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Federalist Papers

Federalist PapersThe Federalist Papers in this section are the text of the actual essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. We also have a section of Federalist Summaries where we summarize each of the 85 Federalist Papers.

Who wrote the Federalist Papers?

The series of 85 Federalist Papers, or The Federalist, was written under the pen name Publius, however the actual authors are widely believed to be Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay.

A Summary of The Federalist

The Federalist, or more commonly known as The Federalist Papers, is a series of essays written between October 1787 and May 1788 for the purpose of convincing New York residents to ratify the proposed Constitution of the United States. This series of 85 essays were written under the pen name “Publius” and therefore the true authorship of these essays is still debated, but are generally agreed to be authored by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay.  The Federalist Papers were detailed to show its readers the advantages of the proposed Constitution over the current Articles of Confederation.

Although The Federalist Papers were originally published in two New York state newspapers, The New York Packet and The Independent Journal, they were republished in numerous newspapers in other states. In addition a bound edition was published in 1788 by J. and A. McLean. The McLean publication included numerous revisions and corrections. Through the various publications and numerous reprints, the exact wording has varied somewhat throughout history.

Of particular interest to Tea Party Movement members are Federalist Papers number 30 through 36 because these essays deal with the Federal Government’s General Power of Taxation. These essays go into great detail on the Power of Taxation, states’ rights versus federal power, the possible abuses, and the limits of the government. These essays clearly show that there were fears even at that time that the central government could become too powerful and abuse its right to tax. These essays should be used to determine the Founders’ true intent regarding taxation when writing the US Constitution.

The Federalist Essays explain how the division of the federal government into three distinctly separate branches, and each with the authority to check the power of the other, would provide for the best protection of individual liberties. However, the critics claimed that a mixing of powers could possibly lead to all the power being transferred or amassed in one branch. The division of state and federal authority was intended to be an additional check on the possibility of that happening.

The Federalist Papers in summary point out the ultimate goal of the US Constitution – to protect the rights of individuals and for the federal government to work for the common good of the people. On these two principles rest the entire work of the US Constitution.

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Federalist Papers


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