"Nomination for Supreme Court Stirs Debate on Influence of Federalist Society" (news article, Aug. 1) does not go into the shocking ignorance of American history displayed by the Federalist Society's members.Schlesinger is relying on our "shocking ignorance" for his zinger to work. With no actual knowledge to get in the way, we shouldn't imagine that Washington, Adams and Hamilton were distorting the truth when they claimed the term "Federalist" for themselves or that the modern-day centralization of American government far exceeds what even the strongest nationalists of the founding era had in mind.
The Federalist Party, the party of Washington, Adams and Hamilton, stood for a strong central government. The Federalist Society stands for negative government and states' rights. If its members were honest, they would call themselves, in the terms of the 1790's, the Anti-Federalist Society.
August 7, 2005
Arthur Schlesinger Jr. has a letter in today's NYT: