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Jensen, Merrill; Kaminski, John P.; Saladino, Gaspare J. (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Pennsylvania

IV. The aftermath of ratification in Pennsylvania,   pp. [641]-645

Page 644

the controversy over the mails, see CC:Vol. III, Appendix, and
Mfm:Pa. 372, 394.)
While the Antifederalists published more than the Federalists after
15 December 1787, the Federalists counterattacked vigorously. Much
of their fire was focused on Benjamin Workman, the author of "Phila-
delphiensis," and a tutor in mathematics at the University of Penn-
sylvania, which, under its provost, the Reverend Dr. John Ewing,
was an Antifederalist stronghold (for examples, see Mfm:Pa. L19, 552,
579, 590, 603, 632, 646, 654). Nor did the Federalists forget their old an-
tagonist "Centinel," whom they believed to be Justice George Bryan
of the state Supreme Court.
Late in March they published two letters in the Pennsylvania
Gazette, purportedly written by Bryan. The "letters" were prefaced
with a statement referring to "Centinel" as an "indefatigable Monster,"
ever zealous in the production of mischief. Moreover, the letters were
supposedly written to John Ralston of Northampton County, "one
of the sourest, narrowest, and most illiterate creatures in the state."
The Federalists also branded Bryan as a sower of sedition, who, with
the help of out-of-state incendiaries, was bent upon starting a civil
war (Mfm:Pa. 575, 599, 600).
Some Antifederalists declared that the letters were fraudulent and
unfair attacks upon two worthy and patriotic individuals, while others
declared that the letters showed how Federalists controlled the post
offices and intercepted private correspondence. Such Federalist ac-
tivity, they said, along with the stoppage of newspapers and the cam-
paign against amendments, was yet another conspiracy against the
rights and liberties of the people (Mfm:Pa. 582, 595, 609, 617)
The fake letter or essay was common in the months following ratifi-
cation of the Constitution. For instance, on 16 February the Federalist
Pennsylvania Mercury, which allegedly employed Benjamin Rush as
one of its writers, published a bogus "Centinel" XV, which circulated
throughout the United States (see Commentaries on the Const itution).
Five days later the Mercury published the first of eight "Letters of
Margery" (i.e., George Bryan), described by William Findley as "trifl-
ing and scurrilous" (Mfm:Pa. 444, 507). In turn, according to Findley,
the Antifederalist Independent Gazetteer "produced the more masterly
though perhaps not less scurrilous" purported exchange of four letters
between "James de Caledonia" (i.e., James Wilson) and James
Bowdoin, former governor of Massachusetts (Mfm:Pa. 457, 481, 512,
522). Shortly afterwards, the Antifederalist Freeman's Journal pub-
lished two purported letters from Benjamin Rush to Alexander
Hamilton (Mfm:Pa. 487).

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