- Paperback: 398 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Brown (September 15, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1936041278
- ISBN-13: 978-1936041275
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 948 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,225,619 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 alternate Paperback edition.
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The Introduction by Charles Kessler is 25 pages and a terrific read in itself. In this introduction he puts the Federalist into the context of the history then and its significance now. He also helps to explain the overall scheme of the papers, as well as important, general themes, and points to significant numbers and passages in support of the overall scheme and important general themes. Add 22 pages of Précis, a short summary of each of the 85 papers, which gives every reader a good idea of the contents of every paper, and a better basis for understanding the contents and overall frame of Publius' arguments.
Also in this amazing reference book are copies of the Articles of Confederation, the Declaration, and the Constitution. Furthermore, the copy of the Constitution is collated with the Federalist Papers; the corresponding page number of the passage in the Federalist is shown in the margin, next to the related passage in the Constitution. This is another benefit to a more thorough understanding of the Federalist Papers. Another great tool placed in this book, which is absolutely essential for understanding Publius' meanings in the individual papers, are the 66 page Notes section which explains the many references to Historical people, places, and events that are inserted in the Federalist, all of which may have been common knowledge to the Founders, but are often lost in today's readers. Finally, there is a small, selected bibliography for additional research, and a thorough index.
If one cares to read, what Thomas Jefferson called "...the best commentary on the principles of government which ever was written..." and to understand those principles and our Founders' intentions in framing our Constitution, this is the best one book source for doing so.
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.