Thursday, February 04, 2010

13 Quick Facts Regarding "The Federalist"

At some point during your high school government class or college Political Science course you had to read The Federalist. Jacob Cooke in the forward section for the collection of essays writes….the authoritative exposition of the Constitution [and] occupies an unrivaled place in our national political literature.

1. There are actually 85 articles regarding the ratification of the United States Constitution. They were originally published with the titles "The Federalist, No. 1”, The Federalist, No. 2”, etc.

2. Originally only 84 essays were written – not 85. The extra essay came about when the 31st essay was split. The 29th essay was also moved to follow the 34th to make the sequence logical.

3. The set of essays are the go-to source when interpreting the Constitution. By 1788, two volumes containing the essays were published with the title “The Federalist”. While many collections of the papers now carry the title The Federalist Papers, it is a misnomer.

4. The articles capture the motivation and philosophy regarding our version of government.

5. While most of the articles were written by Alexander Hamilton they were also penned by James Madison and John Jay. John Jay is always listed as an author, and he should be, but compared to Hamilton and Madison his contribution was very limited.

6. However, originally the authorship was a closely held secret. The pseudonym “Publius” was used.

7. Hamilton tried to list others to help – Gouverneur Morris, who declined to help and William Duer, who unfortunately did not meet Hamilton’s exact writing standards. Later his essays were added under the name “Philo-Publius”.

9. By 1792, the secret was out regarding authorship when a French edition of the essays identified Hamilton, Madison, and Jay.

10. Once the Constitution was proposed for ratification by the Federalist convention there were many articles and letters to the editor of the papers that published them opposing “Publius”.

11. The series of articles appeared in three newspapers – the Independent Journal, the New York Packet, and the Daily Advertiser.

12. Hamilton and Madison both claimed to have written several of the essays – 18 through 20, 49 through 58, and 62 and 63. Today after computer-based analysis of word choice patterns indicate Madison wrote all of the disputed essays.

13. The purpose of The Federalist was to focus on New York voters – to sway them to choose delegates to the ratification convention that would support the Constitution. Unfortunately, New York took the side of the Anti-Federalists – so in actuality The Federalist failed, and citizens in states like Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Georgia never saw them prior to ratification.

You can view an online version of The Federalist (the McLean version) here.

Other bloggers participate in Thursday 13….you can find them here.


EDSITEment said...

If you are interested in teaching resources on The Federalist Papers, see The Federalist Debates: Balancing Power Between State and Federal Government and
The Federalist and Anti Federalist Debates on Diversity and the Extended Republic

Beloved's Redheaded Bride said...

I just found your blog! I have passed your site along to several Friends for the High School Kiddos to view! I look forward to view some of the archives as well. Thanks!

James D. Best said...

Relating to point 8 and 13, when Gouverneur Morris declined, Hamilton reluctantly turned to Madison ... reluctantly because the intent was to persuade the New York ratification and Madison was from Virginia. Madison successfully kept his southern accent in check.