Aristocracy Assailed: The Ideology of Backcountry Anti-Federalism Essay (Book Review)

October 14, 2020 by Essay Writer

Saul Cornell was an assistant professor of history and a NEH postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Early American History and Culture, the College of William and Mary1. The creation of the American republic is a part of the author’s interest in history.

Written in 1990, the article attempts to address the anti-federalists’ opposition to the adoption of a new government in the US. The author examines the views of the consensus historians and the attitudes of the anti-federalists towards the idea of American democracy. Cornell also examines the details of the Carlisle Riot that took place in 1788 as well as the position was taken by the anti-federalists and their views on aristocracy2. Cornell was motivated by the need to address the issues raised by the anti-federalists because their contributions have been ignored.

The article was published in the Journal of American History. The language, tone, and style of writing and the expression of ideas are scholarly. It is intended to be used for teaching history at the college and university level. In addition, scholars and researchers in American history are likely to find the work important.

In this article, Cornell discusses the historiography of the subject, citing a number of other authors in history, their work, and opinion on the idea of anti-federalism and the creation of aristocracy in the US. According to the author, the American public, historians, and authors think that the constitution was a natural capstone to the revolution.

However, Cornell disputes this view and criticizes most historians who hold this view. The author states that the view is biased because it attempts to diminish the important views and voices of the anti-federalists3. In particular, Cornell states that the anti-federalists were an important part of American history because their views provided evidence that the constitution and its setting were likely to violate the principles of the revolution.

The article is based on Cornell’s view of the anti-federalists and their contribution to the creation of the American republic. His thesis is based on the argument that the anti-federalists contributed to the creation of the republic by offering an important perspective on the meanings of the revolution and the problems that affected the citizens during the revolution and creation of the republic.

In brief, Cornell states that the white community wanted an aristocratic government with centralized powers funded by a strong process of taxation and supported by a strong military4. On the other hand, the anti-federalists believed that centralized power was associated with corruption and the British Empire, which the revolution had defeated. Thus, Cornell argues that the federalists wanted a government in which voters were free to vote for their representatives in the legislature.

To develop the argument, Cornell has used a good number of primary and secondary materials. He has referred to a number of research articles, books, historical accounts, and individual writings in history. Footnoting has been used to refer to other important works in the history of America, especially in the creation of the republic and the revolution.

I think Cornell’s argument is valid and durable because it is based on historical facts. Cornell’s argument is persuasive because it shows how the anti-federalists contributed significantly to the constitution-making because their campaigns compelled the proponents of the constitution to pass the Bill of Rights, though reluctantly, during the ratification. This means that we should consider the important work of the anti-federalists in our history books.


Cornell, Saul. “Aristocracy Assailed: The ideology of backcountry anti-Federalism.” The Journal of American History 76, no. 4 (1990):1148-1172.


  1. Saul Cornell, “Aristocracy Assailed: The ideology of backcountry anti-Federalism,” The Journal of American History 76, no. 4 (1990):1148.
  2. Cornell, 1153
  3. Cornell, 1156
  4. Cornell, 1162
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