Anti-Federalist Paper #72

Early Argument Against the Electoral College.

The Anti-Federalist Papers were a series of papers written by opponents of ratification of the Constitution. These critics were generally in favor of editing the Articles of Confederation and wary of too much power being given to the federal government. In addition, the Anti-Federalist strongly favored a direct democracy.  Though this essay is not one of hte College Board-required documents, it is worth examination and analysis. Carefully read the excerpt from Anti-Federalist Paper #72  below and respond to the questions that follow.

Is it then become necessary, that a free people should first resign their right of suffrage into other hands besides their own, and then, secondly, that they to whom they resign it should be compelled to choose men, whose persons, characters, manners, or principles they know nothing of? And, after all (excepting some such change as is not likely to happen twice in the same century) to intrust Congress with the final decision at last? Is it necessary, is it rational, that the sacred rights of mankind should thus dwindle down to Electors of electors, and those again electors of other electors? This seems to be degrading them even below the prophetical curse denounced by the good old patriarch, on the offspring of his degenerate son: “servant of servants”. . .

To conclude, I can think of but one source of right to government, or any branch of it-and that is THE PEOPLE. They, and only they, have a right to determine whether they will make laws, or execute them, or do both in a collective body, or by a delegated authority. Delegation is a positive actual investiture. Therefore if any people are subjected to an authority which they have not thus actually chosen-even though they may have tamely submitted to it-yet it is not their legitimate government. They are wholly passive, and as far as they are so, are in a state of slavery. Thank heaven we are not yet arrived at that state. And while we continue to have sense enough to discover and detect, and virtue enough to detest and oppose every attempt, either of force or fraud, either from without or within, to bring us into it, we never will.Anti-Federalist Paper #72, Republicus

Anti-Federalist #72 is available in its entirety at the University of Tulsa.

Questions for Completion

1) What does Republicus, author of this text, view the function of the people in a democracy? Why would this cause him to oppose the Electoral College? Be sure to directly cite the text!

2) Republicus claims the Electoral College would “not be their legitimate government” and contribute to a “state of slavery.”  Why do you think Republicus chose to use hyperbolic language?

3) Do you the Anti-Federalists were correct to trust the democratic will of the people above all else? Why or why not?