Organized Opposition: The Anti-Federalist Network


Poster for PolNet 2010


Scholars of the American founding often assume that a substantial part of the Federalist victory in the debate over ratification of the Constitution was due to their superior organization and planning. The Anti-Federalists, according to conventional wisdom, were at best disorganized, if not fractured, in their opposition. The disparity in the extent of their political organizations, however, has never been adequately examined. We propose to look at a simple measure of the organization of the Federalists and 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 June 1788. We catalog the reprinting of essays in support of, and in opposition to, the Constitution. We then use network analysis to determine the extent of national collaboration between newspapers.

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