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Federalist Papers – Selling the Constitution

After Delaware and Pennsylvania ratified the Constitution, other states began considering their options. Some states were not sure if signing the Constitution was in their best interest. In attempt to persuade the eleven other states to ratify, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay (mostly Hamilton and Madison though) wrote the eighty five essays known as the Federalist Papers. They were published in New York newspapers. The esteemed authors were referred to as “publius”.

The Federalist Papers are considered one of the greatest contributions to American democracy, Federalism and governmental theory. The Federalist Papers were extremely effective in outlining both the defects of the Articles of Confederation and the advantages of the newly proposed Constitution as advocated by the authors. Alexander Hamilton, in particular, was instrumental in explaining the functions of the three branches of the new government – the executive, legislative and judicial. In addition, the authors enumerate important aspects of a functioning government such as a system of checks and balances (so no individual gets too much power), federalism, separated powers, pluralism and representation.

Some call the Federalist Papers the greatest public relations campaign in history. Only two years after the papers were published, Rhode Island became the last of the colonies to ratify.