The Federalist: A Commentary on the Constitution of the United States (Modern Library Classics) [Paperback]

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Item Description...
Three illustrious statesmen defend the political principles and ideologies set forth in the Constitution of the United States.

Publishers Description
The series of essays that comprise The Federalist constitutes one of the key texts of the American Revolution and the democratic system created in the wake of independence. Written in 1787 and 1788 by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay to promote the ratification of the proposed Constitution, these papers stand as perhaps the most eloquent testimonial to democracy that exists. They describe the ideas behind the American system of government: the separation of powers; the organization of Congress; the respective positions of the executive, legislative, and judiciary; and much more. The Federalist remains essential reading for anyone interested in politics and government, and indeed for anyone seeking a foundational statement about democracy and America.
This new edition of The Federalist is edited by Robert Scigliano, a professor in the political science department at Boston College. His substantive Introduction sheds clarifying new light on the historical context and meaning of The Federalist. Scigliano also provides a fresh and definitive analysis of the disputed authorship of several sections of this crucial work.

"From the Hardcover edition."

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Item Specifications...

Pages   618
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.25" Width: 5.25" Height: 8"
Weight:   1.2 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 1, 2001
Publisher   Modern Library
ISBN  0375757864  
EAN  9780375757860  

Availability  0 units.

About this Author/Artist
Robert Scigliano is a professor in the political science department at Boston College and a leading authority on the Constitution.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
The federalist  Jan 18, 2008
It's a book for my masters program, I have no opinion, it's a requirement.
History, Veneration and The Federalist  Jul 3, 2005
We want our founders to be demi-gods and our original texts to be divinely inspired. For an example of this nonsense, please see the first review on this page.
I want to offer a vision of The Federalist in historical context. I will argue that to see it thus enlarges its greatness will allowing us to admit its faults.
In many ways, the developments that led to the Constitution of 1787 started as soon as colonists reached our eastern shores. We had at least 150 years of experimentation in writing charters and in representative governance behind us by 1787. After the Declaration of Independence the States either wrote new constitutions or reaffirmed old charters. The national government wrote the Articles of Confederation and we lived under that from 1781 to the late 1780s.
The Federalist should be seen as part of that ongoing development. More specifically, it should be seen as part of the ratification debates in New York. Largely written by Madison and Hamilton, these papers reflect the compromises that the founders made in regards to the Constitution. Madison had wanted the President to have a veto over any state laws. Hamilton had favored a President for life during good behavior (read #78 in re the appointment for life of federal judges to sense the fervor that Hamilton felt for the benefits of lifetime tenure). Neither man believed in the necessity of a Bill of Rights. Madison eventually saw the political necessity of such amendments. During the first United States Congress he wrote up the Bill of Rights and guided them through passage. This way he could make sure they did not grow too numerous.
As a whole then The Federalist should be seen as rhetorical and political arguments for passage of a Constitution that the authors had some doubts about.
Of course, as Publius they could express no doubts. Madison, Hamiltion and Jay used this pseudonym which was a typical rhetorical device of elite writers at the time. (See Saul Cornell's The Other Founders for a nice discussion of the variety of rhetorical strategies used by writers during the ratification debates.) The idea was that hiding their identities would allow readers to focus on the quality of their arguments. As a result, there are many passages that can strike the modern reader as duplicitous because Publius pretends to know nothing of what went on during the convention. Madison and Hamilton, of course, were instrumental throughout the Constitutional Convention.
Publius works his explication of the need for the Constitution by critiquing the Articles of Confederation then by going thru the new document, article by article supposedly answering all objections. His counterarguments are largely of two types. In the first type, he will state a political principle so "obvious" that any "candid" reader will instantly agree to it. Publius then builds his arguments from there. The famous paper #10 is one such chain of argument. Or Publius will demolish the arguments offered against the Constitution by pointing out that the article objected to is contained in some or many of the States' constitution and have resulted in no such problems. Many of these arguments are justly famous. Number 10 is very much worth reading. (Although I still find it curious that when Madison asserts that a man's property holdings has a great influence on the way he thinks it is celebrated as political realism but when Marx says much the same thing it is decried as class warfare. But that's just me.)
But the reader really does get a sense at to how much thought went into the various checks and balances and the competing claims of the states and the new national government. To me this is where the glory of the book lies. We as a people thought our way out of the failure of our first experiment in nation building. We avoided civil war (for a while) and did not become the victims of foreign manipulation. We don't have to make our founding fathers and mothers demi-gods. In their fully flawed humanity, they dazzle aplenty.
Finally, it should be noted that The Federalist as a piece of political rhetoric avoided some issues entirely. The main problem that most Anti-Federalists had with the proposed Constitution in re jury rights had to do with the following phrase: "such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed" (Article 3, Sec.2, Para. 3). Whig thought at that time insisted on juries being as local as possible. Blackstone stated that jury trials should be held within the county of the crime. This guaranteed that local knowledge of the crime, the defendant and the victim would be maximized in the jury pool. Trying cases in distant jurisdictions or without juries had been some of the main provocations of the British prior to the revolution. Men like Patrick Henry saw that phrase in the Constitution as a clarion of the tyranny to come from the new national government. The Federalist does not speak to this issue at all. Instead, Hamilton focuses on arguments about whether jury trials are guaranteed for civil cases and even has Publius argue that maybe we should limit jury trials a little because juries are so bad with complicated issues, blah, blah.
Should all Americans read this book? Yeah, probably. Are we the worse if they don't? Again, probably yes, but what we really need as a people is more of a sense of our history. I would rather have more people read a good series of books on our history as a whole (I recommend the Oxford History of the United States as one excellent ongoing series).
But if you want to get to know two great minds at work on political issues that are still relevant then this is your book. Forget Locke, Montesquieu and Rousseau. Their philosophies are antiquarian in a way that Publius is not.
At Least Five Stars  May 24, 2005
The Federalist was an astonishing political document. Written for public consumption during the debate over adoption of the U.S. Constitution, it combined immense learning and sophistication with shrewd insights into the nature of politics in a republic. It's an essential text for anyone interested in American political history or constitutional theory. In fact, the Federalist should be essential readingt for any educated American: it remains an unparalleled example of realistic political analysis being placed in the service of political ideals.

After more than 200 years, the Federalist has lost little of its relevance. The sections on judicial review and Presidential nominations, for example, could have been written about current controversies over judges. Likewise, the discussion of Presidential war powers, or the emphasis on checks and balances as essential to the preservation of liberty, are eerily topical in an age of pre-emptive war and one-party control of Washington. Even when the analysis is wildly dated -- as with the Commerce Clause or slavery -- the reader can see how far Constitutional doctrine has wandered from the "intent" of the Founders.

The Federalist is also superb as literature: the writing is droll and eloquent, once you get used to the long, convoluted sentences. The introduction by Benjamin Wright is excellent and helps to place the text in political and intellectual context. I don't know why I wasn't forced to read the Federalist at law school! Six stars.

Note: Contrary to one review below, God is hardly mentioned in the Federalist, and then only as a rhetorical flourish. The Federalist has countless references to ancient Greece and Rome, but none to the Old or New Testaments. It is a thoroughly secular document. Religious nationalists and other conservatives should actually read it.
what needs to be said?  Aug 27, 2003
When you read this, you can't help but wonder where all the great minds have gone. This assessment of basic human rights and freedoms should be required reading for all kids, and repeat reading for adults with any appreciation of history and/or politics. Its lessons and statements are universal, and should not be examined as simply a part of US history, but rather how the lessons may be applied elsewhere in parts of the world that are still stuck in the Dark Ages.
The framers of the Constitution in their own words  Sep 8, 2000
An essential book for every American both young or old, male or female, Democrat or Republican. A delightful discovery on the need of God and guns (or perhaps swords) in the United States and the intolerance of a government in charge of all but answerable to noone. An undeniably perfect fit for todays culture.

Discover your roots from the men that gave their lives for the signing of the Constitution; true heroes. Their resolve was unquestionable and the love for country without reproach.

They brought us so far. We've walked away. Read it and weep. BK


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