The Federalist by Publius, Rare 1802 Second Edition in Two Volumes with the Federal Constitution

Presented is a rare second edition of the most important work of American political thought ever written, The Federalist. According to Thomas Jefferson, the Federalist papers were "the best commentary on the principles of government." This second edition, published in 1802, was the first edition to identify Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison as the authors, as well as the first edition to include text of the Constitution, which is missing from the first printing.

The Federalist comprises the collected 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 under the pseudonym “Publius” to garner support for the ratification of the Constitution.

Volume I, published in March 1877, contains the first 36 numbers. Volume II, published in May 1877, includes the remaining 49, together with the text 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 original plan was for James Madison and John Jay to help Hamilton write a series of essays explaining the merits of their system, while also rebutting the arguments of its detractors. Despite the intense time pressures under which the series was written, and the initial and somewhat singular propagandist goal of winning the election for delegates to New York's state ratifying convention, the series evolved into the classic commentary upon the American Federal system.

Styled the "revised and corrected" edition in the title, with additions to the first edition of 1788, Ford attributes editorship of this second edition to John Wells, though Sabin attributes it to William Coleman, noting it as "the last issued during Hamilton's life." The second edition is notable for the addition of the federal constitution and the first eleven amendments, and a series of articles written by Hamilton under the pseudonym "Pacificus," defending Washington's Neutrality Proclamation of 1793 regarding the Anglo-French war.  It is arguably the most complete edition, and the only other English language edition issued in Hamilton's lifetime.


Two volumes. Bound in period tree calf, flat spine gilt, expert repairs at joints.  In very good condition. These original volumes are housed in a custom clamshell case made of leather with an elaborate gilt spine.

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