Even a concept as fundamental to our system as judicial review finds its principal justification, not in the text of the constitution, which is silent on the point, but in the comments of Publius. Finally, The Federalist is notable for the high quality of its argument, a unique blend of pragmatic experience and general theory. The authors had studied much history and political science, but book knowledge was by no means the only, or even the principal, source of their insights.


As active politicians who contested elections, held office, and tried to direct policy, they had learned at first hand about such things as the selfishness of special interests, the need for strong leadership, and the ubiquity of foll~ They had seen enough of life to know that the truth is not always pleasant and that conclusions which seem logical on paper sometimes do not follow when put to a real-world test. But, if they little resembled those pure thinkers who generate splendid concepts while lodged in ivory towers, neither were they mere empirics.


They were able to lift their gaze from the pressing crises of the day to ponder the larger meaning of their activities. Most critics agree that behind Publius’s shrewd commentary on eighteenth-century American affairs is a rational, coherent, fairly complete perspective on politics as such-a perspective that deserves inclusion in the human race’s permanent repertoire of political ideas.