Friday letters: Writer wrong on anti-Federalists

September 20, 2013 

I want to welcome USC professor Woody Holton to Columbia. He and I communicated when he was at the University of Richmond and I was at Alabama State University.

But he was wrong in his Sept. 13 guest column (“All hail the haters”) to suggest that the Constitution’s opponents, the anti-Federalists, were “haters.” They were really about perfecting a plan of government that was not federal enough and limited even more by the rights of states beyond their inadequate representation in the Senate.

Thus the widespread demand for conditional amendments, hundreds of them, aimed at better assuring both individual liberties and the rights of states. That the Bill of Rights included one reserving to the states all of the powers of government not expressly delegated reminds us that the Constitution was federal and limited, not national and unlimited nature. Although “not actually in the Constitution,” the Bill of Rights is nevertheless constitutional and by no means inferior.

From the beginning in 1776, in fact, republicanism and federalism were inextricably linked.

Kirk Wood


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