The Federalist Papers
In time for the upcoming election season, Penguin presents a series of six portable, accessible, and—above all—essential reads from American political history, selected by leading scholars. Series editor Richard Beeman, author of The Penguin Guide to the U.S. Constitution, draws together the great texts of American civic life, including the founding documents, pivotal historical speeches, and important Supreme Court decisions, to create a timely and informative mini-library of perennially vital issues.
Written at a time when furious arguments were raging about the best way to govern America, The Federalist Papers had the immediate practical aim of persuading New Yorkers to accept the newly drafted Constitution in 1787. In this they were supremely successful, but their influence also transcended contemporary debate to win them a lasting place in discussions of American political theory. Acclaimed by Thomas Jefferson as “the best commentary on the principles of government which ever was written,” The Federalist Papers make a powerful case for power-sharing between State and Federal authorities and have only risen in legal influence over the last two centuries. Beeman’s analysis helps clarify the goals, at once separate and in concert, of Madison, Hamilton, and Jay during their writing, and his selections show the array of issues—both philosophical and policy-specific—covered by this body of work.