The Federalist Papers were a series of 85 essays published between October 1787 and August 1788 that debated the philosophy and motivations behind the creation of the U.S. Constitution. Topics covered include national defense, dispute between states and armed insurrection, the preservation of the new union of states, taxation, the militia and standing armies, and the overall structure of the government.
The Federalist Papers addressed items in the newly drafted Constitution that were either poorly understood or publicly debated. In each essay, the writer or writers sought to lay out a coherent and logical explanation for why an item was included or excluded, as well as the philosophy behind the design. They further argued that the Constitution as written was the best guarantee of states' rights with a strong central union that could properly defend the nation. While The Federalist Papers have no official legal standing, they are often studied by constitutional scholars and constitutionalists in order to interpret the Constitution.
The true identity of Publius, the author of The Federalist Papers, is a mystery to this day. Most researchers, however, agree they were John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, with Hamilton writing more than two-thirds of the essays. It is certain they were motivated by a desire to shape public opinion about the Constitution and ensure its ratification by the new American states.