Federalist, The, series of 85 political essays, sometimes called The Federalist Papers, written 1787–88 under the pseudonym “Publius.” Alexander Hamilton initiated the series with the immediate intention of persuading New York to approve the Federalist Constitution. He had as collaborators James Madison and John Jay. Hamilton certainly wrote 51 of the essays, Madison wrote 14, Jay 5; the authorship of 15 is in dispute (as between Hamilton and Madison). The essays were widely read as they appeared, and all except the last 8 were first printed in New York newspapers; the last 8 were first included in a two-volume edition of all the essays in 1788 and were then reprinted in the newspapers. Although the essays had little impact on the debate to ratify the Constitution, they are still considered a classic work of political theory. The authors expounded at length upon the fundamental problems of republican government, and argued that federalism offered a means of both preserving state sovereignty and safeguarding the individual's freedom from tyrannical rule. Many editions of the papers have been published and much has been written about them, a great deal of it devoted to determining authorship. For one edition of the papers see J. E. Cooke, ed., The Federalist (1961).
See study by G. Dietze (1960).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: U.S. History