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A DOCUMENT THAT SHAPED A NATION
An authoritative
analysis of the Constitution of the United States and an enduring
classic of political philosophy. 

Written by Alexander
Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, The Federalist Papers
explain the complexities of a constitutional government—its
political structure and principles based on the inherent rights of man.
Scholars have long regarded this work as a milestone in political
science and a classic of American political theory.
 
Based
on the original McLean edition of 1788 and edited by noted historian
Clinton Rossiter, this special edition includes:
 

Textual notes and a select bibliography by Charles R. Kesler

Table of contents with a brief précis of each essay

Appendix with a copy of the Constitution cross-referenced to The
Federalist Papers
● Index of Ideas that lists the major
political concepts discussed
● Copies of The Declaration of
Independence and Articles of Confederation

Average Ratings and Reviews
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Reviews for The Federalist Papers (Signet Classics):

4

Jun 10, 2007

Read the Federalist Papers. Then, just for kicks, switch on Hannity & Colmes, or Crossfire, or read USA Today... and then ask yourself, WHAT THE FUCKING CHRIST HAPPENED TO THIS COUNTRY? Then crawl into a corner and whimper for eight hours straight. (That's what I did.)
5

Feb 25, 2012

With all the talk in political discourse these days about "what the US Founding Fathers intended", I felt it was time to go straight to the source. If you've ever had similar thoughts, this is the place to start. This work is long - around 22 hours of Librivox audio - and written in archaic, ornate English. But anyone reading it will be immediately impressed by its scholarship and depth. It also gives a clear picture of what said Founding Fathers were up against - unbridled, often unprincipled, With all the talk in political discourse these days about "what the US Founding Fathers intended", I felt it was time to go straight to the source. If you've ever had similar thoughts, this is the place to start. This work is long - around 22 hours of Librivox audio - and written in archaic, ornate English. But anyone reading it will be immediately impressed by its scholarship and depth. It also gives a clear picture of what said Founding Fathers were up against - unbridled, often unprincipled, and outright rude opposition to pretty much every last bit of the Constitution at every turn. This series of essays was painstakingly written to try and convince the country that, while the new Constitution was not and could not be perfect, it was urgently needed to get the Union government functional, and that it was perhaps the best that could be done, given an imperfect world and us imperfect humans. The writers of the new Constitution were clearly trying their utmost to create a government and society as fair, conflict-free and well-functioning as they could manage. Interesting how slaves were reluctantly counted, in a compromise with the South, as having 3/5 the personhood of a free-born man. Really, every American, and anybody interested in how power, justice, and societies work, should read this carefully. It's left me a little tired, but happy and satisfied. ...more
5

Feb 27, 2011

Praise God I'm an American. One should not be able to graduate public high schools without mastery of Basic Economics & The Federalist Papers.
3

Jun 17, 2013

Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without restraint.
Like any educated American who hasn’t already read this book, this classic has long been on my reading list. Nevertheless, even amongst us haughty literati, I suspect that this book is a Mark Twain kind of classic—one that we wish to have read, but don’t look forward to actually reading. It certainly was that way for me. Philistine that I am, the idea Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without restraint.
Like any educated American who hasn’t already read this book, this classic has long been on my reading list. Nevertheless, even amongst us haughty literati, I suspect that this book is a Mark Twain kind of classic—one that we wish to have read, but don’t look forward to actually reading. It certainly was that way for me. Philistine that I am, the idea of leafing through 500 pages of articles by this country’s founding fathers did not exactly give me goosebumps.

I’m afraid that my fears were partially borne out by this book. It was not terribly pleasant. And if I am to be honest, I must shamefacedly admit that I often found these articles dreadfully dull. One obstacle to my reading pleasure simply came from the style of writing. These pieces were written in great haste, over the span of a year, by harried men who were not professional thinkers or writers. As a result, this book can often feel a bit haphazard and disorganized. Several papers seem as though they were dashed off between breakfast and lunch; the arguments tumble forward in a torrential outpouring of frenetic scribbling. The prose, too, was often cramped, bloated, and opaque:
The circumstances of the body authorized to make the permanent appointments would, of course, have governed the modification of a power which related to the temporary appointments; and as the national Senate is the body whose situation is alone contemplated in the clause upon which the suggestion under examination has been founded, the vacancies to which it alludes can only be deemed to respect those officers in whose appointment that body has a concurrent agency with the President.
Another disappointment was simply the method of argumentation. The words “probably” and “likely” do a great deal of work in these papers. The authors are constantly making light of certain possibilities and boldly predicting others. This rhetorical device is seldom convincing. Who knows what the future will bring? A related technique is to use what Dawkins calls the “argument from personal incredulity.” This is when an author says things like “It is impossible for me to believe,” or “I cannot even imagine this to be so,” and the like. Again, the author is using the seeming likelihood of a certain outcome as an argument; but unfortunately for us reality doesn't care what we find easy to believe, or what we think likely to happen.

So because the arguments employed were not based on either philosophical principles or empirical data, I was often left cold. In fact, I was frequently reminded of a criticism Bertrand Russell made of St. Thomas Aquinas. Russell did not consider Aquinas to be a great philosopher because Aquinas began with his conclusions, which he got from Aristotle and the Bible, instead of following his logic wherever it led. Similarly, the authors of these papers started with their conclusion—that we should ratify the Constitution—and then grasped for arguments, like a lawyer defending his client. Of course, that’s the nature of propaganda; but it isn’t very intellectually stimulating.

Aside from the writing and the rhetoric, a third barrier to a pleasant reading experience for me was simply the subject-matter. Many of these essays get into the nitty-gritty of the proposed administration. It often felt as if I were reading a proposal to reorganize a department at work rather than a book of political philosophy. I’m sure if I wasn’t such a troglodyte I would have gotten more out of these managerial niceties; but as I am still thoroughly lodged under a rock, I frequently found it impossible to focus. My eyes would get blurry; my brain would turn off; and I would read several pages on autopilot before realizing that I wasn’t absorbing a thing.

Alright, so I’ve discussed all the negatives. But despite all I’ve said, I still think this book is well worth reading. Madison’s essays, in particular, were for me the real highlight, even though they only comprised about a third of this book. Compared with Hamilton, Madison is much more of a theorist. His famous Federalist No. 10 is as deep as anything in Montesquieu, Marx, Machiavelli, or any other political philosopher whose name starts with an M. What’s more, he struck me as more widely learned, often making reference to ancient history as illustrations. And to be fair, the indefatigable Hamilton, though often tiresome, is not without his moments of greatness. He at least possesses the merit of being diligent and thorough.

Yet the real treat, I’d argue, is not reading the articles themselves, but reading the Constitution afterwards. By the time you get to the very end of The Federalist Papers, and turn to that slim founding document in the very back, you will have spent a dozen or more hours interpreting, defending, and exploring these 10 humble pages, tucked away like an appendix. Every sentence in the Constitution has been explained, clarified, and justified with excruciating care. And as a result, it was as if I was reading it for the first time—which is worth some literary boredom and headache, if you ask me.
...more
5

Aug 31, 2007

First, I'm going to begin with a bitch.
THIS "BOOK" WAS NOT WRITTEN BY ALEXANDER HAMILTON. IT IS NOT A BOOK. IT IS A COMPILATION OF SEVERAL ESSAYS WRITTEN UNDER THE PSEUDONYM "PUBLIUS" AND THE AUTHOR(S) WERE ANONYMOUS FOR A LONG TIME.
The true authorship of these was only known several years after the fact. And took several decades after the authors had been determined to finalize exactly who wrote what.
Furthermore, virtually ever copy includes at least a copy of the Bill of Rights, Declaration First, I'm going to begin with a bitch.
THIS "BOOK" WAS NOT WRITTEN BY ALEXANDER HAMILTON. IT IS NOT A BOOK. IT IS A COMPILATION OF SEVERAL ESSAYS WRITTEN UNDER THE PSEUDONYM "PUBLIUS" AND THE AUTHOR(S) WERE ANONYMOUS FOR A LONG TIME.
The true authorship of these was only known several years after the fact. And took several decades after the authors had been determined to finalize exactly who wrote what.
Furthermore, virtually ever copy includes at least a copy of the Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, and (if you're very lucky) The Articles of confederation.
None of the US foundational documents were conceivably written by Alexander Hamilton. However, he did write the vast majority of the Federalist Papers.

There are hundreds of printings of this work. The copy I read well over 200 times (well, the first 30 of the federalists or so, anyway) was a deep red mass market paperback. I can't remember the publisher. There was a publisher that made all its mass market "classic" paperbacks in deep red for awhile. It had the lovely disintegrating acidic paper, and the binding was just starting to fall apart as I slugged the bottle of champagne and vowed to not read the work again until I was 30.

Anyway, this is an incredible book if you're willing to read it well. That means at least one week for one paper. I'm not kidding. It benefits very much from close reading.

All the hype is true, but reading it poorly makes it sound like pithy bullshit. Follow the terminology in the paper, and put together the relationships between all terms. Anyway, read it. ...more
5

Jan 13, 2009

Wow...This book has completely transformed my views and understanding of our government. The US constitution make so much more sense now that I have read its defense. It's also interesting to read some of the outlandish arguments that were propagated against this ingenious document. Not much has changed in American politics over the centuries. Our media, pundits, and politicians still banter in much the same way today as they did back in the 1780's.

I will admit that this book challenged me. The Wow...This book has completely transformed my views and understanding of our government. The US constitution make so much more sense now that I have read its defense. It's also interesting to read some of the outlandish arguments that were propagated against this ingenious document. Not much has changed in American politics over the centuries. Our media, pundits, and politicians still banter in much the same way today as they did back in the 1780's.

I will admit that this book challenged me. The arguments were hard to comprehend at times and I really had to bear down in order to gain some understanding. I also spent roughly one quarter of my reading time looking up words in the dictionary. Makes me regret the time I spent in front of the television or video games instead of sharpening my mind. Keep in mind that the Federalist Papers were originally published as a series of essays in a New York newspaper. In comparison, I believe that much of today's news has been watered down for a society that has little patience for a real, thorough debate of substantial issues. ...more
4

Aug 08, 2018

"The Federalist" is a collection of 85 essays published originally in New York state newspapers in 1787-1788 encouraging the ratification of the Constitution. The pseudonym Publius was used for the three intelligent authors--Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. The authors were responding to criticisms against the Constitution by the anti-Federalists who also wrote newspaper articles. (Some of the concerns of the anti-Federalists were addressed in the Bill of Rights in 1791.)

"The "The Federalist" is a collection of 85 essays published originally in New York state newspapers in 1787-1788 encouraging the ratification of the Constitution. The pseudonym Publius was used for the three intelligent authors--Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. The authors were responding to criticisms against the Constitution by the anti-Federalists who also wrote newspaper articles. (Some of the concerns of the anti-Federalists were addressed in the Bill of Rights in 1791.)

"The Federalist" discussed the need for a strong central government which included a standing army and taxation, the weakness of the current Articles of Confederation, the structure of the branches of government under the new Constitution, checks and balances, separation of powers, and the ratification process. There is some repetition of ideas in the essays since "The Federalist" was not written as a book originally.

The framers of the Constitution came from small and large states, and from urban and rural areas. Some states had many areas of commerce and industry where others were mostly agricultural. Some states supported slavery, but others wanted to outlaw it. Some of the Founding Fathers wanted a strong central government, but others were more concerned with states rights. The Constitution may not be perfect, but it was quite an accomplishment considering the different interests of the various states and the willingness to compromise. "The Federalist" helped the people understand the Constitution in 1787, and is still consulted by the courts today. ...more
4

Jan 27, 2019

First and foremost let me just say, God Bless These United States of America.

Significance of this book is beyond a 5. Enjoyability is below a 3. Hence I’ll meet in the middle and give it a 4.

If your going into reading this thinking it’s going to be awesome, you’re wrong. It’s a full time job and it’s extraordinarily difficult, however difficult it may be it is essential reading. These men were brilliant and I am incredibly thankful they existed at the Time they did to allow us the future we First and foremost let me just say, God Bless These United States of America.

Significance of this book is beyond a 5. Enjoyability is below a 3. Hence I’ll meet in the middle and give it a 4.

If your going into reading this thinking it’s going to be awesome, you’re wrong. It’s a full time job and it’s extraordinarily difficult, however difficult it may be it is essential reading. These men were brilliant and I am incredibly thankful they existed at the Time they did to allow us the future we live in. The fact that all these men existed in this place at the same time to create such an all star team is nothing short of divine providence.

I agree with so much of the reviews I’ve seen here on Goodreads on TFP, it should be mandatory education from 1-8 and all thru high school. The youth would benefit tremendously to know how much blood, sweat, and tears was poured into creating the nation we all so thoroughly enjoy today. Not only should this education be taught in school but the foundation of this education should be laid at home to our children long before they arrive.

As difficult as this book was to read, and so utterly boring most of the time I absolutely loved it and I highly encourage anyone thinking about reading it do so with earnest expedience.

“Accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary in the same hands … may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” (Madison, #47)

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” (Madison, #51)

“Whatever fine declarations may be inserted in any constitution respecting it, must altogether depend on public opinion, and on the general spirit of the people and of the government.” (Hamilton, # 84) ...more
4

Aug 25, 2008

4.0 stars. One of the most important works of American political science and philosophy, this collection of arguments detailing the benefits and advantages of the federal system as envisioned by the founding fathers is a must read to understand the beginnings of the republic.
0

Nov 27, 2008

I don't know who's a bigger jackass: me, for never having so much as peeped at these, or the grownps at all the various schools I've attended, for not even once suggesting I should.

Actually, that's a lie. I totally do know.
5

Dec 05, 2018

We can all probably think of certain books we "should have read" during high school, or college, and somehow never did. For me, the collection of short essays that make up The Federalist Papers was one of those books. Since I love my country and am an ardent believer in her Constitution, my lengthy delay in reading TFP is both ironic and embarrassing. Now, however, my conscience is assuaged and I appreciate the Constitution, and the complicated path to its birth, all the more.

The Federalist We can all probably think of certain books we "should have read" during high school, or college, and somehow never did. For me, the collection of short essays that make up The Federalist Papers was one of those books. Since I love my country and am an ardent believer in her Constitution, my lengthy delay in reading TFP is both ironic and embarrassing. Now, however, my conscience is assuaged and I appreciate the Constitution, and the complicated path to its birth, all the more.

The Federalist Papers is a collection of 85 essays, published in newspapers over a span of several months in 1787-1788. Authored mostly by Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, with a few by John Jay, the papers were published anonymously under the pen name Publius. Their purpose was to make a comprehensive, detailed and compelling case for the adoption and ratification of a new United States Constitution to supersede the existing Articles of Confederation.

The 18th century intellectual arguments put forth in these essays make some demands on the reader (this is not a beach read), but it is time well invested. The adoption of a new Constitution was controversial, and surrounded with much energetic debate (including similar essays published by the Anti-Federalists). Accordingly, the three writers of the Federalist Papers went to great lengths to make the case for the foundations of what is now our current system of government.

As you read, you will see the varying currents of ideas that gradually became our executive, legislative and judicial branches. There are many historical references to republics and political systems from centuries past, and the essays are a great tutorial in making a reasoned argument and defending it. Fascinating reading about the birth and evolution of the greatest of republics! ...more
2

Feb 07, 2017

HAMILTON WROTE THE OTHER FIFTY-ONE

[edit--I haven't actually read this book, I just felt like commenting that]
3

Nov 20, 2007

It's hard to rate a book like this. On the one hand, it's one of the foundational writings of American history; on the other hand, it's boring. Much of it is, anyway. Reading it seemed like such a good idea when I first picked it up at Barnes & Noble two or three years ago. I still think it's a book every American should read. I'm just glad I'm finished.
I was encouraged by what emerged as the worldview of these authors, as in this excerpt from Federalist 37, written by James Madison, as he It's hard to rate a book like this. On the one hand, it's one of the foundational writings of American history; on the other hand, it's boring. Much of it is, anyway. Reading it seemed like such a good idea when I first picked it up at Barnes & Noble two or three years ago. I still think it's a book every American should read. I'm just glad I'm finished.
I was encouraged by what emerged as the worldview of these authors, as in this excerpt from Federalist 37, written by James Madison, as he reflected on the forces that brought together the United States:
"It is impossible, for the man of pious reflection, not to perceive in it a finger of that Almighty Hand, which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution."
And there's this response to spin from Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist 36:
"They can answer no other end than to cast a mist over the truth."
Madison, Hamilton and John Jay had a robust vocabulary that would offer challenging words for any spelling bee. Among the words they used:

nugatory
excrescent
apothegm
mutability
animadversion

...more
5

Jan 19, 2009

During South by Southwest 2003, I saw a movie called The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. The movie is about President Chavez in Venezuela and the failed coup attempt on his presidency. In the background coverage of his presidency, the filmmakers recounted how as President, he encouraged his citizens to read their brand new constitution and learn it. They interviewed some Venezuelans who did not know to read, but had learned to read by reading their constitution.[return][return]I was touched by During South by Southwest 2003, I saw a movie called The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. The movie is about President Chavez in Venezuela and the failed coup attempt on his presidency. In the background coverage of his presidency, the filmmakers recounted how as President, he encouraged his citizens to read their brand new constitution and learn it. They interviewed some Venezuelans who did not know to read, but had learned to read by reading their constitution.[return][return]I was touched by this, but then I thought "how many Americans can say they've read the Constitution?" My guess is probably not many. And those that have only did it for school and have since forgotten much of what they learned. Personally, I remember having to memorize the Bill of Rights for a class, but that's about it.[return][return]In a time when Congress is passing legislation that infringes upon the rights guaranteed us by our Constitution, it's important now more than ever that we read and understand it. And the Federalist Papers are a great way to learn what the founders were thinking when shaping the Constitution and to learn the issues they were concerned about in the structure of our government. ...more
3

Oct 17, 2011

Don't let the 3 star rating mislead you. This is a brilliant summation of the Constitution by three of the smartest Founding Fathers: Alexander Hamilton (first Secretary of the Treasury), James Madison (Father of the Constitution and fourth President of the U.S.), and John Jay (first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court). It is such a shame that there are so few political geniuses in government today. The breadth of their knowledge, particularly Madison's, boggles the mind. Except for the fact Don't let the 3 star rating mislead you. This is a brilliant summation of the Constitution by three of the smartest Founding Fathers: Alexander Hamilton (first Secretary of the Treasury), James Madison (Father of the Constitution and fourth President of the U.S.), and John Jay (first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court). It is such a shame that there are so few political geniuses in government today. The breadth of their knowledge, particularly Madison's, boggles the mind. Except for the fact that they took the view that the Constitution didn't need a bill of rights (that was passed after the writing of these papers), you will find no better examination of the Constitution. But that is one of the problems with "The Federalist Papers," it examines the structure of the federal government in detail (brilliantly too), but most of today's Constitutional questions revolve around the amendments to the Constitution. So, if you were looking for the Founding Fathers' ideas about the meaning behind the second amendment, you better find a different book. The other problem with the book is that while the language is not archaic (yet), it is still difficult for the average reader to grasp. If you didn't get a high verbal score on the SATs, look for the version in modern English. So really, this is a great book to read for the serious political scientist, but the average reader should look for something easier or limit themselves to Papers 10 and 51. ...more
3

Oct 15, 2008

Boring as all get out, practically put me to sleep and still I ended up liking this book. How could I not in some ways? It presents the arguments of three men, who if I certainly did not admire, can certainly respect their passionately held opinions and their hopes for what America could be. Also, it really helped me to better understand the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the historical context that resulted in some of the seemingly odd or unnecessary clauses and stipulations.

And the Boring as all get out, practically put me to sleep and still I ended up liking this book. How could I not in some ways? It presents the arguments of three men, who if I certainly did not admire, can certainly respect their passionately held opinions and their hopes for what America could be. Also, it really helped me to better understand the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the historical context that resulted in some of the seemingly odd or unnecessary clauses and stipulations.

And the sheer history of it! To understand that time and what people were concerned about. To think that hundreds and thousands of Americans read those same papers as they strove to chart the course of America's future and took them into account,as well as the Anti-Federalist papers (which I often lean toward).

An important, if somewhat somnambulent, read for every American! ...more
5

May 24, 2018

I read some of these papers in college as directed by my Professor, but had never read them all. This book should be studied and used as a reference! You have likely heard legal scholars refer to quotes that happen to be apt in a certain circumstance! But the point of having this book is to be able to understand the minds of the founders on every issue of the draft Constitution. Amazingly, these founder advocacy efforts was their pro-Constitution’s social media campaign. They and the I read some of these papers in college as directed by my Professor, but had never read them all. This book should be studied and used as a reference! You have likely heard legal scholars refer to quotes that happen to be apt in a certain circumstance! But the point of having this book is to be able to understand the minds of the founders on every issue of the draft Constitution. Amazingly, these founder advocacy efforts was their pro-Constitution’s social media campaign. They and the anti-federalist used pen names to hide their identity, but history has identified them. Hamilton, Jay, and Madison.

Most commonly quoted are numbers, 2, Jay, on foreign interference, 9, Hamilton,on protection against domestic insurrection, 10, Madison, same as 9, 14, Madison,the nations boundaries and scope, 23, Hamilton, on the need for a Federal Government for the common defense, 30, Hamilton, on the need for federal power of taxation, 51, Madison, on the powers vested in the federal government, 57, reiterating that citizenship was the only requirements for voting, and 68, Madison, on the reasoning of the construction of the house and senate.

Most interesting, Madison, in 62, is describing the need for stable figures in the senate who are older, have longer terms of office and represent each state with equal votes. They then would be less mutable (I.e. changeable/inconsistent) eliminating the mischievous effects of such a mutable government. “it (mutability) forfeits the respect and confidence of other nations, and all advantages connected with national character.” (My comment, Surely Madison’s observation should also apply to our president if he believed it’s a must apply to Senators!!!)

Far and away the best writers are Hamilton and Madison. Jay’s style is full of commas separating diversionary comments, that causes his point often to be lost.

The books best-use is as a reference when trying to understand the reasoning of the founders leadingto the way our nation was to be constituted. Courts habitually have referenced these papers as justifications for their decisions.

The brilliance of these men is astonishing, their anticipation of issues uncanny! The miracle of our founding cannot be understood without reading these papers, and continuing to refer to them.

Clearly, reading these are necessary for every educated citizen.

Next I need to read the anti federalist papers! ...more
2

Nov 01, 2011

The Federalist Papers are a series of 85 essays written in 1787 and 1788 to promote the ratification of the United States Constitution. I found it to be the equivalent of reading a 600 paged legal brief written by an 18th century lawyer. Actually, that's exactly what it is. I found these lectures helpful in describing the debates that took place at the time these papers were written. I was impressed at the extent and variety of the arguments of "The Federalist Papers" in defending the proposed The Federalist Papers are a series of 85 essays written in 1787 and 1788 to promote the ratification of the United States Constitution. I found it to be the equivalent of reading a 600 paged legal brief written by an 18th century lawyer. Actually, that's exactly what it is. I found these lectures helpful in describing the debates that took place at the time these papers were written. I was impressed at the extent and variety of the arguments of "The Federalist Papers" in defending the proposed Constitution. I guess I can be thankful to live in a country where so much effort and care was put into forming the government.

Here's my favorite quotation from The Federalist Papers:
"Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob." — James Madison, Federalist No. 55

The following are copies of comments I made on our reading group's blog while reading The Federalist Papers. Posting them here without editing is easier that trying to write a review:

Federalist No. 84
Opposition to the Bill of Rights
Since the Bill of Rights is considered very important to most Americans today, it is interesting to note the reasons why they were not included in the original constitution. The Federalist Papers (specifically Federalist No. 84) are notable for their opposition to what later became the United States Bill of Rights.

The idea of adding a Bill of Rights to the Constitution was originally controversial because the Constitution, as written, did not specifically enumerate or protect the rights of the people, rather it listed the powers of the government and left all that remained to the states and the people.

Lectures about Federalist and Anti-Federalist debate:
Here's a link to information about twelve lectures about the Federalist Papers: http://t.co/RO9YN7K6

Federalist No. 10
Causes of factions and republican versus democratic government

Some things I found of interest about No. 10 is that it mentions some to the causes of factions between citizens and discusses the differences between a democracy and a republic.

I found the following quotation regarding disparity of wealth of particular interest in light of recent statistics showing that the disparity has become greater in recent years:

”But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property.”

Regarding democratic government, the following quotation is of interest:

”The other point of difference is, the greater number of citizens and extent of territory which may be brought within the compass of republican than of democratic government; and it is this circumstance principally which renders factious combinations less to be dreaded in the former than in the latter.”

Note that “former” is referring to “republican” and “latter” is referring to "democratic" government.

Free E-Text
The Library of Congress provides the Federalist Papers free as on-line e-text based on archives from Project Gutenberg http://thomas.loc.gov/home/histdox/fedpapers.html


Message from: Christopher Nov 12, 2011 10:13am
I don't quite know what this amounts to:
"as on-line e-text based on archives from Project Gutenberg."
"Based on" seems to me to mean something like "created with the original as a starting point but different from the original." It seems to suggest that the Thomas version is different from the Gutenberg version. Is this the case? If so, what is the relationship of the Thomas text to the "original" Gutenberg text on which it is "based"?

My Reply:
If you go to the following link you will find a discussion of the fact that there are "many available versions of the papers."
LINK TO DISCUSSION OF SOURCES
I take this to mean that since multiple sources vary that some judgement is used by the compilers on what is made available for public downloading. Thus what the Library of Congress provides is what the scholars at Project Gutenberg have decided to make available. They have used the term "based on" to describe its source, and to explain why others may have a slightly different version.

Questions and Answers about The Federalist Papers
Here's A LINK to some interesting questions and answers about The Federalist Papers.

Dates of When States Adopted the Constitution
Here's A LINK to a listing of the dates that various states ratified the Constitution.

Eleven of the thirteen States approved The Constitution by the summer of 1788. It's interesting to note that North Carolina did not enter the Union until Nov. 21, 1789 or a year later after the new government was well on its way. The first N.C. convention (July, 1788) refused, by a vote of 184 to 84, to ratify the Constitution because of the lack of a Bill of Rights and in the fear that the strong National government would in time overbear State authority.

Rhode Island, which did not send delegates to the Constitutional Convention, was last of all by approving it on May 29, 1790, two years after the first eleven. By that time the new U.S.A. government began to deal with it as a foreign country and subjected it to taxes on its exports.

How about the Anti-Federalist?
In case you'd like the see the other side of the debate, the following is a link to a collection of the Anti-Federalist Papers:
http://www.barefootsworld.net/antifed...
It's interesting to note that many of the very dire predictions made by the Anti-federalists have proven correct, although some took longer than others for their realization. On the other hand, if the Constitution had not been adopted the dire predicted consequences made by the Federalists would have probably been proven correct.

Why were pseudonyms used?
Here's LINK TO A LIST of pseudonyms used in the American constitutional debates. I can find no rational explanation why everybody (both Federalists and Anti-Federalists) used pseudonyms. Apparently it was simply established practice in the 18th and 19th centuries for political articles to be signed with pseudonyms. Since our book group has read "Plutarch's Lives," we are already familiar with Publius Valerius Publicola after which the Pseudonym "Plublius" was taken by Hamilton, Madison and Jay.

Did the Federalists believe that the States had the right to secede?
A little-known fact of the Constitution is that two of the largest states -- Virginia and New York -- made the right to withdraw from the union explicit in their acceptance of the Constitution. -Source-

Also, Alexander Hamilton in paper 28 appeals to what he calls in his words “that original right of self defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government and against the usurpation of the national rulers may be exerted by the states.” And then in paper 60 Hamilton refers to, “an immediate revolt of the great body of the people headed and directed by the state governments,” as the means of checking the central government.

And in civil war or revolutionary language with a similar meaning is found in Madison’s later restatement of his claim that the states have a checking power over the national government. As Madison puts it in paper 46, “Ambitious encroachments of the federal government on the authority of the state governments would not excite the opposition of a single state or of a few states only, they would be signals of general alarm. Every government would espouse the common cause. A correspondence would be opened, plans of resistance would be concerted,” he says.

The Madisonian Republic
The following is a link to an edited excerpt from Lecture 7 “The Madisonian Republic” by Thomas L. Pangle, published as part of the series, “Great Debate: Advocates and Opponents of the American Constitution,” published by The Teaching Company.
LINK TO LECTURE 7 TRANSCRIPT

Argument over Representation
The following is a link to an edited excerpt from Lecture 8 “The Argument over Representation” by Thomas L. Pangle, published as part of the series, “Great Debate: Advocates and Opponents of the American Constitution,” published by The Teaching Company.
LINK TO LECTURE 8 TRANSCRIPT ...more
5

May 13, 2012

The Federalist Papers was a tough slog to get through, but, like mining for diamonds, it was worth it. There are no published records of the internal deliberations of the Founding Fathers in their development of the U.S. Constitution ---- the Federalist Papers is really our only intense summary of their thinking in why they put its various measures in it. With some input from John Jay, the Papers are overwhelmingly the product of two great men who would later be political opponents -- James The Federalist Papers was a tough slog to get through, but, like mining for diamonds, it was worth it. There are no published records of the internal deliberations of the Founding Fathers in their development of the U.S. Constitution ---- the Federalist Papers is really our only intense summary of their thinking in why they put its various measures in it. With some input from John Jay, the Papers are overwhelmingly the product of two great men who would later be political opponents -- James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. Nevertheless, on the Constitution, these two very different men came together, and crafted one of the greatest works in political thought.

I think that, such as it is now, these United States are far from the Constitution --- due to modern developments of a constitutionally and economically ignorant citizenry; a craven, imperial President; a cowardly, short-sighted, selfish Congress; and last and, perhaps, most lethally, a Federal Court system that is out of touch, arrogant, politically active and ideological, unaccountable, constitutionally ignorant, and usurping of the power of legislation properly belonging to Congress.

I don't think that the Papers are for the average reader. They are written largely in 18th Century terminology, but, even for their times, seem intended for a highly educated, well-informed audience. However, every law student and every judge should demonstrate mastery and understanding of them. Moreover, no politician aspiring to high federal office has any business in such unless they have read and understand the Federalist Papers in my opinion. They are the source code of our Federal Republic, and the ignorance of the body politic and of the courts are sending America on the road to damnation. ...more
4

Jul 23, 2019

A nation, without a national government, is in my view, an awful spectacle. The establishment of a Constitution, in time of profound peace, by the voluntary consent of the whole people, is a prodigy, to the completion of which I look forward with trembling anxiety. (Alexander Hamilton writing as “Publius” near the end of Federalist Paper No. 85)

The U.S. Constitution was ratified on March 4, 1789, and it has survived as the most well-devised government in the history of the world. Many smart A nation, without a national government, is in my view, an awful spectacle. The establishment of a Constitution, in time of profound peace, by the voluntary consent of the whole people, is a prodigy, to the completion of which I look forward with trembling anxiety. (Alexander Hamilton writing as “Publius” near the end of Federalist Paper No. 85)

The U.S. Constitution was ratified on March 4, 1789, and it has survived as the most well-devised government in the history of the world. Many smart political minds converged to construct it but it was considered so radical that its supporters had to go on the offensive to defend it - this is how and why The Federalist Papers came into fruition.

What I learned from “Publius” (the pseudonym of Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay) in The Federalist Papers is that the Constitution is malleable and that it is definitely not infallible. As a matter of fact, Hamilton explicitly stated that “I never hope to see a perfect work for imperfect men.” Proof that it is not perfect is that we’ve had numerous tests of the Constitution - ie, The U.S. Civil War, and it has been amended 27 times!

Publius’ arguments were sound throughout these papers and the quality and quantity of the output of Publius’ work is really impressive. What the convention devised in the document of the U.S. Constitution was very good, and it had a champion in Publius. I would argue that the Federalist Papers are as important to the U.S. Constitution itself because in the Federalist we get to see the motivations of the convention and why they set up the government like they did.

The Constitution’s goals are stated succinctly in the Preamble:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

230 years later, I believe we have attained this, and we owe it to those imperfect founding fathers, and Publius.


Why should someone read The Federalist Papers today? If you want a refresher of the intentions of the founders and what the true spirit of the U.S. Constitution is, then I recommend this wholeheartedly.

...more
2

Mar 14, 2019

The Federalist Papers is a collection of 85 short essays, written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison & John Jay, in order to convince the readers of New York newspapers to support the institution of a federal Constitution.

In order to understand the content of these essays, it is important to understand the times in which they were written. The former 13 American colonies had revolted against the British Empire and declared their indepdence in 1776. But this was only the beginning, because The Federalist Papers is a collection of 85 short essays, written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison & John Jay, in order to convince the readers of New York newspapers to support the institution of a federal Constitution.

In order to understand the content of these essays, it is important to understand the times in which they were written. The former 13 American colonies had revolted against the British Empire and declared their indepdence in 1776. But this was only the beginning, because the logical follow-up question soon arose: And what next?

There were, at the time, 13 states, which all had their own power structure and political and economic interests. For example, Northern states depended more on international trade, while Southern states depended more on the plantation industry. Adding to this the continuous westward exploration and settlement of new lands, and there would arise inevitable conflicts of interest between the states.

The recent struggle against the British (as well as against the French earlier in the century) had shown the American peoples on the one hand that there was a need for military, political and economic bundling of strength, while at the same time existing conflicts of interests would srve as future levers for European empires to manipulate. So, ultimately, the question boiled down to this: should we, the American inhabitant, unite under a Federal government, or should we remain independent states? Or, put in another form, should we institute a Federal Constitution which would bind all states to a common cause?

Each state had to decide the answer to this question for itself, meaning that in each state debate arose between federalists and anti-federalists. The authors of The Federalist Papers were federalists and tried to sway the reading public in New York to their cause. So, these 85 essays explain why a federal constitution is the only way out of the current problems, and how such a constitution and federal state should function in practice.

The interesting part, for me, is the realism portrayed by the authors, in that acknowledge the need for authority (due to the flawed nature of man) while also acknowledging that power corrupts and should be curbed. They draw on a wide range of sources for inspirations in order to come up with a concrete, comprehense view on how the American federal state should function.

In short, it should be a democratic republic, in which voters choose their representatives and in which a binding constitution clearly circumscribes the room for manoeuvre for administrators. Power is chopped up and placed into different state organs which then keep each other in balance; the whole system is a system of checks and balances, all designed to curb the malignent designs of scheming politicians and power-hungry despots. In a sense, the Union is designed to enforce deliberation and procrastrination in policiy-making and law-giving, in order to prevent the rise of a despot or monarch.

The doctrines of separation of powers and the institution of a system of checks and balances draw heavily on ideas as propagated by Montesquieu, while notions like republicanism and democracy draw heavily on Ancient Greece. When it comes to the protection of individual citizens against an oppressive and powerful state, the federalists draw heavily on ideas of John Locke. For example, the freedom of speech and the right to bear arms are manifestations of the ultimate right to protect your life, property and liberty.

The essays themselves are rather contextual, meaning that one cannot fully understand them without any prior historical understanding of 18th century America. Also, the style of writing is very typical of the time - the English they use is beautiful, but for a modern reader rather longwinded. Lastly, the subject matter is abstract and dry by nature, and the manifold repeating of the same ideas over 400 pages can become rather boring (and rather quick, at that). Safe to say, one doesn't need to read all of the essays to understand the ideas Hamilton, Madison & Jay set out to defend.

(I always find it hard to rate books such as these. Historically, this book is very influential - still. Also, the subject matter is at times highly interesting. Yet the style of writing and the longwindedness are rather tiresome... So I'll just give two stars; take it for what it's worth.) ...more
5

Jun 05, 2009

It's an understandable shame that more people don't want to read this. True, it's not all that entertaining. At times, it feels like reading the most boring parts of the Old Testament. It requires a lot from the reader. But it is such an important book to read in order to understand our government and why it was structured the way it was. And ultimately, it was structured the way it was in order to protect the people's liberties. Therefore, if we don't understand this, our liberties are at risk. It's an understandable shame that more people don't want to read this. True, it's not all that entertaining. At times, it feels like reading the most boring parts of the Old Testament. It requires a lot from the reader. But it is such an important book to read in order to understand our government and why it was structured the way it was. And ultimately, it was structured the way it was in order to protect the people's liberties. Therefore, if we don't understand this, our liberties are at risk. And personally, I think that preserving our liberties is worth going through a few hundred pages of prose that is slightly less gripping than a Dan Brown novel. It only took me about a month to finish this book only reading it on one way of my subway trip every day. I don't think that that is too much to ask.

Also, its unbelievable that it took 500 pages of explanation in order to get 11 pages of legislation (the Constitution) passed. The advocates for the Constitution left no stone unturned as they justified its adoption. These days, it seems like politicians are only willing to provide 11 pages of explanation to get 500 pages of legislation passed. They demand that our representatives vote on bills in order to get the chance to read them. We should learn something from the past and demand the same amount of explanation that our Founding Fathers demanded from Hamilton, Madison, and Jay. ...more
5

Sep 24, 2008

I just finished this book after a long hiatus. It took me awhile to figure out a strategy for reading it, which for me turned out to be reading one chapter a day. Once I approached it that way, I found it to be fascinating, inspiring and eye-opening. Reading it now in the midst of so many debates about the proper role of each of the branches of government as they address domestic and international issues has been very interesting. The thoroughness of the analysis is very impressive. Madison, Jay I just finished this book after a long hiatus. It took me awhile to figure out a strategy for reading it, which for me turned out to be reading one chapter a day. Once I approached it that way, I found it to be fascinating, inspiring and eye-opening. Reading it now in the midst of so many debates about the proper role of each of the branches of government as they address domestic and international issues has been very interesting. The thoroughness of the analysis is very impressive. Madison, Jay and Hamilton had such a wealth of historical knowledge that they brought into their discussions, not just about the forms of various governments (ancient and contemporary), but how those forms played out in particular circumstances. One curious aspect of it though is a strange sort of naivete about the honesty and integrity of individuals who would be filling positions in government. Each of the authors goes to great lengths to describe the checks on less than admirable behavior, but at the same time argues that anyone called to any of these positions would have a certain nobility of character that would ensure acting in the best interests of all the people. Time has shown us over and over again that this is not the case. Even with that small contradictory element, I can't recommend this work more highly--I wish I had read it long ago, and would be interested in a reread of it with other folks. ...more
4

Mar 12, 2016

I feel the need to be excessively verbose after spending several months on this cherished piece of US history. I couldn't help but wonder who took the time to read this in the eighteenth century, especially when the entire collection was first published in one volume! It was interesting to witness the different styles of the three writers known together as Publius. Hamilton especially could get quite passionate. At times entertaining, at times mundane; sometimes courteous and sometimes rude; The I feel the need to be excessively verbose after spending several months on this cherished piece of US history. I couldn't help but wonder who took the time to read this in the eighteenth century, especially when the entire collection was first published in one volume! It was interesting to witness the different styles of the three writers known together as Publius. Hamilton especially could get quite passionate. At times entertaining, at times mundane; sometimes courteous and sometimes rude; The Federalist Papers, for me, did what the writers set out to do. Don't expect this to read like a book--it's not a story, but a collection of essays. Their creation must have been an "arduous enterprise," and in its incredible size and detail, proved how desperate the new nation was to move beyond the feckless Articles of Confederation. ...more
5

Mar 03, 2010

Hamilton, Madison, and Jay: Is there, anywhere, a higher quality discussion about the practicalities, implementation, and possible outcomes of various federal republican and democratic systems than in The Federalist Papers? I don't think so. Could three (OK, mostly two) people generate such intellectually stimulating, elegantly phrased, and thoughtfulness-inundated prose - such as would still enthrall readers several centuries after its date of composition - in today's political atmosphere? I Hamilton, Madison, and Jay: Is there, anywhere, a higher quality discussion about the practicalities, implementation, and possible outcomes of various federal republican and democratic systems than in The Federalist Papers? I don't think so. Could three (OK, mostly two) people generate such intellectually stimulating, elegantly phrased, and thoughtfulness-inundated prose - such as would still enthrall readers several centuries after its date of composition - in today's political atmosphere? I don't think so. ...more

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