What Was the Purpose of the Federalist Papers?

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The Federalist Papers’ purpose was to convince the citizens of New York to ratify the Constitution. The 85 essays were written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay. Most were published in 1787 and 1788 in New York newspapers.

The Federalist Papers provided an outline and the motivations for the system of government that the Constitution would create. While the authors of the Federalist Papers wanted to influence voters to ratify the Constitution, they also wished to shape future interpretations of the document.

It is unclear what the true effect of the Federalist Papers were on the nation adopting the Constitution. Firstly, each state held separate ratification proceedings. In addition, many states had already ratified by the time publication of the essays was well underway. Finally, outside of New York, the essays were not printed reliably.

Federalist No. 10 is considered by many to be the most important essay. It discusses how to avoid faction and argues for a republic while warning against the danger of a democracy. Other notable essays include Federalist No. 84, which included an opposition to the Bill of Rights, and Federalist No. 51, which created a framework for what would evolve into judicial review.