On this day in 1787 Alexander Hamilton, under the pen name “Publius,” published the first of the 85 letters to newspapers later named the Federalist Papers, written by Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, to argue for adoption of the U.S. Constitution. We’ve been arguing about it ever since.
Hamilton wrote, in part:
I propose, in a series of papers, to discuss the following interesting particulars:
The utility of the union to your political prosperity
the insufficiency of the present confederation to preserve that union
the necessity of a government at least equally energetic with the one proposed, to the attainment of this object
the conformity of the proposed constitution to the true principles of republican government
its analogy to your own state constitution
and lastly, the additional security which its adoption will afford to the preservation of that species of government, to liberty, and to property.
In the progress of this discussion I shall endeavor to give a satisfactory answer to all the objections which shall have made their appearance, that may seem to have any claim to your attention.
It may perhaps be thought superfluous to offer arguments to prove the utility of the UNION, a point, no doubt, deeply engraved on the hearts of the great body of the people in every State, and one, which it may be imagined, has no adversaries. But the fact is, that we already hear it whispered in the private circles of those who oppose the new Constitution, that the thirteen States are of too great extent for any general system, and that we must of necessity resort to separate confederacies of distinct portions of the whole. This doctrine will, in all probability, be gradually propagated, till it has votaries enough to countenance an open avowal of it. For nothing can be more evident, to those who are able to take an enlarged view of the subject, than the alternative of an adoption of the new Constitution or a dismemberment of the Union. It will therefore be of use to begin by examining the advantages of that Union, the certain evils, and the probable dangers, to which every State will be exposed from its dissolution. This shall accordingly constitute the subject of my next address.