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Joel Andrew Johnson
Augustana University (Sioux Falls, SD 57197-0001)
Cato Revealed: John Williams and the Ratification Controversy In New York, 1787-88

The identity of the influential Anti-Federalist "Cato" has long been a mystery. Some historians attribute "Cato’s" letters (pub. 1787-88) to George Clinton, others to Abraham Yates. The evidence for either attribution is weak. I argue that John Williams, a forgotten New York Anti-Federalist leader, wrote "Cato." My evidence includes 1) Similarities between "Cato’s" and Williams’ philosophical outlooks; 2) Textual similarities between "Cato’s" letters and Williams’ ratifying convention speeches; and 3) Data suggesting Williams had direct opportunity to submit the letters to the New York Journal. The relevant audience includes scholars of the ratification period and historians of civic republicanism.

Project fields:
U.S. History

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$5,000 (approved)
$5,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2004 – 7/31/2004