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Burr: Who’s your client?

Hamilton: the new U.S. Constitution

Burr: No.

Hamilton: A series of essays anonymously published, defending the document to the public

Burr: No one will read it.

Hamilton: I disagree

Burr: And if it fails?

Hamilton: Burr, that’s why we need it.

Burr: The Constitution’s a mess.

Hamilton: So it needs amendments.

Burr: It’s full of contradictions.

Hamilton: So is independence. We have to start somewhere.

Burr: No way.

Hamilton: Burr, we studied and we fought and we killed

For the notion of a nation we now get to build

For once in your life, take a stand with pride

I don’t understand how you stand to the side.

The Federalist Papers

Please find starting below the following:

The Federalist Papers

Summaries of Each Paper

Background of Their Writing and History After

Supplemental Texts of Constitutional Interest

The Federalist Papers

Introduction to Federalist Papers

America has had two federal constitutions. The first, called the Article of Confederation, was completed in 1777 and ratified in 1781, all during the Revolutionary War. Under the Articles the federal government had no judiciary, no executive branch, a small legislature appointed by state legislatures, a President elected by that legislature with a one-year term and a prohibition on serving again for another two years, and no enforceable power to tax. The last of these restrictions broke its back—states never came close to supplying the federal power’s requisitions for money.


The summaries were prepared by the principal writer of this site.  They are not original with the Federalist Papers themselves.  They are not a substitute for reading the papers, but rather a means by which one might decide to read or not read a particular paper.  However, they do provide a useful digest to get the flavor of the Papers in general.  It would not be intellectually offensive to read through them first to decide where to apply one’s attention to the real thing.  They are also useful reminders of what was said in any particular essay.  Few minds have the capacity to remember all the details or where any one detail might have actually been written.


The division of the Papers into ten sections and most of the titles found below are not original with the Papers, but added or altered by this site’s curator. Most original titles were general topics rather than a hint as to what was being said in that particular essay, and often repeated with the inoffensive word, “continued.” Furthermore, a significant number of essays have almost no meaning today as the world and the United States have changed so much. We denominate in black those essays still clearly relevant, in green those with some interesting ideas but little factual relevance, and in blue those that can be safely ignored without losing much in the process. We readily admit that others close to these papers would make other allocations, but these seem right to us.

We offer after the Papers some supplemental documents that trace the path of liberty from early English history to Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural.  This set includes the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution itself, with the Articles of Confederation and the ideas submitted by Madison and Hamilton during the Constitutional Convention.

Section I. Introduction

1. General Introduction (Hamilton)

Section II. On Union, Factions, Size of Country

2. The People Generally Support a Strong Union (Jay)

3. A Single Union Has a Better Chance at National Safety (Jay)

4. War a Continuing Threat Demanding Unified Defense (Jay)

5. Dividing the Country into Several “Nations” Invites External and Internal Peril (Jay)

6. States More Likely to War With Each Other than Exist in Amity (Hamilton)

7. Situations Unique to U.S. Will Provoke State Violence (Hamilton)

8. Unlike Europe, U.S. Divided Will Be Easy Prey to Foreign Invasion (Hamilton)

9. Separation of Powers and Divided Sovereignty Key to Successful and Free Union (Hamilton)

10. Factions, Inevitable, May be Controlled by Republican Form and Extent of Country (Madison)

11. A Strong Union will Promote International Economic Interests and Protections (Hamilton)

12. A Common Union Can Overcome the Inherent Problems with Taxation (Hamilton)

13. Common Union Will Be More Economically Efficient (Hamilton)

14. Diverse Reasons for a Union to Protect Liberty, And It is a Grand Experiment for Which the World Will Be Thankful (Madison)

Section III. On the Infirmities of the Articles of Confederation

15. Fatal Deficit in Articles is Lack of Coercive Force for State Compliance (Hamilton)

16. Federal Establishment Must Derive Power from the People, not the States (Hamilton)

17. Federal and State Powers Do Not Overlap (Hamilton)

18. Compared to Greek Confederacies (Madison)

19. Compared to Medieval and Modern Confederacies (Madison)

20. Compared to Netherlands Confederacy (Madison)

21. Problems Arising from Lack of Sanctions, Mutual Security, and Means of Raising Revenue (Hamilton)

22. Problems So Serious They Cannot Be Fixed From Within (Hamilton)

Section IV. On the Necessity of Energy in the Federal Government

23. The Necessity of a Government as Energetic as the One Proposed to the Preservation of the Union (Hamilton)

24. The Powers Necessary to the Common Defense (Hamilton)

25. The Powers Necessary to the Common Defense Further Considered (Hamilton)

26. Balancing Liberty and Power: Question of a Standing Army (Hamilton)

27. Against the Claim that Military Power will be Required to Enforce Federal Laws (Hamilton)

28. Circumstances and Responses to Internal Revolts (Hamilton)

29. Regulating the Militia (Hamilton)

30. Federal Government Must Have Taxing Power (Hamilton)

31. Federal Taxing Power Must Be Unlimited (Hamilton)

32. States Must Also Have Virtually Unlimited Taxiing Power (Hamilton)

33. “Necessary and Proper” and “Supreme Law of the Land” Add No Power to Federal Government (Hamilton)

34. Federal and State Governments Should Have Concurrent Taxing Power (Hamilton)

35. Another Argument for Unlimited Federal Taxing Power (Hamilton)

36. Nature and Desirability of Various Forms of Taxation (Hamilton)

Section V. On the Republican Form

37. On Natural Tensions and the Nature of Man (Madison)

38. The Incoherence of the Objections to the New Plan (Madison)

39. The Conformity of the Plan to Republican, National, and Federal Principles (Madison)

40. The Powers of the Convention to Form a Mixed Government Examined and Sustained (Madison)

41. The Military and Taxing Power in the New Constitution (Madison)

42. Foreign Affairs Aspects of the New Constitution (Madison)

43. A Host of Other Provisions and Powers (Madison)

44. Restrictions on the Authority of the Several States (Madison)

45. The Alleged Danger From the Powers of the Union to the State Governments (Madison)

46. State and Federal Governments Compared (Madison)

47. Separation of Powers (Madison)

48. Balance of Powers (Madison)

49. Inadequacies of Popular Conventions as Brake on Internal Usurpation of Power (Madison)

50. Inadequacies of Frequent Popular Review as Brake on Internal Usurpation of Power (Madison)

51. Necessity and Character of Checks and Balances as Brake on Internal Usurpation of Power (Madison)

Section VI. House of Representatives

52. Voter Qualifications and Terms of Office of House (Madison)

53. Terms of Office of House (Madison)

54. On the 3/5ths Provision (Madison—tongue in cheek)

55. Defense of Size of House (Madison)

56. Unwarranted Concern About Local Knowledge of Representatives (Madison)

57. Reasons House will not Favor the Elite, the Few over the Many (Madison)

58. On the Growth in Size of the House (Madison)

59. Place, Time, and Manner of Elections (Hamilton)

60. Considering Elections Fully Controlled by Federal Government (Hamilton)

61. Other Concerns Addressed (Hamilton)

Section VII. Senate

62. Advantages of Various Features of Senate (Madison)

63. Advantages of Other Features of the Senate (Madison)

64. The Treaty Power (Jay)

65. Trying Impeachments (Hamilton)

66. Various Barriers to Abuse and Corruption (Hamilton)

Section VIII. Executive Branch

67. The Confusion of Certain Attacks (Hamilton)

68. Manner of Election Praised (Hamilton)

69. Powers of Office Compared to Power of King of England (Hamilton)

70. Benefits of Unitary President (Hamilton)

71. Presidential Term (Hamilton)

72. Benefits of Unlimited Number of Terms (Hamilton)

73. The Veto Power (Hamilton)

74. Power as Commander-in-Chief and Pardon (Hamilton)

75. The Treaty Power Shared with Senate (Hamilton)

76. The Appointment of Ambassadors Shared with Senate (Hamilton)

77. The General Appointment Power Shared with Senate (Hamilton)

Section IX. Judiciary

78. Life Tenure and Judicial Review (Hamilton)

79. Compensation Arrangement (Hamilton)

80. Classes of Relevant Disputes (Hamilton)

81. Original and Appellate Jurisdictions (Hamilton)

82. Concurrent Jurisdictions (Hamilton)

83. Civil Cases and Trial by Jury (Hamilton)

Section X. Concluding Essays

84. Four General Topics, Including Why No Bill of Rights (Hamilton)

85. Concluding Remarks (Hamilton)


We offer some supplemental texts that give some shape ot the history of liberty and our constitution, ranging from the Magna Carta to three speeches from Lincoln, including our current Constitution.