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Federalist Papers

Federalist Papers
George Washington was the 1st American President who served in office from April 30, 1789 to March 4, 1797. One of the key events just before the beginning of his presidency was the publication of a collection of essays called the Federalist Papers.

Definition of the Federalist Papers
Definition: The Federalist Papers were a series of 85 essays that promoted the ratification of the United States Constitution and the nature of a republican government. The Federalist Papers were published anonymously in US newspapers during 1787 and then published as a book in 1788.

Who wrote the Federalist Papers?
The authors used the pseudonym "Publius" but were later identified as John Jay (17451829), Alexander Hamilton (17551804) and James Madison (17511836).

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Federalist Papers: The Federalists
The supporters of the proposed US Constitution called themselves "Federalists" who believed in a strong, central, National government. The US Constitution had been written to safeguard and protect the liberty and independence gained in the American Revolution 17651783. Federalist wrote the Federalist Papers because
they concerned about the excesses of democracy that had been indicated in disturbances like Shays Rebellion and the pro-debtor policies of many states that forgave debts and printed more money. The Federalist believed that these types of actions needed to be constrained by a strong, central government guided by the principles of the Constitution.

What were the Federalist Papers and why were they written?
The Federalist Papers were a collection of newspaper articles that written because of contentious debate over ratification of the U.S. Constitution.
The Federalists favored the Constitution, and the Anti-Federalists opposed it. The Constitution required ratification by nine states before it could become effective, there was extremely strong opposition in New York State. The articles published in the Federalists Papers gave the opportunity to not only defend the advantages of the U.S. Constitution but also provided a vehicle for the political philosophy of the Federalists and its benefits over the existing system of government under the Articles of Confederation.

What was the purpose of the Federalist Papers?
What was the purpose of the Federalist Papers? The purpose of the Federalist Papers was to:

  • Explain the Constitution to the American people

  • Increase public support of the constitution, especially in New York state

  • Promote the ideals of the Federalists and the advantages of a strong, central government in preference to a rather than a loose confederation where the individual states held most of the power

  • Persuade Americans that the system of government established by the Articles of Confederation was not working and that a new, stronger system of government was needed

  • Persuade the people that the Constitution had not diminished the rights that Americans had won in the Revolution.

Where and when were the Federalist Papers published?
The Federalist Papers were originally published in 1787 and 1787 as a series of essays and articles in New York newspapers. They were quickly reprinted in other states and then published as a book as called 'The Federalist' on May 28, 1788.

Who wrote the Federalist Papers?
ree men have been credited with authorship of the Federalist Papers. The authors of the Federalist Papers were John Jay (17451829), Alexander Hamilton (17551804) and James Madison (17511836). In 1802 the book was printed and sold by George F. Hopkins who revealed that Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay were the anonymous authors of the essays. Additional historical evidence and computer analysis have led historians to assign authorship in the following manner:

  • Alexander Hamilton wrote numbers 1, 69, 1113, 1517, 2136, 5961 and 6585

  • James Madison wrote numbers 10, 14, 1820, 3758, and 6263

  • John Jay wrote numbers 25 and 64.

The Federalist Papers: Use of the Pseudonym "Publius"
The first essay or article was written by Alexander Hamilton and published in the New York Independent Journal on October 27, 1787. Alexander Hamilton signed the essay with the Roman name "Publius" in honor of the Roman consul Publius Valerius Publicola whose name meant "friend of the people". Publius Valerius Publicola was one of four Roman aristocrats led the Roman revolution of 509 BC that overthrew of the Roman emperors in favor of a republic.
The use of pseudonyms (pen names), by writers of political articles in the popular press, was an established practice at the time. All three authors of the Federalist Papers used the collective anonymity of "Publius".

The Federalist Papers - Numbers 10, 51 and 78
The most important Federalist papers are considered to be Federalist paper 10, 51 and 78.

  • Federalist Number 10 is an essay written by James Madison, and published on November 22, 1787. Summary: Paper Number 10 addresses the question of how to guard against "factions", or groups of citizens, with interests or aims that conflict with the rights of others or the interests of the community

  • Federalist Number 51 is an essay written by James Madison, and published on February 6, 1788. Summary: Paper number 51 advocated a separation of powers within the national government and how checks and balances could be created

  • Federalist Number 78 is an essay written by Alexander Hamilton and published on May 28, 1788. Summary: Paper number 78  is titled "The Judiciary Department" and explains and justifies the structure of the judiciary under the proposed Constitution

For additional facts and information refer to Checks and Balances and The Judiciary Branch of Government.

Why were the Federalist Papers important?
What was the purpose of the Federalist Papers?

  • The Federalist Papers are considered one of the most important sources for understanding and interpreting the original intent of the US Constitution

  • The Federalist Papers explain the motives of the Founding Fathers

  • The authors were concerned with the possible abuse of power in the government and advocated the Separation of Powers and a system of checks and balances

  • The Federalist Papers are one of three historic documents produced by the USA of major importance - the other two are the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution

  • The New York delegates voted in favor of ratifying the Constitution and accepting the new government

  • Many court judges today refer to the Federalist Papers when they make rulings on cases

Federalist Papers - President George Washington Video
Federalist Papers: The article on the Federalist Papers provides an overview of one of the major documents published just before his presidential term in office. The following video will give you additional important facts and dates about the political events experienced by the 1st American President whose presidency spanned from April 30, 1789 to March 4, 1797.

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