Monday, March 13, 2017

Nathaniel Macon - Anti-Federalist by D. H.

Following the Revolutionary War, America was granted a heavy task upon on her shoulders: prove to the world that man can rule himself. The means of how this feat was to be accomplished became the nation's next great conflict. The Articles of Confederation failed as the sturdy pillar the country needed, and thus was bred a new species of debate; Would the States turn to a stronger central government, or would the States continue to support the reliability of small local governments? Historian William S. Price Jr. revives the passions of the former side's argument in his piece "Nathaniel Macon, Antifederalist." Macon was a key figure in American politics when the Constitution was still new and risky to the nation's stability. As a devout Antifederalist, Macon dreaded the idea of a powerful central government and serves as a strong example of the beliefs of Antifederalists accross the nation. Price takes the trademark opinions and actions of the Antifederalists and reinforces it through a specific example, Nathaniel Macon himself.
Price's purpose was clear. He wished to express the perspective of the Antifederalists in the face of a familiar danger. To those who aligned themselves with this side, the Constitution mirrored the very same institution they had just fought to free themselves from: Parliament. To people such as Macon, tyranny came in different names yet under the same form. A strong and distant central government threatened the liberty and safety of all men who resided in the States. However, this piece contains a bias that is equally as clear, seeing as it expresses only the perspective of Antifederalists and not the perspective of the Federalists, the people who wished to implement the Constitution to the nation's government.
During the discussion of Price's article, the class offered depth to Macon's political opinions and actions. We talked about his passion for freedom of the press (although he was not very fond of the press himself, seeing as he viewed them to be mean, cruel, and callous). To Macon, any government who did not allow unlimited discussion was inherently corrupt. We talked about how Macon believed the government favored the rich over the poor and abhorred the thought of taxes that reinforced this. He preferred local taxes, which he believed was more just and less harsh on the poor and middle class farmers. We talked about how he disagreed with the thought of a standing army in times of peace and favored local militia, which were inexpensive and focused on defense rather than aggression towards foreign powers.
Overall, though, the class discussed how all of these and many more beliefs of Macon summed up the opinion of an Antifederalist, and how Antifederalists were believers of a strict reading of the Constitution. Those who shared political affiliation with Macon believed strict loyalty to the document was the true way to prevent the central government from gaining too much power over the States, and therefore over its citizens. We as a class further discussed how the ideals of the Antifederalists never truly disappeared with time. Even after the name "Antifederalist" had disappeared from American culture, its ideas, beliefs, and passions towards a strict reading of the Constitution, strength in local state governments, and skepticism of the central government survived to this present-day. As a collection, we gathered information on how the States grew and changed after its separation from Great Britain.
Even still, questions remain unanswered. Why did the Federalists hold the beliefs that countered those of the Antifederalists? What did critics of Macon say or think about how the political ideology of himself and other Antifederalists affected America? What rights did Macon believe American citizens should have and thus should be included in the Bill of Rights? What parts of the Constitution did Macon support? While there are countless questions to be asked, nothing will answer them better than the records of American history as they are further analysed, discussed, and discovered.