Federalist No. 1
Federalist No. 1 is an essay
An essay is a piece of writing which is often written from an author's personal point of view. Essays can consist of a number of elements, including: literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author. The definition...

 by Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury...

. It was published on October 27, 1787 under the pseudonym
A pseudonym is a name that a person assumes for a particular purpose and that differs from his or her original orthonym...

 Publius. This paper provides the outline for the rest and argues for the inadequacy of the Articles of Confederation
Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation, formally the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, was an agreement among the 13 founding states that legally established the United States of America as a confederation of sovereign states and served as its first constitution...


Response to Anti-Federalists

Federalist No. 1 introduces a series of essays published in the Independent Journal, the New-York Packet and the Daily Advertiser as a response to Anti-Federalist opposition to the proposed US Constitution. After the Constitutional Convention of 1787 the new Constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

 was sent to the various states for ratification in September 1787. Anti-Federalists essays condemning the document began to surface later that month, quickly followed by the Federalist efforts of Alexander Hamilton, James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

, and John Jay
John Jay
John Jay was an American politician, statesman, revolutionary, diplomat, a Founding Father of the United States, and the first Chief Justice of the United States ....


Opposition to The Articles of Confederation

The essay is highly critical of the government in place at the time, though, it does not take the form of a diatribe. Eloquently written, yet manifestly biased, Federalist No. 1 heaps praise upon the Constitution as an efficient system of government. Hamilton is quite aware of his own bias
Bias is an inclination to present or hold a partial perspective at the expense of alternatives. Bias can come in many forms.-In judgement and decision making:...


You will, no doubt, at the same time, have collected from the general scope of them, that [these ideas] proceed from a source not unfriendly to the new Constitution. Yes, my countrymen, I own to you that, after having given it an attentive consideration, I am clearly of opinion it is your interest to adopt it.

Hamilton is keenly aware not only of his own bias, but also those of others. In fact, Federalist No. 1, as an introductory essay, can be interpreted mainly as an attempt to impress upon readers that opinions will always contain bias when it comes to important matters such as this. Hamilton writes:

Happy will it be if our choice should be directed by a judicious estimate of our true interests, unperplexed and unbiased by considerations not connected with the public good. But this is a thing more ardently to be wished than seriously to be expected.

The investigation of particular types of bias is quite sophisticated. Hamilton identifies not only those with a venomous bias, but also the plethora of people who, while their intentions are good, exhibit an unmistakable bias. In fact, he claims even those who believe themselves to be impartial often have hidden biases:

It cannot be doubted that much of the opposition which has made its appearance, or may hereafter make its appearance, will spring from sources, blameless at least, if not respectable — the honest errors of minds led astray by preconceived jealousies and fears.

More importantly, the discussion of bias actually introduces a key theme of the Federalist as a whole, the relation of motive and reason in politics. Hamilton, as Publius, argues that political motives are irrelevant to the truth of arguments made in their behalf. Arguments stand or fall of their own weight and can neither be enhanced nor diminished by knowledge of the motives that gave rise to them. The irrelevance of motives to the truth of arguments is one of the main reasons why the authors of these papers choose to use a pseudonym.

Political Discord

Hamilton, predicting the initial Anti-Federalist response would continue, correctly foresaw the US Constitution as a polarizing issue. In reference to those who would oppose the Constitution, he claimed that "A torrent of angry and malignant passions will be let loose." According to Hamilton:

An enlightened zeal for the energy and efficiency of government will be stigmatized as the offspring of a temper fond of despotic power and hostile to the principles of liberty.

This prediction has proven false, with hardly any discussion about the Papers (and the known Anti-Federalist Papers
Anti-Federalist Papers
The Anti-Federalist Papers are a collection of articles, written in opposition to the ratification of the 1787 United States Constitution. Unlike the Federalist Papers written in support of the Constitution, the authors of these articles, mostly operating under pen names, were not engaged in a...

) continuing to this day. Hamilton maintained that he held a genuine duty to the citizens, in setting them on their guards against a barrage of political spin:

I have had an eye, my fellow-citizens, to putting you upon your guard against all attempts, from whatever quarter, to influence your decision in a matter of the utmost moment to your welfare.

Rejecting the Current Government

The essay's major thrust is to impress upon citizens that the system which was in place prior to the Constitution was not worth keeping. Many would view this as a tall order; it can be hard to convince someone to replace something, unless it is entirely broken. Hamilton never underestimated the gravity of the decision people were faced with. He met it head on in his introductory prose:

It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force. If there be any truth in the remark, the crisis at which we are arrived may with propriety be regarded as the era in which that decision is to be made; and a wrong election of the part we shall act may, in this view, deserve to be considered as the general misfortune of mankind.

Supporting the New Constitution

As a consequence of encouraging people to reject the old system, Hamilton supported the new Constitution, at all costs. He went so far as to say the only viable alternatives were either a ratification of the Constitution or a complete dissolution of the existing Union
Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation, formally the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, was an agreement among the 13 founding states that legally established the United States of America as a confederation of sovereign states and served as its first constitution...

. This conclusion was justified by referring to the Anti-Federalists, who claimed the 13 members of the Union had already made for an unwieldy system and that governance had to take place by breaking down federal government into smaller, regional chunks. Hamilton thought this view so pernicious and outlandish that he encouraged its propagation, so all citizens could see how bizarre the Anti-Federalist's views were (bizarre according to Hamilton, that is).

A series of concepts

Hamilton outlines six key concepts discussed in the Federalist Papers:
  1. The utility of the Union to prosperity
  2. The insufficiency of the existing confederation
    A confederation in modern political terms is a permanent union of political units for common action in relation to other units. Usually created by treaty but often later adopting a common constitution, confederations tend to be established for dealing with critical issues such as defense, foreign...

     to preserve the Union
  3. The necessity of a government as powerful as that proposed, to meet this object
  4. The conformity of the proposed Constitution with the true principles of Republican
    Republicanism is the ideology of governing a nation as a republic, where the head of state is appointed by means other than heredity, often elections. The exact meaning of republicanism varies depending on the cultural and historical context...

  5. The Constitution's analogy to various state Constitutions.
  6. The additional security a Constitution will provide to the preservation of government in those states, and to the preservation of liberty and property.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.