Context

(Student Guide to World Philosophy)

Alexander Hamilton, an influential New York lawyer and convention delegate, conceived The Federalist as a series of newspaper essays to defend the work of the Constitutional Convention that met in Philadelphia in 1787. He recruited James Madison, a notable Virginia delegate to the Convention, and John Jay, a respected diplomat and former New York jurist, as coauthors. All three men believed that New York’s ratification of the Constitution was crucial in setting up an effective central government, and The Federalist was designed first to influence events in New York and then to make a nationwide impression. The impact of The Federalist helped make New York the eleventh state to ratify the new Constitution on July 26, 1788.

The first essay, written by Hamilton and outlining the projected plans for a series of articles defending the Constitution, appeared on October 27, 1787. The series concluded with the eighty-fifth essay, which was published on August 16, 1788. The first thirty-six essays were collected in March, 1788, and a volume containing essays thirty-seven to eighty-five appeared later that year. All three authors used the pseudonym Publius. The ratification of the Constitution was not seen as a foregone conclusion in 1787-1788 because many respected Americans became anti-Federalists out of fear of an overly strong federal government, and The Federalist was an effective propaganda piece that helped sway public...

(The entire section is 428 words.)