PROVENANCE: George Fox (signature on first title-page; lengthy note about the authorship of the essays on the front free endpaper) — by descent in Fox's family to the current owners.
Some scattered light browning and foxing, some very light dampstaining at bottom of gatherings Aa—Ll.
At the time of the writing of the essays, Hamilton and Madison "were so close in style and outlook that scholars find it hard to sort out their separate contributions" (Chernow, Alexander Hamilton, p. 251). The Library of Congress attributes with certainty fifty-one essays to Hamilton, fifteen to Madison, and five to Jay, three to Hamilton and Madison together, and nine as being written by either Hamilton or Madison.
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 volume 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 wrote in his study that "The Federalist not only serves as the single most important resource for interpreting the constitution, it provides a wise and sophisticated explanation of 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).
The present copy belonged to George Fox, a Philadelphia physician and close friend of William Temple Franklin; he also represented Philadelphia in the Assembly in 1800.
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