his proposed amendments on June 8, 1789. Most were related to civil liberties rather
than the structure of the government. Antifederalists believed Madison's proposals to
be a far cry from the Amendments they desired. Federalists, including James Jackson
of Georgia, argued that amendments were premature, that bills of rights had dangerous
implications, and that a long debate would prevent Congress from considering more
important subjects. Largely because of the respect most of his colleagues held for
Madison, the House agreed to debate the subject of amendments.
Madison's proposals were finally taken up on 13 August.
Antifederalists introduced amendments changing the structure of the federal government
or protecting the rights of the states from encroachment. The debate was violent by
comparison with that on the issues which had preceded it. Reproduced here is a sample
of the debate from the Congressional Register. Particularly interesting is Gerry's
comment that: "Their names then ought not to have been distinguished
by federalists and antifederalists, but as rats and antirats."