What are the Federalist Papers?
The Federalist Papers were a set of 85 different essays that were written under the pen name of Publius. The Federalist Papers were actually written by John Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton. These papers appeared in different New York newspapers including the New York Packet and the Independent Journal between October of 1787 and May of 1788. The essays that made up the Federalist papers urged the New York delegates to ratify the United States Constitution. In 1788, these essays were published as a bound volume, which was then entitled the Federalist. Only later did this collection of essays become known as the Federalist Papers.
Not long after the end of the Constitutional Convention, a large national debate started about whether it was a good decision to the proposed Constitution. Newspapers all over the country published various letters, articles, and opinions that found both for the Constitution and against it. The Federalist papers were some of the most famous letters that were published at this time.
To address the fears that the Constitution could give the central government too much control and power by limiting individual freedom, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison carefully looked at the Constitution in great detail and described the checks and balances built into the document which were made to carefully divide power between the three different branches of government while protecting the rights of the states and people.
Ultimately, New York delegates voted in favor of ratifying the Constitution and accepting the new government because New York City had threatened to secede if the delegates did not do it. Although these three men did not play a strong role in the State of New York’s careful decision to ratify the United States Constitution, their essays in the Federalist Papers are still thought of as an important collection of documents today. Because two of the three authors, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, actually went to the Constitutional Convention, the Federalist Papers give insight and help explain the intentions of those who were involved in making the Constitution.
How the Federalist Papers Are Used Today
Today, the Federalist Papers are still used as an original source of interpretation for the United States Constitution. The Federalist Papers also outline the motivation and ideas of the proposed government, as it was presented by Madison, Hamilton and Jay. Many court judges today look at the Federalist Papers when they make rulings on cases.