The Federalist: A Collection of Essays, Written in Favour of the New Constitution, as Agreed Upon by the Federal Convention, September 17, 1787. In Two Volumes

Description

The Federalist is considered the most important work on statecraft and political theory ever written by Americans. Seventy-seven of the 85 essays that make up the work appeared in New York newspapers between October 1787 and May 1788 under the pseudonym “Publius.” The eight additional essays first appeared in the second volume of the work presented here, and in the newspapers later in 1788. Principally written by Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, with some assistance from John Jay, the primary purpose of the essays was to convince the citizens of New York to elect to a state ratifying convention delegates who would favor the new United States Constitution, adopted in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787. The essays were rushed into print in book form in two volumes in the spring of 1788, numbers 1‒39 as volume 1 on March 22, and numbers 40‒85 as volume 2 on May 28. Together these essays, often referred to as The Federalist Papers, form one of the great classics of government, the principal themes of which are federalism, checks and balances, separated powers, pluralism, and popular representation. In part because Hamilton and Madison were important participants in the Philadelphia convention, The Federalist became the most authoritative interpretation of what the drafters of the Constitution intended, one that continues to influence the development and interpretation of American constitutional law. Presented here is Thomas Jefferson’s personal copy of the first edition of The Federalist, with notes in his hand indicating his understanding regarding the authorship of each essay. Hamilton left an authorship list with his lawyer before his fatal duel with Aaron Burr, and Madison identified the writer of each essay in his copy of The Federalist. None of these lists agree, and authorship of some of the essays is still being debated by scholars. The New York convention met in Poughkeepsie in June 1788 and on July 26 voted in favor of ratification by the narrow margin of 30 to 27.

Last updated: March 16, 2017