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The Federalist Papers

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  20,287 ratings  ·  412 reviews
"The best commentary on the principles of government which ever was written" - Thomas Jefferson

Penguin presents a series of six portable, accessible, and—above all—essential reads from American political history, selected by leading scholars. Series editor Richard Beeman, author ofThe Penguin Guide to the U.S. Constitution, draws together the great texts of American civic
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Paperback, 208 pages
Published August 28th 2012 by Penguin Books (first published 1787)
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Seth
Read the Federalist Papers. Then, just for kicks, switch on Hannity & Colmes, or Crossfire, or read USA Today... and then ask yourself, WHAT THE FUCKING CHRIST HAPPENED TO THIS COUNTRY? Then crawl into a corner and whimper for eight hours straight. (That's what I did.)
Karen Chung
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
Ally
Praise God I'm an American. One should not be able to graduate public high schools without mastery of Basic Economics & The Federalist Papers.
Greg
Aug 31, 2007 Greg rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Someone willing to give it the time it merits
First, I'm going to begin with a bitch.
THIS "BOOK" WAS NOT WRITTEN BY ALEXANDER HAMILTON. IT IS NOT A BOOK. IT IS A COMPILATION OF SEVERAL ESSAYS WRITTEN UNDER THE PSEUDONYM "PUBLIUS" AND THE AUTHOR(S) WERE ANONYMOUS FOR A LONG TIME.
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
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Stephen
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.
Jessica
Nov 27, 2008 Jessica marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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.
Taft Babbitt
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
Kelly
During South by Southwest 2003, I saw a movie called The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. The movie is about President Chavez in Venezuela and the failed coup attempt on his presidency. In the background coverage of his presidency, the filmmakers recounted how as President, he encouraged his citizens to read their brand new constitution and learn it. They interviewed some Venezuelans who did not know to read, but had learned to read by reading their constitution.[return][return]I was touched by ...more
Stephen
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
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John
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
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Christopher
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
Hadrian
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
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Lisa
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
Michael
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
Patrice
Apr 23, 2010 Patrice rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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Miss Clark
Dec 04, 2013 Miss Clark rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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Clif Hostetler
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
Ben
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
Michael
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
Jeremy
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
Szplug
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
Michael
Sep 14, 2014 Michael marked it as read-part  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Americanists, Constitutionalists, American History Students
Recommended to Michael by: Argentina Daley
Shelves: classics, politics
I read selections from the Federalist Papers in my first year in college, and I seem to remember coming back to them every now and again when I needed to know something about American history, but I’ve never really sat down to read the whole thing. It’s really not in my field of study. What it really is is a collection of articles, mostly by Alexander Hamilton (and also Jon Jay and James Madison), originally published in “The Federalist,” a political periodical for the Federalist Party. Most of ...more
Steven
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.
Paul
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
Gregory Mcdonald
When I read this back in the 90's I confess my motives weren't of the noble or patriotic in any fashion. I'd read an article by a then prominent columnist who said that "a person couldn't consider themselves well educated unelss they''d read The Federalist Papers." Well I was young,arrogant and vain(not much has changed but the young part)and I wanted to be seen as well educated so I bought a copy and began to read. It's not easy read,and more than once I thought about giving up and picking up a ...more
Gary Sedivy
I started reading this to learn what the founders of our nation intended when they put together the Constitution. It took me a long time to work through it. The Federalist papers are not an easy read! However, glad to have completed the task. Some of the things I've learned: our present federal government is too big. Most of the power was to reside in the states, closer to the people. The Presidency is too big, through a bloated executive branch. The military is too big; needing to be just big e ...more
Paula
Jul 30, 2008 Paula rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: To All Americans
Recommended to Paula by: History
I spent some part of the day yesterday reviewing my marked up copy of the Federalist Papers. Hamilton's eloquence makes the dry facts of political theory not only palatable, but delicious. Here is a sampling:

"It will be forgotten, on the one hand, that jealousy is the usual concomitant of love, and that the noble enthusiasm of liberty is apt to be infected with a spirit of narrow and illiberal distrust. On the other hand, it will be equally forgotten that the vigour of government is essential to
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John Gardner
I’ve not yet read all 82 papers in this collection, but I’m almost there! These papers were written and published in several New York newspapers between 1787 and 1789, during a period of intense debate between the writing of the U.S. Constitution and its ratification. The Federalists were in favor of ratification, while the Anti-Federalists — led by Thomas Jefferson — opposed it, largely on the grounds that it did not originally contain a Bill of Rights. These are difficult reading, but worth th ...more
Noel Adams
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
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Karl Kindt
After reading this for the first time straight through, I have determined two things. I am more states'-rights than federalist. One of the big mistakes made in forming a federal government was in the way senators are elected. Originally, the two senators from each state were to be chosen by the states' legislature. This would have given an enormous amount of power to state representatives and would have tied the state government more tightly to that of the national government. Why have citizens ...more
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  • The Anti-Federalist Papers and the Constitutional Convention Debates
  • The Constitution of the United States of America
  • Democracy in America
  • Paine: Collected Writings: Common Sense/The Crisis/Rights of Man/The Age of Reason/Pamphlets/Articles & Letters (Library of America #76)
  • The Young Man's Guide
  • Essential Manners for Men: What to Do, When to Do It, and Why
  • The Book of Deeds of Arms and of Chivalry
  • The Frontier in American History
  • Jefferson: Writings (Library of America #17)
  • Reflections on the Revolution in France
  • The Real Benjamin Franklin (Vol. 2 of the American Classic Series)
  • Two Treatises of Government
  • Strenuous Life
  • 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 #62)
  • The Spirit of the Laws (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought)
  • Seek: Reports from the Edges of America and Beyond
  • The Crisis
  • The Conscience of a Conservative
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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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More about Alexander Hamilton...
The Essential Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers Writings The Original Federalist Case for the Constitution: The Federalist Papers and Other Key American Writings on Liberty The Pacificus-Helvidius Debates of 1793-94: Toward the Completion of the American Founding Report on the Subject of Manufactures

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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.” 51 likes
“You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.” 27 likes
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