It is easy to perceive that there is an essential difference betweenelections by pluralities and by majorities, between choosing a man in a small orlimited district, and choosing a number of men promiscuously by the people of alarge state. And while we are almost secure of judicious unbiased elections bymajorities in such districts, we have no security against deceptions, influenceand corruption in states or large districts in electing by pluralities. When achoice is made by a plurality of votes, it is often made by a very small part ofthe electors, who attend and give their votes; when by a majority, never by sofew as one half of them. The partialities and improprieties attending theformer mode may be illustrated by a case that lately happened in one of themiddle states. Several representatives were to be chosen by a large number ofinhabitants compactly settled, among whom there were four or five thousandvoters. Previous to the time of election a number of lists of candidates werepublished, to divide and distract the voters in general. About half a dozen menof some influence, who had a favorite list to carry, met several times, fixedtheir list, and agreed to hand it about among all who could probably be inducedto adopt it, and to circulate the other lists among their opponents, to dividethem. The poll was opened, and several hundred electors, suspecting nothing,attended and put in their votes. The list of the half dozen was carried, andmen were found to be chosen, some of whom were very disagreeable to a largemajority of the electors. Though several hundred electors voted, men on thatlist were chosen who had only 45, 43, 44, etc. , votes each. They had aplurality, that is, more than any other persons. The votes generally werescattered, and those who made even a feeble combination succeeded in placinghighest upon the list several very unthought of and very unpopular men. Thisevil never could have happened in a town where all the voters meet in one place,and consider no man as elected unless he have a majority, or more than half ofall the votes. Clear it is, that the man on whom thus but a small part of thevotes are bestowed cannot possess the confidence of the people, or have anyconsiderable degree of influence over them. But as partial, as liable to secretinfluence, and corruption as the choice by pluralities may be, I think, wecannot avoid it, without essentially increasing the federal representation, andadopting the principle of district elections. There is but one case in whichthe choice by the majority is practicable, and that is, where districts areformed of such moderate extent that the electors in each can conveniently meetin one place, and at one time, and proceed to the choice of a representative;when, if no man have a majority or more than half of all the votes the firsttime, the voters may examine the characters of those brought forward,accommodate, and proceed to repeat their votes till some one shall have thatmajority. This, I believe, cannot be a case under the constitution proposed inits present form. To explain my ideas, take Massachusetts, for instance. Sheis entitled to eight representatives. She has 370,000 inhabitants, about 46,000to one representative. If the elections be so held that the electors throughoutthe state meet in their several towns or places, and each elector puts in hisvote for eight representatives, the votes of the electors will ninety-nine timesin a hundred, be so scattered that on collecting the votes from the severaltowns or places, no men will be found, each of whom have a majority of thevotes, and therefore the election will not be made . . . . I might add many otherobservations to evince the superiority and solid advantages of proper districtelections, and a choice by a majority, and to prove that many evils attend thecontrary practice. These evils we must encounter as the constitution nowstands. I see no way to fix elections on a proper footing, and to rendertolerably equal and secure the federal representation, but by increasing therepresentation, so as to have one representative for each district in which theelectors may conveniently meet in one place, and at one time, and choose by amajority. Perhaps this might be effected pretty generally, by fixing onerepresentative for each twelve thousand inhabitants; dividing, or fixing theprinciples for dividing the states into proper districts; and directing theelectors of each district to the choice, by a majority, of some men having apermanent interest and residence in it. I speak of a representation tolerablyequal, etc. , because I am still of opinion, that it is impracticable in thisextensive country to have a federal representation sufficiently democratic, orsubstantially drawn from the body of the people. The principles just mentionedmay be the best practical ones we can expect to establish. By thus increasingthe representation we not only make it more democratical and secure, strengthenthe confidence of the people in it, and thereby render it more nervous andenergetic; but it will also enable the people essentially to change, for thebetter, the principles and forms of elections. To provide for the people'swandering throughout the state for a representative may sometimes enable them toelect a more brilliant or an abler man, than by confining them to districts; butgenerally this latitude will be used to pernicious purposes, especiallyconnected with the choice by plurality - when a man in the remote part of thestate, perhaps obnoxious at home, but ambitious and intriguing, may be chosen torepresent the people in another part of the state far distant, and by a smallpart of them, or by a faction, or by a combination of some particulardescription of men among them. This has been long the case in Great Britain; itis the case in several states; nor do I think that such pernicious practiceswill be merely possible in our federal concerns, but highly probable. Byestablishing district elections, we exclude none of the best men from beingelected; and we fix what, in my mind, is of far more importance than brillianttalents - I mean a sameness, as to residence and interests, between therepresentative and his constituents. And by the election by a majority, he issure to be the man, the choice of more than half of them. . . .
We must examine facts. Congress, in its present form, have but few officesto dispose of worth the attention of the members, or of men of the aristocracy. Yet from 1774 to this time, we find a large proportion of those offices assignedto those who were or had been members of congress; and though the states chooseannually sixty or seventy members, many of them have been provided for. But fewmen are known to congress in this extensive country, and, probably, but few willbeto the president and senate, except those who have or shall appear as membersof congress, or those whom the members may bring forward. The states may nowchoose yearly ninety-one members of congress; under the new constitution theywill have it in their power to choose exactly the same number, perhapsafterwards, one hundred and :fifteen, but these must be chosen once in two andsix years. So that, in the course of ten years together, not more thantwo-thirds so many members of congress will be elected and brought into view, asthere now are under the confederation in the same term of time. But at leastthere will be five, if not ten times, as many offices and places worthy of theattention of the members, under the new constitution, as there are under theconfederation. Therefore, we may fairly presume, that a very great proportionof the members of congress, especially the influential ones, instead ofreturning to private life, will be provided for with lucrative offices, in thecivil or military department; and not only the members, but many of their sons,friends, and connections. These offices will be in the constitutionaldisposition of the president and senate, and, corruption out of the question,what kind of security can we expect in a representation so many of the membersof which may rationally feel themselves candidates for these offices? Letcommon sense decide. It is true, that members chosen to offices must leavetheir seats in congress; and to some few offices they cannot be elected till thetime shall be expired for which they were elected members. But this scarcelywill effect the bias arising from the hopes and expectations of office. . . .
And first, let me ask these restless spirits, Whence arises that violent antipathy they seem to entertain, not only to the natural rights of mankind, but to common-sense and common modesty? That they are enemies to the natural rights of mankind is manifest, because they wish to see one part of their species enslaved by another. That they have an invincible aversion to common-sense is apparent in many respects: they endeavor to persuade us that the absolute sovereignty of Parliament does not imply our absolute slavery; that it is a Christian duty to submit to be plundered of all we have, merely because some of our fellow-subjects are wicked enough to require it of us; that slavery, so far from being a great evil, is a great blessing; and even that our contest with Britain is founded entirely upon the petty duty of three pence per pound on East India tea, whereas the whole world knows it is built upon this interesting question, whether the inhabitants of Great Britain have a right to dispose of the lives and properties of the inhabitants of America, or not. And lastly, that these men have discarded all pretension to common modesty, is clear from hence: first, because they, in the plainest terms, call an august body of men, famed for their patriotism and abilities, fools or knaves; and of course the people whom they represented cannot be exempt from the same opprobrious appellations; and secondly, because they set themselves up as standards of wisdom and probity, by contradicting and censuring the public voice in favor of those men.
"The requisition of a five per cent impost, made on the 3d of February,1781, has not yet been complied with by the state of Rhode Island, but as thereis reason to believe, that their compliance is not far off, this revenue may beconsidered as already granted. It will, however, be very inadequate to thepurposes intended. If goods be imported, and prizes introduced to the amount oftwelve millions annually, the five per cent would be six hundred thousand, fromwhich at least one sixth must be deducted, as well for the cost of collection asfor the various defalcations which will necessarily happen, and which it isunnecessary to enumerate. It is not safe therefore, to estimate this revenue atmore than half a million of dollars; for though it may produce more, yetprobably it will not produce so much. It was in consequence of this, that onthe 27th day of February last, I took the liberty to submit the propriety ofasking the states for a land tax of one dollar for every hundred acres of land a poll-tax of one dollar on all freemen, and all male slaves, between sixteen and sixty, excepting such as are in the federal army, or by wounds or otherwiserendered unfit for service - and an excise of one eighth of a dollar, on alldistilled spiritous liquors. Each of these may be estimated at half a million;and should the product be equal to the estimation, the sum total of revenues forfunding the public debts, would be equal to two millions. "
Where is the impracticability of a revision? Cannot the same power which calledthe late convention call another? Are not the people still their own masters? If, when the several state conventions come to consider this constitution, theyshould not approve of it, in its present form, they may easily apply to congressand state their objections. Congress may as easily direct the calling anotherconvention, as they did the calling the last. The plan may then bereconsidered, deliberately received and corrected, so as to meet the approbationof every friend to his country. A few months only will be necessary for thispurpose; and if we consider the magnitude of the object, we shall deem it wellworth a little time and attention. It is Much better to pause and reflectbefore hand, than to repent when it is too late; when no peaceable remedy willbe left us, and unanimity will be forever banished. The struggles of the peopleagainst a bad government, when it is once fixed, afford but a gloomy picture inthe annals of mankind, They are often unfortunate; they are always destructiveof private and public happiness; but the peaceable consent of a people toestablish a free and effective government is one of the most glorious objectsthat is ever exhibited on the theater of human affairs. Some, I know, haveobjected that another convention will not be likely to agree upon anything - I amfar however from being of that opinion. The public voice calls so loudly for anew constitution that I have no doubt we shall have one of some sort. My onlyfear is that the impatience of the people will lead them to accept the firstthat is offered them without examining whether it is right or wrong. And afterall, if a new convention cannot agree upon any amendments in the constitution,which is at present proposed, we can still adopt this in its present form; andall further opposition being vain, it is to be hoped we shall be unanimous inendeavouring to make the best of it. The experiment is at least worth trying,and I shall be much astonished, if a new convention called together for thepurpose of revising the proposed constitution, do not greatly reform it . . .
Robert Yates (1738-1801) was a and well known for his stances. He is well known as the presumed author of sixteen essays published in 1787 and 1788 under the pseudonym Brutus. The essays opposed the introduction of the .
Brutus also questions the validity of the and asks ““If [slaves] have no share in government. why is the number of members in the assembly, to be increased on their account?” He sees this as one example of the corruption of the branch. The fact that each state, regardless of size, will have the same number of senators "is the only feature of any importance in the constitution of a confederated government" and is one of the few aspects of the legislature that Brutus approves of (16). He disagrees with the method of electing senators as well as the six year term they are given as he believes spending that much time away from his constituents will make him less in touch with their interests (16). He advocates for a rotation in government to avoid the problem of men serving in the Senate for life. He also objects to Congress taking part in appointing officers and impeachment as it gives them both executive and judicial powers and he deems such blurring of the branches as dangerous (16).
Other Antifederalist essays quickly followed. They were typically published under pseudonyms, contributing to their frank and honest tone. The most influential of the Antifederalist papers were penned by "Cato" (widely believed by historians to be New York Governor George Clinton), "Brutus" (believed to be New York judge Robert Yates), and "The Federal Farmer" (possibly Richard Henry Lee of Virginia or Melancton Smith of New York, or both). Antifederalist writings typically originated in large and influential states such as New York and Virginia because that was where debates over the Constitution were most contentious, and thus most crucial to the overall success or failure of the ratification process.
The “Anti-federalists” were fearful of unduecentralization. They worried that the powers of central authoritieswere not sufficiently constrained e.g., by a bill of rights (JohnDeWitt 1787, Richard Henry Lee) that was eventually ratifiedin 1791. They also feared that the center might gradually usurp themember units’ powers. Citing Montesquieu, another pseudonymous‘Brutus’ doubted whether a republic of such geographicalsize with so many inhabitants with conflicting interests could avoidtyranny and would allow common deliberation and decision based onlocal knowledge (Brutus (Robert Yates?) 1787).
The Congress under the new Constitution have the power "of organizing,arming and disciplining the militia, and of governing them when in the serviceof the United States, giving to the separate States the appointment of theofficers and the authority of training the militia according to the disciplineprescribed by Congress. " Let us inquire why they have assumed this greatpower. Was it to strengthen the power which is now lodged in your hands, andrelying upon you and you solely for aid and support to the civil power in theexecution of all the laws of the new Congress? Is this probable? Does thecomplexion of this new plan countenance such a supposition? When theyunprecedently claim the power of raising and supporting armies, do they tell youfor what purposes they are to be raised? How they are to be employed? How manythey are to consist of, and where to be stationed? Is this power fettered withany one of those restrictions, which will show they depend upon the militia, andnot upon this infernal engine of oppression to execute their civil laws? Thenature of the demand in itself contradicts such a supposition, and forces you tobelieve that it is for none of these causes - but rather for the purpose ofconsolidating and finally destroying your strength, as your respectivegovernments are to be destroyed. They well know the impolicy of putting orkeeping arms in the hands of a nervous people, at a distance from the seat of agovernment, upon whom they mean to exercise the powers granted in thatgovernment. They have no idea of calling upon or trusting to the partyaggrieved to support and enforce their own grievances, (notwithstanding they mayselect and subject them to as strict subordination as regular troops) unlessthey have a standing army to back and compel the execution of their orders. Itis asserted by the most respectable writers upon government, that a wellregulated militia, composed of the yeomanry of the country, have ever beenconsidered as the bulwark of a free people. Tyrants have never placed anyconfidence on a militia composed of freemen. Experience has taught them that astanding body of regular forces, whenever they can be completely introduced, arealways efficacious in enforcing their edicts, however arbitrary; and slaves byprofession themselves, are "nothing loth" to break down the barriersof freedom with a gout. No, my fellow citizens, this plainly shows they do notmean to depend upon the citizens of the States alone to enforce their powers. They mean to lean upon something more substantial and summary. They have leftthe appointment of officers in the breasts of the several States; but thisappears to me an insult rather than a privilege, for what avails this right ifthey at their pleasure may arm or disarm all or any part of the freemen of theUnited States, so that when their army is sufficiently numerous, they may put itout of the power of the freemen militia of America to assert and defend theirliberties, however they might be encroached upon by Congress. Does any, afterreading this provision for a regular standing army, suppose that they intendedto apply to the militia in all cases, and to pay particular attention to makingthem the bulwark of this continent? And would they not be equal to such anundertaking? Are they not abundantly able to give security and stability toyour government as long as it is free? Are they not the only proper persons todo it? Are they not the most respectable body of yeomanry in that characterupon earth? Have they not been engaged in some of the most brilliant actions inAmerica, and more than once decided the fate of princes? In short, do they notpreclude the necessity of any standing army whatsoever, unless in case ofinvasion? And in that case it would be time enough to raise them, for no freegovernment under heaven, with a well disciplined militia, was ever yet subduedby mercenary troops.