- Hardcover: 528 pages
- Publisher: American Bar Association (July 16, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1604427213
- ISBN-13: 978-1604427219
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (874 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,451,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Federalist Papers
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"This country and this people seem to have been made for each other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence, that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren ... should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties." So wrote John Jay, one of the revolutionary authors of The Federalist Papers, arguing that if the United States was truly to be a single nation, its leaders would have to agree on universally binding rules of governance--in short, a constitution. In a brilliant set of essays, Jay and his colleagues Alexander Hamilton and James Madison explored in minute detail the implications of establishing a kind of rule that would engage as many citizens as possible and that would include a system of checks and balances. Their arguments proved successful in the end, and The Federalist Papers stand as key documents in the founding of the United States. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Admirable introduction...Oxford University Press is to be congratulated on adding it to its collection of World's Classics. Howard Temperley, TLS --Howard Temperley, TLS --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Hamilton was only one of three authors (James Madison and John Jay being the others), although he wrote about 50 of the 85 articles. The first 77 were originally published in colonial newspapers in 1787 and 1788 as individual pieces, all written under the pseudonym, Publius. The collection of all these articles, plus another eight written by Hamilton, was first published as "The Federalist" in 1788 -- the word "Papers" was added in later editions. The Federalist writings supported ratification of the Constitution, and were instrumental in securing that ratification. The collected articles are rightly considered to be the best source for determining what was in the minds of the framers when they were drafting the Constitution. If we had only the Constitution to go by, bare of supporting opinion, it would be virtually impossible for any of the three branches of government (but especially the judiciary) to interpret the Constitution, in order to honor their oaths to support and defend it (or in the case of the President, to preserve, protect and defend it).
In recent decades, it seems all three branches have forgotten that oath.
Each provision of the Constitution is explained and defended. Historical facts about previous governments are reasons for specific provisions. Brilliant men of the Enlightenment created a new type of republic. This new government, created in a time of peace, would depend upon and require rational thought instead of unpredictable monarchs/oligarchs reacting to public convulsions.
I am struck by papers #42 thru #47. They define the shared power between the Sovereign States and the proposed federal Union; this tension is nearly gone today. Paper #68 explains the original (and now abandoned) Electoral College. And, paper #10 warns us that “democracies are short in life and end violently”.
The republic born in 1791 (with the Bill of Rights) is unique in human history. A miracle! Today, the US is a shadow of itself. What does a republic deriving its power from the consent of WE THE PEOPLE look like? Read the Federalist Papers.
Months later, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay wrote the Federalist Papers--they hoped to influence public opinion toward ratification of the Constitution. In these 85 essays, they listed some of the problems that the new nation was facing due to the lack of an adequate central government. The authors set forth the military and economic advantages that they thought ratification of the Constitution would bring about and also asserted that the document would promote domestic tranquility through a stronger union.
Perhaps the most famous of the essays today is Federalist 10, in which Madison explained that a populous republic with many factions would protect against tyranny--coalitions and people within the coalitions would shift and change over time, so that no one faction or interest group would be able to dominate permanently. Madison's prophecy proved correct--one can look back across the decades and centuries of American history and see how certain groups and interests left political parties or joined others, creating new temporary majorities and changing the course of government and history.
The Founders and other delegates to the convention were well aware of the dangers of too much centralization, but they thought that they had fathomed a proper balance between state and federal authority with the doctrine of separation of powers. The federal government itself was also set up with checks and balances between the president, Congress, and the judiciary, and the authors make their case as to why these institutions were designed as they were. These essays also describe the further check of regular elections for representatives and senators and explain how they work.
One gains when reading these essays a sense of how well the Framers of the Constitution understood human nature. They even anticipated the demoralizing effects of "voluminous...incoherent" legislative bills and recognized the deleterious effects that uncertainty would have on business and commerce.
As well as the 85 essays, this Oxford World's Classics edition of the Federalist Papers contains a solid introduction and explanatory notes, and as an appendix contains the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Any citizen who reads this book will gain a richer understanding of the Constitution as well as a fresh appreciation of the genius of the Founding Fathers.