This experience is optimized for Internet Explorer version 9 and above.

Please upgrade your browser

Send the Gift of Lifelong Learning!

Great Debate: Advocates and Opponents of the American Constitution

Great Debate: Advocates and Opponents of the American Constitution

Professor Thomas L. Pangle, Ph.D.
The University of Texas at Austin

Gifting Information

FAQ
FAQ

To send your gift, please complete the form below. An email will be sent immediately to notify the recipient of your gift and provide them with instructions to redeem it.

  • 500 characters remaining.

Frequently Asked Questions

With an eGift, you can instantly send a Great Course to a friend or loved one via email. It's simple:
1. Find the course you would like to eGift.
2. Under "Choose a Format", click on Video Download or Audio Download.
3. Click 'Send e-Gift'
4. Fill out the details on the next page. You will need to the email address of your friend or family member.
5. Proceed with the checkout process as usual.
Q: Why do I need to specify the email of the recipient?
A: We will send that person an email to notify them of your gift. If they are already a customer, they will be able to add the gift to their My Digital Library and mobile apps. If they are not yet a customer, we will help them set up a new account so they can enjoy their course in their My Digital Library or via our free mobile apps.
Q: How will my friend or family member know they have a gift?
A: They will receive an email from The Great Courses notifying them of your eGift. The email will direct them to TheGreatCourses.com. If they are already a customer, they will be able to add the gift to their My Digital Library and mobile apps. If they are not yet a customer, we will help them set up a new account so they can enjoy their course in their My Digital Library or via our free mobile apps.
Q: What if my friend or family member does not receive the email?
A: If the email notification is missing, first check your Spam folder. Depending on your email provider, it may have mistakenly been flagged as spam. If it is not found, please email customer service at (customerservice@thegreatcourses.com) or call 1-800-832-2412 for assistance.
Q: How will I know they have received my eGift?
A: When the recipient clicks on their email and redeems their eGift, you will automatically receive an email notification.
Q: What if I do not receive the notification that the eGift has been redeemed?
A: If the email notification is missing, first check your Spam folder. Depending on your email provider, it may have mistakenly been flagged as spam. If it is not found, please email customer service at (customerservice@thegreatcourses.com) or call customer service at 1-800-832-2412 for assistance.
Q: I don't want to send downloads. How do I gift DVDs or CDs?
A: eGifting only covers digital products. To purchase a DVD or CD version of a course and mail it to a friend, please call customer service at 1-800-832-2412 for assistance. Physical gifting can still be achieved online – can we describe that here and not point folks to call?
Q: Oops! The recipient already owns the course I gifted. What now?
A: Great minds think alike! We can exchange the eGifted course for another course of equal value. Please call customer service at 1-800-832-2412 for assistance.
Q: Can I update or change my email address?
A: Yes, you can. Go to My Account to change your email address.
Q: Can I select a date in the future to send my eGift?
A: Sorry, this feature is not available yet. We are working on adding it in the future.
Q: What if the email associated with eGift is not for my regular Great Course account?
A: Please please email customer service at (customerservice@thegreatcourses.com) or call our customer service team at 1-800-832-2412 for assistance. They have the ability to update the email address so you can put in your correct account.
Q: When purchasing a gift for someone, why do I have to create an account?
A: This is done for two reasons. One is so you can track the purchase of the order in your ‘order history’ section as well as being able to let our customer service team track your purchase and the person who received it if the need arises.
Q: Can I return or Exchange a gift after I purchase it?
A: Because the gift is sent immediately, it cannot be returned or exchanged by the person giving the gift. The recipient can exchange the gift for another course of equal or lesser value, or pay the difference on a more expensive item
Video title

Priority Code

Cancel

Great Debate: Advocates and Opponents of the American Constitution

Course No. 4878
Professor Thomas L. Pangle, Ph.D.
The University of Texas at Austin
Share This Course
Course No. 4878
  • Audio or Video?
  • You should buy audio if you would enjoy the convenience of experiencing this course while driving, exercising, etc. While the video does contain visual elements, the professor presents the material in an engaging and clear manner, so the visuals are not necessary to understand the concepts. Additionally, the audio audience may refer to the accompanying course guidebook for names, works, and examples that are cited throughout the course.
  • You should buy video if you prefer learning visually and wish to take advantage of the visual elements featured in this course. The video version is not heavily illustrated, featuring around 95 portraits, charts, and diagrams. Portraits include those of the key figures involved in the crafting of the Constitution, such as Patrick Henry, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and John Jay. There are also charts and diagrams that help you differentiate the political views of both Federalists and Anti-Federalists. There are on-screen spellings and definitions to help reinforce material for visual learners.
Streaming Included Free

Course Overview

"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, ..."—U.S. Constitution

While those words were written over 200 years ago, recent years have seen an explosion of interest in and interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. Its authority and stature are routinely invoked by voices from every point on the political spectrum who seek to defend their views on issues ranging from separation of powers to the proper role of the Supreme Court to legitimate interpretations of the Bill of Rights, with frequent references to the Founding Fathers and their true "intent."

But how much do most of us really know about that intent?

The fact is, as Professor Thomas L. Pangle makes clear in The Great Debate: Advocates and Opponents of the American Constitution, many of those Founding Fathers—men who had been signers of the Declaration of Independence, leaders of the American Revolution, or delegates to the Continental Congress—were highly critical of the new Constitution and staunchly opposed it when it was first put forth for ratification by the states as a replacement for the Articles of Confederation.

Learn Which Founders Opposed the New Constitution ...

Thomas Jefferson, for example, who wrote the Declaration of Independence, was highly skeptical of the proposed constitution and was not among the Federalists who were urging ratification, although his reluctant support for it was eventually won by his good friend James Madison.

Patrick Henry, whose declaration "Give me liberty or give me death!" is arguably the most iconic quote of the American Revolution, was an eloquent voice against ratification, his oratorical skills a potent weapon of the Anti-Federalist side in his native state of Virginia.

And John Hancock, the Declaration's first signer, was still another opponent of the new constitution, but later joined with fellow critic Samuel Adams to lead the effort at compromise through which Massachusetts approved ratification, but with many substantial amendments recommended.

Joined by a chorus of notable essayists—writing, in the style of the day, under the pen names "Agrippa," "Brutus," or "Cato," meant to evoke the ideals of Classical Republicanism they favored—the Anti-Federalists formed a potent opposition.

Which Founders Led the Battle for It ...

On the other side of the argument, an equally distinguished chorus of voices—led by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay—was raised in support of the proposed constitution.

They urged that its innovative structure—a structure the Anti-Federalists considered frightening and dangerous—ought to be passed without any substantial amendments. And in The Federalist, the extraordinary collection of polemical papers organized by Hamilton, they presented their side's answer to the objections raised by the proposed constitution's opponents.

The debate that ensued—even while some states ratified the document and others rejected it—raged for the better part of two years. Each side argued to prove and persuade others to their position. And beneath its rhetorical flourishes lay not only the longest and most profound civic argument in our nation's history, but also a civics lesson that deserves to endure for all time.

And How Both Sides Helped Define the Result!

It was an argument that would result in not only the ratification of the Constitution but also of what that Constitution would become—and the finished document was a testimonial to the contributions of the "victorious" Federalist side and the "losing" Anti-Federalists as well.

Why were the nation's planners so divided? What were the concerns that caused so many passionate defenders of American independence to take such different views? And why are the answers so important to us today?

In addressing these issues—including fervently presented renditions of the great debate's most illustrious writings and speeches—Professor Pangle brilliantly revives "the great controversy out of which our Constitution was born, so that we ourselves can begin to re-enact, in some degree, the debates and thus the choices—and, more importantly, the arguments for the choices—that were made by the founding generation."

In an era when contemporary arguments on the national stage so often mirror the same conflicts debated by the Founders, our own reenactment of that original debate can enrich our ability to be active and participating citizens.

"By listening to the original critics of the Constitution," Professor Pangle notes, "and by seeing how the defenders are responding to those critics, we will have better access to the age-old, deeply puzzling problems in the very nature of Republicanism with which our founders were wrestling and trying to solve. We can see precisely what dangers this new Constitution was meant to combat and what it was designed to achieve.

"But also, and equally important, we can see what our constitutional system was not designed to achieve, what alternative concerns and goals of political life were abandoned or subordinated, what costs were consciously paid, what limitations were accepted in opting for this ... new system."

Hide Full Description
12 lectures
 |  31 minutes each
Year Released: 2007
  • 1
    Significance and Historical Context
    We introduce the major players in the debate over the Constitution's ratification. Most important are those who took part in the struggle in New York—where some of the most thoughtful Anti-Federalist writings were produced and later responded to with the influential Federalist papers organized, and in substantial part written, by Alexander Hamilton. x
  • 2
    Classical Republicanism
    The Anti-Federalists attack the proposed constitutional order, saying it departs too much from the traditionally revered Greco-Roman ideal of virtuous participatory republicanism. We clarify the Anti-Federalist objections and explore their own reservations about classical republicanism. x
  • 3
    The Anti-Federalists' Republican Vision
    The participatory and virtue-centered vision of the Anti-Federalists dictates a more decentralized arrangement than the more consolidated national government proposed by the Federalists. We introduce the Federalists' response, highlighting their focus on the demands of national security and foreign policy. x
  • 4
    The Argument over National Security
    Articulating a need for sound defense and foreign policy, The Federalist critiques the existing constitution, the Articles of Confederation, and then moves to a general critique of the inadequacy of confederacies. Anti-Federalists counter by suggesting that Federalists may be falling prey to visions of an empire. x
  • 5
    The Deep Difficulties in Each Position
    Anti-Federalists accuse Federalists of giving national security pre-eminence over republican freedom. Federalists reply by claiming that Anti-Federalists fail to face up to what union and national security truly require. x
  • 6
    Debating the Meaning of "Federalism"
    The Federalists' defense of "Federalism" reveals that the state governments are to be strictly subordinate to the central government—thereby intensifying the Anti-Federalist critique. x
  • 7
    The Madisonian Republic
    How do the Federalists propose to prevent despotism in the central government? Their answer, articulated by James Madison, rejects the classical republican ideal of a confederacy of small, fraternal democracies in favor of a vast, representative republic, animated by competition among mutually hostile "factions." x
  • 8
    The Argument over Representation
    Madison identifies majority faction as the overriding danger in republics and calls for a new conception of representative government removed from the populace—a call that echoes, although in a more aristocratic way, the emphasis upon virtue found in the classical tradition. x
  • 9
    Disputing Separation of Powers, Part 1
    For Anti-Federalists, the proposed House of Representatives is too weak and will be overpowered by more powerful branches of government. For Federalists, the House is the most dangerous part of government and therefore most in need of being checked and balanced. x
  • 10
    Disputing Separation of Powers, Part 2
    Anti-Federalists argue that a federal-level "separation of powers" would be merely artificial, with no reliable basis in social reality; they argue instead for state governments to check the federal government. They also argue for a small executive council instead of the proposed presidency. x
  • 11
    The Supreme Court and Judicial Review
    Hamilton's expectation of a virtuous national leadership is most evident in his defense of the unelected, life-tenured Supreme Court and its historically unprecedented power of "judicial review." The Anti-Federalists predict abuse of this power and insist on a court that includes elected officials. x
  • 12
    The Bill of Rights
    The addition, by the first Congress, of the 10 amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights, is the one great victory of the Anti-Federalists—but it is won at the ironic cost of giving much more power to a Supreme Court that they fear. x

Lecture Titles

Clone Content from Your Professor tab

What's Included

What Does Each Format Include?

Video DVD
Video Download Includes:
  • Ability to download 12 video lectures from your digital library
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
Audio Download Includes:
  • Ability to download 12 audio lectures from your digital library
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE audio streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
DVD Includes:
  • 12 lectures on 2 DVDs
  • 88-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
CD Includes:
  • 12 lectures on 6 CDs
  • 88-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE audio streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • 88-page printed course guidebook
  • Suggested readings
  • Questions to consider
  • Timeline

Enjoy This Course On-the-Go with Our Mobile Apps!*

  • App store App store iPhone + iPad
  • Google Play Google Play Android Devices
  • Kindle Fire Kindle Fire Kindle Fire Tablet + Firephone
*Courses can be streamed from anywhere you have an internet connection. Standard carrier data rates may apply in areas that do not have wifi connections pursuant to your carrier contract.

Your professor

Thomas L. Pangle

About Your Professor

Thomas L. Pangle, Ph.D.
The University of Texas at Austin
Dr. Thomas L. Pangle holds the Joe R. Long Chair in Democratic Studies in the Department of Government at The University of Texas at Austin. He earned his B.A. from Cornell University and his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Chicago. Before joining the faculty at The University of Texas, Professor Pangle taught at Yale University, Dartmouth University, the University of Chicago, and the …cole des...
Learn More About This Professor
Also By This Professor

Reviews

Rated 4.6 out of 5 by 106 reviewers.
Rated 5 out of 5 by More Timely Now Than Ever In these lectures, Professor Pangle does not go into the machinations of the Constitutional Convention or the intricacies of the Constitution itself. Rather, he delves into the very public philosophical and political debate carried on between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists from the end of the convention to the Constitution’s ratification. The Anti-Federalists were not the Antediluvian sticks-in-the-mud as is often portrayed. They were patriotic, elegant and eloquent thinkers. Their fatal weaknesses were that they had no cohesive substitute for the proposed Constitution and that Hamilton and Madison were better writers. The Anti-Federalists promoted the ideal of classical republicanism as espoused by Montesquieu. This ideal rested on pure democracy, local control and civic virtue. The Federalists rightly pointed out that no republics so constituted ever lasted long and tended to divert from their principles by becoming oligarchies. The Federalists advocated a new republicanism built around a strong central government and function through tensions not only between the branches of the central government but also between local and state interests. Of course the Federalists won but only by submitting to the Anti-Federalists’ call for a Bill of Rights. Looking over the course of U.S. history, many of the Anti-Federalists’ concerns seem not to have been off the mark. Professor Pangle presents these complicated matters in a clear precise manner. He illustrates his points with many on-screen salient quotations. His use of portraits helps to put flesh on what could have been dry material. His only editorial remarks come in his final lecture when he repeats the Anti-Federalist concerns about an apathetic, atomized citizenry – a most timely observation. February 22, 2016
Rated 5 out of 5 by An Unsung Gem I think this course is an unsung gem in the Great Courses course catalog. Prof. Pangle is an articulate, engaging lecturer who really brings the course material to life. I found his varous discussions of the Anti-Federalists particularly engrossing, I suspect largely because so much emphasis is placed on the Federalists in academic study and scholarship that the Anti-Federalists are largely treated as an afterthought, if at all. In short, I think this course is an outstanding introduction to the arguments that drove the debate surrounding the ratification of the Constitution. I listened to the audio version of this course, which was entirely adequate, and which I would recommend.. October 20, 2013
Rated 4 out of 5 by A decent effort, but leaves a lot out Prof. Thomas Prangle's 12-lecture series on what he calls, "The Great Debate" over the adoption of the new Constitution to replace the Articles of Confederation in 1787 is a useful effort, but at least in my view, and spends far too much time on the theoretical underpinnings of classical Republicanism, specifically its concentration on would rightly be called the sentimental aspects of 'republican virtue' and its concomitants, participatory government by those eligible to vote; Government as a vehicle for moral instruction and control of public and private behavior; local identification and local control. Prof. Prangle also does a decent job of delineating the principal Federalist arguments in favor of their position, that human nature is much too volatile for the kind of society and government which the country needs in order to survive. Specifically, a national federal government needs to be able to defend itself against all enemies, whether from other European states, or internally by disaffected persons within the member states. Such a government also needs the power to tax people living within those member states directly, and not rely upon funds requisitioned from those states in order to carry out its responsibilities. I was, however, greatly disappointed that Prof. Prangle did not mention in any way the controversy over slavery. I find that a central failing of his course because slavery was, in fact, a significant part of the debate, even though it's mention consumes a relatively few pages of the Federalist. For his part, James Madison, writing in Federalist 42, expressed his hope that slavery would "… be totally abolished, by a concurrence of the few States which continue the unnatural traffic, in the prohibitory principle which is been given by so great a majority of the Union." Madison also mentions in Federalist 43 the possibility that slaves might avail themselves of opportunities to improve their lot by joining in local rebellion against established authority, "… and give the superiority of strength to any party with which they may associate themselves." For his part, Alexander Hamilton, writing in Federalist 54, lays out the argument in favor of allowing slaves to be represented as three-fifths of a person for purposes of establishing a State's number of delegates to the national House of Representatives, while at the same time treating those slaves's personal property belong to their master. In a college level course debating the pros and cons of the Constitution up for ratification by the states affected by it, I would have thought that the issue of slavery would have been at least mentioned. Hamilton was known to be anti-slavery; and yet he accepted proslavery arguments on their face. Historically, it was understood that acceptance of slaveholding States' positions was the only way in which their agreement to the new Constitution could be assured. It is clear, at least to me, that much of the argument raised by anti-Federalists was merely window dressing, and the historical evidence supports that view. It took a four-year civil war to resolve the question once and for all. Consequently, those listening to Prof. Prangle's lectures were entitled to hear about the fundamental conundrum of The Federalist-anti-Federalist debate, what to do about slavery. It is the same conundrum that is at the root of warfare and bloodshed in the Middle East and elsewhere. Even today, one continually hears the refrain, emanating from Southern sources predominantly, that the Civil War was not about slavery. April 12, 2016
Rated 5 out of 5 by An illuminating series of lectures This was a fascinating class that illustrated the ideas around the debate over the U.S. Constitution. Professor Pangle really did a great job explaining the controversies and how they played out. I wish the class was even longer as I enjoyed it so much. Whenever I think of the Constitution or hear about a Supreme Court debate, I think of the content in this class. If you have any interest in learning about the ideas of our founding fathers around how our government should work, I can think of no better or more efficient source of information. March 27, 2016
  • 2016-04-28 T06:04:07.387-05:00
  • bvseo_lps, prod_bvrr, vn_prr_5.6
  • cp-1, bvpage1
  • co_hasreviews, tv_106, tr_106
  • loc_en_US, sid_4878, prod, sort_default
2 3 4 5 next>>

Questions & Answers