Had either of these two men not lived, the birth of the American nation would have been affected in a major way, and probably not for the better. John Jay, less well known to the modern world than his colleagues, was a brilliant diplomat and jurist who performed many essential services for the fledgling United States. If we wish to understand the public motives of the most eminent founders of the American republic, we certainly will find it useful to consult the pages of Publius. The subject of the treatise also commands our attention.


The three Publii do not discuss some transient topic of little relevance to the present day, but the venerable instrument of government that still holds our country together. As prominent chieftains of the movement that gave us our constitution, these men are unimpeachable witnesses concerning the original meaning of that document. In The Federalist, they attempt an exhaustive examination of the various provisions of their novel scheme, and their account has come to be regarded as virtually the official exposition of our government. No treatment of any disputed issue of American constitutional practice can be considered complete without some reference to the words of Publius.


Thus a federal court judge in 1975 dismissed a challenge to then president Ford’s pardon of former president Nixon partly on the basis of a certain passage in The Federalist just one example among many of how the work continues to influence our affairs by virtue of its role as a constitutional oracle.