[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.
Two volumes bound in one, 12o (6¼ x 3 7/8 in.). (Without the first blank in vol. I, small hole on E3 catching a few letters, small marginal tear crossing text on R3, marginal repair on Ii3 with loss of final letters in three lines of text.) 19th-century calf, covers gilt-ruled, spine gilt and with two morocco lettering-pieces, marbled endleaves, edges gilt, by W. Pratt for Henry Stevens (rebacked preserving original spine, repairs at corners, front cover rubbed); cloth folding case.
"ONE OF THE NEW NATION'S MOST IMPORTANT CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE THEORY OF GOVERNMENT" (Printing and the Mind of Man)
FIRST EDITION, collecting the 85 seminal essays written in defense of the newly drafted Constitution and published under the pseudonym "Publius" in various New York newpapers, 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). Also printed here is the complete text of the Constitution, headed "Articles of the New Constitution," and the resolutions of the Constitutional Convention (vol.II, pp.368-384).
A series of essays "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 debate over ratification of the Constitution. Hamilton enlisted John Jay and James Madison to collaborate on a series of interpretive essays supporting the new plan of government and refuting the objections 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" (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: A Biography, 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." Church 1230; Evans 21127; Grolier American 19; PMM 234; Sabin 23979.
Provenance: Henry Stevens (bookplate; pencilled notes on flyleaves; binding) -- Anonymous owner (sale, Swann Galleries, 17 April 1986, lot 69).