*Includes some of the most famous Federalist Papers and quotes from them.
*Explains the history behind the drafting of the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, and the Federalist Papers.
*Includes a list of the Federalist Papers, their topics, and who is believed to have authored each one.
*Analyzes how the Supreme Court has used and interpreted the Federalist Papers.
“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.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 1
In 1787, delegates from the recently independent 13 colonies met in Philadelphia to try to forge a new, stronger Constitution. That summer, the representatives ironed out a document that had pluses and minuses for all involved, a point noted by Ben Franklin in explaining why he assented to it at the end of the process: “For when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected? It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies, who are waiting with confidence to hear that our councils are confounded like those of the Builders of Babel; and that our States are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting one another's throats. Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure, that it is not the best.”
However, even after the final document was ready, it still had to be ratified by the colonies, which required the delegates to attempt to argue for or against it. Nobody did this better than John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison in the Federalist Papers, which are now among the most famous and influential political writings in the nation’s history. The Federalist Papers were written as a series of newspaper editorials that appeared in the American colonies during 1787 and 1789 urging the ratification of the new Constitution. 85 of these essays consist of what is today considered The Federalist Papers, with 77 of them published 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 Federalist Papers sought to rally support for the Constitution’s approval when those three anonymously wrote them, and given how different Hamilton and Madison proved to be ideologically, they demonstrate how men of vastly different political ideologies came to accept the same Constitution. 225 years later, the Federalist Papers are still just as relevant and influential as ever. In addition to being cited dozens of times a year by the Supreme Court in interpreting the Constitution and rendering decisions, the writings also allow readers and scholars today to get into the mindset of the Founding Fathers, including the “Father of the Constitution” himself.
The Founding Documents: The Federalist Papers comprehensively covers the history behind the Federalist Papers, as well as some of their most famous quotes and key points. Along with pictures of important people, places, and events, you will learn about the Federalist Papers like you never have before, in no time at all.
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Published September 10, 2012
History, Political & Social Sciences.