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The Federalist, by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics: New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars Biographies of the authors Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events Footnotes and endnotes Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work Comments by other famous authors Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations Bibliographies for further reading Indices & Glossaries, when appropriateAll editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences-biographical, historical, and literary-to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.
A classic of American political thought, The Federalist is a series of eighty-five essays by three authors-Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay-the purpose of which was to gain support for the proposed new Constitution of the United States, a document that many considered too radical. Most of the papers were published in periodicals as the vote on approving it drew near. Without the support of these powerfully persuasive essays, the Constitution most likely would not have been ratified and America might not havesurvived as a nation.
Beginning with an assault upon the country's first constitution, the Articles of Confederation, the authors of The Federalist present a masterly defense of the new system. Hamilton, Madison, and Jay-three of our most influential founders-comment brilliantly on issue after issue, whether it be the proper size and scope of government, taxation, or impeachment. Today lawmakers and politicians frequently invoke these commentaries, more than 200 years after they first appeared.
Written in haste and during a time of great crisis in the new American government, the articles were not expected to achieve immortality. Today, however, many historians consider The Federalist as the third most important political document in American history, just behind the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution itself. They have become the benchmark of American political philosophy, and the best explanation of what the Founding Fathers were trying to achieve.
Robert A. Ferguson is George Edward Woodberry Professor in Law, Literature, and Criticism at Columbia University; he teaches in both the Law School and the English Department. His books include Law and Letters in American Culture, The American Enlightenment, 1750-1820, and Reading the Early Republic,
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