The Federalist Papers by Publius Unabridged 1787 Original Version

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Understanding the United States Constitution starts with the intent of its defenders, and that takes place within the letters called The Federalist Papers. A definite must-have for every American, and I suggest required reading for high school Government students. Also, I like to read this with Glenn Beck’s Original Argument, which is a modern-day translation of some of the most important of these letters. – Nicki

The Federalist Papers are a series of 85 essays arguing in support of the United States ConstitutionAlexander HamiltonJames Madison, and John Jay were the authors behind the pieces, and the three men wrote collectively under the name of Publius.

Seventy-seven of the essays were published as a series in The Independent JournalThe New York Packet, and The Daily Advertiser between October of 1787 and August 1788. They weren’t originally known as the “Federalist Papers,” but just “The Federalist.” The final 8 were added in after.

Alexander Hamilton author of the Federalist Papers

Alexander Hamilton, Portrait by John Trumbull

At the time of publication, the authorship of the articles was a closely guarded secret. It wasn’t until Hamilton’s death in 1804 that a list crediting him as one of the authors became public. It claimed fully two-thirds of the essays for Hamilton. Many of these would be disputed by Madison later on, who had actually written a few of the articles attributed to Hamilton.

Once the Federal Convention sent the Constitution to the Confederation Congress in 1787, the document became the target of criticism from its opponents. Hamilton, a firm believer in the Constitution, wrote in Federalist No. 1 that the series would “endeavor to give a satisfactory answer to all the objections which shall have made their appearance, that may seem to have any claim to your attention.”


Alexander Hamilton was the force behind the project, and was responsible for recruiting James Madison and John Jay to write with him as Publius. Two others were considered, Gouverneur Morris and William Duer. Morris rejected the offer, and Hamilton didn’t like Duer’s work. Even still, Duer managed to publish three articles in defense of the Constitution under the name Philo-Publius, or “Friend of Publius.”

Hamilton chose “Publius” as the pseudonym under which the series would be written, in honor of the great Roman Publius Valerius Publicola. The original Publius is credited with being instrumental in the founding of the Roman Republic. Hamilton thought he would be again with the founding of the American Republic. He turned out to be right.

John Jay author of the Federalist Papers

John Jay, Portrait by Gilbert Stuart

John Jay was the author of five of the Federalist Papers. He would later serve as Chief Justice of the United States. Jay became ill after only contributed 4 essays, and was only able to write one more before the end of the project, which explains the large gap in time between them.

Jay’s Contributions were Federalist: No. 2No. 3No. 4No. 5, and No. 64.

James Madison author of the Federalist Papers

Portrait of James Madison

James Madison, Hamilton’s major collaborator, later President of the United States and “Father of the Constitution.” He wrote 29 of the Federalist Papers, although Madison himself, and many others since then, asserted that he had written more. A known error in Hamilton’s list is that he incorrectly ascribed No. 54 to John Jay, when in fact Jay wrote No. 64, has provided some evidence for Madison’s suggestion. Nearly all of the statistical studies show that the disputed papers were written by Madison, but as the writers themselves released no complete list, no one will ever know for sure. –


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