Title: The Federalist: A Collection of Essays, Written in Favour of the New Constitution, as Agreed upon by the Federal Convention, September 17, 1787
Author: [Hamilton, Alexander; John Jay; & James Madison]
Publisher: Printed and Sold by J. and A. M’Lean
Estimate: $80,000 – $120,000
2 volumes. vi, 227; vi, 384 pp. (a1-3, A-T6; a1-3, A-2I6. (12mo) 16.5×9.4 cm (6½x3¾”), period tree calf (or sheep?), spines ruled & numbered in gilt, morocco lettering pieces. First complete edition in book form.
Rare “thick paper” copy of the first edition of the seminal work on American political theory and a cornerstone of American constitutional governance, called by Wright Howes “the most famous and influential American political work.” Only 500 copies of the first edition were printed, and the present copy is one of the exceptionally rare examples printed on thick superfine royal writing paper. These copies were advertised by the publisher M’Lean in contemporary periodicals as the more deluxe version of this seminal document: “A few Copies will be printed on superfine royal writing paper, price ten shillings.” The importance of the Federalist to the early development of the great political experiment that was the United States cannot be overstated. The work comprised 85 political essays, all but the last 8 of which were first published in newspapers in New York, in an effort to convince New York to approve the Federalist Constitution. Alexander Hamilton wrote 51 of the essays, James Madison 14, and John Jay 5; the authorship of 15 of the essays is in dispute between Hamilton and Madison. They were all published under the pseudonym “Publius.” The first thirty-six numbers of The Federalist were here published in book form in March 1788, with the remaining forty-nine, together with the text of the Constitution, in May of that year. Upon its publication George Washington noted to Alexander Hamilton that the work “will merit the Notice of Posterity; because in it are candidly and ably discussed the principles of freedom and the topics of government, which will always be interesting to mankind” (George Washington, letter to Hamilton, Aug. 28, 1788). The present copy has an early and bold ink ownership signature at the top of p. of each volume, “Lawr. Stuart” or possibly “James Stuart”; the very top of each of the signatures was slightly shaved when the volumes were bound, likely prior to 1820 or so. Church 1230; Evans 21127; Grolier, 100 American, 19; Howes H114; Printing and the Mind of Man 234; Sabin 23979; Streeter 1049. Provenance: Helen A. [Doolittle] and George R. Sanders.
Some rubbing to covers and spines, corners a bit worn, joints scuffed and tender; only a few instances of minor foxing within, overall very clean and fine internally, the stitching quite tight.