The Federalist Papers

Due to the popularity of the musical “Hamilton,” many people have heard of the Federalist papers. The Federalist Papers were important to the passage of the Constitution. Despite what many people think now, the founding of the United States was riddled with deep division. Especially when it came to writing a Constitution, the parties were almost irreconcilable. After the failure of the Articles of Confederation, the new country needed a new governing document. In the midst of the political unrest, three men banded together to advocate for the Constitution. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay published a total of eighty-five letters under the pseudonym “Publis.” On October 27, 1780, the letters first appeared in various newspapers. While these letters are the most well remembered, the newspapers were flooded with many letters weighing in on this controversial topic. The Constitution needed the ratification of nine of the thirteen states, but getting those nine states was a harder task than it might seem at first. Especially in the state of New York, politicians, newspapers, and common people alike argued over the rights that the Constitution seemed to be taking away. Remember, there was no precedent for how a democratic republic should operate. In a world dominated by dictators and monarchies, the citizens of the newly formed United States were anxious to preserve their hard-won rights. The Federalist papers were a direct response to the criticism of the Constitution in the press. Headed by Hamilton, a successful lawyer, the team of writers succeeded in persuading the public of the necessity of this Constitution. Admittedly, the letters contained a mix of propaganda included in the logical arguments. However, Hamilton, Jay, and Madison understood that the Constitution was needed to fix the problems with the Articles of Confederation. Mainly, the federal government needed the ability to levy taxes, so that it could pay its expenses. In addition, the Federalist papers argued against the Bill of Rights, but this argument was unsuccessful. One difficulty that remained after the letters were published was the identity of the writers. This secret was carefully guarded, and it was not until after Hamilton’s death that he was revealed as one of the writers. However, the closely guarded secret means that not all of the Federalist papers can be accurately attributed. What is known is that Hamilton wrote the majority of the papers with Jay writing only four. Madison wrote at least twenty-nine and argued that he wrote several of the letters originally attributed to Hamilton. Despite their disagreements, these men made a lasting impact and are responsible for ensuring the ratification of the Constitution.



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