Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Teaching the Federalist Papers.

Teaching the Federalist Papers. This is an interesting article which gives tips for teaching about the US Federalist Papers.

From the site:

THE FEDERALIST is the great American contribution to literature on constitutional government. Thomas Jefferson proclaimed it "the best commentary on the principles of government which was ever written." In Cohens v. Virginia (1821), Chief Justice John Marshall wrote: "It (THE FEDERALIST) is a complete commentary on our Constitution, and it is appealed to by all parties in the questions to which that instrument gave birth." From the 1790s until today, lawyers, judges, politicians, and scholars have used ideas of THE FEDERALIST to guide their decisions about constitutional issues.

The ideas of THE FEDERALIST, which are at the core of civic culture in the United States, are essential elements of education for citizenship in the American constitutional democracy. This digest discusses (1) main ideas of THE FEDERALIST, (2) reasons for teaching THE FEDERALIST in secondary schools, and (3) how to teach THE FEDERALIST PAPERS.


THE FEDERALIST PAPERS were written and printed from October 1787 until May 1788 to counter arguments of Antifederalists against ratification of the Constitution of 1787. Alexander Hamilton was the originator of this work and author of 51 essays; James Madison wrote 26 of the papers; three essays were jointly authored by Hamilton and Madison; and John Jay wrote five of the papers. However, when these essays appeared in THE INDEPENDENT JOURNAL and other New York newspapers, they were attributed to "Publius" (this pseudonym referred to Publius Valerius Publicola, a great defender of the ancient Roman Republic).

The authors of THE FEDERALIST had varying and sometimes clashing ideas about government, but they agreed strongly on certain fundamental ideas: republicanism, federalism, separation of powers, and free government.

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