In September 1787, a series of persuasive and skillfully argued essays began appearing in New York newspapers urging approval of the newly drafted Constitution of the United States, the ratification of which was being hotly debated in state legislatures. Most of these essays bore the mysterious signature of a certain "Publius," later revealed to be the collective nom de plume of Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison. By May 1788, a total of eighty-five articles had been published and they were then collected in a book entitled The Federalist.
Through clear, logical exposition and elegant language, The Federalist essays made a forceful case for strong, representative federal government as defined by the Constitution. Hamilton, Jay, and Madison argued that to protect itself against foreign threat and domestic strife the United States needed a unifying federal government to look after the interests of the new nation as a whole. They also emphasized the importance of federal government for maintaining an efficient and healthy economic system, and they exposed the obvious inadequacies of the much weaker Articles of Confederation, which the Constitution was designed to replace.
Today historians rank The Federalist among our nation's most important historical documents. These fascinating essays bring to life the political drama surrounding the ratification of the Constitution, while providing insights into the minds of some of America's greatest political thinkers and their interpretation of America's founding charter. This edition includes the complete text of the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution, along with a highly detailed index.