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The Federalist Papers In Modern Language: Indexed for Today's Political Issues Paperback – July 4, 1999

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Merril Press; 1st edition (July 4, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0936783214
  • ISBN-13: 978-0936783215
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #235,139 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Author

updated e-mail address (August, 2000)Mary@Webster.org

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Number 1: Call to Citizens to Study New Constitution [excerpt]

Having experienced the undeniable inefficiency of the existing federal government, you are asked to study and consider adopting a new Constitution for the United States of America.

The importance of this deliberation can not be overstated. The very existence of our country hangs in the balance, as does the safety and welfare of its people, communities, and states. We are called to decide the fate of a nation that is, in many respects, the most interesting in the world.

It has been often said that the people of this country will decide the important question of whether societies can establish a good government by careful thought and choice. Or whether people are forever destined to be governed only by accident and force. If this is true, the answer depends on our response to the current crisis. And a wrong decision deserves to be considered a misfortune for all mankind.

Variety of Interests Influence Debate
[2] Conscientious patriots understand the weighty importance of deciding whether to adopt the new Constitution. Knowing their decision will affect all human societies raises their anxiety.

It would be wonderful if we based our decision only on the best interests of our society, unbiased by less noble interests unconnected with the public good. Although we may ardently wish this, it can't be seriously expected. The Constitution offered for consideration affects too many special interests and changes too many local institutions not to expect discussions on subjects other than its merits. Views, passions and prejudices unrelated to discovering the truth and meaning of the document are expected.

Opposition From Politicians
[3] Politicians will present some of the most formidable obstacles to the new Constitution. Some will resist any change that might diminish the power and benefits of their current State offices. The perverted ambition of others will see potential self-aggrandizement within a country in disarray. Or will flatter themselves into believing they can rise to a higher livel of power within an alliance of several States than within a union under one government.

Moderation Urged
[4] However, I don't plan to dwell on observations of this nature. It would be presumptuous for me to indiscriminately declare a person's opposition due to self-interest or ambitious views merely because their situation might subject them to suspicion. Candidly, we admit even politicians may be motivated by upright intentions. And, undoubtedly, much of the opposition will spring from blameless, if not valid, motivations. Preconceived jealousies and fears will lead arguments astray into honest errors in thinking.

Indeed, so many powerful reasons can create a false bias that there are often wise and good men arguing on both the wrong and right side of society's most important questions. This reality should furnish a lesson of moderation to anyone who thinks they are always right in any controversy.

A further reason for caution--we are not always sure that people who advocate the truth are influenced by purer principles than their antagonists. Ambition, avarice, personal animosity, party opposition, and many other motives no more laudable than these, operate as well on those who support, as those who oppose, the right side of a question.

Moderation is important. Nothing is more repugnant than the intolerant spirit that has, at all times, characterized political parties. In politics, as in religion, it's absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution.

Constitution Called Thief of Liberty
[5] Despite these arguments, a torrent of angry and malignant passions will be let loose about this subject, as in all former cases of great national debate. To judge from the conduct of the opponents of the new Constitution, we will conclude that they hope to show evidence of the justness of their opinions and increase the number of their converts by the loudness of their rhetoric and the bitterness of their denunciations.

Those who argue with enlightened zeal for the energy and efficiency of government will be demonized as being fond of despotic power and hostile to liberty. When supporters profess that the rights of the people must be scrupulously protected, it will be characterized as insincere, a blatant bid for popularity at the expense of the public good.

It will be forgotten that dangers to the rights of people most commonly spring from the head rather than the heart, that the noble enthusiasm of liberty is apt to be infected with narrow-minded bigotry and distrust.

It will also be forgotten that a vital government is essential to secure liberty. Sound judgment shows these can never be separated. And dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the zeal for a firm and efficient government. History teaches us that of the men who have overturned the liberties of republics, most began their career by proclaiming their devotion to the people. They gain position by arousing people's prejudices and end as tyrants.

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Customer Reviews

This book is an eye opener.
The early style english is difficult to understand but his version is done very well and follows the original well.
Thomas Fairbourn Jr.
This book is a easy read and we need this as a required class in all high schools and 1st and 2nd year college.
Orie Fossan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

159 of 162 people found the following review helpful By Ztrider@AOL.Com on June 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
Mary Webster's new book "The Federalist Papers--In Modern Language Indexed for Today's Political Issues" is a "must-have" reference work. If you are a serious student, a teacher, a professional or just interested in Constitutional issues, Miss Webster's book should be there next to your dictionary. Any of us who have delved into the original Federalist Papers know what a confusing morass of run-on, page long sentences you sometimes find. Miss Webster's book can save you hours of trying to parse those difficult sentences written in antique English. But don't expect some of those troubling ambiguities--like, "What does this 'it' refer to?"--to be cleared up. Miss Webster's stated objective was to TRANSLATE rather than to interpret. However, the cleaned up text will make it easier for you to make your own interpretation. Near the front of the book you will find a complete copy of The US Constitution. That's very handy for those of us who go off looking for our lost copy whenever our ire is aroused by some questionable interpretation. Almost as handy is the "map" provided next to the Constitution showing which parts are associated with which paragraphs in the Federalist Papers. Worth the price alone is the extensive index associating political issues with the appropriate paragraphs in the Federalist Papers. You no longer have to be an "expert" who has memorized the "Papers" to quickly turn to the proper paragraphs. Miss Webster's book might not be something we'd sit down and read from cover to cover. How many of us do that with an encyclopedia or dictionary? But when the need arises, they are extremely handy to have on the bookshelf.
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83 of 83 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
Mary Webster has performed a great service She has edited the Federalist into modern language and indexed it for present-day political issues. We hear a great deal today of what the Founding Fathers intended. But today for the most part our children are denied the privilige of reading the Federalist, Which tells us what the framers really thought. Reading these documents tells us that much of what our government does in the name of the constitution is the farthest thing from the mind of the Founders. How many people out there know what the Founders thought about impeachment, taxes, gun control. All you have to do to find out is read the Federalist papers. I am a teacher at one of the few schools that still require their students to read the Federalist. And I can tell you first hand that Mary Webster's book was a major asset to me in teaching this past year. Because of her book I was able to relate the Federalist to the great issues of our time and the students interest came alive. Wheather you are a teacher or not I highly reccomend this book.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By W. C HALL VINE VOICE on January 4, 2004
Format: Paperback
Mary E. Webster has performed an invaluable public service with this book. The Federalist Papers are among the most significant documents of this nation's founding era, yet they go largely unread, primarily because of their legalistic tone and complex sentence structure. As Webster states in her introduction, she has no political or social axe to grind and no agenda to fulfill. She simply wished to make these important documents available to a wider audience, and has succeeded admirably in that goal.

Webster's background allowed her to bring a one-of-a-kind approach to this project. She's not a political scholar; she is a published novelist, and a certified interpreter for the deaf. She says this was her best preparation for conveying what Hamilton, Madison and Jay actually meant. Also, she cautions this work is not meant as a substitute for reading the papers themselves; rather she hopes it will inspire readers (as it did this one) to go to the originals with greater interest and confidence.

In addition to the "translation" of the papers, Webster has also provided a comprehensive index to their contents. There's been much debate in recent years about the "original intent" of the men who drafted the constitution. The best places to find their true intentions are in the records of the constitutional convention itself and in the Federalist Papers. It's all here, from taxation and property rights, to gun rights and the impeachment process. This is a book for the scholar, the student and any citizen who cares about our most fundamental rights.--William C. Hall
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113 of 131 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book does it's "job" tolerably well. But many of the good things here noted by other reviewers (a 'map' of the Constitution, its text, etc) are in the classic Rossiter edition of the Federalist Papers too. And there, you get the full flavor of the 18th century. I'm not sure "translation" does us much of a favor -- this isn't the King James Bible, translated literally out of Greek and Hebrew. This is English, and good English. Yes, Madison, Jay, and Hamilton wrote long sentences. But they aren't run-on sentences; they happened to know how to use punctuation. I worry that this book makes it easier for students (not serious students of history for whom this may indeed be a useful reference, but high school and college students) easier to fudge their knowledge of this vital part of American political philosophy. The problem isn't that the Federalist Papers are too hard -- the problem is that students are too lazy to read them slowly and closely. There, I'm done, and will go back to trudging 10 miles to school up hill both ways.
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