Anti-Federalism and Reform Movements in American History

Programs for Teachers
Newberry Teachers' Consortium
Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Most of us are well aware of the role that the Anti-Federalists played in the debate over the US Constitution. And though they failed to prevent the ratification of the Consitution, their ideas were never completely expunged from American politics. This seminar will explore the Anti-Federalists, who are often written out of our past as irrelevant losers, and the ways their ideas–which are important to include in our classrooms and in our current civic debates– have had a surprisingly durable and powerful impact upon American politics, especially reform movements. We will also look at the ways Anti-Federalist ideas have invigorated a variety of different movements that envision much more populist kinds of political systems, ranging from Progressive Era direct democracy to FDR’s court packing scheme to current efforts to rethink the American electoral system.

Seminar led by Robert Johnston, University of Illinois at Chicago

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