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Federalist Papers: About

Federalist Papers

Why are the Federalist Papers Important?

The Federalist, commonly referred to as the Federalist Papers, is a series of 85 essays written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison between October 1787 and May 1788. The essays were published anonymously, under the pen name "Publius," in various New York state newspapers of the time.

The Federalist Papers were written and published to urge New Yorkers to ratify the proposed United States Constitution, which was drafted in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787. In lobbying for adoption of the Constitution over the existing Articles of Confederation, the essays explain particular provisions of the Constitution in detail. For this reason, and because Hamilton and Madison were each members of the Constitutional Convention, the Federalist Papers are often used today to help interpret the intentions of those drafting the Constitution.

The Federalist Papers were published primarily in two New York state newspapers: The New York Packet and The Independent Journal. They were reprinted in other newspapers in New York state and in several cities in other states. A bound edition, with revisions and corrections by Hamilton, was published in 1788 by printers J. and A. McLean. An edition published by printer Jacob Gideon in 1818, with revisions and corrections by Madison, was the first to identify each essay by its author's name. Because of its publishing history, the assignment of authorship, numbering, and exact wording may vary with different editions of The Federalist. Continue reading from Library of Congress

Federalist Paper Number One by Alexander Hamilton (1787)

After an unequivocal experience of the inefficiency of the subsisting federal government, you are called upon to deliberate on a new Constitution for the United States of America. The subject speaks its own importance; comprehending in its consequences nothing less than the existence of the UNION, the safety and welfare of the parts of which it is composed, the fate of an empire in many respects the most interesting in the world. 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. If there be any truth in the remark, the crisis at which we are arrived may with propriety be regarded as the era in which that decision is to be made; and a wrong election of the part we shall act may, in this view, deserve to be considered as the general misfortune of mankind.

This idea will add the inducements of philanthropy to those of patriotism, to heighten the solicitude which all considerate and good men must feel for the event. Happy will it be if our choice should be directed by a judicious estimate of our true interests, unperplexed and unbiased by considerations not connected with the public good. But this is a thing more ardently to be wished than seriously to be expected. The plan offered to our deliberations affects too many particular interests, innovates upon too many local institutions, not to involve in its discussion a variety of objects foreign to its merits, and of views, passions and prejudices little favorable to the discovery of truth. Continue reading from Library of Congress

The Anti-Federalist Papers

Unlike the Federalist, the 85 articles written in opposition to the ratification of the 1787 United States Constitution were not a part of an organized program. Rather, the essays–– written under many pseudonyms and often published first in states other than New York — represented diverse elements of the opposition and focused on a variety of objections to the new Constitution. In New York, a letter written by “Cato” appeared in the New-York Journal within days of submission of the new constitution to the states, led to the Federalists publishing the “Publius” letters. “Cato”, thought to have been New York Governor George Clinton, wrote a further six letters. The sixteen “Brutus” letters, addressed to the Citizens of the State of New York and published in the New-York Journal and the Weekly Register, closely paralleled the “Publius” newspaper articles. Continue reading from Historical Society of the New York Courts

Check Out a Book from Our Collection...

Link to The Federalist Papers in the catalog
Link to Liberty's Blueprint by by Michael Meyerson in the catalog
Link to Plain Honest Men by Richard R. Beeman in the catalog
Link to Quartet by Joseph E. Ellis in the catalog
Link to The Debate on the Constitution by Library of American in the catalog
Link to Framers' Coup by by  Michael J Klarman in the caalog
Link to The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton in Hoopla
Link to The Federalist Papers And The Constitution Of The United States by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay in Hoopla
Link to The Anti-Federalist Papers by Patrick Henry in Hoopla
Link to Founding Rivals by Chris Derose in Hoopla
Link to The Federalist Papers by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay in Hoopla
Link to FEDERALIST No. 65. The Powers Of The Senate by Alexander Hamilton in Hoopla
Link to FEDERALIST No. 66. Objections To The Power Of The Senate To Set As A Court For Impeachments Further by Alexander Hamilton in Hoopla
Link to Examining The Federalist And Anti-Federalist Debates by Alex David in Hoopla
Link to Great American Documents volume 1 by Ruth Ashby in the catalog
Link to Hamilton by Marie and Ray Raphael in Freading

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