend in considerable degree upon requisitions made on the state orlocal assemblies Reason and facts evince, that however convenient it might befor an executive magistrate, or federal head, more immediately charged with thenational defense and safety, solely, directly, and independently to possess allthe means, yet such magistrate or head never ought to possess them if therebythe public liberties shall be endangered. The powers in question never havebeen, by nations wise and free, deposited, nor can they ever be, with safety, any where out of the principal members of the national system. Where these formone entire government, as in Great Britain, they are separated and lodged in theprincipal members of it. But in a federal republic, there is quite a differentorganization; the people form this kind of government, generally, because theirterritories are too extensive to admit of their assembling in one legislature,or of executing the laws on free principles under one entire government. TheyConvene in their local assemblies, for local purposes, and for managing theirinternal concerns, and unite their states under a federal head for generalpurposes. It is the essential characteristic of a confederated republic, thatthis head be dependent on, and kept within limited bounds by the localgovernments; and it is because, in these alone, in fact, the people can besubstantially assembled or represented. It is, therefore, we very universallysee, in this kind of government, the congressional powers placed in a few hands,and accordingly limited, and specifically enumerated; and the local assembliesstrong and well guarded, and composed of numerous members. Wise men will alwaysplace the controlling power where the people are substantially collected bytheir representatives. By the proposed system the federal head will possess,without limitation, almost every species of power that can, in its exercise,tend to change the government, or to endanger liberty; while in it, I think ithas been fully shown, the people will have but the shadow of representation, andbut the shadow of security for their rights and liberties. In a confederatedrepublic, the division of representation, etc. , in its nature, requires acorrespondent division and deposit of powers, relative to taxes and militaryconcerns. And I think the plan offered stands quite alone, in confounding theprinciples of governments in themselves totally distinct. I wish not toexculpate the states for their improper neglects in not paying their quotas ofrequisitions. But, in applying the remedy, we must be governed by reason andfacts. It will not be denied that the people have a right to change thegovernment when the majority choose it, if not restrained by some existingcompact; that they have a right to displace their rulers, and consequently todetermine when their measures are reasonable or not; and that they have a right,at any time, to put a stop to those measures they may deem prejudicial to them,by such forms and negatives as they may see fit to provide. From all these, andmany other well founded considerations, I need not mention, a question arises,what powers shall there be delegated to the federal head, to insure safety, aswell as energy, in the government? I think there is a safe and proper mediumpointed out by experience, by reason, and facts. When we have organized thegovernment, we ought to give power to the union, so far only as experience andpresent circumstances shall direct, with a reasonable regard to time to come.
Should future circumstances, contrary to our expectations, require that furtherpowers be transferred to the union, we can do it far more easily, than get backthose we may now imprudently give. The system proposed is untried. Candidadvocates and opposers admit, that it is in a degree, a mere experiment, andthat its organization is weak and imperfect. Surely then, the safe ground iscautiously to vest power in it, and when we are sure we have given enough forordinary exigencies, to be extremely careful how we delegate powers, which, incommon cases, must necessarily be useless or abused, and of very uncertaineffect in uncommon ones. By giving the union power to regulate commerce, and tolevy and collect taxes by imposts, we give it an extensive authority, andpermanent productive funds, I believe quite as adequate to present demands ofthe union, as excises and direct taxes can be made to the present demands of theseparate states. The state governments are now about four times as expensive asthat of the union; and their several state debts added together, are nearly aslarge as that of the union. Our impost duties since the peace have been almostas productive as the other sources of taxation, and when under one generalsystem of regulations, the probability is that those duties will be veryconsiderably increased. Indeed the representation proposed will hardly justifygiving to congress unlimited powers to raise taxes by imposts, in addition tothe other powers the union must necessarily have. It is said, that if congresspossess only authority to raise taxes by imposts, trade probably will beoverburdened with taxes, and the taxes of the union be found inadequate to anyuncommon exigencies. To this we may observe, that trade generally finds its ownlevel, and will naturally and necessarily heave off any undue burdens laid uponit. Further, if congress alone possess the impost, and also unlimited power toraise monies by excises and direct taxes, there must be much more danger thattwo taxing powers, the union and states, will carry excises and direct taxes toan unreasonable extent, especially as these have not the natural boundariestaxes on trade have. However, it is not my object to propose to exclude congressfrom raising monies by internal taxes, except in strict conformity to thefederal plan; that is, by the agency of the state governments in all cases,except where a state shall neglect, for an unreasonable time, to pay its quotaof a requisition; and never where so many of the state legislatures as representa majority of the people, shall formally determine an excise law or requisitionis improper, in their next session after the same be laid before them. We oughtalways to recollect that the evil to be guarded against is found by our ownexperience, and the experience of others, to be mere neglect in the statesto pay their quotas; and power in the union to levy and collect the neglectingstates' quotas with interest, is fully adequate to the evil. By this federalplan, with this exception mentioned, we secure the means of collecting the taxesby the usual process of law, and avoid the evil of attempting to compel orcoerce a state; and we avoid also a circumstance, which never yet could be, andI am fully confident never can be, admitted in a free federal republic - I mean apermanent and continued system of tax laws of the union, executed in the bowelsof the states by many thousand officers, dependent as to the assessing andcollecting federal taxes solely upon the union. On every principle, then, weought to provide that the union render an exact account of all monies raised byimposts and other taxes whenever monies shall be wanted for the purposes of theunion beyond the proceeds of the impost duties; requisitions shall be made onthe states for the monies so wanted; and that the power of laying and collectingshall never be exercised, except in cases where a state shall neglect, a giventime, to pay its quota. This mode seems to be strongly pointed out by thereason of the case, and spirit of the government; and I believe, there is noinstance to be found in a federal republic, where the congressional powers everextended generally to collecting monies by direct taxes or excises. Creating allthese restrictions, still the powers of the union in matters of taxation will betoo unlimited; further checks, in my mind, are indispensably necessary. Nor doI conceive, that as full a representation as is practicable in the federalgovernment, will afford sufficient security. The strength of the government,and the confidence of the people, must be collected principally in the localassemblies. . . . A government possessed of more power than its constituentparts will justify, will not only probably abuse it, but be unequal to bear itsown burden; it may as soon be destroyed by the pressure of power, as languishand perish for want of it.
Heretofore we do not seem to have seen danger any where, but in giving powerto congress, and now no where but in congress wanting powers; and withoutexamining the extent of the evils to be remedied, by one step we ar for givingup to congress almost all powers of any importance without limitation. Thedefects of the confederation are extravagantly magnified, an every species ofpain we feel imputed to them; and hence it is inferred, the must be a totalchange of the principles, as well as forms of government And in the main point,touching the federal powers, we rest all on a logical inference, totallyinconsistent with experience and sound political reasoning.
Anti-Federalists sought a second constitutional convention immediately afterconclusion of the first. This essay by "AN OLD WHIG," is from eitherThe Freeman's Journal or The North-American Intelligencer, of November 28, 1787.
If I understand the constitution, the laws of congress, constitutionally made,will have complete and supreme jurisdiction to all federal purposes, on everyinch of ground in the United States, and exclusive jurisdiction on the highseas, and this by the highest authority, the consent of the people. Suppose tenacres at West Point shall be used as a fort of the union, or a sea port town asa dockyard: the laws of the union, in those places, respecting the navy, forcesof the union, and all federal objects, must prevail, be noticed by all judgesand officers, and executed accordingly. And I can discern no one reason forexcluding from these places, the operation of state laws, as to mere statepurpose for instance, for the collection of state taxes in them; recoveringdebts; deciding questions of property arising within them on state laws;punishing, by state laws, theft, trespasses, and offenses committed in them bymere citizens against the state law.
A federal, or rather a national city, ten miles square, containing a hundred square miles, is about four times as large as London; and for forts, magazines, arsenals, dock yards, and other needful buildings, congress may possess a number of places or towns in each state. It is true, congress cannot have them unless the state legislatures cede them; but when once ceded, they never can be recovered. And though the general temper of the legislatures may be averse to such cessions, yet many opportunities and advantages may be taken of particular times and circumstances of complying assemblies, and of particular parties, to obtain them. It is not improbable, that some considerable towns or places, in some intemperate moments, or influenced by anti-republican principles, will petition to be ceded for the purposes mentioned in the provision. There are men, and even towns, in the best republics, which are often fond of withdrawing from the government of them, whenever occasion shall present. The case is still stronger. If the provision in question holds out allurements to attempt to withdraw, the people of a state must ever be subject to state as well as federal taxes; but the federal city and places will be subject only to the latter, and to them by no fixed proportion. Nor of the taxes raised in them, can the separate states demand any account of congress. These doors opened for withdrawing from the state governments entirely, may, on other accounts, be very alluring and pleasing to those anti-republican men who prefer a place under the wings of courts.
Robert Yates, a delegate to the 1787 convention from New York, left on July10, 1787. He became an Anti-Federalist leader. Under the nome de plume "Sydney"he wrote in the New York Daily Patriotic Register, June 13 and 14, 1788.
But after all the precautions we can take, without evidently fettering theunion too much, we must give a large accumulation of powers to it, in these andother respects. There is one check, which, I think may be added with greatpropriety - that is, no land forces shall be kept up, but by legislative actsannually passed by congress, and no appropriation of monies for their supportshall be for a longer term than one year. This is the constitutional practicein Great Britain, and the reasons for such checks in the United States appear tobe much stronger. We may also require that these acts be passed by a specialmajority, as before mentioned. There is another mode still more guarded, andwhich seems to be founded in the true spirit of a federal system: it seemsproper to divide those powers we can with safety, lodge them in no one member ofthe government alone; yet substantially to preserve their use, and to insureduration to the government by modifying the exercise of them - it is to empowercongress to raise troops by direct levies, not exceeding a given number, say2000 in time of peace, and 12,000 in a time of war, and for such further troopsas may be wanted, to raise them by requisitions qualified ,as before mentioned.