The federalist papers are a collection of 85 essays that were designed to promote the ratification of the United States Constitution. Between October 1787 and August 1788, 77 of the essays were published in three separate newspapers. The entire collection was published as “The Federalist” in 1788. The intention of these essays was to encourage the ratification, and help interpret, the constitution. The actual authors of the essays were a mystery for quite some time.
Who wrote the Federalist Papers?
Due to the sensitive subject of the essays, the authors wanted to remain anonymous. They used the false name “Publius” when publishing the essays. Even though the actual authors were a closely guarded secret, some people were able to guess who was involved. Many people guessed that Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay were the authors. However, this wasn’t confirmed until Hamilton died in 1804 and a list of the authors became public. Some scholars believe that this list was rushed and contained some mistakes, such as which person is attributed to each essay, and Madison himself released a revised list for an updated version of The Federalist. Today, there is still some debate about authorship of the Federalist Papers.
American historian Douglass Adair performed a thorough examination of the texts and came up with the following authors:
- Alexander Hamilton (51 Essays)
- James Madison (26 Essays)
- John Jay (5 Essays)
- 3 of the Essays were a collaboration between Hamilton and Madison.
A computer analysis of the text in 1964 confirmed these findings.
Although there is still much debate about how much influence the Federalist Papers had on the ratification of the constitution, they are still very important documents. In fact, The Federalist has been quoted 291 times in decisions handed down by the Supreme Court.