The Federalist Papers
Federalist Papers were a series of eighty-five essays
urging the citizens of New York to ratify the new United States
Constitution. Written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison,
and John Jay, the essays originally appeared anonymously in
New York newspapers in 1787 and 1788 under the pen name "Publius."
A bound edition of the essays was first published in 1788,
but it was not until the 1818 edition published by the printer
Jacob Gideon that the authors of each essay were identified
by name. The Federalist Papers are considered one of the most
important sources for interpreting and understanding the original
intent of the Constitution.
Library of Congress Web Site | External
Web Sites | Selected Bibliography
Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress
John C. Hamilton, the son of Alexander Hamilton, sent
a letter to Abraham Lincoln on November 29, 1864, in which
he writes, "I have the honor to send you a few pages
Federalist' recently edited by me, the text revised
by my father. My motive in sending you these pages is,
to call your attention to page cxxiv. of the Historical
Notice which it will cost you only a few moments to read
pertinent to your Emancipation Proclamation."
Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation
Madison sent a copy of the first seven essays from
the Federalist Papers to George Washington on November
18, 1787. Search the Letters
of Delegates to Congress using the word "Publius"
to locate additional letters in this publication.
Debates is a five-volume collection compiled by Jonathan
Elliot in the mid-nineteenth century. The volumes remain
the best source for materials about the national government's
transitional period between the closing of the Constitutional
Convention in September 1787 and the opening of the First
Federal Congress in March 1789.
Records gathered the documentary records of the Constitutional
Convention into four volumes, three of which are included
in this online collection, containing the materials necessary
to study the workings of the Constitutional Convention.
The notes taken at that time by James Madison, and later
revised by him, form the largest single block of material
other than the official proceedings. The three volumes
also include notes and letters by many other participants,
as well as the various constitutional plans proposed during
Making of the U.S. Constitution is a special presentation
that provides a brief history of the making of the Constitution
followed by the text of the Constitution itself.
from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention,
This collection contains 277 documents relating to the work of Congress and the drafting and ratification of the Constitution.
Washington Papers at the Library of Congress
November 10, 1787, George Washington thanked Alexander
Hamilton for sending him a copy of the pamphlet written
by "Publius." In another letter dated August
28, 1788, Washington praised Hamilton for the latest
installment of the Federalist Papers. Washington writes,
"As the perusal of the political papers under the
signature of Publius has afforded me great satisfaction,
I shall certainly consider them as claiming a most distinguished
place in my Library."
Washington's papers using the word "Publius"
to locate additional documents related to the Federalist
James Madison Papers
Madison explained his involvement with the Federalist
Papers in a letter to Thomas Jefferson dated August 10,
1788. Madison wrote, "I believe I never have yet
mentioned to you that publication. It was undertaken last
fall by Jay, Hamilton, and myself. The proposal came from
the two former. The execution was thrown, by the sickness
of Jay, mostly on the two others. Though carried on in
concert, the writers are not mutually answerable for all
the ideas of each other, there being seldom time for even
a perusal of the pieces by any but the writer before they
were wanted at the press, and sometimes hardly by the
sent the printer Jacob Gideon a copy of the Federalist Papers on January 28, 1818, "with
the names of the writers prefixed to their respective
numbers." Published by Gideon, the 1818 edition
of The Federalist was the
first to identify the authors of each essay by name.
Search the Madison papers using terms such
as "Publius" or "Federalist" to locate
additional documents related to this topic.
Thomas Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress
In a letter to James Madison dated November 18, 1788,
Jefferson praised the Federalist Papers "as being,
in my opinion, the best commentary on the principles of
government, which ever was written."
and Deeds in American History
Hamilton's notes for a speech proposing a plan of
government at the Constitutional Convention. Hamilton
later addressed many of these same concerns in The Federalist
Treasures of the Library of Congress - The Federalist
James Madison's Federalist no. 10 is one of the most
important and enduring statements of American political
theory. Its reasoned statement explains what an expanding
nation might do if it accepted the basic premise of majority
rule, a balanced government of three separate branches,
and a commitment to balance all the diverse interests
through a system of checks and balances.
Creating the United States
This online exhibition offers insights into how the nation’s founding documents were forged and the role that imagination and vision played in the unprecedented creative act of forming a self–governing country. The exhibition includes a section on Creating the United States Constitution that contains images from Thomas Jefferson's copy of the Federalist Papers.
Jefferson's annotated copy of the Federalist Papers.
John Jay, one of the nation's founding fathers, was born
on December 12, 1745, to a prominent and wealthy family
in the Province of New York.
James Madison, "Father of the Constitution"
and fourth president of the United States, was born on
March 16, 1751.
Members of the Constitutional Convention signed the final
draft of the Constitution on September 17, 1787.
Known as the Federalist Papers, the first in a series
of eighty-five essays by "Publius," the pen
name of Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay,
appeared in the New York Independent
Journal on October 27, 1787.
The new United States of America adopted the Bill of
Rights, the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution,
confirming the fundamental rights of its citizens on December
On July 11, 1804, political antagonists and personal
enemies Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr met on the heights
of Weehawken, New Jersey to settle their longstanding
differences with a duel. The participants fired their
pistols in close succession. Burr's shot met its target
immediately, fatally wounding Hamilton and leading to
his death the following day. Burr escaped unharmed.
Federalist Papers, The Avalon Project at Yale Law School
Founders' Constitution, University of Chicago Press
and the Liberty Fund
Documents, Federalist Papers, No. 10 & No. 51, National
Archives and Records Administration
Dietze, Gottfried. The Federalist:
A Classic on Federalism and Free Government. Baltimore:
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999. [Catalog
Duvall, Edward D. The Federalist Companion: A Guide to Understanding the Federalist Papers. Gilbert, Ariz.: Fremont Valley Books, 2011. [Catalog
Morris, Richard B. Witnesses at the
Creation: Hamilton, Madison, Jay, and the Constitution.
New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1985. [Catalog
Rossiter, Clinton L., ed. The Federalist
Papers: Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay.
New York: Mentor, 1999. [Catalog
Taylor, Quentin P., ed. The Essential
Federalist: A New Reading of the Federalist Papers.
Madison, Wis.: Madison House, 1998. [Catalog
Ball, Lea. The Federalist--Anti-Federalist
Debate over States' Rights: A Primary Source Investigation.
New York: Rosen Central Primary Source, 2005. [Catalog