The Constitution as an Instrument of National Damnation

For many, there were sinister currents at work during the ratification debate; powers that for some were deemed to be the work of spiritual malevolence. Individuals often appropriated the imagery of idolatry, deceit and temptation. For many Americans, the imprecatory language that Antifederalists borrowed from the Old Testament was familiar to the ear. The author of Helvidius Priscus spared little venom by suggesting that the Federal Convention was “a secret council, . . . a conclave, . . . the machinations of mad ambition. . . .” The end result was a Constitution that was “a DRACONIAN CODE.” Another writer noted that hopefully the efforts by advocates of the Constitution would end in ruin and “precipitate their destruction, and that the glory of God should be made perfect.” By rejecting the Constitution, redemption was possible. This in turn would frustrate the intentions of this dark cabal and “immediately unhinge every part of their conspiracy against the rights of their fellow-men.” The selections below will give you a sense of the intensity of sentiment which characterized the opposition to the Constitution.