A series of papers written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, published in New York newspapers under the pen name Publius by the then anonymous authors. The purpose of these papers was to defend the Constitution from the sentiment (which was strong in NY State) that it was an attempt to create an aristocratic government. The Federalist Papers argued that the Constitution was both coherent and republican (small r).

The writers of the constitution saw that a clear-cut vote would destroy at birth The Constitution of the United States of America. The framers were concerned especially with the state of New York, whose governor, George Clinton, was a formidable opponent of the new constitution.

Therefore it should come as no surprise, since these papers are a justification and explanation of the Constitution, that they are recommended (by the likes of Thomas Jefferson) for those who want to know about the Constitution (in fact Thomas Jefferson recommended against reading the Constitution itself in favor of these papers, implying that this was a much better document on it than the document itself).

As a document defending the longest standing written constitution* in the world, and the one that became the basis of democratic republics worldwide, these articles are among the most important in the last 300 years. This idea is pretty well covered above.

Particularly noteworthy is the relevence to today's American political system which has strayed from the original ideals. For example, in Federalist #10, Madison rails against the modern system of political parties. Check it out.

The Importance of the Union (1-14)

  • Federalist #1 -- General Introduction -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #2 -- Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence -- Jay
  • Federalist #3 -- Concerning Dangers From Foreign Force and Influence (con't) -- Jay
  • Federalist #4 -- Concerning Dangers From Foreign Force and Influence (con't) -- Jay
  • Federalist #5 -- Concerning Dangers From Foreign Force and Influence (con't) -- Jay
  • Federalist #6 -- Concerning Dangers from Dissensions Between the States -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #7 -- Concerning Dangers from Dissensions Between the States (con't) -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #8 -- The Consequences of Hostilities Between the States -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #9 -- The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #10 -- The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection (con't) -- Madison
  • Federalist #11 -- The Utility of the Union in Respect to Commercial Relations and a Navy -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #12 -- The Utility of the Union In Respect to Revenue -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #13 -- Advantage of the Union in Respect to Economy in Government -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #14 -- Objections to the Proposed Constitution From Extent of Territory Answered -- Madison

Defects of the Articles of Confederation (15-22)

  • Federalist #15 -- The Insufficiency of the Present Confederation to Preserve the Union -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #16 -- The Insufficiency of the Present Confederation to Preserve the Union (con't) -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #17 -- The Insufficiency of the Present Confederation to Preserve the Union (con't) -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #18 -- The Insufficiency of the Present Confederation to Preserve the Union (con't) -- Hamilton and Madison
  • Federalist #19 -- The Insufficiency of the Present Confederation to Preserve the Union (con't) -- Hamilton and Madison
  • Federalist #20 -- The Insufficiency fo the Present Confederation to Preserve the Union (con't) -- Hamilton and Madison
  • Federalist #21 -- Other Defects of the Present Confederation -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #22 -- Other Defects of the Present Confederation (con't) -- Hamilton

Arguments for the type of Government contained in the Constitution (23-36)

  • Federalist #23 -- The Necessity of a Government as Energetic as the One Proposed to the Preservation of the Union -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #24 -- The Powers Necessary to the Common Defense Further Considered -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #25 -- The Powers Necessary to the Common Defense Further Considered (con't) -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #26 -- The Idea of Restraining the Legislative Authority in Regard to the Common Defense Considered -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #27 -- The Idea of Restraining the Legislative Authority in Regard to the Common Defense Considered (con't) -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #28 -- The Idea of Restraining the Legislative Authority in Regard to the Common Defense Considered (con't) -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #29 -- Concerning the Militia -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #30 -- Concerning the General Power of Taxation -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #31 -- Concerning the General Power of Taxation (con't) -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #32 -- Concerning the General Power of Taxation (con't) -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #33 -- Concerning the General Power of Taxation (con't) -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #34 -- Concerning the General Power of Taxation (con't) -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #35 -- Concerning the General Power of Taxation (con't) -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #36 -- Concerning the General Power of Taxation (con't) -- Hamilton

The Republican form of Government (37-51)

  • Federalist #37 -- Concerning the Difficulties of the Convention in Devising a Proper Form of Government -- Madison
  • Federalist #38 -- The Same Subject Continued, and the Incoherence of the Objections to the New Plan Exposed -- Madison
  • Federalist #39 -- The Conformity of the Plan to Republican Principles -- Madison
  • Federalist #40 -- The Powers of the Convention to Form a Mixed Government Examined and Sustained -- Madison
  • Federalist #41 -- General View of the Powers Conferred by The Constitution -- Madison
  • Federalist #42 -- The Powers Conferred by the Constitution Further Considered -- Madison
  • Federalist #43 -- The Powers Conferred by the Constitution Further Considered (con't) -- Madison
  • Federalist #44 -- Restrictions on the Authority of the Several States -- Madison
  • Federalist #45 -- The Alleged Danger From the Powers of the Union to the State Governments Considered -- Madison
  • Federalist #46 -- The Influence of the State and Federal Governments Compared -- Madison
  • Federalist #47 -- The Particular Structure of the New Government and the Distribution of Power Among Its Different Parts -- Madison
  • Federalist #48 -- These Departments Should Not Be So Far Separated as to Have No Constitutional Control Over Each Other -- Madison
  • Federalist #49 -- Method of Guarding Against the Encroachments of Any One Department of Government by Appealing to the People Through a Convention -- Hamilton or Madison
  • Federalist #50 -- Periodical Appeals to the People Considered -- Hamilton or Madison
  • Federalist #51 -- The Structure of the Government Must Furnish the Proper Checks and Balances Between the Different Departments -- Hamilton or Madison

The Legislative Branch (52-66)

  • Federalist #52 -- The House of Representatives -- Hamilton or Madison
  • Federalist #53 -- The House of Representatives (con't) -- Hamilton or Madison
  • Federalist #54 -- The Apportionment of Members Among the States -- Hamilton or Madison
  • Federalist #55 -- The Total Number of the House of Representatives -- Hamilton or Madison
  • Federalist #56 -- The Total Number of the House of Representatives (con't) -- Hamilton or Madison
  • Federalist #57 -- The Alleged Tendency of the New Plan to Elevate the Few at the Expense of the Many Considered in Connection with Representation -- Hamilton or Madison
  • Federalist #58 -- Objection That The Number of Members Will Not Be Augmented as the Progress of Population Demands Considered -- Madison
  • Federalist #59 -- Concerning the Power of Congress to Regulate the Election of Members -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #60 -- Concerning the Power of Congress to Regulate the Election of Members (con't) -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #61 -- Concerning the Power of Congress to Regulate the Election of Members (con't) -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #62 -- The Senate -- Hamilton or Madison
  • Federalist #63 -- The Senate (con't) -- Hamilton or Madison
  • Federalist #64 -- The Powers of the Senate -- Jay
  • Federalist #65 -- The Powers of the Senate (con't) -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #66 -- Objections to the Power of the Senate To Set as a Court for Impeachments Further Considered -- Hamilton

The Executive Branch (67-77)

  • Federalist #67 -- The Executive Department -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #68 -- The Mode of Electing the President -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #69 -- The Real Character of the Executive -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #70 -- The Executive Department Further Considered -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #71 -- The Duration in Office of the Executive -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #72 -- The Same Subject Continued, and Re-Eligibility of the Executive Considered -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #73 -- The Provision For The Support of the Executive, and the Veto Power -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #74 -- The Command of the Military and Naval Forces, and the Pardoning Power of the Executive -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #75 -- The Treaty-Making Power of the Executive -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #76 -- The Appointing Power of the Executive -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #77 -- The Appointing Power Continued and Other Powers of the Executive Considered -- Hamilton

The Judicial Branch (78-83)

Conclusions and Miscellaneous Ideas

  • Federalist #84 -- Certain General and Miscellaneous Objections to the Constitution Considered and Answered -- Hamilton
  • Federalist #85 -- Concluding Remarks -- Hamilton

Cletus the Foetus Pointed out to me that "'longest standing constitution' should be corrected to 'oldest written constitution still in place.' There have been constitutions that were in place for longer, esp. the British unwritten constitution."

*MarkX notes that the Commonwealth of Massachusets' Consitution has been around longer, albeit for only a state

In Federalist Papers 52, 6263 and 68, the electoral processes for the United States national government are described and defended. If you have ever wondered why senate seats are six years long, why representatives from the house are elected every other year, or why there are even a Senate or House of Representatives in the first place, then those Federalist Papers would answer these questions. The bottom line? A mechanism for anti-corruption, and a government which can still maintain stability and take action.

Frequent meetings, frequent elections

Federalist paper No. 52 states, “Frequent elections are unquestionably the only policy by which this dependence and sympathy can be effectually secured.” This is something I not only agree with, but find myself asking the question, “Are elections frequent enough?” I recently watched Charlie Wilson’s War where Tom Hanks plays Charlie and he says something along the lines of, “I keep getting elected for doing nothing.” Not only does that statement bring light to the problem with elected officials, it also raises another question, “Why do we call a presidency’s second term ‘Lame Duck?’” And why does every president seemingly come out with a policy in his third year in office of the first term, to get re-elected? Or spend most of his time campaigning to get re-elected? In any case Hamilton is right, frequent elections are important.

Hamilton goes on to talk about why parliament needs to meet frequently as well. Referencing how monarchies of Kings have disallowed sessions, until Charles II brought it to a three year maximum intermission. “…the greatest frequency of elections which has been deemed necessary in that kingdom, for binding the representatives to their constituents, does not exceed a triennial return of them. And if we may argue from the degree of liberty retained even under septennial elections, and all the other vicious ingredients in the parliamentary constitution, we cannot doubt that a reduction of the period from seven to three years, with the other necessary reforms, would so far extend the influence of the people over their representatives” So frequent elections also mean closer ties between the government and the people. It also means that “stuff gets done” and a degree of responsibility is present. That’s probably why the House of Representatives are on as low as two year terms.

To further that responsibility Hamilton says, “Responsibility, in order to be reasonable, must be limited to objects within the power of the responsible party, and in order to be effectual, must relate to operations of that power, of which a ready and proper judgment can be formed by the constituents.” Elections surely keep this in check. If officials go out of line, or past the judgment of “reasonable,” back lash and outcry occur, and at least a replacement for the next elections will be present to escape the iniquity.

    Age requirements
  • Senator
    • 30
  • Representative
    • 25

It is interesting to note that the Senators are supposed to be older and have stayed longer in America. They have to be 30 instead of 25. They have to live in America for 9 years instead of 7, comparatively to the House of Representatives.

As for equal state representation - I don’t find it as relevant any more. Now a days everyone says they are American. No one is “statist.” It’s more symbolic than anything else now. Plus the senators from big states get more symbolic power any way. (That Californian senator pulls more weight than Rhode Island...)

Federalist paper 62 reads, “A good government implies two things: first, fidelity to the object of government, which is the happiness of the people; secondly, a knowledge of the means by which that object can be best attained. Some governments are deficient in both these qualities; most governments are deficient in the first.” Unhappy people would use elections as a way of becoming happy. If they don’t like what a representative or senator has done they can elect a new official instead. They aren’t life time appointments like some judge positions. Ironically Hamilton points out that the Senate is the first part of government that is corrupted. “It is evident that the Senate must be first corrupted before it can attempt an establishment of tyranny. Without corrupting the State legislatures, it cannot prosecute the attempt, because the periodical change of members would otherwise regenerate the whole body.” At the same time, government must have the ability to maintain stability and take action responsibly. "Responsibility, in order to be reasonable, must be limited to objects within the power of the responsible party, and in order to be effectual, must relate to operations of that power." - Federalist #63

Officials in our government represent the American people, or as Hamilton says “The difference most relied on, between the American and other republics, consists in the principle of representation.” Representation is best constituted through elections because of the spoken of responsibility. Then, Elections create stable government. To get rid of a dictator you need a coup. To get rid of a bad official you just have to wait for the next election. “Great injury results from an unstable government.” Frequent elections then, create even more stable government.

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