All changes which Hamilton later made or approved in the texts of the essays he wrote have been indicated in notes.
Thus in essays 1–77 all changes made in the Mc Lean and Hopkins editions in Hamilton’s essays are given.
The remaining essays were first printed in the second volume of , having observed “the avidity” with which the “Publius” essays had been “sought after by politicians and persons of every description,” announced plans for the publication of “The FEDERALIST, A Collection of Essays, written in favour of the New Constitution, , Corrected by the Author, with Additions and Alterations.”10 The promised volume, including the first thirty-six essays, was published on March 22, 1788.
Hamilton was not altogether pleased with the volume, for he stated in the preface11 that it contained “violations of method and repetitions of ideas which cannot but displease a critical reader.” Despite such imperfections, he hoped that the essays would “promote the cause of truth, and lead to a right judgment of the true interests of the community.” Interested readers were promised a second volume of essays as soon as the editor could prepare them for publication.
The third American edition, published in 1802, not only was a new printing; it also contained revisions presumably approved by Hamilton. To Which is Added, Pacificus, on The Proclamation of Neutrality. Likewise, The Federal Constitution, With All the Amendments., “For Publishing by Subscription, in Two handsome Octavo Volumes, THE FEDERALIST, ON THE CONSTITUTION, BY PUBLIUS Written in 1788. , he publicly broke the poorly kept secrecy surrounding its authorship.
It is this, the The Federalist On The New Constitution. TO WHICH IS ADDED, PACIFICUS, ON THE PROCLAMATION OF NEUTRALITY. Almost a year passed before Hopkins, on December 8, 1802, offered to the public “in a dress which it is believed will meet with general approbation” the new edition. Hamilton wrote to Hopkins requesting information on the extent to which Hamilton had made or approved the revisions.
His decision to write the essays may have been made before he left Albany, for according to tradition he wrote the first number of in the cabin of his sloop on the return trip to New York.4 At some time before the appearance of the first essay, written under the pseudonym “Publius,” Hamilton sought and found collaborators, for the first essay, published in on October 27, 1787, was followed in four days by an essay by John Jay.
Neither Hamilton nor Jay left a record of any plans they might have made, but the third collaborator, James Madison, later wrote that “the undertaking was proposed by Alexander Hamilton to James Madison with a request to join him and Mr. William Duer was also included in the original plan; and wrote two or more papers, which though intelligent and sprightly, were not continued, nor did they make a part of the printed collection.”5 Hamilton also sought the assistance of Gouverneur Morris, who in 1815 remembered that he had been “warmly pressed by Hamilton to assist in writing the Federalist.”6 In reprinting the text of the original manuscripts have been approximated as nearly as possible.
Although it is certain that Hamilton did not himself revise the text published in the Hopkins edition, available evidence indicates that he approved the alterations which were made. Hopkins replied that the changes had been made by a “respectable professional gentleman” who, after completing his work, had “put the volumes into the hands of your father, who examined the numerous corrections, most of which he sanctioned, and the work was put to press.” The editor, who was not named by Hopkins, was identified by J. Hamilton as John Wells, an eminent New York lawyer.
The Hopkins edition, Hamilton’s son emphatically stated, was “, and that they were made without Hamilton’s authorization or approval. To Which is Added, Pacificus, on The Proclamation of Neutrality. Likewise, The Federal Constitution, With All the Amendments..