The Federalist

The Federalist

The Federalist

The Federalist

Excerpt

The United States has produced three historic documents of major importance: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and The Federalist. The Declaration of Independence has been printed at least twice with every minor insert and deletion; editions of the Constitution as well as commentaries on it resemble Biblical exegesis. Yet an accurate and definitive edition of The Federalist, the most significant contribution Americans have made to political philosophy, has never been published.

This failure is chiefly due to the publication of three authorized versions of these essays: the first edition, published in 1788 and corrected by Hamilton; the Hopkins edition of 1802, authorized by Hamilton; and the Gideon edition of 1819, James Madison's version. Twentieth-century editions of The Federalist have been taken from one or another of these contemporary editions without regard to which one of them presents the most accurate text. The collation of the several versions of the essays to provide a text as close as possible to the originals which came from the pens of Hamilton, Madison, and Jay is described in the introduction to this volume.

As surprising as the lack of an accurate text of The Federalist is the failure of any editor to publish a satisfactorily annotated edition of it. In writing these essays, Hamilton, Madison, and Jay referred to many eighteenth-century political works with which their readers were familiar but which, a century and a half later, are known to few readers. Such works have been identified in this volume. Whenever references are made to contemporary events which might not be understood by most readers of the . . .

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