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The Federalist Papers

The Federalist Papers were meant to persuade New Yorkers to ratify the Constitution.Shortly after the end of the Constitutional Convention, a huge national debate began about whether or not to ratify the Constitution. Newspapers nationwide published articles and letters both for and against it. The most famous of these letters were the Federalist Papers.

The Federalist Papers were a series of 85 essays written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison, under the pen-name "Publius," that appeared in New York newspapers (primarily, the Independent Journal and the New York Packet) from October 1787 to May 1788. The essays urged New York delegates to ratify the Constitution. In 1788, the essays were published in a bound volume entitled the Federalist and eventually became known as the Federalist Papers.

To address fears that the Constitution would give the central government too much power and would limit individual freedom, Hamilton, Jay, and Madison analyzed the Constitution in detail and outlined the built in checks and balances meant to divide power between the three branches of government and to preserve the rights of the people and states.

Even though they did not play a significant role in New York's decision to ratify the Constitution (delegates voted in favor of the new government because New York City threatened to secede if they did not), the Federalist Papers remain an important collection today. Because two of the authors, Hamilton and Madison, attended the Constitutional Convention, the Federalist Papers offer insight to the intentions of those who penned the Constitution.

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