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 J. and A. M’Lean, 1788. First edition in book form of the collected essays, one of the scarce “thick paper” copies. This copy personally gifted by James Madison to early United States diplomat and overseas consul James Maury. Both volumes with holograph note in Maury’s hand at recto of front flyleaf, “James Maury / From Mr Madison / one of the supposed / authors.” Two volumes. Twelvemo in sixes (6.5 x 3.875 inches; 164 x 100 mm.). vi, 227, [1, blank]; vi, 384 pages. Contemporary diced russia leather, boards with gilt triple-ruled border; all text block edges trimmed and sprinkled brown; marbled endpapers. Both volumes completely lacking spines, exposed backstrips nicked at ends with hairline creases and cracks running parallel to gatherings, a tiny amount of flaking and loss along cracks and over bands. Boards expertly reattached, with subtle evidence of these repairs along joints and hinges. Bands visible near joints; boards worn, with loss to majority of gilt border and some of diced surface; calf darkened and chipped along board edges. Endpapers darkened at edges from exposure to leather turn-ins; previous owner book labels at front pastedowns; nicking and a couple of small chips at edges of free endpapers; front free endpaper of first volume just starting to split at head and foot parallel to hinge. Some mild foxing to flyleaves; fainter, sparser foxing scattered throughout interiors, along with some mild, marginal thumbsoiling; drip stain at fore-edge margin of leaf A3; some dark rubbing to last leaf of second volume, possibly occurred during printing. Stunning, very nearly fine text block in remarkably clear, bright condition, in good boards. Each volume in its own custom black cloth chemise, housed together in black leather clamshell, decorated in gilt.
The Federalist was undertaken “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,” with the first of what would become a collection of eighty-five anonymous essays, submitted under the pseudonym “Publius,” appearing on October 27, 1787 in the The Independent Journal, or The General Advertiser (PMM). The essays, authored largely by Hamilton and Madison, began appearing regularly at the rate of about four numbers each week in The Independent Journal and three other papers — The New York Packet, The Daily Advertiser, and The New York Journal and Daily Patriotic Registe — until the appearance of number 77 on April 2, 1788. The first thirty-six essays were published in book form on March 22, 1788, followed by a second volume containing essays 37-85 on May 28, marking the first appearance of numbers 78-85 ahead of their release in the popular press, which concluded on October 16, 1788 (Church). The Federalist would go on to be reprinted and issued in new editions several times in the following years, though according to Sabin, “Mr. Madison’s papers were much changed in the subsequent editions.” It was not until 1818 that Jacob Gideon, with Madison’s assistance, published the essays with attribution to their original authors. Printing and the Mind of Man expounds upon the continued importance of the text since its original publication: “As a commentary on the Constitution by men included among its principal architects The Federalist has been used from the beginning of the nineteenth century to modern times as an interpreter of the Constitution not only by laymen but by lawyers and Justices of the U. S. Supreme Court.” Church writes, “The true principles of a republican form of government are here unfolded with great clearness and simplicity.”