Search the Library

Featured Post

Christmas in 1776: George Washington

View Original Photograph

The Federalist Papers

1787, 1788

View Original Document
Read Complete Transcripts

The Federalist Papers were a series of essays published in newspapers in 1787 and 1788 by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay to promote the ratification of the Constitution.

The Federalist Papers, were a series of 85 essays written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison between October 1787 and May 1788. The essays were published anonymously, under the pen name "Publius," primarily in two New York state newspapers of the time: The New York Packet and The Independent Journal.

They were written to urge citizens of New York to support ratification of the proposed United States Constitution. Significantly, the essays explain particular provisions of the Constitution in detail. It is for this reason, and because Hamilton and Madison were members of the Constitutional Convention, that the Federalist Papers are often used today to help understand the intentions of those drafting the Constitution.

A bound edition of the essays, with revisions and corrections by Hamilton, was published in 1788 by printers J. and A. McLean. A later edition, published by printer Jacob Gideon in 1818, with revisions and corrections by Madison, was the first to identify each essay by its author's name. Because of the essays’ publishing history, the assignment of authorship, numbering, and exact wording may vary with different editions of The Federalist.

The essays featured here are Federalist No. 10 and Federalist No. 51. The former, written by James Madison, refuted the belief that it was impossible to extend a republican government over a large territory. It also discussed special interest groups. The later emphasized the importance of checks and balances within a government. [Library of Congress]