The New International Encyclopædia/Federalist, The
FEDERALIST, The. A series of essays issued in 1787 and 1788 in favor of the adoption of the proposed Federal Constitution for the United States. The Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia adjourned September 17, 1787; the text of the new Constitution was first published in New York on September 27th; and on October 27th the first number of the Federalist appeared in The Independent Journal, a semi-weekly newspaper of New York, the successive essays continuing to appear therein until April 2, 1788. All of the eighty-five essays (the concluding eight of which did not appear until the Federalist was printed in book form) were published over the name of ‘Publius,’ but they were composed severally by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. The authorship of several of the numbers has been the subject of prolonged and inconclusive discussion; but the chief credit for the conception of the enterprise and for its execution has at all times been given to Hamilton. In newspaper and in pamphlet form the Federalist had a wide circulation, and its influence was conspicuous in turning popular opinion in favor of the Constitution. Especially in New York, to whose inhabitants it was particularly addressed, it was an important factor in the conversion of the State from anti-federalism to federalism. No contemporary exposition of the text of the Constitution, of the purposes of its framers, and of its relation to the actual development of the State, was so complete, so scholarly, or so authoritative as was that in the Federalist. It has, consequently, become recognized, even by the courts, as the most reliable commentary on the Constitution and as an essential aid in the interpretation of such passages as are of obscure or disputed meaning. Many editions have been published, the latest and most useful (containing for the first time a full index of the essays) is that by Paul L. Ford (New York, 1898). In the edition edited by John C. Hamilton (Philadelphia, 1875) there is an elaborate essay on the authorship of the several papers. The discussion is almost as interesting to the antiquary as that concerning the identity of ‘Junius.’ Useful editions have also been published by H. C. Lodge (New York, 1888) and by E. H. Scott (Chicago, 1895).