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The Federalist, on the New Constitution. By Publius. Written in 1788. To which is added, Pacificus, on the Proclamation of Neutrality. Written in 1793. Likewise, the Federal Constitution, with all the Amendments. Revised and Corrected.

New York: Printed and sold by George F. Hopkins, 1802.

Price: $16,500.00


About the item

Second edition. viii,317,[1] (complete with two pages numbered 167 and two pages numbered 168, as noted on the erratum on verso of the vol. I terminal text leaf, and with page numbering 263-270 repeated, as issued); v, [3], 351, [1] pp., including an ad leaf bound following the table of contents. 2 vols. 8vo. Contemporary half tree calf and marbled paper covered boards, flat spine gilt, minor wear at extremities. Minor dampstaining at front of vol. 1., else scattered minor foxing. Cohen 2818; DAB XI, pp.312-13; Ford 21; Howes H114, "aa"; Sabin 23981; Shaw & Shoemaker 2218; Grolier, American 100, 19 (first edition); Reese, Federal Hundred 19 (first edition).

Item #366932

Second edition, "revised and corrected," of the most important work of American political thought ever written and according to Thomas Jefferson "the best commentary on the principles of government." This is the first edition to identify Hamilton, Jay, and Madison as the authors, and the last edition published in Hamilton's lifetime.

The Federalist comprises the collected printing of the eighty-five seminal essays written in defense of the newly-drafted Constitution. The essays were first issued individually by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay in New York newspapers under the pseudonym Publius to garner support for the ratification of the Constitution. This first collected edition was published in early 1788: volume I published in March, contains the first thirty-six numbers, volume II published in May, includes the remaining forty-nine, together with the text of the Constitution. Upon its publication, George Washington noted to Alexander Hamilton that the work "will merit the Notice of Posterity; because in it are candidly and ably discussed the principles of freedom and the topics of government, which will always be interesting to mankind" (George Washington, letter to Hamilton, August 28, 1788).

The genesis of this "classic exposition of the principles of republican government" (Bernstein, p.242) is to be found in the "great national discussion" which took place about the ratification of the Constitution, and the necessity of answering the salvos in print from the Anti-Federalists and other opponents of a strong Federal government. The original plan was for James Madison and John Jay to help Hamilton write a series of essays explaining the merits of their system, while also rebutting the arguments of its detractors. "Hamilton wrote the first piece in October 1787 on a sloop returning from Albany...he finished many pieces while the printer waited in a hall for the completed copy" - Brookhiser. In the end, well over half of the eighty-five essays were written by Hamilton. Despite the intense time pressures under which the series was written, "what began as a propaganda tract, aimed only at winning the election for delegates to New York's state ratifying convention, evolved into the classic commentary upon the American Federal system" (McDonald).

Styled the "revised and corrected" edition on the titlepage, with additions to the first edition of 1788, Ford attributes editorship of this second edition to John Wells, though Sabin attributes it to William Coleman, noting it as "the last issued during Hamilton's life." The second edition is notable for the addition of the federal constitution and the first eleven amendments, and a series of articles written by Hamilton under the pseudonym "Pacificus," defending Washington's "Neutrality Proclamation" of 1793 regarding the Anglo-French war. It is arguably the most complete edition, and the only other English language edition issued in Hamilton's lifetime. Significantly, it identifies Hamilton, Jay, and Madison as the authors, but does not specify who wrote which essays: "It was at first intended to mark the numbers distinctly which were written by each; but considerations have since occurred which would perhaps render this measure improper." Clearly issued by Hamilton partisans, the preface implies that virtually all of it was Hamilton's work, and the republication of the Pacificus essays (written in opposition to Madison) confirms the Hamiltonian slant.