Description

    First Edition, Thick Paper Issue of the Second Volume of The Federalist

    [Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay]. The Federalist: A Collection of Essays, Written in Favour of the New Constitution, as Agreed upon by the Federal Convention, September 17, 1787. In Two Volumes. Vol. II. New-York: Printed and Sold by J. and A. M'Lean, M,DCC,LXXXVIII [1788].

    First edition of the "Federalist Papers" -- "the most famous and influential American political work" (Howes). One of 500 copies printed, this copy the scarce thick paper edition printed on superfine royal writing paper. Volume II only (of two). Twelvemo in sixes (6.375 x 3.75 inches; 160 x 100 mm.). [2, blank], vi, 384 pages. The initial blank leaf is present and not used as the pastedown, as in some copies (the initial blank leaf and the title leaf appear to be conjugate, as do the two contents leaves, with the first contents leaf signed "a2"). In this copy, "NUMBER LXX" is incorrectly printed as "NUMBER LXXX" on page 240.

    Contemporary full tree calf. Spine tooled in gilt. Red and green morocco spine labels lettered and tooled in gilt. Gilt board edges. Marbled endpapers. Research notations in a confident cursive hand on second blank at front (leaf Π2r), dated 1807. Pages trimmed down. A few leaves standing proud. The text is just slightly browned, as is usual, with occasional soiling and foxing, primarily marginal. Discoloration to fore-edge when looked upon straight-on. Light dampstains to extreme outer edges of B1 to H1; R6 to X1; and Y3 to Ii6. A tiny hole on leaf a2 affecting a page number ("84") in the contents. Rubbing and abrading to boards and extremities, with a few instances of loss and pasteboards exposed in a few places. Corners slightly bumped, with pasteboards exposed. Lower headcap perished. Spine chipped with significant loss in two places, exposing gatherings and affecting spine labels (the "ALI" of "FEDERALIST" perished). Overall a venerable copy of the rarer thick paper issue of the first edition of volume two, advertised by publisher McLean in contemporary periodicals as the more upmarket version of this seminal document: "A few Copies will be printed on superfine royal writing paper, price ten shillings."

    "These eighty-five essays on the Constitution, almost entirely written by Hamilton and Madison (probably only five were by Jay) and published in the New York newspapers under the name of 'Publius,' were a step in Hamilton's campaign to win over a hostile majority in New York for a ratification of the Constitution. To the people of the time the collected essays were little more than a huge Federalist pamphlet. A generation passed before it was recognized that these essays by the principal author of the Constitution and its brilliant advocate were the most authoritative interpretation of the Constitution as drafted by the Convention of 1787. As a commentary and exposition on the Constitution the influence of the Federalist has been profound" (Grolier, 100 American).

    "When Alexander Hamilton invited his fellow New Yorker John Jay and James Madison, a Virginian, to join him in writing the series of essays published as The Federalist, it was to meet the immediate need of convincing the reluctant New York State electorate of the necessity of ratifying the newly proposed Constitution of the United States. The eighty-five essays, under the pseudonym 'Publius,' were designed as political propaganda, not as a treatise of political philosophy. In spite of this The Federalist survives as one of the new nation's most important contributions to the theory of government...The first number of The Federalist appeared on 27 October 1787 in The Independent Journal, or The General Advertiser and newspaper publication continued in this and three other papers, The New York Packet, The Daily Advertiser, and The New York Journal and Daily Patriotic Register, through number 77, 2 April 1788. The first thirty-six essays were published in book form on 22 March 1788 by J. and A. McLean of New York and a second volume containing essays 37-85 followed on 28 May. Thus numbers 78-85 were published in book form before they appeared in the popular press" (Printing and the Mind of Man).

    "John and Archibald M'Lean printed 500 copies of their two-volume collection of the essays. The book initially did not sell very well. The publishers complained in October 1788, long after New York had ratified the Constitution, that they still had several hundred unsold copies. Some copies of the book, however, did travel far. The M'Leans shipped dozens of copies to locations outside New York City, and Hamilton sent about fifty copies to Richmond in time for the Virginia state ratifying convention" (Gregory E. Maggs, "A Concise Guide to the Federalist Papers," Boston University Law Review 87 (2007), p. 815).

    According to Bernstein (p. 237), "it is now agreed that Hamilton wrote Nos. 1, 6-9, 11-13, 15-17, 21-36, 59-61, and 65-86; that Madison wrote Nos. 10, 14, 18-20 (with reference to some material provided by Hamilton), 37-58, 62, and 63; and that Jay wrote Nos. 2-5 and 64."

    Volume II contains essay Numbers 37-85, as well as the complete text of the Constitution, headed "Articles of the New Constitution; as agreed upon by the Federal Convention, September 17, 1787," and the resolutions of the Constitutional Convention (pp. [367]-384).

    Church 1230. Evans 21127. Ford, Bibliography of the Constitution, 43. Ford, Bibliotheca Hamiltoniana, 17. Grolier, 100 American, 19. Grolier, 100 English, 55. Howes H114. Printing and the Mind of Man 234. Sabin 23979. Streeter 1049. See also Richard B. Bernstein, Are We to be a Nation? The Making of the Constitution (Cambridge, Massachusetts: 1987), pp. 230-242.


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