Federalist Papers

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The Federalist Papers are a set of 85 articles written in 1787 and 1788 in support of the ratification of the United States Constitution. They are still considered an important source of information about the intentions and motivations of the founding fathers of the country. All of the articles were signed by Publius, an allonym adopted by authors Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay to evoke the republican spirit of the Roman consul Publius Valerius Publicola.

Historical context

During the summer of 1787, 55 delegates representing twelve of the original thirteen American states met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to redesign the government of the United States. The document produced by this Constitutional Convention was substantially different from its predecessor, the Articles of Confederation. Among other things, it strengthened the power of the national government vis-à-vis the states and created a three-branch national government, including a bicameral legislature manned by un-term-limited representatives, a strong unitary executive, and an independent judiciary with a Supreme Court empowered to adjudicate disputes between states.

The Constitution's own provisions stipulated that it would take effect only once nine states opted to ratify it.[1] In the months following the Constitutional Convention, leading proponents and opponents of ratification — known as federalists and antifederalists — produced a spate of speeches and writings aimed at rallying support for their respective standpoints.

Several high-profile antifederalist statements were published in New York newspapers in September and October 1787, which prompted Alexander Hamilton, the only one of the three New York delegates to the Constitutional Convention who had signed the Constitution, to initiate the Federalist Papers series. As he explained in the first Federalist Paper, which appeared in the New York Independent Journal on October 27, 1787, the project's aim was to "give a satisfactory answer to all the objections which shall have made their appearance."




  1. U.S. Constitution, Article VII.