[THE FEDERALIST PAPERS]. -- [HAMILTON, Alexander (1739-1802), James MADISON (1751-1836) and John JAY (1745-1829)]. The Federalist: A Collection of Essays, Written in Favour of the New Constitution, as Agreed Upon by the Federal Convention, September 17, 1787. New York: John and Andrew M'Lean, 1788.
2 volumes, 12mo: Vol.1: 173 x 110mm; Vol.2: 185 x110 mm. PRINTED ON THICK PAPER, AS ISSUED, IN PUBLISHER’S GRAY PAPER BOARDS, UNCUT, with deckle edges preserved. Vol.1: Paper flaw at gutter e4; Vol.2: M2 and M3 with mended tears. Both vols with light browning and occasional spotting. Spines worn and chipped, volume numbers ink-stamped on spines. Green morocco pull-off case. Provenance: An unknown early reader has added several words or brief text corrections. Alfred M. Kahn, sale, Christie’s, 11 April 1980, lot 153 (engraved bookplate in each volume).
"ONE OF THE NEW NATION'S MOST IMPORTANT CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE THEORY OF GOVERNMENT" (Printing and the Mind of Man)
FIRST EDITION, collecting all 85 seminal essays written in defense of the newly drafted Constitution and published under the pseudonym "Publius" in various New York newspapers, together constituting "the most thorough and brilliant explication of the Federal Constitution (or any other constitution) ever written" (Page Smith, The Constitution: A Documentary and Narrative History, pp.263-264). Added here is the complete text of the Constitution, headed "Articles of the New Constitution," with the accompanying resolutions of the Constitutional Convention (vol.2, pp.-384). Essays 78 to 85 were first printed here and were subsequently published in the newspapers, timed to coincide with the New York State Convention in Albany.
A series of essays is "justly recognized as a classic exposition of the principles of republican government" (R.B. Bernstein, Are We to be a Nation? The Making of the Constitution, 1987, p.242). The Federalist Papers grew out of the heated pamphlet wars engendered by the tumultuous debate over ratification of the Constitution. Concerned that the state of New York might refuse to ratify, Hamilton enlisted John Jay and James Madison to collaborate on a series of interpretive essays supporting the new plan of government and refuting point by point the objections of its many 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" (R. Brookhiser, Alexander Hamilton: American, 1999, pp.68-69). Due to Jay's illness and Madison's return to Virginia, the bulk of the 85 essays, in the end, were written by Hamilton. "Despite the hurried pace at which they worked--they ground out four articles nearly every week--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" (F. McDonald, Alexander Hamilton, p.107). Washington, the former President of the Constitutional Convention, precisely spelled out the work's importance when he wrote that The Federalist "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."
COPIES IN BOARDS ARE OF THE UTMOST RARITY, especially in unsophisticated condition. According to American Book Prices Current, the only other fine, unsophisticated copy sold at auction in at least the last 35 years was The Garden copy, sold Sotheby’s New York, 9 November 1989, lot 164. Church 1230; Evans 21127; Grolier/American 19; PMM 234; Sabin 23979.