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The Federalist Papers

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  26,514 Ratings  ·  524 Reviews
The Federalist Papers (Signet Classics)
Mass Market Paperback, 688 pages
Published April 1st 2003 by Signet (first published 1787)
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Eda Yes, and I find that I understand the Papers and, by extension, our Constitution much, much better.

Community Reviews

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Feb 27, 2011 Ally rated it it was amazing
Praise God I'm an American. One should not be able to graduate public high schools without mastery of Basic Economics & The Federalist Papers.
Karen Chung
Mar 08, 2012 Karen Chung rated it it was amazing
With all the talk in political discourse these days about "what the US Founding Fathers intended", I felt it was time to go straight to the source. If you've ever had similar thoughts, this is the place to start. This work is long - around 22 hours of Librivox audio - and written in archaic, ornate English. But anyone reading it will be immediately impressed by its scholarship and depth. It also gives a clear picture of what said Founding Fathers were up against - unbridled, often unprincipled, ...more
Roy Lotz
Jun 05, 2015 Roy Lotz rated it liked it
Shelves: americana, politics
Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without restraint.

Like any educated American who hasn’t already read this book, this classic has long been on my reading list. Nevertheless, even amongst us haughty literati, I suspect that this book is a Mark Twain kind of classic—one that we wish to have read, but don’t look forward to actually reading. It certainly was that way for me. Philistine that I am, the idea
Aug 31, 2007 Greg rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Someone willing to give it the time it merits
First, I'm going to begin with a bitch.
The true authorship of these was only known several years after the fact. And took several decades after the authors had been determined to finalize exactly who wrote what.
Furthermore, virtually ever copy includes at least a copy of the Bill of Rights, Declaration o
Nov 27, 2008 Jessica marked it as to-read
Shelves: dicklits
I don't know who's a bigger jackass: me, for never having so much as peeped at these, or the grownps at all the various schools I've attended, for not even once suggesting I should.

Actually, that's a lie. I totally do know.
4.0 stars. One of the most important works of American political science and philosophy, this collection of arguments detailing the benefits and advantages of the federal system as envisioned by the founding fathers is a must read to understand the beginnings of the republic.
Taft Babbitt
Aug 20, 2009 Taft Babbitt rated it it was amazing
This is a must read for any American. It will make you think and ponder about the complexities that our Founding Fathers had to address when forming our government. Too many people today comment on what should change in our government structure not appreciating the immaculate architecture the Founders put in place. The government of the USA is one of the greatest achievements in mankind’s history. Not something to be tampered with lightly. This book should have a class all to itself in High Scho ...more
Aug 16, 2009 Stephen rated it it was amazing
Wow...This book has completely transformed my views and understanding of our government. The US constitution make so much more sense now that I have read its defense. It's also interesting to read some of the outlandish arguments that were propagated against this ingenious document. Not much has changed in American politics over the centuries. Our media, pundits, and politicians still banter in much the same way today as they did back in the 1780's.

I will admit that this book challenged me. The
Miss Clark
Dec 04, 2013 Miss Clark rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Every American and anyone who wants to understand what it was envisioned to be when it began
Boring as all get out, practically put me to sleep and still I ended up liking this book. How could I not in some ways? It presents the arguments of three men, who if I certainly did not admire, can certainly respect their passionately held opinions and their hopes for what America could be. Also, it really helped me to better understand the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the historical context that resulted in some of the seemingly odd or unnecessary clauses and stipulations.

And the sh
Shameful that I hadn't marked this as read yet. Attached are some thoughts copied from my notes, some of which are not entirely relevant, but still.

Post-Revolution, the colonies experimented with Articles of Confederation. Flawed, replaced by modern Constitution.

History of Republics as derived from ancient Greece, then Rome -> England. Rome became Tyranny, although Republic was lauded as mixed government between Aristocracy, Monarchy, and Democracy. Same with England after the Glorious Revol
Dec 03, 2008 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's hard to rate a book like this. On the one hand, it's one of the foundational writings of American history; on the other hand, it's boring. Much of it is, anyway. Reading it seemed like such a good idea when I first picked it up at Barnes & Noble two or three years ago. I still think it's a book every American should read. I'm just glad I'm finished.
I was encouraged by what emerged as the worldview of these authors, as in this excerpt from Federalist 37, written by James Madison, as he r
Oct 17, 2011 Christopher rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Don't let the 3 star rating mislead you. This is a brilliant summation of the Constitution by three of the smartest Founding Fathers: Alexander Hamilton (first Secretary of the Treasury), James Madison (Father of the Constitution and fourth President of the U.S.), and John Jay (first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court). It is such a shame that there are so few political geniuses in government today. The breadth of their knowledge, particularly Madison's, boggles the mind. Except for the fact tha ...more
Clif Hostetler
Dec 09, 2011 Clif Hostetler rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
The Federalist Papers are a series of 85 essays written in 1787 and 1788 to promote the ratification of the United States Constitution. I found it to be the equivalent of reading a 600 paged legal brief written by an 18th century lawyer. Actually, that's exactly what it is. I found these lectures helpful in describing the debates that took place at the time these papers were written. I was impressed at the extent and variety of the arguments of "The Federalist Papers" in defending the proposed C ...more
Apr 23, 2010 Patrice rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Patrice by: professor
That I have not read this book before, that most of the people I know, including several lawyers, have never read the entire book, is an educational crime. I think it should be required reading in every high school.
It is also very current. The issue of how strong a central government the US should have is still being debated daily. After reading this I think I come down a little on the side of the anti-federalists! I was surprised. But their worst predictions have come true. The federal governme
Feb 11, 2011 Michael rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics
It's an understandable shame that more people don't want to read this. True, it's not all that entertaining. At times, it feels like reading the most boring parts of the Old Testament. It requires a lot from the reader. But it is such an important book to read in order to understand our government and why it was structured the way it was. And ultimately, it was structured the way it was in order to protect the people's liberties. Therefore, if we don't understand this, our liberties are at risk. ...more
Apr 01, 2011 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just finished this book after a long hiatus. It took me awhile to figure out a strategy for reading it, which for me turned out to be reading one chapter a day. Once I approached it that way, I found it to be fascinating, inspiring and eye-opening. Reading it now in the midst of so many debates about the proper role of each of the branches of government as they address domestic and international issues has been very interesting. The thoroughness of the analysis is very impressive. Madison, Jay ...more
Liss Capello
Mar 13, 2016 Liss Capello rated it really liked it
This is the sort of book you read (or I read, anyway) because you think it'll be good for you, not because you expect it to be fun. Your literary lima beans, to better inform your understanding of American civics and provide insight into the motivations and thoughts of the much-referred-to-and-presumed-upon founding fathers. It's propaganda from the Federalist side of the movement, which is important to keep in mind, because although they won (we got this constitution ratified, yay!), and thereb ...more
Jul 05, 2012 Michael rated it it was amazing
The Federalist Papers was a tough slog to get through, but, like mining for diamonds, it was worth it. There are no published records of the internal deliberations of the Founding Fathers in their development of the U.S. Constitution ---- the Federalist Papers is really our only intense summary of their thinking in why they put its various measures in it. With some input from John Jay, the Papers are overwhelmingly the product of two great men who would later be political opponents -- James Madi ...more
Aug 02, 2015 James rated it it was amazing
It took me forever to get through this book—partly because I took extensive notes—but it was worth it.

Hamilton, Madison and Jay wrote this series of esseys in defence of the U.S. Constitution, and it's a fantastic look at the philosophical insight that went into forming that document and structuring our government. They provide ideological support to show that the intent behind each decision was right. And they provide historical support to show that the logic behind each decision was sound. A g
Yogy TheBear
Jul 17, 2016 Yogy TheBear rated it really liked it
As a non American I must say this was very good and interesting, the language was a little hard but not imposible for the able reader.
I must say that the US is a lucky country !! It was borned out of a revolution but it was build in time of peace ! The people who build it were all educated and well read in history and politics, and the population of the States of those times were also very educated and smart !!
The succes of this model of Guv is evident from the fact that it was coppied by many n
Jul 19, 2014 Jeremy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
I think a lot of this is going to seem really obvious if you're an American who payed even a little bit of attention in your high school civics class, it's in the federalist papers that you really get the meat of the arguements for the structure and function of the Constitution. I guess I found it hard to get anything really new out of these, but that's probably because things like "checks and balances," " bi-cameral legislature," and "no ex-post facto" are already such well worn pieces of Ameri ...more
Aug 28, 2016 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel the need to be excessively verbose after spending several months on this cherished piece of US history. I couldn't help but wonder who took the time to read this in the eighteenth century, especially when the entire collection was first published in one volume! It was interesting to witness the different styles of the three writers known together as Publius. Hamilton especially could get quite passionate. At times entertaining, at times mundane; sometimes courteous and sometimes rude; The ...more
Mar 29, 2010 Szplug rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hamilton, Madison, and Jay: Is there, anywhere, a higher quality discussion about the practicalities, implementation, and possible outcomes of various federal republican and democratic systems than in The Federalist Papers? I don't think so. Could three (OK, mostly two) people generate such intellectually stimulating, elegantly phrased, and thoughtfulness-inundated prose - such as would still enthrall readers several centuries after its date of composition - in today's political atmosphere? I do ...more
Jul 09, 2007 Steven rated it really liked it
I did not read this collection until law school, but I have often thought that it should be required reading for every American. Quite simply, these papers are the alpha and omega to understanding the Constitution of the United States.
Sep 29, 2012 Paul rated it it was amazing
SHORT VERSION OF REVIEW - If you want to cut through the bullshit you hear all day long from the media, from pundits, and all the other blowhards who say "blah blah blah" and really know what it was that the Founding Fathers "meant" when they wrote the Constitution, as well as gain a deeper understanding and overview of why the government does the things it does sometimes, read. This. Book. It will also, hopefully, give you a much more in-depth appreciation of how great our government is, despit ...more
John Winterson
Apr 26, 2016 John Winterson rated it liked it
This is one of those books that many quote but few actually read. Indeed, it was staring down at me, reproachfully, from my bookshelf for many years before I finally read it cover to cover.

The Federal Constitution of the United States is a commendably short document, but its greatest advantage is also its greatest disadvantage because its brevity has left the door open to endless debate about what the original framers actually intended. ‘Federalist’ is the best answer we have. A collection of ne
Sep 12, 2016 Ben rated it really liked it
Undoubtedly a very important collection of historical writings, which deserve to be read once in one's life. These are described, after all, as documents that "shaped a nation." I had read some of these in political science courses in college, but not all 85 essays, so as I take a reading journey back into the land of the "old free America," to borrow a phrase used by the poet Kenneth Rexroth, I figured now was as good a time as any to explore this work in all its depth. As much as it is a must- ...more
May 18, 2013 JP rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All thoughtful citizens should read this classic. Does anything need to be said about its importance? A few new impressions of mine: difficult reading due to the elevated style of the authors of that time, bordering on embarrassing for our present day situation. About 1/3 through the 85 papers, I thought I could begin to determine which "Publius" was the writer, Hamilton being more foreceful in argument and direct in course. The authors predicted some of the problems we have today and the evolut ...more
Noel Adams
Mar 16, 2013 Noel Adams rated it it was amazing
The Federalist Papers has been called the most important work on political theory ever. And it's an important defense of the structure and thought behind our Constitution. I think it should be required reading for anyone interested in statesmanship, most importantly those actually holding office at any level. That doesn't change the fact that they were a painful read for several reasons.
1 The Federalist Papers, so the story goes, were a series of articles written to the average American and pub
The arguments of Hamilton, Madison and Jay are just as relevant today as they were more than two hundred years ago. The authors of The Federalist Papers wanted to influence the vote in favor of ratifying the Constitution. However, the authors of the Federalist papers also had a greater plan in mind. According to Federalist 1:
"It has been frequently remarked, that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether
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  • The Anti-Federalist Papers and the Constitutional Convention Debates
  • Democracy in America
  • The Constitution of the United States of America
  • Writings: Autobiography/Notes on the State of Virginia/Public & Private Papers/Addresses/Letters
  • Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Reported by James Madison
  • Two Treatises of Government
  • Collected Writings: Common Sense/The Crisis/Rights of Man/The Age of Reason/Pamphlets/Articles & Letters
  • The Spirit of the Laws (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought)
  • The Book of Deeds of Arms and of Chivalry
  • The Making of America: The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution
  • Seek: Reports from the Edges of America and Beyond
  • Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788
  • Reflections on the Revolution in France
  • Miracle at Philadelphia: The Story of the Constitutional Convention, May to September 1787
  • The Debate on the Constitution : Federalist and Antifederalist Speeches, Articles, and Letters During the Struggle over Ratification : Part One, September 1787-February 1788 (Library of America)
  • The Autobiography and Other Writings
  • The Constitution of Liberty
  • The Conscience of a Conservative
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Alexander Hamilton (January 11, 1755 or 1757 – July 12, 1804) was the first United States Secretary of the Treasury, a Founding Father, economist, and political philosopher. He led calls for the Philadelphia Convention, was one of America's first Constitutional lawyers, an
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“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, selfappointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” 76 likes
“You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.” 36 likes
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