Organized Opposition: The Anti-Federalist Political Network

  • Michael J. FaberEmail author
  • Robi Ragan
Part of the Studies in Public Choice book series (SIPC, volume 39)


The Anti-Federalists, as the losers of the debate over ratification, have frequently been portrayed as petty obstructionists who had no answer to the Federalist argument for the Constitution. More recently, scholars have placed more emphasis on strategic aspects of the debate; the success of the Constitution owes a great deal to strategic considerations and to the superior political network of its supporters. The disparity in the degree of cooperation and coordination of each of their political organizations, however, has never been systematically examined. In this paper, we conduct a quantitative investigation into this question. We construct a simple measure of the organization of the Anti-Federalists, the spread of published newspaper essays, to examine the extent and development of their political network during the debates over ratification, from September 1787 through July 1788. Using data on the reprinting of essays in support of or in opposition to the Constitution, we examine the dissemination of Federalist versus Anti-Federalist arguments. We use network analysis techniques to determine the extent of national cooperation of newspapers sympathetic to each side. Our results suggest that although the Anti-Federalist network was not as strong at the beginning of the debate, they became better organized in late 1787, only to begin to crumble early the following year.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Texas State UniversitySan MarcosUSA
  2. 2.Mercer UniversityMaconUSA

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