Alexander HAMILTON   |   James MADISON

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Item#: 127343 price:$110,000.00 Currently On Reserve.



(HAMILTON, Alexander; MADISON, James; JAY, John). The Federalist: A Collection of Essays, Written in Favour of the New Constitution, As Agreed Upon By the Federal Convention, September 17, 1787. New York: Printed and Sold by John Tiebout., 1799. Two volumes. 12mo, contemporary tree sheep, rebacked in early tree sheep, original (Volume II) and later (Volume I) red morocco spine labels, pp. vi, 227, vi, 384. Housed together in a custom clamshell box. $110,000.

Exceedingly rare 1799 edition of The Federalist Papers, one of the most significant books in American political history, which “exerted a powerful influence in procuring the adoption of the Federal Constitution,” this copy one of fewer than 300 issued. “This is the first edition of The Federalist with new title pages only” (Evans), using the unsold copies of the 1788 first edition, in contemporary tree sheep boards.

"When Alexander Hamilton invited his fellow New Yorker John Jay and James Madison, a Virginian, to join him in writing the series of essays published as The Federalist, it was to meet the immediate need of convincing the reluctant New York State electorate of the necessity of ratifying the newly proposed Constitution of the United States. The 85 essays, under the pseudonym `Publius,' were designed as political propaganda, not as a treatise of political philosophy. In spite of this, The Federalist survives as one of the new nation's most important contributions to the theory of government" (Printing and the Mind of Man, 234). The Federalist "exerted a powerful influence in procuring the adoption of the Federal Constitution, not only in New York but in the other states. There is probably no work in so small a compass that contains so much valuable political information. The true principles of a republican form of government are here unfolded with great clearness and simplicity" (Church 1230). "A generation passed before it was recognized that these essays by the principal author of the Constitution and its brilliant advocate were the most authoritative interpretation of the Constitution as drafted by the Convention of 1787. As a commentary and exposition of the Constitution, the influence of the Federalist has been profound" (Grolier One Hundred Influential American Books 56). "This is the first edition of The Federalist with new title pages only" (Evans 35581). "It is very rare" (Sabin), given that this 1799 publication "was not a new printing, but the issuance of the remaining copies of the McLean edition" (Cooke, xv). The McLeans published the first volume of the first edition in March 1788 and the second in May. They "printed 500 copies of their two-volume collection of essays. The book initially did not sell very well. The publishers complained in October 1788, long after New York had ratified the Constitution, that they still had several hundred unsold copies." Of these "Hamilton sent about 50 copies to Richmond in time for the Virginia state ratifying convention" of that June (Maggs, "Concise Guide," 815). The unsold copies of the first edition of The Federalist "passed into the hands of John Tiebout, who printed new title-pages. It is the scarcest edition" (Ford 20). Type on title page of Vol II noticeably darker than that of Vol I due to variations in ink during printing. Contents pages of Volume II on thicker sheets, very likely from thicker issue text that would have been available to John Tiebout during re-issue of 1799. Sabin 23980. Howes H114b. See Streeter II:1049. Grolier One Hundred Influential American Books 56. See Sabin 23979. Recently paired together, with separate provenances, having early owner signatures in both volumes, one dated 1817 (John Wiley) and the other 1845 (Henry Nichols). Volume I has an extensive note in a contemporary hand on a front flyleaf listing the authorship of the individual essays; Volume II has notes in the margins of the Contents listing the authorship of each essay in the volume, with a note of authorship (sometimes just a letter—"M" for Madison, for example) next to many of the essays. Both sets of attributions differ from the current scholarly consensus of the respective authors of each essay. The notes in Volume II mistakenly attribute Number 54 to Jay (Jay in fact wrote Number 64), a mistake made by Hamilton in a list he provided to his lawyer in the days before his fateful duel with Aaron Burr. The designations in Volume II follow the attributions made by the editor of the New York Evening Post, founded by Hamilton in 1801 and understandably partial to Hamilton's view of the matter.

Volume I with light dampstaining and scattered foxing to text, title page with staining and top corner excised, removing most of an owner signature but not affecting printing; contemporary tree sheep boards with expert restoration to board edges. Volume II with only light scattered foxing and very faint occasional dampstaining, flyleaves with expert paper restoration to edges, evidence of bookplate removal to front pastedown, edge of text block with small abrasion; contemporary tree sheep with expert restoration but with original spine label preserved.

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