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    An Exceptional Copy, Uncut and Unrestored, of the First Edition of the First Volume of "The Federalist Papers"

    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. I. New-York: Printed and Sold by J. and A. M'Lean, 1788.

    First edition of "the most famous and influential American political work" (Howes). Volume I only. Twelvemo in sixes (6.75 x 4.4375 inches; 172 x 113 mm.). [2, blank], vi, 227, [1, blank] pages. The initial blank leaf is present. The preliminaries in this copy apparently collate as in The Garden, Ltd. copy (A4 [chi]2: A1 used as pastedown, A4r title, first leaf of inserted conjugate pair signed a2), with the initial blank leaf and the title leaf (pages [i]/[ii]) having seven horizontal chain lines visible, and the preliminary note and contents leaves (pages [iii]/iv and [v]/vi) being an inserted conjugate pair, with six horizontal chain lines visible (although page [iii] is not signed "a2").

    Entirely uncut, in the original publisher's pale blue gray rear board and remnants of cream paper spine, with the volume number ink-stamped on the paper spine, as issued. The rear board is worn and slightly foxed and stained, with a small area of the blue gray paper missing at the lower outer corner, the front board and front endpapers are wanting, the rear free endpaper has been torn away. Paper slightly browned, as usual, and fraying around the edges, with a few tiny chips and tears, some light foxing and mostly marginal soiling. Leaves P2 (pages 171/172) and P5 (pages 177/178) creased horizontally and so printed, with no loss. Paper flaw to the outer blank margin of leaves O1 (pages 157/158) and T3 (pages 221/222) and to the lower blank margin of R4 (pages 199/200), a few additional minor marginal paper flaws. Faint dampstain in the lower margin of gathering Q (pages 182-192). Gatherings R and S (pages 193-216) are slightly darkened and creased at the top. Early ink correction ("insulted" to "insulated") on page 45. A few later marginal pencil markings and annotations (pages 102, 174, 178, 181, and 182), later pencil annotations on the final blank page [228] and on the rear pastedown. Despite these minor flaws, this is an exceptional copy, totally unsophisticated, and extremely scarce in its original state.

    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." This copy has tiny early ink letters in the lower margin of some pages: "J" (for "Jay") on pages 6 (No. 2), 11 (No. 3), 16 (No. 4), and 21 (No. 5); "M" (for "Madison") on pages 52 (No. 10), 79 (No. 14), 102 (No. 17), 107 (No. 18), 114 (No. 19), and 126 (No. 21).

    "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).

    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), pages 230-242.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2010
    11th-12th Thursday-Friday
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