Originally published anonymously, The Federalist Papers first appeared in 1787 as a series of letters to New York newspapers exhorting voters to ratify the proposed Constitution of the United States. Still hotly debated, and open to often controversial interpretations, the arguments first presented here by three of America’s greatest patriots and political theorists were created during a critical moment in our nation’s history, providing readers with a running ideological commentary on the crucial issues facing democracy.
Today The Federalist Papers are as important and vital a rallying cry for freedom as ever.
This edition features the original eighteenth-century text, with James Madison’s fascinating marginal notations, as well as a complete text of the Constitution.
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
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.
The Constitution of the United States of America was drafted chiefly by James Madison, considered to be The Father of the Constitution for his major contributions to the document.