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Today historians rank The Federalist among our nation's most important historical documents.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.
About the Author
Alexander Hamilton was born in the West Indies in 1757, the illegitimate child of a Scottish merchant. He came to the American colonies to study at King's College (now Columbia University), and became an early and ardent supporter of the Revolutionary cause. During the Revolutionary War he was aide-de-camp to George Washington and a member of the Continental Congress. He was a leading figure at the Constitutional Convention (1787) and a principal author of The Federalist Papers. At first Secretary of the Treasury he articulated a policy of protection for manufacturing interests, strong central government, and establishment of a national bank. After leaving the Cabinet, he practiced law in New York. His personal attacks hindered the political career of the volatile Aaron Burr, who finally challenged him to a duel in 1804. Hamilton was shot, and died of his wounds.
John Jay (1747-1829) was a conservative lawyer who became a leading patriot. He was a minister to Spain (1780-82), the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1789-95), and he negotiated the treaty of 1795 between the U.S. and Britain. His contributions to The Federalist Papers concern foreign affairs.
James Madison was born in 1751, the son of a Virginia planter. He worked for the Revolutionary cause as a member of the Continental Congress and the Virginia House of Delegates. The leader of deliberations at the Constitutional Convention, he fought for the adoption of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Through an ally of Hamilton on the Constitution he was a supporter of Jefferson's agrarian policies. He was Jefferson's Secretary of State (1801-9) and his successor as president (1809-17), but his presidencywas marred by the unpopular War of 1812. Madison died in 1836
James Neal Madison also is the painter of the lithograph, The Highland Charge at Drummossie Muir, Battle of Culloden, April 16, 1746. Published by Pelican, this vivid, full-color print is in its second edition printing.
Review The Federalist Papers are a series of 85 articles advocating the ratification of the United States Constitution. Seventy-seven of the essays were published serially in The Independent Journal and The New York Packet between October 1787 and August 1788. A compilation of these and eight others, called The Federalist; or, The New Constitution, was published in two volumes in 1788 by J. and A. McLean. The series' correct title is The Federalist; the title The Federalist Papers did not emerge until the twentieth century. The Federalist remains a primary source for interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. According to historian Richard B. Morris, they are an "incomparable exposition of the Constitution, a classic in political science unsurpassed in both breadth and depth by the product of any later American writer." At the time of publication, the authorship of the articles was a closely-guarded secret, though astute observers guessed that Hamilton, Madison, and Jay were the likely authors. Following Hamilton's death in 1804, a list that he drew up became public; it claimed fully two-thirds of the essays for Hamilton, including some that seemed more likely the work of Madison (Nos. 49-58, 62, and 63). The scholarly detective work of Douglass Adair in 1944 postulated the following assignments of authorship, confirmed in 1964 by a computer analysis of the text: - Alexander Hamilton (51 articles: nos. 1, 6-9, 11-13, 15-17, 21-36, 59-61, and 65-85) - James Madison (29 articles: nos. 10, 14, 37-58 and 62-63) - John Jay (5 articles: 2-5 and 64). - Nos. 18-20 were the result of a collaboration between Madison and Hamilton.