The Federalist Papers
|Original title||The Federalist|
|Country||The United States|
|October 27, 1787 – May 28, 1788|
|Media type||Newspaper, book|
The Federalist Papers is a collection of 85 articles and essays written by
The first 77 of these essays were published serially in the
The authors of The Federalist intended to influence the voters to ratify the Constitution. In
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.
According to historian
On June 21, 1788, the proposed U.S. constitution had been ratified by the minimum of nine states required under Article VII. Towards the end of July 1788, with eleven states having ratified the new constitution, the process of organizing the new government began.
Hamilton recruited collaborators for the project. He enlisted John Jay, who after four strong essays (
Alexander Hamilton chose the pseudonymous name "Publius". While many other pieces representing both sides of the constitutional debate were written under Roman names, historian Albert Furtwangler contends that "'Publius' was a cut above '
At the time of publication, the authors of The Federalist Papers attempted to hide their identities due to Hamilton and Madison having attended the convention. Astute observers, however, correctly discerned the identities of Hamilton, Madison, and Jay. Establishing authorial authenticity of the essays that comprise The Federalist Papers has not always been clear. After Alexander Hamilton died in 1804, a list emerged, claiming that he alone had written two-thirds of The Federalist essays. Some believe that several of these essays were written by James Madison (Nos. 49–58 and 62–63). The scholarly detective work of
In six months, a total of 85 articles were written by the three men. Hamilton, who had been a leading advocate of national constitutional reform throughout the 1780s and was one of the three representatives for
The Federalist articles appeared in three New York newspapers:
Because the essays were initially published in New York, most of them begin with the same
The high demand for the essays led to their publication in a more permanent form. On January 1, 1788, the New York publishing firm J. & A. McLean announced that they would publish the first thirty-six essays as a bound volume; that volume was released on March 22, 1788, and was titled The Federalist Volume 1. New essays continued to appear in the newspapers;
A 1792 French edition ended the collective anonymity of Publius, announcing that the work had been written by "Mm. Hamilton, Maddisson e Gay, citoyens de l'État de New York". In 1802, George Hopkins published an American edition that similarly named the authors. Hopkins wished as well that "the name of the writer should be prefixed to each number," but at this point Hamilton insisted that this was not to be, and the division of the essays among the three authors remained a secret.
The first publication to divide the papers in such a way was an 1810 edition that used a list left by Hamilton to associate the authors with their numbers; this edition appeared as two volumes of the compiled "Works of Hamilton". In 1818, Jacob Gideon published a new edition with a new listing of authors, based on a list provided by Madison. The difference between Hamilton's list and Madison's formed the basis for a dispute over the authorship of a dozen of the essays.
Both Hopkins's and Gideon's editions incorporated significant edits to the text of the papers themselves, generally with the approval of the authors. In 1863, Henry Dawson published an edition containing the original text of the papers, arguing that they should be preserved as they were written in that particular historical moment, not as edited by the authors years later.
Modern scholars generally use the text prepared by Jacob E. Cooke for his 1961 edition of The Federalist; this edition used the newspaper texts for essay numbers 1–76 and the McLean edition for essay numbers 77–85.
The authorship of seventy-three of The Federalist essays is fairly certain. Twelve of these essays are disputed over by some scholars, though the modern consensus is that Madison wrote essays Nos. 49–58, with Nos. 18–20 being products of a collaboration between him and Hamilton;
Madison did not immediately dispute Hamilton's list, but provided his own list for the 1818 Gideon edition of The Federalist. Madison claimed twenty-nine numbers for himself, and he suggested that the difference between the two lists was "owing doubtless to the hurry in which [Hamilton's] memorandum was made out." A known error in Hamilton's list—Hamilton incorrectly ascribed
Statistical analysis has been undertaken on several occasions in attempts to accurately identify the author of each individual essay. After examining word choice and writing style, studies generally agree that the disputed essays were written by James Madison. However, there are notable exceptions maintaining that some of the essays which are now widely attributed to Madison were, in fact, collaborative efforts.
The Federalist Papers were written to support the ratification of the Constitution, specifically in
Only 19 Federalists were elected to New York's ratification convention, compared to the Anti-Federalists' 46 delegates. While New York did indeed ratify the Constitution on July 26, the lack of public support for pro-Constitution Federalists has led historian John Kaminski to suggest that the impact of The Federalist on New York citizens was "negligible".
As for Virginia, which only ratified the Constitution at its