Introduction to The Federalist Papers

Image of title page of The Federalist

The Federalist Papers, published in 1788

Introduction to The Federalist Papers

The Federalist was a collaborative work between Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison. This series of essays, each of which was published under the pseudonym “Publius” in New York newspapers in 1787 and 1788, was written in an effort to persuade citizens of New York to support and ratify the Constitution. Each Federalist paper makes a separate argument, but taken together, The Federalist is perhaps the most important commentary on the intent of the original Constitution. The Library of Congress’s website provides a valuable introduction to these essays. As you read papers 1 (written by Hamilton) and both 10 and 51 (written by Madison), consider the purpose and audience of the texts. You should also take note of how all three papers influence your interpretation of the Constitution.