The Federalist: A Collection of Essays, written in Favour of the the New Constitution, as Agreed upon by the Federal Convention, September 17, 1787. New York: Printed and Sold by J[ohn]. and A[ndrew]. M'Lean, 1788
2 volumes, 12mo (6 1/4 x 3 3/4 in.; 160 x 96 mm). Lacking initial blanks, 1.I6 with internal tear and repair obscuring about six words, some foxing and staining, a few fore-edge corners turned or torn, a few leaves slightly creased and so printed. Nineteenth-century half red morocco gilt, endpapers marbled en suite with covers, gilt edges; extremities quite rubbed.
First edition, from the library of Samuel Boyd, a New York merchant and Federalist who assisted Alexander Hamilton in founding the New-York Evening Post. Written as expedient political propoganda for the purpose of supporting New York's ratification of the federal constitution, the essays in The Federalist are now recognized as one of America's most important contributions to political theory and "a classic exposition of the principles of republican government" (Bernstein).
Alexander Hamilton was the principal force behind the entry of "Publius" (the pen name shared by all three authors) into the ratification pamphlet wars, but he enlisted Virginian James Madison and fellow New Yorker John Jay as collaborators. The first thirty-six Federalist papers were collected and published by the M'Lean brothers in March 1788, and the final forty-nine—together with the text of the Constitution and a roster of its signers—followed in a second voume two months later. In fact, the final eight essays were printed in book form before they appeared serially in newspapers.
In 1825 Thomas Jefferson urged the adoption of The Federalist as a required text at the University of Virginia, describing it as "an authority to which appeal is habitually made by all ... as evidence of the general opinion of those who framed, and of those who accepted the Constitution of the United States, on questions as to its genuine meaning." The significance of the work remains unchallenged: constitutional scholar Michael I. Meyerson's new study writes that "The Federalist not only serves as the single most important resource for interpreting the Constitution, it provides a wise and sophisticated explanation for the uses and abuses of governmental power from Washington to Baghdad" (Liberty's Blueprint: How Madison and Hamilton Wrote the Federalist Papers, Defined the Constitution, and Made Democracy Safe for the World, 2008, p. ix).
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