One of the more scurrilous Antifederalist scribes, "PHILADELPHIENSIS," is believed to have been Benjamin Workman. A tutor at the University of Pennsylvania, but recently arrived from Ireland, Workman's essays against the Constitution were marked by a dogmatic and inflammatory style. The influence of Thomas Paine's writings upon that style is obvious. Certain phrases, easily recognized by contemporaries, were taken from the pages of Common Sense.
The following selection is excerpted from three of Workman's essays which appeared February 6 and 20, and April 9, 1788, in The Freeman's Journal; Or, The North-American Intelligencer.
Before martial law is declared to be the supreme law of the land, and your character of free citizens be changed to that of the subjects of a military king--which are necessary consequences of the adoption of the proposed constitution--let me admonish you in the name of sacred liberty, to make a solemn pause. Permit a freeman to address you, and to solicit your attention to a cause wherein yourselves and your posterity are concerned. The sun never shone upon a more important one. It is the cause of freedom--of a whole continent--of yourselves and of your fellow men. . . .
A conspiracy against the freedom of America, both deep and dangerous, has been formed by an infernal junto of demagogues. Our thirteen free commonwealths are to be consolidated into one despotic monarchy. Is not this position obvious? Its evidence is intuitive. . . . Who can deny but the president general will be a king to all intents and purposes, and one of the most dangerous kind too--a king elected to command a standing army. Thus our laws are to be administered by this tyrant; for the whole, or at least the most important part of the executive department is put in his hands.
A quorum of 65 representatives, and of 26 senators, with a king at their head, are to possess powers that extend to the lives, the liberties, and property of every citizen of America. This novel system of government, were it possible to establish it, would be a compound of monarchy and aristocracy, the most accursed that ever the world witnessed. About 50 (these being a quorum) of the well born, and a military king, with a standing army devoted to his will, are to have an uncontrolled power. . . .
There is not a tincture of democracy in the proposed constitution, except the nominal elections of the president general and the illustrious Congress be supposed to have some color of that nature. But this is a mere deception, invented to gull the people into its adoption. Its framers were well aware that some appearance of election ought to be observed, especially in regard to the first Congress; for without such an appearance there was not the smallest probability of their having it organized and set in operation. But let the wheels of this government be once cleverly set in motion, and I'll answer for it, that the people shall not be much troubled with future elections, especially in choosing their king--the standing army will do that business for them.
The thoughts of a military officer possessing such powers, as the proposed constitution vests in the president general, are sufficient to excite in the mind