The Federalist Papers

Few success stories inspire more or teach us more than the birth and growth of the United States. Thirteen small colonies spread along the Eastern coastline of North America had the audacity to believe they could be a self-governing people rather than a colony of Great Britain. They fought a desperate war against the most powerful empire in the world with the most powerful navy and army. They won the war. They won their independence.

A Vision for a New Nation

However the daunting task of forming a nation which would survive only began after they achieved independence. They experimented with a confederacy of states, but it would not meet the needs of a nation. In 1787 delegates from most of those states (one state stayed away) drafted a new and revolutionary document – the Constitution of the United States. In 1789 that document was ratified and became the law of the land.

By no means however did everyone agree with the idea of a stronger national government. The colonies shed blood and tears for a very long time to throw off a powerful central government. They were rightly suspicious of centralized power. A great debate followed for two years before ratification was achieved.

The Three Great Debaters

Three of the patriots who advocated for the Constitution wrote series of editorials in newspapers arguing for adoption of the Constitution. They signed the editorials “Publius”. In those times submitting anonymously was not uncommon. They wanted their arguments to win on their own accord, not because of who wrote them. And for those who did not favor these men they did not want their writings dismissed out of hand. Those editorials have come to be known as the Federalist Papers.

The three men, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison, wrote in a sophisticated and learned manner. They did not talk down to their fellow citizens. There were no “sound bites” or political one-liners. They spoke about political theory, experience and philosophy. They argued as a lawyer would, as they were all lawyers.

It is impossible to say how influential the Federalist Papers were in the end. There is little doubt however that they did help make the argument and persuade those who might have been undecided. They may have even changed opinions. In the end what we do know is that they prevailed. The Constitution was ratified.

One cannot but wish that this level of discourse typified today’s political discussion. It does not. There is still a lot to learn from these papers. They teach us much about what the drafters of the Constitution believed and what they sought to create.

The Federalist Papers are not an easy read. They are written in the political prose style typical of the late 18thcentury and modern readers are not accustomed to it. But I guarantee you that if you struggle through them you will learn a great deal and will come to appreciate in a new way the genius and the practical common sense of these men.

Alexander Hamilton was very bright and ambitious. He served in George Washington’s first cabinet as Secretary of the Treasury and would undoubtedly have had a brilliant political future. Sadly he died in 1804 during a duel with Vice President Aaron Burr.

John Jay went on to serve in high office and became a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

James Madison also continued in politics and was elected President of the United States.

Perhaps the most important success story in this is that in part due to the work of these men the United States became a successful nation and we enjoy the fruits of their work to this day.

Wishing you success and prosperity,

Daniel R. Murphy
Helping People Learn to Build Wealth

Wishing you Success and Prosperity,

Daniel R. Murphy

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.