In Essay I, Brutus made his case against the proposed Constitution.
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Freedom fighters and Patriots sometimes come from unsuspecting sources. This time, in the form of an ‘Anti-Federalist’ named Brutus.
Those making their case for the proposed Constitution were known as Federalists, while the opposition were Anti-Federalists. Their views were typically published in newspapers so the people could stay in the know. After all, this was to be the most influential decision of their lives to affect the ‘happiness and misery of generations yet unborn.’
Among the Anti-Federalist population was Brutus. Some have long debated that the writings of Brutus was New York lawyer Robert Yates. These debates – or essays or publishing’s if you may – began after the Constitution was written. It had yet to be ratified yet. So, these arguments were fully meant to inform and educate the whole of the people as to the business at hand. That business was to prepare for the upcoming vote on the Constitution.
Brutus wished to express the idea that this proposed Constitution was too over-reaching. He viewed it as a way to give too much power to a central government, instead of that power being in the power of the people. He looked ahead into the future and saw a time where the government would exert their power over the people. It was this idea that the government should have very restrained and limited powers that is resonating today, and will for years to come.
The Anti-Federalist group didn’t want a central government. They felt that that power to govern should be left in the hands of the states. Who knew better what the people of one state needed more than they did? At least that was what Brutus raised. He felt that having a central government would not be able to fully and properly represent and ‘secure the liberty of the citizens of America’ in a ‘full, fair, and equal’ way.
Even though the Constitution clearly laid out a separation of powers, those like Brutus felt they were being given too much power and authority. They wanted it left to those closest to the people. So, visiting the previous question: Who knew better what the people of on state needed more than they did? His, or at least their argument was: How could someone in New York decide what was best for someone in, say, Virginia? This was a valid concern. One that is echoed today, and done so across all three branches of government.
Brutus wanted the power to remain in possession of the states. His concerns would eventually come to fruition decades later. Today, that struggle to keep the power in the hands of the states is a hard one. The federal government continues to search for more power to push their ideas on others.
(It will be interesting to see how these debates continue up until the ratifying of the Constitution.)
With special thanks to Constituting America and Heritage College, we will be taking part in their project: The U.S. Constitution: A Reader. It is a 90 day challenge to learn and dive deeper into understanding the Constitution.