Reflection and Choice: The Federalists, the Anti-Federalists, and the Debate that Defined America

Reflection and Choice: The Federalists, the Anti-Federalists, and the Debate that Defined America
Item# BB396
List Price: $49.95
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Book Summary

Published on September 17, 2020 – Constitution Day – by McConnell Center Books

Wholesale (bulk) discounts are available. Email

Edited by Gary L. Gregg II
and Aaron N. Coleman
7 x 10 inches
664 pages
Published September 2020
ISBN 978-1-953058-03-4
Carton qty: 10
History / United States

“It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.”

The American Constitution was anything but assured of success when it was drafted that hot Philadelphia summer of 1787. Americans had to debate, reflect, consider, and then choose what kind of new government they wanted for their nation. Reflection and Choice contains the essence of the great debates that roiled American public life at the end of the 1780s and demonstrates how those issues are still alive in the challenges of the 21st century.

This innovative volume sets up the founding debates for contemporary readers and features:

  • All 85 Federalist Papers
  • Selections from more than 40 Anti-Federalist writings
  • 14 sectional introductions, breaking down The Federalist Papers by major topics
  • Special “Questions for our Time,” which challenge modern readers to ask themselves how the founding debates resonate, even in the challenges we face in the 21st century
  • A thorough index of the included primary sources
  • Reading guides, podcasts, and related videos are available at

The editors and the McConnell Center are making this new edition of The Federalist Papers and select Anti-Federalist writings available because they believe these debates are not just of historical importance but shed vital light, even up to the current hour, on the essential questions related to good government, liberty, order, and public happiness.

About the Editors

Gary L. Gregg II holds the Mitch McConnell Chair in Leadership at the University of Louisville, where he also directs the McConnell Center. A host of two podcasts, he is author or editor of a dozen books on American political history and ideas, including Vital Remnants: America's Founding and the Western Tradition.

Aaron N. Coleman is associate professor of history and chair of the History and Political Science Department at the University of the Cumberlands. He is the author or editor of two books, The American Revolution, State Sovereignty, and the American Constitutional Settlement, 1765–1800 and Debating Federalism: From the Founding to Today.


“Get this book if you want to know what really was being said about the Constitution of 1787 and what it portended for the future of federalism, separation of powers, and individual liberty.”

“There are many editions of The Federalist Papers, but Gary L. Gregg and Aaron N. Coleman's Reflection and Choice surpasses them all. Their introductory essay and section introductions are clear and thoughtful, and organizing the papers by topic is an innovative contribution. … Highly recommended!”

“Anyone grappling with the original design of America's constitutional republic will celebrate publication of Reflection and Choice. … This collection will be welcomed by teachers, students, homeschooling parents, and any citizen concerned about the fate of liberty in troubled times. Its relevance is obvious on every page.”

“[Reflection and Choice] promises to become the go-to book for anyone who wants to understand the reasoning behind the Constitution and the objections and reservations from its earliest critics.”

“The essays remind us not only of the seriousness of the ideas being debated, but also of how civility, goodwill, and depth of learning made the American constitutional order possible and are essential to its maintenance. … this collection is the only one-volume collection that thoughtfully and comprehensively compares arguments being made on the basic principles of democratic governance. The book will be essential to people teaching the American Founding, or to any citizen with an interest in what gives our constitutional order its moral authority and resilience.”

“[Reflection and Choice], by incorporating Anti-Federalist writings and by dividing the essays thematically, recovers much of the rhetorical context that shaped this important debate.”

“Coleman and Gregg offer this timely and necessary anthology to a new generation of scholars and students questioning constitutional governance and the nature of the American Republic. In the collection, the Anti-Federalists are restored to their rightful and necessary place as co-creators of the American political tradition with their Federalists counterparts.”

“The beauty of the selected essays, in combination with the 'Questions for Our Time' sections, vastly increases the usefulness of the book as a teaching tool for the examination of themes and topics not only during the early republic's time but also up to the present day.”

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