Friday, July 18, 2014

Our Definitive Post on the Federalist Papers

As seen in Tyler-Rose's hilarious review of the search terms that bring people to our blog, people sometimes search "the federalist papers" and end up here. 

I have no idea why.  Tyler-Rose and I thought we recalled publishing a post on the Federalist Papers, but this proved to be mere patriotic fancy, as we could find nothing whatsoever in our archives to do with them. 

So, to remedy the situation once and for all, and since I happen to know a bit about the Federalist Papers and since it's still rather close to the 4th of July, I give you: 

The Feather and the Rose's Definitive Post on the Federalist Papers

(Definitive of their place in our search terms, that is.  Not, goodness me, definitive of the Papers themselves.) 

So, what are the Federalist Papers? 

The United States' Constitution had to be approved by at least nine states before it could be ratified.  Debate over whether the Constitution outlined a sound government for the new country was often carried out in newspapers.  The Federalist Papers are a collection of 85 articles which contributed to this public debate. 

In the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison argue in support of the new Constitution under the pseudonym "Publius."

Federalist 51 contains what is perhaps the most famous passage in the entire series.  Madison here discusses the need for a structure of government that takes into account the self-interest, and even vice, inherent in its all-too-human officials: 

Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.  The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place.  It may be a reflection on human nature that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government.  But what is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?  If men were angels, no government would be necessary.  If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.  In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this:  you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. 

The Federalist Papers in their entirety are available online here, from the Library of Congress. 


So, now you people have a reason to end up here by searching "the federalist papers."  Enjoy! 


Or, in the parlance of book-review-bloggers: 

5/5 bald eagles.  Highly recommended to anyone interested in political philosophy and/or the founding of the United States.  


  1. Now that is some good customer service. Clearly there was a need, and you have supplied. Well done!

    1. One reason of many that we <3 the Feather and the Rose.