The Federalist Papers were written as a series of letters and essays in support of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. These articles were written from 1787 to 1788 by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay.
When the Constitutional Convention submitted the proposed Constitution to the individual states for consideration and ratification in September of 1787, opponents began to publish detracting articles in various periodicals. In response to this, the Federalist Papers were submitted to newspapers, primarily in the state of New York, to defend and explain the need and importance of the new Constitution.
Of the 85 essays that make up the Federalist Papers, 51 were written by Hamilton, 26 by Madison, 5 by Jay, and 3 jointly by Hamilton and Madison. All were printed under the name of "Publius." This pseudonym was selected by Hamilton to honor Publius Valerius Publicola, a consul in the ancient Roman Republic and stout defender of the same.
While providing a solid resource for understanding the principles and logical argumentation used to underpin the Constitution, historians agree that the degree of influence that the Federalist Papers had in swaying the state conventions on the issue of ratification was minimal. By the time that the majority of the essays had achieved any significant degree of diffusion among the states outside of New York, the minimum number of nine states required for ratification had already been achieved.