☆ Publius Á Download by ☆ Alexander Hamilton I don't know who's a bigger jackass: me, for never having so much as peeped at these, or the grownps at all the various schools I've attended, for not even once suggesting I should.
Actually, that's a lie.
I totally do know.
First, I'm going to begin with a bitch.
THIS "BOOK" WAS NOT WRITTEN BY ALEXANDER HAMILTON.
IT IS NOT A BOOK.
IT IS A COMPILATION OF SEVERAL ESSAYS WRITTEN UNDER THE PSEUDONYM "Publius" AND THE AUTHOR(S) WERE ANONYMOUS FOR A LONG TIME.
The true authorship of these was only known several years after the fact.
And took several decades after the authors had been determined to finalize exactly who wrote what.
Furthermore, virtually ever copy includes at least a copy of the Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, and (if you're very lucky) The Articles of confederation.
None of the US foundational documents were conceivably written by Alexander Hamilton.
However, he did write the vast majority of the Federalist Papers.
There are hundreds of printings of this work.
The copy I read well over 200 times (well, the first 30 of the federalists or so, anyway) was a deep red mass market paperback.
I can't remember the publisher.
There was a publisher that made all its mass market "classic" paperbacks in deep red for awhile.
It had the lovely disintegrating acidic paper, and the binding was just starting to fall apart as I slugged the bottle of champagne and vowed to not read the work again until I was 30.
Anyway, this is an incredible book if you're willing to read it well.
That means at least one week for one paper.
I'm not kidding.
It benefits very much from close reading.
All the hype is true, but reading it poorly makes it sound like pithy bullshit.
Follow the terminology in the paper, and put together the relationships between all terms.
Anyway, read it.
Praise God I'm an American.
One should not be able to graduate public high schools without mastery of Basic Economics & The Federalist Papers.
Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without restraint.
Like any educated American who hasn’t already read this book, this classic has long been on my reading list.
Nevertheless, even amongst us haughty literati, I suspect that this book is a Mark Twain kind of classic—one that we wish to have read, but don’t look forward to actually reading.
It certainly was that way for me.
Philistine that I am, the idea of leafing through 500 pages of articles by this country’s founding fathers did not exactly give me goosebumps.
I’m afraid that my fears were partially borne out by this book.
It was not terribly pleasant.
And if I am to be honest, I must shamefacedly admit that I often found these articles dreadfully dull.
One obstacle to my reading pleasure simply came from the style of writing.
These pieces were written in great haste, over the span of a year, by harried men who were not professional thinkers or writers.
As a result, this book can often feel a bit haphazard and disorganized.
Several papers seem as though they were dashed off between breakfast and lunch; the arguments tumble forward in a torrential outpouring of frenetic scribbling.
The prose, too, was often cramped, bloated, and opaque:
The circumstances of the body authorized to make the permanent appointments would, of course, have governed the modification of a power which related to the temporary appointments; and as the national Senate is the body whose situation is alone contemplated in the clause upon which the suggestion under examination has been founded, the vacancies to which it alludes can only be deemed to respect those officers in whose appointment that body has a concurrent agency with the President.
Another disappointment was simply the method of argumentation.
The words “probably” and “likely” do a great deal of work in these papers.
The authors are constantly making light of certain possibilities and boldly predicting others.
This rhetorical device is seldom convincing.
Who knows what the future will bring? A related technique is to use what Dawkins calls the “argument from personal incredulity.
” This is when an author says things like “It is impossible for me to believe,” or “I cannot even imagine this to be so,” and the like.
Again, the author is using the seeming likelihood of a certain outcome as an argument; but unfortunately for us reality doesn't care what we find easy to believe, or what we think likely to happen.
So because the arguments employed were not based on either philosophical principles or empirical data, I was often left cold.
In fact, I was frequently reminded of a criticism Bertrand Russell made of St.
Russell did not consider Aquinas to be a great philosopher because Aquinas began with his conclusions, which he got from Aristotle and the Bible, instead of following his logic wherever it led.
Similarly, the authors of these papers started with their conclusion—that we should ratify the Constitution—and then grasped for arguments, like a lawyer defending his client.
Of course, that’s the nature of propaganda; but it isn’t very intellectually stimulating.
Aside from the writing and the rhetoric, a third barrier to a pleasant reading experience for me was simply the subjectmatter.
Many of these essays get into the nittygritty of the proposed administration.
It often felt as if I were reading a proposal to reorganize a department at work rather than a book of political philosophy.
I’m sure if I wasn’t such a troglodyte I would have gotten more out of these managerial niceties; but as I am still thoroughly lodged under a rock, I frequently found it impossible to focus.
My eyes would get blurry; my brain would turn off; and I would read several pages on autopilot before realizing that I wasn’t absorbing a thing.
Alright, so I’ve discussed all the negatives.
But despite all I’ve said, I still think this book is well worth reading.
Madison’s essays, in particular, were for me the real highlight, even though they only comprised about a third of this book.
Compared with Hamilton, Madison is much more of a theorist.
His famous Federalist No.
10 is as deep as anything in Montesquieu, Marx, Machiavelli, or any other political philosopher whose name starts with an M.
What’s more, he struck me as more widely learned, often making reference to ancient history as illustrations.
And to be fair, the indefatigable Hamilton, though often tiresome, is not without his moments of greatness.
He at least possesses the merit of being diligent and thorough.
Yet the real treat, I’d argue, is not reading the articles themselves, but reading the Constitution afterwards.
By the time you get to the very end of The Federalist Papers, and turn to that slim founding document in the very back, you will have spent a dozen or more hours interpreting, defending, and exploring these 10 humble pages, tucked away like an appendix.
Every sentence in the Constitution has been explained, clarified, and justified with excruciating care.
And as a result, it was as if I was reading it for the first time—which is worth some literary boredom and headache, if you ask me.
This book has completely transformed my views and understanding of our government.
The US constitution make so much more sense now that I have read its defense.
It's also interesting to read some of the outlandish arguments that were propagated against this ingenious document.
Not much has changed in American politics over the centuries.
Our media, pundits, and politicians still banter in much the same way today as they did back in the 1780's.
I will admit that this book challenged me.
The arguments were hard to comprehend at times and I really had to bear down in order to gain some understanding.
I also spent roughly one quarter of my reading time looking up words in the dictionary.
Makes me regret the time I spent in front of the television or video games instead of sharpening my mind.
Keep in mind that the Federalist Papers were originally published as a series of essays in a New York newspaper.
In comparison, I believe that much of today's news has been watered down for a society that has little patience for a real, thorough debate of substantial issues.
First and foremost let me just say, God Bless These United States of America.
Significance of this book is beyond a 5.
Enjoyability is below a 3.
Hence I’ll meet in the middle and give it a 4.
If your going into reading this thinking it’s going to be awesome, you’re wrong.
It’s a full time job and it’s extraordinarily difficult, however difficult it may be it is essential reading.
These men were brilliant and I am incredibly thankful they existed at the Time they did to allow us the future we live in.
The fact that all these men existed in this place at the same time to create such an all star team is nothing short of divine providence.
I agree with so much of the reviews I’ve seen here on Goodreads on TFP, it should be mandatory education from 18 and all thru high school.
The youth would benefit tremendously to know how much blood, sweat, and tears was poured into creating the nation we all so thoroughly enjoy today.
Not only should this education be taught in school but the foundation of this education should be laid at home to our children long before they arrive.
As difficult as this book was to read, and so utterly boring most of the time I absolutely loved it and I highly encourage anyone thinking about reading it do so with earnest expedience.
“Accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary in the same hands … may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.
” (Madison, #47)
“If men were angels, no government would be necessary.
If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.
In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.
” (Madison, #51)
“Whatever fine declarations may be inserted in any constitution respecting it, must altogether depend on public opinion, and on the general spirit of the people and of the government.
” (Hamilton, # 84) "The Federalist" is a collection of 85 essays published originally in New York state newspapers in 17871788 encouraging the ratification of the Constitution.
The pseudonym Publius was used for the three intelligent authorsAlexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay.
The authors were responding to criticisms against the Constitution by the antiFederalists who also wrote newspaper articles.
(Some of the concerns of the antiFederalists were addressed in the Bill of Rights in 1791.
"The Federalist" discussed the need for a strong central government which included a standing army and taxation, the weakness of the current Articles of Confederation, the structure of the branches of government under the new Constitution, checks and balances, separation of powers, and the ratification process.
There is some repetition of ideas in the essays since "The Federalist" was not written as a book originally.
The framers of the Constitution came from small and large states, and from urban and rural areas.
Some states had many areas of commerce and industry where others were mostly agricultural.
Some states supported slavery, but others wanted to outlaw it.
Some of the Founding Fathers wanted a strong central government, but others were more concerned with states rights.
The Constitution may not be perfect, but it was quite an accomplishment considering the different interests of the various states and the willingness to compromise.
"The Federalist" helped the people understand the Constitution in 1787, and is still consulted by the courts today.
One of the most important works of American political science and philosophy, this collection of arguments detailing the benefits and advantages of the federal system as envisioned by the founding fathers is a must read to understand the beginnings of the republic.
If you've ever had similar thoughts, this is the place to start.
This work is longaround 22 hours of Librivox audioand written in archaic, ornate English.
But anyone reading it will be immediately impressed by its scholarship and depth.
It also gives a clear picture of what said Founding Fathers were up againstunbridled, often unprincipled, and outright rude opposition to pretty much every last bit of the Constitution at every turn.
This series of essays was painstakingly written to try and convince the country that, while the new Constitution was not and could not be perfect, it was urgently needed to get the Union government functional, and that it was perhaps the best that could be done, given an imperfect world and us imperfect humans.
The writers of the new Constitution were clearly trying their utmost to create a government and society as fair, conflictfree and wellfunctioning as they could manage.
Interesting how slaves were reluctantly counted, in a compromise with the South, as having 3/5 the personhood of a freeborn man.
Really, every American, and anybody interested in how power, justice, and societies work, should read this carefully.
It's left me a little tired, but happy and satisfied.
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