James Madison Papers

From James Madison to James K. Paulding, 23 July 1818

To James K. Paulding

Montpellier July 23. 1818

Dear Sir

I return your copy of Gideons Edition of the Federalist, with the memorandum requested in your note of the 16. I shall take pleasure in adding any other circumstances which you may wish to know, & I may be able to communicate.

Mrs. M. & myself feel very sensibly the kind expressions in which you refer to the late visit with which you favored us, & will always be happy in repetitions of the occasion which led to them.1 Friendly respects

James Madison


Montpellier. July 24. 1818.

The following memorandum complies with Mr. Paulding’s request of the 16th. instant.

The papers under the Title of “Federalist,” and signature of “Publius” were written by A. H. J. M. & J. J. in the latter part of the year 1787—& the former part of the year 1788. The immediate object of them was to vindicate & recommend the new Constitution to the State of N. Y. whose ratification of the instrument, was doubtful as well as important. The undertaking was proposed by A. H. (who had probably consulted with Mr. Jay & others) to J. M. who agreed to take a part in it. The papers were originally addressed to the people of N. Y. under the signature of a “Citizen of N. Y.” This was changed for that of “Publius” the first name of Valerius Publicola.2 A reason for the change was that one of the writers was not a Citizen of that State; another that the publication had diffused itself among most of the other States. The papers were first publishd. at N. Y. in a Newspaper printed by Francis Childs,3 at the rate during great part of the time at least of four numbers a week; and notwithstanding this exertion, they were not compleated till a large proportion of the States had decided on the Constitution. They were edited as soon as possible in two small vols. the preface to the 1st. vol: drawn up by Mr. H. bearing date N. York Mar. 1788. In a publication at N. Y. in 1810, entitled “the Works of A. H.”4 is comprized an Edition of the Fedlist. in which the names of the writers are erroneously prefixed to a number of the papers. These errors are corrected in this Edition by Jacob Gideon Jr. wch. assigns to the several authors of the papers their respective shares in them.

J. M.

RC (DLC: William C. Rives Papers); draft and draft of enclosure (DLC). RC cover addressed by JM, “Mr. Paulding.” Docketed by Paulding.

1In the draft, JM began this paragraph but crossed out: “We were glad to find that you were not melted on your way to Washington, by the heat, agst. which we wished you to prolong your asylum with us.”

2Publius Valerius Poplicola, Roman consul in 509, 508, 507, and 504 B.C., was credited with a number of popular, antimonarchical measures in the first years of the Roman Republic (Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth, eds., The Oxford Classical Dictionary [Oxford, 2003], 1580).

3Francis Childs (1763–1830) was a New York printer and editor of the Daily Advertiser from 1785 to 1796. George Washington appointed Childs U.S. consul at Genoa in 1797, but Childs did not accept the post. He was thereafter employed as a government agent in France and Germany (Daily National Journal, 22 Oct. 1830; Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1:620; Senate Exec. Proceedings description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (3 vols.; Washington, 1828). description ends , 1:226, 227). JM was in error here; the first seven essays were first published by John McLean in the Independent Journal. Childs published JM’s initial essay, which was No. 10 (Smyth, “The Federalist,” 53).

4JM referred to The Works of Alexander Hamilton (Shaw and Shoemaker description begins R. R. Shaw and R. H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801–1819 (22 vols.; New York, 1958–66). description ends 20274). The compiler of this edition designated the authorship of the various essays by use of “a private memorandum in his [Hamilton’s] own hand-writing,” (ibid., 1:iv), a list that was first published in the Philadelphia Port Folio on 14 Nov. 1807 (n.s., 4:318). For a detailed discussion of the authorship question, see Smyth, “The Federalist.”

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