Federalist Collage - Featuring the Signatures of James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay

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This unique collage of original autographs celebrates the three authors responsible for one of the best commentaries on the principles of government, “The Federalist”. “The Federalist” comprises the collected 1788 printing of the eighty-five seminal essays written in defense of the newly-drafted Constitution. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay first issued the essays individually in New York newspapers, the Independent Journal and the New York Packet, under the pseudonym Publius to garner support for the ratification of the Constitution.

Upon its publication, George Washington noted to Alexander Hamilton that the work "will merit the Notice of Posterity; because in it are candidly and ably discussed the principles of freedom and the topics of government, which will always be interesting to mankind" (George Washington, letter to Hamilton, 28 August 1788). The genesis of this "classic exposition of the principles of republican government" is to be found in the "great national discussion" which took place about the ratification of the Constitution, and the necessity of answering the salvos in print from the Anti-Federalists and other opponents of a strong Federal government.

The collage includes a signature from each author. At top left is a James Madison ink signature on vellum. The signature was cut from a larger printed Presidential Commission, and was signed on December 10th, 1814, while Madison was President. The Commission was signed two weeks before American and British representatives signed the treaty in Ghent, Belgium, which would end the War of 1812. James Madison autographs and historical documents relating to his public service or the Constitution are highly sought after. He was a fine author and a master at convincing arguments, yet wrote fewer letters than contemporaries such as Jefferson, and many are brief.

At top right is a John Jay cut signature, in strong black ink. John Jay, who had been secretary for foreign affairs under the Articles of Confederation from 1784 through their expiration in 1789, became the first Chief Justice of the United States in 1789. He held the post until 1795, when he stepped down to accept election as governor of New York, a post he held for two terms, retiring in 1801. John Jay signed this while he was Supreme Court Chief Justice. Jay was a proponent of strong, centralized government, and is attributed to five of the eighty-five essays in “The Federalist”. Four of his essays are concerning dangers from foreign force and influence, the fifth essay, #64, explores the powers of the Senate.

Featured at center of the collage is a printed U.S. Treasury Department circular, with a strong and dark Alexander Hamilton signature. Signed by Hamilton when he was Secretary of the Treasury, this one page circular starts, "I send you herewith an Act of the last congress, entitled 'An Act in addition to the Act for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States'..." and is dated June 17th, 1794. The most important cabinet member in U.S. history, Hamilton helped pass the U.S. Constitution and established the nation's financial system. Hamilton penned the majority of the essays in “The Federalist”; over fifty articles are attributed to him. He was also the driving force behind the project, convincing both Madison and Jay to collaborate with him, choosing the pseudonym of Publius, and oversaw the publication and printing. His articles were argued the strength of a republic, illuminated the pertinent roles of the executive and judicial branches, as well as touched on the topic of taxation.

The three original autographs are artfully presented together with portraits of the signers, mounted on deep brown linen and gold spandrels. The custom frame is black and gold and to built archival standards.




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