The Federalist Papers

A Course with Professor Thomas Patrick Burke

Tuesdays, June 2 to July 7

The Federalist Papers are a series of 85 articles published in 1787 and 1788, mainly in two New York newspapers, arguing that the Constitution which had emerged from the Philadelphia Convention should be ratified by the states. Some were written by Alexander Hamilton, first Secretary of the Treasury, some by James Madison, who became the fourth President, and a few by John Jay, who became the nation’s first Chief Justice.

According to historian Richard B. Morris the Federalist Papers are an “incomparable exposition of the Constitution, a classic in political science unsurpassed in both breadth and depth by the product of any later American writer.”

They were opposed by writers and speakers, the Anti-federalists,  who considered the existing national government under the Articles of Confederation sufficient and feared greater centralization, or who believed the proposed Constitution did not provide enough protection of traditional individual liberties such as freedom of speech and religion.  It was as a result of their agitation that the Bill of Rights was included in the final agreement.

We read Nos. 1, 10, 51, 78 and 84. We also read several of the main Anti-Federalist Papers.