Patron:
The Hon Sir Gerard Brennan AC KBE
former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia
Conference Committee:
Suri Ratnapala, Professor of Public Law, UQ
Thomas John, Chair, European Focus Group, LCA
Nicholas Aroney, Reader in Law, UQ
Hendryk Flaegel, International Law Section, LCA


Anti-Federalism

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Anti-Federalism refers to a movement that opposed the creation of a stronger U.S. federal government and which later opposed the ratification of the Constitution of 1787. The previous constitution, called the Articles of Confederation, gave state governments more authority. Led by Patrick Henry of Virginia, Anti-Federalists worried, among other things, that the position of president, then a novelty, might evolve into a monarchy. A book titled "The Anti-Federalist Papers" is a detailed explanation of American Anti-Federalist thought. During the American Revolution and its immediate aftermath the term "federal" was applied to any person who supported the colonial union and the government formed under the Articles of Confederation. After the war the group who felt that the national government under the Articles was too weak appropriated the name Federalist for themselves. Historian Jackson Turner ain wrote that, "to them, the man of 'federal principles' approved of 'federal measures,' which meant those that increased the weight and authority or extended the influence of the Confederation Congress."[1] As the Federalists moved to amend the Articles, eventually leading to the Constitutional Convention, they applied the term anti-federalist to their opposition. The term implied, correctly or not, both opposition to Congress and unpatriotic motives. The Anti-Federalists rejected the term, arguing that they were the true Federalists. In both their correspondence and their local groups they tried to capture the term. For example, an unknown anti-federalist signed his public correspondence as "A Federal Farmer" and the New York committee opposing the Constitution was called the "Federal Republican Committee." However the Federalists carried the day and the name Anti-Federalist forever stuck

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