VERY RARE AND IMPORTANT FIRST EDITION OF THE FEDERALIST: “THE MOST FAMOUS AND INFLUENTIAL AMERICAN POLITICAL WORK,” AN EXCEPTIONAL COPY IN FULL CONTEMPORARY SHEEP
(HAMILTON, Alexander; MADISON, James; JAY, John). The Federalist: A Collection of Essays, Written in Favour of the New Constitution, Agreed Upon By the Federal Convention, September 17, 1787. New York: Printed and Sold by J. and A. McLean, 1788. Two volumes bound in one. 12mo, contemporary full sheep, raised bands, original burgundy morocco spine label; pp. vi, 227, vi, 384. Housed in a custom chemise and full morocco clamshell box.
First edition of The Federalist, one of the rarest and most significant books in American political history, which “exerted a powerful influence in procuring the adoption of the Federal Constitution.” An exceptional copy in full contemporary sheep.
“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” (PMM, 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 American 100, 56). Of the only 500 copies published, Hamilton is said to have sent nearly 50 copies to Virginia for the ratifying convention. The remaining 450 copies sold poorly, and “the publishers complained in October 1788, long after New York had ratified the Constitution, that they still had several hundred unsold copies” (Maggs, 815). Without initial blanks. Sabin 23979. Howes H114(c). Streeter II: 1049. Ford 17. Grolier American 100, 56. Early owner signature. Occasional neat ink and pencil annotations.
Text generally quite clean. Closed tear and early repair to Q2 affecting only a few letters, blank top edges of title pages with expert paper restoration, a few tiny tears and spots barely affecting text. Headcap and joints expertly repaired, just a few minor stains and a bit of wear to contemporary binding. A handsome copy of an exceptionally rare and important work, even more scarce in contemporary sheep.