Antifederalist No. 17
FEDERALIST POWER WILL ULTIMATELY SUBVERT STATE AUTHORITY

The most brilliant of all Antifederalist writers used the pseudonym "BRUTUS." Samuel B. Harding, The Contest Over the Ratification of the Federal Constitution in the State of Massachusetts ( New York, 1896), p. 18n, attributed the authorship to Thomas Treadwell. Paul L. Ford first seemed to agree that Treadwell wrote these essays ( Pamphlets, p. 117), but four years later ( Essays, p. 295) alleged Robert Yates to have been the author. The latest study of this period, Jackson T. Main's The Antifederalists ( Chapel Hill, 1961) accepts this identification. Yet, Yates's other Antifederalist essays, under his well-known pen name "Sydney" (see Antifederalist No. 45) seem to be inferior in quality and style to the "Brutus" essays.

For an appreciation of the importance of the writings of "Brutus" see also Antifederalist Nos. 23, 24, 25, 32, 33, part of 54, 62, 78-79, 80, 81, 82, and 84.

With uncommon foresight, "Brutus" predicted exactly how and why federal powers would mount through later interpretations of the "necessary and proper" clause, as well as by judicial review.

The full text of this essay may be found in Bradford K. Peirce and Charles Hale (eds.), Debates and Proceedings in the Convention of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Held in the Year 1788, and which Finally Ratified the Constitution of the United States ( Boston, 1856), pp. 366-78. A rebuttal of this particular essay was penned by "A Citizen of Philadelphia" ( Pelatiah Webster ), entitled The Weakness of Brutus Exposed: or, some Remarks in Vindication of the Constitution proposed by the late Federal Convention, against the Objections and gloomy Fears of that Writer ( Philadelphia, 1787), reprinted in Ford, Pamphlets, pp. 119-31.

This [new] government is to possess absolute and uncontrollable powers, legislative, executive and judicial, with respect to every object to which it extends, for by the last clause of section eighth, article first, it is declared, that the Congress shall have power "to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or office thereof." And by the sixth article, it is declared, "that this Constitution, and the laws of the United States, which shall be made in pursuance thereof, and the treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any thing in the Constitution or law of any State to the contrary notwithstanding." It appears from these articles, that there is no need of any intervention of the State governments, between the Congress and the people, to execute any one power vested in the general government, and that the Constitution and laws of every State are nullified and declared void, so far as they are or shall be inconsistent with this Constitution, or the laws made in pursuance of it, or

-42-

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