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Lot #6011
Alexander Hamilton: The Federalist Papers (Extremely Rare Original 1788 First Edition Printing, Vol. II)

Volume II of The Federalist Papers—an extremely rare original 1788 printing of Hamilton's Constitutional masterpiece

Estimate: $20000+
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Volume II of The Federalist Papers—an extremely rare original 1788 printing of Hamilton's Constitutional masterpiece

Rare and important book: The Federalist: a Collection of Essays written in favour of the new Constitution, as agreed upon by the Federal Convention, September 17, 1787 (Volume II only). First edition. NY: Printed and Sold by J. and A. M'Lean, 1788. Hardcover bound in brown calf, 4.25 x 6.25, 365 pages. The title page is signed in ink by John H. Peyton, a lawyer and Virginia state senator, and his personal bookplate is affixed to the front pastedown; Peyton has made annotations throughout the volume, identifying (sometimes erroneously) the individual authors of the various essays in the collection. Book condition: G+/None, with moderate wear and rubbing to boards, some minor foxing to textblock, closely re-trimmed edges, some dog-eared pages, and light pencil notations to title page.

Written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay under the collective pseudonym "Publius" to promote the ratification of the Constitution of the United States, the Federalist Papers are some of the most influential political writings in the history of the United States. Originally published serially in several newspapers, the articles and essays were first published in book form—in a two volume set—by J. and A. McLean in May 1788. This, the second volume, contains Federalist No. 37 through Federalist No. 85, almost all of which were written by either Hamilton or Madison. Among these important essays are: No. 39, Madison's defense of the republican form of government; No. 51, Madison's description of the proposed system of 'checks and balances'; No. 68, Hamilton's defense of the electoral college; No. 78, Hamilton's explanation of the role of the judiciary branch; and No. 84, Hamilton's opposition to a Bill of Rights.

Bibliographer Wright Howes declared The Federalist to be 'the most famous and influential American political work.' In Gregory E. Maggs' article, 'A Concise Guide to the Federalist Papers,' he discusses the original publication of the important book: 'John and Archibald M’Lean printed 500 copies of their two-volume collection of the 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. Some copies of the book, however, did travel far. The M’Leans shipped dozens of copies to locations outside New York City, and Hamilton sent about 50 copies to Richmond in time for the Virginia state ratifying convention.'

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Remarkable Rarities
  • Dates: #669 - Ended September 23, 2023