The Federalist Papers

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The Federalist Papers are a series of eighty-five essays that were written in 1787-1788 to advocate for the ratification of the Constitution in the State of New York. This collection of essays is considered to be one of the greatest works of political philosophy that came from the United Sates. Even Jefferson, who was an anti-federalist, thought that they were "the best commentary on the principles of government, which ever was written." Even though their current significance is undisputed, some disagree about the influence the papers had when it came to ratification. While some historians say the papers managed to adequately accomplish their purpose, others argue that their influence was incredibly limited and even insignificant. From…show more content…
The problem with saying that the essays spread across the nation, is that it is an overstatement; only five others States published the essays, and none published the complete works—historian John Ferling says that most only published one or two essays. There is also the fact that the number of people who actually read the essays from the papers remains uncertain. The limited publication of the articles between the periods of 1787-1788, meant that it did not reach a significant audience size. The complexity and length of the essays also diminished their accessibility. Historian John C. Miller mentions how the content of the essays “went over the heads of the common people”; even other federalist thought they were not the best way to convince the citizens, and complained that Publius was “too recondite for the masses” and a writer with a more “common touch” would have been better. This lack of understanding made it easier for the anti-federalist to advocate for their cause, something which was illustrated with the fact that The Federalist was “vastly outsold” by pamphlets that contained anti-federalist…show more content…
By the time the first thirty-six essays were published in book form, six states had already ratified the Constitution*. Voting for delegates in New York began in April, 1788, at which time only one volume of the essays was published. Their lack of influence can be seen by the number of federalist delegates that were voted in, nineteen out of the total sixty-five. Historian Pauline Maier believes that the papers came in too “late in the game” to do anything of significance. Another problem the papers faced was that they were not convincing to the anti-federalists. Hamilton himself said to Madison that their “arguments confound, but do not
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