Research Programs: Summer Stipends

Period of Performance

5/1/2021 - 6/30/2021

Funding Totals

$6,000.00 (approved)
$6,000.00 (awarded)

Anti-Federalist Criticisms of the Electoral College

FAIN: FT-278673-21

Michael Todd Rogers
Arkansas Tech University (Russellville, AR 72801-8819)

Research and writing a journal article on the Anti-Federalist critique of the Electoral College during the 1780 Constitutional Convention and Ratification.

Founders like Hamilton and Wilson as well as historians and political scientists like Main, Ellis, Milkis and Nelson have suggested the Electoral College escaped much scrutiny at the founding. Main quantifies this view, saying he did not believe even twelve Anti-Federalists raised criticism of it (1961, 140). Given the last of the thirteen original states ratification documents became available at the end of 2019 through The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution, a content analysis can be completed that shows Main grossly underestimates the number and extent of Anti-Federalist criticisms of the Electoral College. To promote the civic education of Americans and encourage more objective debate of it free of deference to the founding, a manuscript will be published in a leading history or political science journal (possibly the Journal of American History), which disproves the Electoral College lacked much reproach during the 1780s ratification debates.

Media Coverage

Rogers Earns Prestigious NEH Summer Stipend (Media Coverage)
Publication: Arkansas Tech News
Date: 4/14/2021

Associated Products

Anti-Federalist Critiques of the Electoral College during the Ratification Debates (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Anti-Federalist Critiques of the Electoral College during the Ratification Debates
Author: Alexandria Cisco
Author: Michael T. Rogers
Abstract: Given the Electoral College remains prone to problematic election results, it is surprising the conventional view is the ratification debates produced few criticisms of it. Alexander Hamilton and James Wilson claimed few objected (Hamilton 2001; Merill 1978, 565-566). Scholars reinforce the view (Main 1961; Ellis 1999; Milkis and Nelson 2020). I used a content analysis of ratification records for eight of the original thirteen colonies to show this was not the case. Criticisms included that the Electoral College is too complex, leaves the president too distant from the people, can produce an elective monarchy or despotism, and is prone to domestic and foreign intrigue (Rogers 2010). Now all 13 colonies are available through The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution (DHRC), so the content analysis can be completed. New in this work is an explanation of how the criticisms of the Electoral College exemplify two of the three strands of Anti-Federalist thought (power Anti-Federalism and Democratic Anti-Federalism) Faber identifies (2019). As for audience, the manuscript will be of interest to colonial era and presidential scholars in history and political science. Both will find a comprehensive documentation of founding criticisms of the Electoral College. Beyond that, a more general audience interested in reforming and/or eliminating the Electoral College will learn some criticisms of the institution today were raised during ratification.
Date: 4/16/2021
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