There has been a failure of education about American History in general and the principles of the Founding in particular. It is vitally important to understand the brilliant insights and compromises that gave rise to this most successful and long lasting of all democratic republics. We used to have courses in this called “Civics”.
When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence it was intended to be readily understood by any reader. It was a bold, straight forward explanation of the civil contract that exists between the people and their government, along with a list of the ways King George III and his representatives had broken that contract.
Similarly, the Constitution not only was meant to be read by the people, it was clear enough that the general population could understand it and vote on it. Literacy was more widespread in the colonies than in modern America, and some words and expressions need clarification or definition for today’s readers. Still, it is quite understandable even now.
One of the tools to clarify its meaning and intent is The Federalist Papers, a series of newspaper articles written at the time to explain the Constitution and persuade the people that it was in their interest to vote for it. In 1994 I selected many of the best quotations from The Federalist Papers and published them as The Federalist, Excerpts with Commentary. A second edition was published in 2015 updating the commentary. Take a look:
Incidentally, I have a limited number of first editions (hardback) available for $5.00 each, plus shipping and handling. Contact me if interested. Thanks.
From the back cover of the second edition:
“The best commentary on the principles of government ever written”
The Federalist Papers were a series of newspaper articles written by Madison, Hamilton, and Jay to persuade the citizens of 1787 and 1788 to vote for the newly proposed Constitution upon which our American government is based. Despite the passage of years, their insights are as fresh as the latest headlines and deal with such topics as excessive legislation, arrogance in public officials, limitations of government, multiculturalism, taxation, and more. This new edition of The Federalist, Excerpts with Commentary brings you the best quotes from that “best commentary” along with short explanations of their importance in today’s America.
Praise for the first edition:
A “delectable book.”
R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.
The American Spectator
“This short book is a must read . . worth its weight in gold! . . . (A) timely work . . . a masterpiece!”
The Oregon Observer
“Thank you . . . I will keep this important work in my office.”
The Supreme Court
“The rhetoric on Capitol Hill makes this book compulsory.”
The Book Reader
“The whole book is small enough to encourage a person to read it all—as I am doing now, day by day.”
Former publisher, National Review
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