The Federalist Papers

Appearing in New York newspapers as the New York Ratification Convention met in Poughkeepsie, John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison wrote as Publius and addressed the citizens of New York through the Federalist Papers.  These essays subsequently circulated and were reprinted throughout the states as the Ratification process unfolded in other states.  Initially appearing as individual items in several New York newspapers, all eighty-five essays were eventually combined and published as The Federalist.  Click here to view a chronology of the Printing and Reprintings of The Federalist.  

Considerable debate has surrounded these essays since their publication. Many suggest they represent the best exposition of the Constitution to date. Their conceptual design would affirm this view.  Others contend that they were mere propaganda to allay fears of the opposition to the Constitution. Regardless, they are often included in the canon of the world’s great political writings. A complete introduction exploring the purpose, authorship, circulation, and reactions to The Federalist can be found here.

General Introduction

Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence

Concerning Dangers from Dissensions Between the States

The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection

The Utility of the Union in Respect to Commercial Relations and a Navy

The Utility of the Union in Respect to Revenue

Advantage of the Union in Respect to Economy in Government

Objections to the Proposed Constitution from Extent of Territory Answered

The Insufficiency of the Present Confederation to Preserve the Union

The Necessity of Energetic Government to Preserve of the Union

Powers Necessary to the Common Defense Further Considered

Restraining the Legislative Authority in Regard to the Common Defense

Concerning the Militia

Concerning the General Power of Taxation

The Difficulties of the Convention in Devising a Proper Form of Government

The Conformity of the Plan to Republican Principles

The Powers of the Convention to Form a Mixed Government Examined

General View of the Powers Conferred by the Constitution

Restrictions on the Authority of the Several States

Alleged Danger from the Powers of the Union to the State Governments

Influence of the State and Federal Governments Compared

Structure of the New Government and the Distribution of Powers

Departments Should Not Be So Far Separated

Guarding Against the Encroachments of Any One Department of Government

Periodic Appeals to the People Considered

Structure of Government Must Furnish Proper Checks and Balances

The House of Representatives

The Apportionment of Members Among the States

The Total Number of the House of Representatives

The Alleged Tendency of the Plan to Elevate the Few at the Expense of the Many

Objection That the Numbers Will Not Be Augmented as Population Increases

Concerning the Power of Congress to Regulate the Election of Members

The Senate

Objections to the Power of the Senate to Set as a Court for Impeachments

The Executive Department

The Mode of Electing the President

The Real Character of the Executive

The Executive Department Further Considered

The Duration in Office of the Executive

Re-Eligibility of the Executive Considered

Provision for The Support of the Executive, and the Veto Power

The Command of the Military and Naval Forces, and the Pardoning Power

The Treaty Making Power of the Executive

The Appointing Power of the Executive

Appointing Power and Other Powers of the Executive Considered

The Judiciary Department

The Powers of the Judiciary

The Judiciary Continued, and the Distribution of the Judicial Authority

The Judiciary Continued

The Judiciary Continued in Relation to Trial by Jury

Miscellaneous Objections to the Constitution Considered

Concluding Remarks