Tea Party Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) says liberal historians have ignored the role of Anti-Federalist Founding Fathers

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tags: Founding Fathers, Constitution, Tea Party



Mike Lee is the junior U.S. senator from Utah. This article is adapted from his book "Written Out of History: The Forgotten Founders Who Fought Big Government" (Penguin Sentinel: May 30, 2017).

Over the past century in particular, historians and politicians who consider themselves more enlightened than the founders have done special damage to the legacy of the founding generation, a legacy that warned against the dangers of a distant, centralized government. 

All but forgotten are the Anti-Federalists, whose names lack the familiar ring of Hamilton or Madison. Some were framers, like Luther Martin, a Maryland delegate to the Constitutional Convention who refused to sign the Constitution based on what he perceived as its failure to protect individual rights; or Elbridge Gerry, the Massachusetts delegate who argued strongly for what would become the Bill of Rights; or George Mason, the Virginia statesman who fought and warned against government intrusion into commerce between individuals and states. Mercy Otis Warren, one of America’s first female writers and a John Adams protégée-turned-Anti-Federalist activist, was not at the Constitutional Convention, but during the ratification fight, used her acid pen to rail against the encroachment of federal power.

The founders had sincere disagreements over the size and scope of the government and where its powers should be vested. And in studying their disputes, we can begin to see just how far afield we’ve strayed from our founding ideals. 

No one living in America in the late 18th century—certainly none of the brilliant minds who forged our founding documents, be they Federalists or Anti-Federalists—could have contemplated just how strong, or how large, the federal government would become. Nor could they have imagined how much control the city named for George Washington would come to have over ordinary citizens.




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