College of Arts and Sciences


Master of Arts in History - Thesis (MA)


Carey Roberts


Associationalism, Antifederalists, 19th Century, Republicanism, Republic, Classical Liberalism


European History | History | Legal | Political History | Social History | United States History


Generational misconceptions of the intentions and political philosophy of the opponents to the ratification of the Constitution led to an ingrained misrepresentation of the Antifederalists that lingers to this day. Not only have they been considered wayward politicians, but also as men lacking vision and confidence in the new American republic. Thus, their civic and historical influence has been relatively cast as unsuitable for patriotic or academic attention. A study of this diverse and principled collective of intellectuals, obscured by potential scholarly bias and revisionist historical treatment, discerns when and why those opposed to the Constitution and the Federalists were cast into the dim recesses of history. These forgotten Founding Fathers ought to be re-evaluated and should be credited for the shaping of America’s political discourse and foundational structure. This thesis additionally explores the contributions of key Antifederalist figures, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, and George Mason, notable European contemporaries of the Antifederalists, such as the French Marquis de Lafayette and Polish revolutionary, Thaddeus Kosciuszko, alongside the likes of Abel Upshur, John Randolph of Roanoke, and the second generation of American statesmen who inherited the Antifederalist legacy. Furthermore, there exists an ongoing discussion regarding the rights of individuals and that of the state. Associational Republicanism explores the continuation of the 18th century comprehension of the individual's role in society and how voluntary cooperation can maintain republics. Classical Liberalism, together with Associational Republicanism, presents a route in which this can be accomplished.