The Federalist Papers (Signet Classics)
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The documents thatshaped a nation.

Three of the founding fathers brilliantly defend their revolutionary charter: the Constitution of the United States, a milestone in political science and a classic of American history.

Customer Reviews:

  • Pro-corporate
    "Federal", as in "federation" and "league", relates to commercial entities and commercial contract. Keep in mind, the United States is not a country but a corporation with no jurisdiction outside it's "ten mile square" district and the 18 enumerated functions of Congress Assembled (aka The United States)....more info
  • Very Useful Book, Not A Perfect Edition
    The Federalist Papers is without a doubt a necessary compilation of rhetoric trying to bring out all the positive aspects of the American Constitution (as well as to discredit some of the criticism it received) for any individual considering himself politically enlightened. Far too many times you will be likely to encounter someone who is completely unfamiliar with notions like executive prerogative and is in utter bewilderment where Bush, for example, gets off with such ideas as the recent wiretaps. The abstract justification for such cases is among the countless other arguments provided by Hamilton, Madison, and Jay within these pages, and though one may disagree with them, they are nonetheless important to know and understand. They are hardly perfect, and many, such as Hamilton's attempt to justify the absence of a Bill of Rights, show that these articles sought to employ every argument available to make it seem that the Constitution was a paragon of a social contract (rather than a document meticulously written as a result of numerous compromises with little universal ideological consistency), but they are nonetheless important to have in one's library.

    Of course, it's easy to find every single one of them online for free, not to mention all the other documents this edition adds on, such as the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence. It is a good thing, then, that this edition is so cheap, as it is certainly convenient to have them all in a relatively small book that preserves all your markings. The edition also tries to overcome this burden of free access to its material through a masterfully written introduction, through a table of contents that briefly summarizes the argument contained within each article, and through the numerous footnotes that concisely expand upon the many now archaic references to the Romans and the Classics that Publius tends to make. For these reasons, I find having this precise copy of the Federalist Papers worth the 7 or so bucks that it costs.

    The one thing I dislike about it, and why I give it 4 stars rather than 5, is that the paper and ink are almost of newspaper quality, so that extensive reading will tend to leave black markings on one's fingers. This does get annoying when writing papers about it and flipping around its pages....more info
  • Alexander Hamilton's Greatest Work (with help from James Madison).
    "The Federalist" is a compilation of articles that appeared in the New York newspapers in 1787 and 1788, written in support of the document that had been approved by the Constitutional Convention that had met in Philadelphia during the summer of 1787. The authors, writing anonymously under the pseudonym "Publius" (after Publius Valerius Publicola, the quasi-legendary First Consul of the Roman Republic), were Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, all well-known political figures in the American Revolutionary period. The Constitution had actually been ratified by the time the articles began to appear, but they served to explain to the public the nature of their new government. They have served that function very well ever since. They are now considered to be a definitive statement of the practical issues involved in establishing popular consensual representative government.

    Ironically, Hamilton was not nearly as enthusiastic about the new Constitution in private as he was in the pages of "The Federalist". For example, he believed the President should be elected for life, and for that reason throughout his life he was called a "monarchist" by his political enemies.

    Another irony is that Hamilton persuaded the American people to accept a Constitution that was and continues to be much more conservative in outlook than are the majority of the American people. He succeeded at this because Americans, like Hamilton, sensed that a conservative governmental structure, with a strong executive, was essential to our security as a fledgling nation-state in a world dominated by hostile and predatory military monarchies. The desperately vulnerable state of the early American Republic comes through vividly in Hamilton's writing, informed no doubt by his heroic Revolutionary War service as George Washington's personal aide. The attachment of Americans to our Constitution as a source of our strength and security continues unabated today.

    "Publius" was writing for the average citizen of his day, who either could read himself or was read to - newspapers were usually passed from hand to hand for weeks after publication in those days. But he doesn't write down to his audience. He justifiably assumes that having been through a prolonged and bloody war for their independence the average American citizen was extremely interested in preserving that hard-won liberty, and in the structure of the government that would help them do it.

    However, the language is of the late 18th century, and takes some getting used to. These papers should be read one at a time, over a period of months or years. The topics covered are as timely as today's headlines: The limits of presidential power, the independence of the judiciary, the role of government in society.

    My favorite quotation from "The Federalist" is not by Hamilton, but by Madison, although I'm sure Hamilton agreed wholeheartedly with the sentiment: (from The Federalist No. 51) "But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary."

    "The Federalist" is one of three basic texts of American government. The other two are Alexis de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America" and Lord Bryce's "The American Commonwealth".

    These three books together will provide an educated person with a solid understanding of the nature of the American system of government. ...more info
  • The Kindle Edition leaves a lot to be desired!
    A problem with the reviews posted here is that they're generally not the reviews of the Kindle editions of these books. The signer edition of the Federalist Papers is one of the best, but the Kindle edition is not.

    The table of contents is off. If you click on Federalist No. 10, you get Federalist No. 9. They seem to be one off starting with Federalist No. 6.

    The index shows subjects but doesn't indicate where it is. The index is one of the best features of the print edition since it's very thorough.

    The copy of the Constitution included in the print edition and advertised in the table of contents in this edition is supposed to show references to the relevant Federalist Paper for each section. Those are lost as well.

    This is the most expensive Kindle edition of the Federalists, and really you would probably better off just emailing yourself the Project Gutenberg txt file of the Federalist.

    This is the second Kindle edition of a classic text I bought where the publisher did a very poor job of creating a Kindle edition. ...more info
  • A good preamble to the Constitution
    "The Federalist Papers" is a good preamble to how our Constitution came to be written by giving us the thought processes Madison, Hamilton, and Jay expressed while they were defending reasons for replacing the Articles of Confederation. Although I haven't finished reading all the papers, I've already learned many things and dispelled several preconceptions about our Constitution that I had previously thought was fact. For instance, our Constitution has intentionally created in it a 'factional' system (first defended by Madison in Paper No. 9) that promotes discord and disharmony. The factions are designed to prevent the majority from totally controlling the federal government so that minorities can have an almost equal sway over all governing facets. The thought process here has to do with experiences of Athens and other pure democracies that ultimately turned into a rule by mob mentality. Another interesting point is Publius's accounts of social norms of the day, and his assumption that these norms would continue on and on which is a fallacy in today's Union with it's limitless special interests, both monied and pauperism, and the politically correct idea of diversity being a good thing for our society. Publius had no idea of Communism or Socialism and what that type of faction could cause in creating havoc in this country and our government.

    If my opinion is worth anything to anyone, reading these papers along with the Antifederalist papers is well worth one's time for the reasons I've stated above plus many more. ...more info
  • GREAT Book...everything you need, looks nice, small but not TOO small
    This copy is worth every penny and more. It was such a great value. Dec of Independence, Const, Articles of Confed, etc. The one-stop-shop for the important US government works....more info
  • Both insightful analysis and great propaganda!

    The Federalist papers were written as a part of the campaign to get the Constitution ratified in the American states. In New York, the final decision was in doubt, and Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay wrote a series of essays, published in the media of the time, to convince New York to ratify the Constitution. Jay became ill, and did not participate in this project as much as Hamilton (a New Yorker) or Madison (a Virginian). In the process, their propaganda also illuminated important themes emanating from the document being debated. As a result the Federalist papers are a rich source of understanding the logic and premises of the Constitution (but keep in mind the political purpose behind these documents).

    This is a fine version, with Rossiter being one of the deans of these documents. But it is the essays themselves that are most important. Let's take a look at a few issues emerging from these documents, to see what is at stake. . . .

    One juxtaposition is between Federalist # 9 and # 10. # 9 was written by Hamilton, and addresses how to deal with factions and discontent: He wanted a stronger central government that could suppress such threats to stability. # 10, on the other hand, is a much more subtle effort by Madison to address the same issue (no wonder the two of them became political enemies shortly thereafter). He felt that a republic over a large area would keep factions from becoming too dominant. He was more trusting of processes than was Hamilton. If you want to understand the brilliance of Madison, read Federalist # 10; it is a seminal document.

    # 47 and # 48 provide the rationale for two hallmarks of the American system: separation of powers (by which Congress, the courts, and the President have different sources of power) and checks and balances (the ability of each of the three branches to "check" the other, e.g., Presidential veto over Congressional laws or Congress being able to override said veto). #51 is even more explicit, with a near poetic turn by Madison. "Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. . . .If men were angels, no government would be necessary. . . ." In short, political figures may try to use the political system for their own advantage. By creating a government where such ambitions can be thwarted by others, you prevent evil effects of such ambition. Thus, checks and balances and separation of powers can deter misuse of power.

    And there is so much more in this volume. Hamilton, in #69 and # 70 indicates why a vigorous executive (President) is a plus for the proposed government. Just so, Hamilton in # 78 speaks of the role of the Supreme Court and the whole court system.

    The Federalist Papers are key documents regarding the Constitution. One must recognize their political purposes; one must understand that there are internal inconsistencies (compare, again, # 9 and # 10); one must take into account the extreme time pressures on the authors as New York's ratifying convention's meeting loomed. Nonetheless, this is an important document and provides genuine insights into the minds of the Founders.

    ...more info
  • A Contention and a Suggestion
    One of the reviewers below challenges the notion that the US was ever a Democracy, however, he (apologies if it's a 'she') is viewing the Federalist Papers from the perspective of modern times, and that is a fallacy in reviewing this work, but fortunately it's an instructive fallacy.

    The issue with the Federalist Papers is that although it is the leading arguments for the creation of a more centralized government (to replace the Articles of Confederation which seemed inpractible), not all of these arguments were adopted in the Constitution, and some that were did not survive very long. As a result, you may get the wrong impression that the Federalist Papers=the Constitution. Remember, Hamilton's party, the Federalists, did not survive much longer after the defeat of Adams by Jefferson in the 1800 election. The populism of Jefferson and Madison were the ultimate winners *at the time*.

    And my *at the time* comment is important. Nowadays the federal government of the US holds a superior and decisive position in the governing of its people; this has not always been the case. In the early-to-mid 19th century, federal power was severely limited when it came to internal affairs; most of the government was conducted at the local level, with some county and state control thrown in where applicable. So *at the time*, the fact that the Senate had 2 members from each state (and appointed by the state legislature) regardless of population was *not* a measure that was anti-democratic in purpose. Democracy existed because the government was predominantly local and the people were predominantly involved in its affairs.

    Thus my contention; now for the suggestion: if your project is strictly to research the creation of the US Constitution, than the Federalist Papers by themselves are fine. If, however, you are more interested in how the Constitution affected American society at that time, I would recommend that you start by reading de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America", and working backwards. The immediate results of the Constitution are best expressed in de Tocqueville (he toured the United States and published his work in Europe within 50 years of the ratification) because its not the causes of the Constitution he is discussing, but its effects. After you have completed Democracy in America, then you'll be able to approach the Federalist (and of course the Anti-Federalist) Papers with the understanding of what worked, what didn't, and maybe what we need to work again for....more info
  • Not Exactly Pleasure Reading!
    Buy this book only if you want to move along the road toward knowledge and away from ignorance. I find it a tough read but an essential read if you want to understand a conservative's aversion to destroying the best Constitution ever written. If you are older than 21 years and still believe in liberal interpretations, the "papers" may help you develop a more reverant view of our real rights and the fears of the framers. A slow (almost required) read should alert you to the dangers of "finding" a right not intended or even remotely obvious in this great document (the Constitution of the United States). ...more info
  • Serious Political Thinking
    The new edition of THE FEDERALIST PAPERS edited by Clinton Rossiter and co. is probably the best paperback edition. Rossiter and Charles Kesler did a good job in presenting these papers, and their explanations and notes make this book clear for readers. THE FEDERALIST PAPERS alone are an important source of serious political thinking. In an age of almost unbridled political power, corruption, empire buidling, etc. THE FEDERALIST PAPERS are important reminder of what a Free Republic (not an empire) should be.

    THE FEDERALIST PAPERS were written by Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804), John Jay (1745-1829), and James Madison (1751-1835). Due to concerns about the New York State legislators ratifying the The U.S. Constitution, these papers were journal pieces written to New York journals and newspapers to convince both the residents and state legislators to ratification The U.S. Constitution. One should note there were other published articles supporting ratification of The U.S. Constitution and can be read in a text titled FRIENDS OF THE CONSTITUTION.

    What is alarming about THE FEDERALISTS PAPERS is that they were written for most readers. If one were to write such articles these days, most Americans would not read them nor comprehend them. This is a sad commentary on Americans regarding sserious political writing regarding their birthright. If THE FEDERALIST PAPERS were assigned to high school kids, whoever would make such an assignment would be fired or worse.

    THE FEDERALIST PAPERS give important explanations of the separation of powers, limits on each branch of the central government (The Federal Government), and how political power should be used within severe limitations. These articles were a brilliant attempt to mitigate fears that The U.S. Constitution would give far too much power the the central or federal government.

    The late Clinton Rossiter had a useful suggestion for those who did not want to read all 85 of THE FEDERALIST PAPERS. He suggested that the best numbers were 1,2,6,9,10, 14, 15, 16,23, 37, 39,47, 49, 51, 62, 70, 78, 84, and 85. Those readers who read these numbered papers would probably want to read the remainder.

    This newer paperback edition of THE FEDERALIST PAPERS has some valuable features to help the reader navigate complex political thinking. The U.S. Constitution is placed in the end of the book with page numbers of the book whereby the authors of THE FEDERALIST PAPERS refer to that section of the U.S. Constitution. This gives clarity as to exactly what the authors were arguing regarding specific sections of the proposed U.S. Constitution. Another important feature of this edition of THE FEDERALIST PAPERS consists of the notes. The men who wrote THE FEDERALIST PAPERS were learned men who had seriously studied history and political thought. The notes explain the examples of Ancient Greek and Roman History used to make some of the arguments. These notes also refer to examples of Renaissance and English History which were also used to make good arguments from historical examples. One could get first learning of Ancient Greek and Roman History as well as a better view of European Renaissance and English History.

    Readers should not forget that the authors of THE FEDERALIST PAPERS were responding to the Anti-Federalists and their articles titled THE ANTI-FEDERALIST PAPERS. Too often the Anti-Federalists are referred to as obstrcutionists and narrow minded men. This is simply not true. The ANTI-FEDERALIST PAPERS are as well written and brilliantly argued as THE FEDERALIST PAPERS.
    One should note that one of the major objections of the Anti-Federalists to ratification of The U.S. Constitution was that it did not contain a Bill of Rights. The Federalists took this argument seriously. Basically, one could argue that without the Anti-Federalists, there would have been no Bill of Rights. Ergo, without The Bill of Rights, there would have been no U.S. Constitution. The Anti-Federalists were very important in the ratification of The U.S. Constitution.

    Anyone who wants to define who Americans should be should read THE FEDERALIST PAPERS. They should also read THE ANTI-FEDERALIST PAPERS and read clear, informed, and well written political theory from men who actually think. Most political hacks and too many American citizens are not even vaguely aware of this important political writing. Yet, this political writing is the very best American political thinking in U.S. History. This reviewer highly recommends the Rossiter-Kesler edition of THE FEDERALIST PAPERS and other editions of THE ANTI-FEDERALIST PAPERS....more info
  • Essential for studying the Constitution
    This is a convenient sized book for travel and essential for studying and learning about the Constitution and the forming of our government....more info
  • Must reading for any American
    How many Americans actually understand the Constitution and how their government was meant to function? If you are relying on the public schools and the media to give you that education, you are going to have a very great misunderstanding of what the Constitution was meant to mean and an even greater misunderstanding of how far the government of the United States today has veered from the vision of the wise men who met in Philadelphia in 1787.

    These are a collection of papers that were published in New York in 1788 for the purpose of convincing the people, and through them, their representatives, to ratify the Constitution (which New York did a year later.) The papers themselves are fairly well organized discussing the basic utility of Union before a discussion of each of the three main departments of government (legislative, executive, and judicial.)

    This edition has dozens of notations regarding people, places, and historical events and assemblies that the educated populace of the 1780s would be aware of, but the average person in 2006 may not be so familiar with.

    One thing that I did as I was reading the book was that I was trying to consider what the three men who wrote these papers would think about these notions if they around today. It is also clear upon reflecting while reading about subsequent history, that they were wrong on a number of issues, especially considering the relative strength of the judiciary, which has in reality become arguarably the strongest of the three branches of government, not the least as argued by Hamilton.

    This book should be a required text in every United States government class (senior year in high school or 101 class in college) rather than the one or two excerpts that are common fair in those watered-down classes. This book is also must reading for anyone who cares about constitutional governance....more info
  • Haven't read it yet
    I was very much pleased with this product. I haven't read it as of yet but am anxious to get into it. It looks very interesting. I'm really pleased with the speed of the delivery and all related transactions. ...more info
  • Required Reading for all Americans
    This book really shed's some light into what the founders had in mind when the country was being developed. If half the Congress just read this book we would be better off as a nation....more info
  • The Federalist Papers
    This is one of the three or four most important books in English published since 1776. All candidates for federal office should be required to pass a comprehensice essay exam on the Federalist Papers.Applicants for citizenship should be tested on this book....more info
  • Democracy's Overrated
    Sorry, but it's true. Fortunately, all the talk about democracy in America is all just rhetoric. The United States is not, nor was it ever, a democracy. Don't believe me? When was the last time you voted for a supreme court justice? Why do Texas and Rhode Island get equal representation in the senate (2 senators) when they're representing such disproportionate numbers of people (furthermore, they used to be appointed by state legislatures rather than elected)?

    The founders recognized from our country's inception that democracy was nothing more than tyranny of the majority. The federalists recognized that the union of the states under the Articles of Confederation could not hold. Additionally, they recognized the opportunity they had to create a large power.

    Read all about the Separation of Powers and the Checks and Balances devised by our founders (with props to the Frenchman, Montesquieu of course). If you want to learn about the foundation of America, the government of America, the meaning of America... THIS is the perfect place to start!...more info
  • Please America; WAKE UP
    We need to wake up before we destroy the greatest country known to man. Don't let liberal greed for power win!...more info
  • Rationale for a Constitutional Government
    If you want to have a better understanding of how and why the U. S. Constitution was written, this is the book. It takes you back to that time and gives you the perspective of the writers. ...more info
  • Relevant After 222 Years
    If you look in the news on any given day you see discussions for down-sizing and decentralizing the federal government and transferring authority to the individual states. You can read the Federalist Papers and understand all the points of view about why our government was structured the way it is, and why Federalists (Hamilton & Jay) and Anti-Federalists (Madison) both supported the Constitution. This is an absolutely fascinating read, particularly in today's context regardless of your position, and a great piece of history. ...more info
  • Do you want the amunition to kick out Dick Cheney? Read this!
    Ever heard about checks and balances? Dick wants to take them away. Ever woundered if those signing statements of George W Bush are unconstitutional? They are! The constitution of the United States of America is, despite the youth of the country, the oldest one in operation today. It is the oldest because it is the best. The federalist papers are a unique discussion on the principles of sound governement, the constitution as the most interesting experiment in human history as Alexander Hamilton puts it. "It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force."(Paper No 1, Hamilton) Through its constitution and a handfull of patriots America has rose, against all odds, to become the most powerfull nation of the world. A nation that once more or less singel handedly saved the world from facism. A nation today almost destroyed, as once Greece was destroyed, from sophistry and the ignorance of its own population. The Federalist Papers is an indespensible tool to reclame the governement and again make America the Becon of Hope and Temple of liberty for all mankind. This is the time for real patriots to step forward!...more info