Robert Scigliano
Robert Scigliano
The Federalist Papers
ISBN: 0679603255
The Federalist Papers
The series of essays that comprise The Federalist constitutes one of the key texts of the American Revolution and the democratic system created in the wake of independence. Written in 1787 and 1788 by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay to promote the ratification of the proposed Constitution, these papers stand as perhaps the most eloquent testimonial to democracy that exists. They describe the ideas behind the American system of government: the separation of powers; the organization of Congress; the respective positions of the executive, legislative, and judiciary; and much more. The Federalist remains essential reading for anyone interested in politics and government, and indeed for anyone seeking a foundational statement about democracy and America.

This new edition of The Federalist is edited by Robert Scigliano, a professor in the political science department at Boston College. His substantive Introduction sheds clarifying new light on the historical context and meaning of The Federalist. Scigliano also provides a fresh and definitive analysis of the disputed authorship of several sections of this crucial work.
—from the publisher

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TRANSCRIPT
The Federalist Papers
Program Air Date: January 21, 2001

BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Robert Scigliano, editor and introducer of the latest edition of "The Federalist." What is it?
Professor ROBERT SCIGLIANO (Editor, "The Federalist"): It's a collection of newspaper articles written during the ratification campaign for the Constitution in 1787 and the first part of 1788. The essays were put together into two bound volumes, and they, in fact, were used during the ratification campaign in New York. They were published in the New York newspapers, and then they were sent down to Virginia to be of use in the Virginia ratification campaign as well. So they had an extensive influence. And they were reproduced in newspapers in other states as well.
LAMB: Newspaper articles.
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Yeah, newspaper articles, that's right.
LAMB: In what newspaper?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: In the--in four New York City newspapers, and my goodness, I'll have to look to remind myself of the—“The Independent” was one of them. But the newspapers themselves are not so important as the fact that they were given extensive coverage and repeated in other newspapers within the city of New York, in 85--85 of them in all.
LAMB: Who wrote them?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Alexander Hamilton, first of all, second, James Madison and third, John Jay, and I name them in descending order of the number of articles that each wrote.
LAMB: How did they decide that those three men would write them, and were there any others that, you know, might have written some of these?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Yeah. Well, Hamilton organized the project. He saw that the Constitution, when it came out of convention, was going to have tough sledding in New York, and the anti-federalists, that is, those opposed to ratification, were already publishing in the newspapers, and so he decided to organize a series of articles. He recruited his friend, John Jay. And then he tried to get another friend of his, Gouverneur Morris, an interesting person, not known to Americans, even to many students of American politics today, but Jay declined the invitation. And then he went to James Madison, and Madison agreed, so the three of them formed a collaboration. They assigned the numbers more or less according to their interests and also to the time that they had available.
LAMB: When you--in your introduction, you go into some detail about who actually wrote what--they called them papers?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: They call them--they generally called them papers. Sometimes they called them articles or essays.
LAMB: Is there a dispute in history on who wrote what article?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: A great dispute. I didn't intend, or I didn't think that I was going to get myself deeply involved in it, but it almost consumed my introduction. And there's a deeper meaning, to the--or a deeper issue to the dispute that they had, yeah, because the articles are written anonymously at the time, and there's sort of an agreement, say, between the two main authors, Hamilton and Madison, that they would not disclose which one of them wrote which articles, without the consent of the other. And so far as I know, this consent was never sought by either one, nor given.
LAMB: So how many did Alexander Hamilton write?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Well, he said he wrote 63. Madison--and Madison said that he wrote 51. Jay, it is agreed, wrote five of them. Madison wrote the rest. Let's see. I believe 29 of the articles, by Madison's count, out of the 80--85, and something like 29, so I think that it comes out to 17 by Hamilton. There are also three articles which were jointly written, according to Hamilton, almost entirely written by Madison, according to Madison. So there's disagreement with respect to these three co-written articles, in Hamilton's view, and a dispute over a fair number of the other; that is, 5, 12, 4--I believe, you know, 14--I think it comes to 14 of the articles were in dispute, and then three more of the jointly written ones.
LAMB: Are the original articles on file anywhere? I mean, the actual--what'd they write, in longhand, I suspect?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: They--oh, you mean their drafts?
LAMB: Yeah.
PROF. SCIGLIANO: No, their drafts never survived, and that would have helped us, if we could have had recourse to their drafts, we could have seen for sure which of them wrote which articles. Jay kept copies of his draft, and so there was never any dispute as to which numbers Jay wrote.
LAMB: Are they on file somewhere?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: I'm pretty sure that Jay's are at the Columbia University archives.
LAMB: Now how did you get involved in doing this?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Well, I've taught the Federalists as an undergraduate course for a number of years. I used the Modern Library edition of "The Federalist" initially because of my regard for the Modern Library, the quality of its list. And when my book wore out, I would get another Modern Library copy, and then when that wore out--well, I'm on my third one. This is the third one now. It's almost in tatters. And I said something had to be done. I like the Modern Library edition. Also, I knew where everything was in the edition, so I simply wrote a letter to Modern Library, saying, `It's a shame for you not to keep this book up to date.' That is, it--the introduction to the edition was written in 1937, pretty far dated in a number of ways. And also, the Constitution reproduced in the back of the book only went through the 21st Amendment. And so I suggested that they ought to keep this book current, and I said, `If you want me to do it, I'd be interested in considering it.' And from there on, there we went along.
LAMB: Before I forget it, I want to ask you about the 27th Amendment.
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Yeah.
LAMB: `No law varying the compensation for the services of the senators and representatives shall take effect until an election of representatives shall have intervened,' ratified May 7th, 1992. But it was submitted when?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: It was submitted along with the others; that is, along with the Bill of Rights, the original Bill of Rights, and that was one of the two articles of the Bill of Rights which were not ratified at the time. And unbeknownst to many people, most people, these slowly revived and were finally ratified by the required three--number of states, three-quarters of the states, in 1992.
LAMB: And it just kind of slipped in there? No one paid any attention?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: No. Very little attention was paid to it. I wasn't aware of it until it was practically ratified.
LAMB: Well, the point of it is that ‘no law varying the compensation for the services of senators and representatives shall take effect until an election of the representatives,’ which means that you can't vote yourself a pay raise.
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Exactly.
LAMB: The reason I bring that up is because throughout this book, if there's one thing you read about constantly is money, money and interests, and--in the Federalist papers.
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Right.
LAMB: Now this is a huge book of 618 pages. How could they be so consumed back then with what people would do with money?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Ah, because they believed that interest was an important motive of human contact. It had to be taken into account, that it had to be restrained, some respects perhaps how to allow it to flow. Ambition and interest were the two engines, or two great engines of human conduct for the famous. So they were sensitive.
LAMB: And the --probably, from my remembrance, the most famous saying that came out of the Federalist papers is on page 331. You can tell me if there's another one, but the thing that is confusing, though--it's Federalist 51...
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Yeah.
LAMB: ...and it's Madison, and you put in parentheses, or Hamilton, and I--haven't we for years thought that the following words were written by James Madison? `If men were angels, no government would be necessary.'
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Yeah. `And if angels were to govern men'--yeah.
LAMB: `If angels were to govern men, neither external, nor internal controls on government would be necessary.' Who do you think wrote that?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Well, my earlier inclination--that is, before I got into the--to the work on this edition of "The Federalist," was Hamilton, against most people in the profession. In fact, that was a motive, I suppose, in getting into the whole question of disputed authorship. There had been a dispute between Hamilton and Madison--Hamilton dead at the time--and therefore follows as to who wrote which numbers. And that dispute from about the end of the 19th century down to the 1940s was resolved by saying `Hamilton or Madison' after all of the disputed numbers. And that compromise was suggested by Henry Cabot Lodge in an edition of his that was published in the 1880s.
LAMB: Which Henry Cabot Lodge?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Oh, that's the famous Henry Cabot Lodge, that is, the senator from Massachusetts, the great opponent to President Wilson's Versailles Treaty and a scholar himself.
LAMB: Now the Henry Cabot Lodge that ran with Richard Nixon in '60 was...
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Was--that...
LAMB: Son?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: I think that that Henry Cabot Lodge was his grandson. It could have been his son.
LAMB: Why was...
PROF. SCIGLIANO: ...(Unintelligible).
LAMB: Why was Henry Cabot Lodge such an authority on the Federalist papers?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Because he was a scholar, and he was the editor of the North American Review, and he was an authority on Alexander Hamilton. He wrote a biography of Hamilton; wrote a biography of Washington; wrote a great deal about the founding. And of course, his own ancestors were prominent at the founding as well. I think that--yeah, Cabot, who was an early Federalist, was his--a direct ancestor of his.
LAMB: Well, you mentioned earlier that you teach the Federalist papers. Where?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: At Boston College.
LAMB: Do the students think it's hard stuff?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Hard stuff. Hard--tough stuff. I tell them at the beginning, I say, `Look, this is going to be tough stuff. Not only is it going to be tough stuff, but we're going to read the papers themselves. I don't want you to read about the papers; that is, I want you to get your understanding yourselves and through our discussions in class. Moreover, we're going to spend between six and seven weeks on this stuff. And you may get tired of it partway through, but I think you'll find when we come out of it, that you've learned a great, great deal.' And I'm told by students afterwards that indeed that is so--nearly all of them, not all.
LAMB: Now I will admit to having some problems at various times reading this and understanding it. I'm just going to read one paragraph for someone...
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Uh-oh.
LAMB: ...in our audience who has never, ever read the Federalist papers and has no idea. This is just picked at random, one of those paragraphs I wasn't sure what I was reading, and I--and as you will, I'm sure, tell us, it's not all like this, but this is on page 433 of this edition. `Attempts'--let me make sure--it's Federalist 67, and that's Hamilton. `Attempts...'
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Yes. He loves dispute.
LAMB: Yeah. OK. `Attempts extravagant as these to disfigure, or rather to metamorphose the object, render it necessary to take an acrid view of its real nature and form,' colon: `In order to ascertain its true aspect and genuine appearance, to unmask the disingenuity and to expose the fallacy of the counterfeit resemblances which have been so insidiously as well as industriously propagated.'
PROF. SCIGLIANO: OK.
LAMB: I don't know if you can find that or not, but I wanted to ask you what the heck that meant.
PROF. SCIGLIANO: What the heck does it mean? Yes. Now that's one...
LAMB: Have the students ever put it to you that way?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Oh, they do in a number of cases, not that one. As a matter of fact, I thought you were going to read a complicated sentence from the famous Federalist 51. But where does that appear?
LAMB: This was--this is Federalist 51, and--no, I'm sorry, it's not either.
PROF. SCIGLIANO: No, this is 60--67.
LAMB: It's Federalist 67, on page 430. But you know, the real—the answer...
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Yeah.
LAMB: ...the question I wanted to ask you is how--why was--is the language so--sometimes so hard to understand?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Well, it was written in late 18th century prose, which is quite different from our prose. They did not write down to their audience. There is an interesting book called--what ...I forget. I think it's "The Federalists Without Tears." But anyway, it's a modern version of "The Federalist," following the original argument quite well but in modern prose. It loses something of the original, and yet it makes its argument much more comprehensible to readers because it does not use that rather convoluted 18th century style.
LAMB: How old was James Madison when he wrote his Federalist papers?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: He was 36, at least when he began them. He became 37 towards the end, yes.
LAMB: How old was Alexander Hamilton?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Well, depending on whose records you accept, probably he was 30. He may have been 30--32.
LAMB: And how old was John Jay?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Jay was just over 40, I believe 41. Just—they were young men.
LAMB: You--there are numbers in here of how many people were around in those days. Let's go back and create for us the atmosphere in which they wrote these papers. When did they conclude the convention in Philadelphia?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Yeah. The convention finished on September 17th. The Constitution then was...
LAMB: 1787.
PROF. SCIGLIANO: 1787. The Constitution was sent to Congress, because they agreed to comply with the terms of the old Constitution, the Articles of Confederation, submitted to Congress, with the request that Congress submit it to the states, with the request that the states call conventions of the people to consider it for a ratification. And that was done. So it was sent out to the states about the end--towards the end of September.
LAMB: And when were these papers first run?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: The first one was written probably in the early part of October. Hamilton had to go up to Albany to hold--to conduct court. He was a lawyer, made his living from the law then. According to a report, he wrote the first paper on his way down the Hudson River on a schooner. Whether that is true or not, we don't know, but it makes a nice story. So the--it began then, and the last group of papers was actually published in a volume before they appeared in the newspapers, the last eight papers, published in--at the end of May, and then they were printed in the newspapers going into July.
LAMB: And John Jay at the time, 41 years old, what was his--had he been to the convention himself?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: No. The federalist opponents had to let Hamilton go to the convention--that is, the opponents in the New York Legislature--so they let Hamilton go to the convention. They surrounded Hamilton with two anti-federalists, which means that Hamilton would have no voice inasmuch as New York would have a single vote. The federalists tried to get Jay appointed as a delegate as well but he was blocked.
LAMB: What was he doing at the time?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: He was the secretary of state for foreign affairs. He was the equivalent to the American secretary of state today. Secretary for foreign affairs was his formal title. And he'd been that for several years.
LAMB: And James Madison at the time, what was he doing?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Madison was a member of the Continental Congress. Hamilton had been a member of the Continental Congress--in fact, I think at this time also Hamilton was a member of the Continental Congress. The institution was dying. It was moribund. The country was waiting to see what would happen with the new Constitution.
LAMB: Where was it based?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: New York.
LAMB: So if you can relate it to today, let's say they had a commission on Social Security. They had had the meetings, they were over, and then members basically of the commission go out and write newspaper articles to sell the idea?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Mm-hmm, that's right.
LAMB: And did it go on for continuous weeks? Was there more than one a week that were published?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Yes. There were two or generally two or three a week published in the newspapers.
LAMB: I counted--and maybe you can help me on this one--I counted the longest one in here, according to pages, is 15 pages long.
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Yeah. That was the end...
LAMB: Towards the end, yeah.
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Yeah. Yeah, see, that's right. Hamilton was trying to bring the thing to an end at this time, because the New York ratifying convention had already been elected by the people of New York, and it was due to begin its deliberations in a couple of weeks. So you find the papers lengthening at this time.
LAMB: Well, it was Federalist 83 and it was all about trial by jury.
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Yes.
LAMB: How big an issue was that during this discussion?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: A big iss…not in the constitutional convention--a big issue raised by the anti-federalists, that a precious right of the people was not being guaranteed. Trial by jury in criminal cases was provided for, but not in civil cases. And it was a problem here under the common law, or trying to develop a uniform rule that--a rule that would apply to all states, and therefore, nothing was done. And yet the criticism was so strong that a provision was made for civil jury trial in the Bill of Rights. That was one of the complaints.
LAMB: What was a federalist?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Ah, nice--nice question, because the anti-federalists claimed that they were the real federalists. We're the ones standing by the Articles of Confederation, our federal Constitution, and you have stolen the name `federalist' from us. There's some truth in that, and yet the federalists' argument was that they had been in favor of strengthening the Articles of Confederation, getting a stronger federal government, and therefore they were the real federalists. Hamilton also had a special definition of a federalist, which could--a person who could support, really, a consolidated government, that is, a unitary national government, so long as the states existed in some subordinate role within it. His was a special definition of federalism.
LAMB: Did these papers, from what you can tell, have any impact on this body politic back in 1787, '88?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Hard to say. Some commentators say no, some say yes. It certainly had an impact on those who were elected to the ratifying conventions, especially in New York, and in Virginia, because they provided arguments to the delegates supporting ratification, and also they stated arguments that had to be met by the opponents to the Constitution, so that there is part of a large dialogue being carried out in these two states and also elsewhere, because they were reproduced in other states as well.
LAMB: At the same time?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: At the same time, that's right.
LAMB: And where were they published in other states?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: In newspapers.
LAMB: And how big was the population of the United States during this time?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: About three million.
LAMB: I know one thing that popped up in one of the papers in here was that at the time, Great Britain only had eight million people.
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Is that--yeah. That would be about right.
LAMB: There's also a lot of discussion in here, and a lot of reference to the government of Great Britain. Why?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Well, it would be natural to make comparisons with Great Britain, because the comparisons would be meaningful to the people. And also, comparisons could be made to the favor of the Constitution; that is, Federalist 69, Publius, compares the powers of the proposed American executive with the powers of the British king. They show the British king would be hereditary, this office would be elected for four years. The British king can make treaties by himself, this office must make treaties with the consent of the Senate, and so on down the line. So, it made a nice basis of a counterargument.
LAMB: At the time, though, wasn't Great Britain the--was it the enemy?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Great Britain was the--had been the enemy. It was still unpopular in the minds of a number of people, which did not contribute to Hamilton's popularity particularly, because Hamilton was a great admirer of the British Constitution. He said it was the best constitution that the world has seen.
LAMB: Now, again, you have 85 of these, and three men that wrote them, and John Jay only wrote five.
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Five.
LAMB: Why did he write two, three, four, and--two, three, four and five and then he jumped to, like, 68 or something like that? But why did they assign him the first couple?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Well, he and Hamilton started off the writing. I believe that was it, and the initial plan was to write 20 or 25 numbers. That quickly changed. But there may have been that Jay said, `All right, I'll take up the assignment after you write the introductory one, and then you come back in. In the meantime, we'll try to find somebody else to join us.' Gouverneur Morris, as I mentioned earlier, had turned them down. And then they got Madison, probably--well, Madison agreed about the middle of November to join them, and his first number was number 10. So Jay wrote four after Hamilton's introduction, and then Hamilton came in with three more and then Madison joined them.
LAMB: You mentioned about the Modern Library, and if you go to the back of the book, the Modern Library editorial board--I'm going to hold that up here; eventually we'll get a shot of who they are. They're--almost everybody on there is immediately recognizable. It starts with Maya Angelou at the top, and then there's Daniel Boorstin. You go down the list of--Christopher Cerf, I assume Bennett Cerf's son, Shelby Foote, Stephen Jay Gould, Ron Chernow, Vartan Gregorian, Charles Johnson, Jon Krakauer, Edmund Morris; you see Joyce Carol Oates, Arthur Schlesinger, Salman Rushdie, Gore Vidal, William Styron and others. Do you know those folks, and did--do you deal with them when you went to them to suggest that you do another version of this?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: No. I simply dealt with the Modern Library editor. Now I assumed that he dealt with some of them.
LAMB: So how do they--but how did they pick you in the end? I mean, what is it that you've done that they say, `This is the guy we can trust'?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Nice--nice que…,well, I've written--written on questions dealing with the American founding, published articles on the war powers under the Constitution, the original understanding of the war powers. I've got--so I have an interest there. And I--and I have taught the subject before, and I've written on other subjects as well in American politics and government. And I told them what it was that I wanted to do. They took it and in good time, they got back and said `Fine.'
LAMB: When did you start?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: I started doing the reading, oh, I'd say a little over a year ago, and then I was interrupted by various things and actually finished up this past summer.
LAMB: And did you change anything in the actual articles themselves?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Well, yes and no. I made about 1,000 changes from the earlier Modern Library edition. You see, the articles were originally published in the newspapers, and then as they were being published in the newspapers, Hamilton collected them and published them in book form. Both the newspapers and the original book had a number of minor errors in it. It was a rush job. In 1802, Hamilton supervised a new edition of "The Federalist" and that new edition provided perhaps 500 or so very small changes and corrections in the total number. And then in 1818, Jay--or under--Hamilton supervised those changes--in 1818...
LAMB: He was killed, by the way, when?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: What?
LAMB: What year?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: 1804.
LAMB: OK.
PROF. SCIGLIANO: In 1818, Madison provided additional changes for the numbers that he said that he had written, and what I did was I took the original newspaper revisions, put those in, put in the 1802 edition revisions, and then Madison's revisions in 1818.
LAMB: Did it change the meaning at all?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: No. No. It improved the text, I thought, in a number of very small ways--word selection, maybe a dropping of a word. For example in Federalist 34, it always didn't quite seem right to me that Hamilton should say that under the republic, Rome reached the height of utmost perfection. There's an overstatement there. But in going through the revisions, I find that Hamilton's final determination was that under the republic, Rome reached the height of perfection.
LAMB: Could you tell the difference in the writing between the three men?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Oh, I try. I try. You can't have too much confidence when friends of theirs had trouble determining who wrote which ones, that is, before they were identified. Washington wrote a friend--even though he knew Hamilton well--well, because Hamilton had been his aide of--aide de camp--Washington wrote asking, `Can you tell me who the authors of the individual numbers are?' Down in Williamsburg, Virginia, they wrote--people said, `Hey, we know James Madison, he's really the author of these.' Jefferson, who knew Madison well, said `You--I know that you wrote most of them.'

That being said, I have certain indications of writing. Madison writes in more detail. Perhaps there's more digression in Madison. Perhaps he makes sure that the point is completely made and understood, where Hamilton tends to be more--more direct. Madison is more theoretical. He more often starts with a theoretical statement and then works his way down to the practical situation--Federalist number 10 is a fine example of that--where Hamilton starts with the problem and he may generalize the problem, but he generally starts with the particular.

One--if I may mention one other change. Hamilton puts more stress upon ambition as a human motive than does Madison. They both talk about ambition, as well as interest. I draw a conclusion from this, and that is, for Madison, the human problem--that is, living at peace--is more within reach of solution if you can satisfy all interests. For Hamilton, the human problem is insoluble because you may have plenty, but there'll be resentments, there'll be ambitions...
LAMB: And he had a lot of that...
PROF. SCIGLIANO: ...and passions.
LAMB: ...in his own life.
PROF. SCIGLIANO: He himself had kind of a noble ambition, but still a lot of ambition. You're right.
LAMB: Now when you--Boston College for how many years?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Thirty years, and this is my final year.
LAMB: And how long have you taught "The Federalist"?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: As a complete--that is, a complete work, that is, in a course, for--off and on for about--close to 30 years, as I came to Boston College. I always let my courses go out into the meadow after I've taught them, perhaps two, perhaps three years, in order to freshen up--fatten up before I take them again, to make sure I don't become bored with them. And I've done that with the course in which I include the "The Federalist."

Always in my career--you know, political scientists always give a few Federalist papers, and I had done that before. But never had I gone through the book, carefully reading the papers with the students. And I came to the conclusion that the only way for undergraduates to really understand the papers is to go through them with the help of somebody who knows them better.
LAMB: Which Federalist number is the favorite over the years?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Oh, for most people, especially professors, Federalist number 10 because it's rather professorial, because Madison makes a theoretical, professorial argument in number 10.
LAMB: What about the students? Do they feel the same way?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: They get to like Federalist number 10, too, because Federalist number 10 can be seen as an argument for diversity, and diversity is an important--has been an important principle in American political life. I might add Hamilton was not quite so fond of Madison's argument in Federalist number 10.
LAMB: One of the things I underlined in Federalist number 10 is `So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and to excite their most violent conflict.'
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Nice comment, yeah. I sometimes--I'll ask the students if they can think of any examples, and I offer one from one place or another. For example, in "Gulliver's Travels," the fight between Lilliput and Blefuscu as to whether you should open an egg at the big end or the small end.
LAMB: Another in here, and we get this constantly on our call-in shows, have for 21 years. It says here ‘the two great points of difference between a democracy and a republic are, first, the delegation of the government in the latter to a small number of citizens elected by the rest. Secondly, the greater number of citizens and greater sphere of the country over which the latter may be extended.’ And I know that's complicated but...
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Yeah.
LAMB: ...the republic and the democracy, when you read this, are we a republic or are we a democracy?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Well, since we rule through representatives, we're a republic, according to Madison. That, incidentally, for me is an indication that if we didn't know that--from--for other reasons that Madison wrote Federalist Number 10, we would know that Number 10 was his, because Hamilton did not accept that distinction between a democracy and a republic. So for Madison, a democracy was direct rule by the people, in the Athenian assembly, and a republic was indirect rule, through a congress. In a New York convention, Hamilton called the Constitution a `representative democracy.' That is to say, my own surmise to this is that Hamilton did not think that representation changed the character of popular rule very much, where Madison thought it changed it, perhaps, in a decisive way. And, therefore, for Hamilton, other means were needed to temper the wayward passions of democracy.
LAMB: What was the relationship between Madison, Hamilton and Jay?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: They're all on good--Hamilton and Jay were on rather close terms. They were fellow New Yorkers, they were allies in New York politics and their thinking was very close. Hamilton and Madison cooperated in the art--under the Articles of Confederation and the Continental Congress on various projects. They got together to propose a constitutional convention at the Annapolis meeting a year prior, but they were not close. They got close for a period of time, say during the writing of the Federalist. I mentioned here, I went back through their letters to see what their salutations and their closings were. And as they--as the collaboration proceeded, they dropped the formal closings, `your obedient servant,' to `yours truly,' and then `affectionately yours,' and then simply `affectionately.' So there is a period of time when they felt the closeness through their collaboration. And that's before they pulled apart.
LAMB: Let me ask you this. In this--as you said earlier, Alexander Hamilton may have only been 30 years old, but in here, he makes the case to be an executive, to be the magistrate, to be the president of the United States, you've got to be 35, because you're not--until you're 35, you're not wise enough and haven't had enough experience and all that. And he was only 30 when he said that. Why is he so wise when he's 30 to be able to tell us that you had to be 35 to be president?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Well, some get it early. Some don't, I suppose, and most don't. That is from my--and, of course, he didn't write--I should add he didn't write the provision, though I know--I don't know that he ever criticized the provision. You know, that was developed in the...
LAMB: The convention.
PROF. SCIGLIANO: ...in the convention. And he--so far as I know, Hamilton never thought of himself as presidential timber. Jefferson suspected that he had presidential ambitions but you get not a glint of it from Hamilton's writings or his actions.
LAMB: How much of this is out of date in the year 2000?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Not much. That is, there is a kind of--there's a certain hard-headedness in "The Federalist," with regard to human moral motives. The passage from 51 that you read indicates that. Hamilton really, to make the point even more strongly--to hit the reader, says `Must remember, men are ambitious, vindictive and rapacious.' You might have said I've overdone it some but still there's a hard-headedness that has to be taken into account. Let's not get carried away.
LAMB: And what are your stu...
PROF. SCIGLIANO: And you still find that among a bunch of Americans.
LAMB: What are your students--what are their--what's their reaction? How old are they when they're in your class?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Well, anything from juniors and seniors and grad students.
LAMB: So you're talking about 20 years old.
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Or older.
LAMB: Or a little older.
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Yeah, a little older.
LAMB: But here they are, reading this Federalist and the men 200 years ago that wrote this said that men are evil, that they are money grubbers, that they are stock robbers.
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Yeah. Well, they may be. I suppose—you know, Ronald Reagan's pet--one of his pet phrases resonates with the framers. `Trust but verify.' And the framers--and that argument does--that idea appears in The Federalist. Yes, let's not overdo it. There is virtue in human nature. We take that into account. But we can't put our full reliance upon virtue. Virtue must be armed. It must be supported by providing for self-interest. For example, if you want the president to do his job against Congress and not just say the heck with it, you have to give him a motive for facing up to Congress. Give him a long enough term of office so that he'll be willing to defend his turf. Give him a six-month term, as some of the state governors did, he won't be concerned with braving it against Congress.
LAMB: Back to Federalist 10 for a moment.
PROF. SCIGLIANO: OK.
LAMB: This paragraph near the end: `A rage for paper money for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property or for any improper or wicked project will be less apt to pervade the whole body of the union than a particular member of it in the same proportion as such a malady is more likely to taint a particular county or district than an entire state.'
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Right. That's an interesting argument of Madison's. That is--the states are less mindful of your rights than the national government will be. And...
LAMB: Do you agree with that?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: No.
LAMB: In...
PROF. SCIGLIANO: If I have to answer, yes--yes, there's a fair amount of truth in it, but not entirely.
LAMB: And when--who's your favorite of the three? Whose arguments do you like the most?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Hamilton.
LAMB: Why?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: That's, again, a nice question. Oh, partly Madison loses out in a way that makes him a favorite. I think of ... Hamilton on one side and Jefferson on the other. Their positions are more sort of clear-cut, boldly edged, where Madison weaves a position, a moderate position sort of in between. But why him? There's a clear understanding of the need of executive power in Hamilton. And clearer than Madison had. That is, that this society could only be held together by an energetic government and that meant an energetic executive. And he--and he spells that out in Federalist Numbers 70 through 74. There's something--well, his desire for--he had a desire for fame, but it was of the noblest kind. On the great issues that separated, when Hamilton and Madison fought, I generally take Hamilton's position. The need for implied powers of government, that is some flexibility in the powers of government. He was not a strict constructionist, as Jefferson was. And again, Madison wove a position somewhere in between--the need for a national bank, a need to consolidate the state debts and make them a national debt.
LAMB: What would Alexander Hamilton be politically if he were here today, in our society right now?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Oh, probably a Republican. But since I voted for Clinton in 1996, and I'm a Hamiltonian, perhaps the issue is not precise. Because he also believed in prudence, in making a prudent judgment. And for a person who made the wealth of his country--there's an interesting story. When Talleyrand was in the United States his exile, he said, `I looked in one night and there is the man working away at his law—law business, the man who made the fortune of America, working to keep his family fed.' He himself was not interested in amassing a fortune. In fact, when he was a younger man, he wrote to his wife to warn her that property enters too little into his calculations.
LAMB: As long as you brought it up, '96, how'd you vote in 2000?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Huh?
LAMB: How'd you vote in 2000?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: I'll pass on that.
LAMB: The reason I ask you is because The Federalist 68.
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Oh, I don't want to be--I'll be Hamiltonian on that. Hamiltonian was sometimes indiscrete. I voted—finally voted for Bush in the year 2000.
LAMB: What was the change--why did you change from Clinton to Bush?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: As I looked at--well, as I said it was closely balanced. Clinton, I thought, had talents and ability and accomplishments that I didn't expect to find in Gore, not as much. Clinton had done, I thought, a public service in bringing the Democratic Party, especially the left wing of the Democratic Party, towards the center and moderating it. You find that moderation still in Gore, and yet there's a kind of a harshness of language used in the campaign by Gore in some issues that I did not like.
LAMB: Do you find that because you are so steeped in this stuff and think it through so much that it's harder or easier for you to decide on who you're going to vote for?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: I don't--it may be harder, as I weigh the balance. That is, as I work myself around Hamilton, Madison, Jefferson, for example, I'll try to get inside each person and see his arguments and pay attention to the arguments. So that gives one pause. Even with regard to Jefferson, who in some ways I like the least of the three, while paying him great testimony...
LAMB: What do you say to folks that may have stayed with this interview just because they thought they would learn something, who are sitting there saying, `Why do I care about Madison and Hamilton and Jefferson and Jay and the Federalist papers?' I mean, you know, some of this stuff you can't even understand. Why does it matter today?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Well, so much of it still is relevant today. Or even see the choices that they make. They make their--they make their arguments with a clarity and with a profundity that are fair--you do not often encounter, say, in political debates today. And that's why thoughtful politicians will go back to the Federalist and other founding documents. If I can give you one example. There was a great controversy over the extent of the president's power in foreign affairs and in--regarding the use of the armed forces--especially it became very prominent in the late 1960s and the 1970s. The best arguments--opposing arguments were made by Hamilton and Madison after the Federalist newspaper essays that they wrote. So you learn something from reading their arguments. They were thoughtful.
LAMB: How much credence are they given in either court cases and court opinions? Are they often referred to? And where are--in your experience, where are the Federalist papers used the most in your discussion in this society today?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: You cert--me--perhaps in court cases, because they are frequently cited by the Supreme Court, and by other courts as support, particularly the arguments on federalism, arguments made on separation of powers and checks--checks and balances.
LAMB: Federalist 68...
PROF. SCIGLIANO: And don't forget judicial re--I should not overlook judicial review. The basic argument for judicial review is found in Federalist Number 78.
LAMB: Is this where John Marshall got his...
PROF. SCIGLIANO: That's where John Marshall got his.
LAMB: ...idea?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: You know, there's a statement. A story says that Marshall--I think Marshall had told him that besides Hamilton, he and Livingston, the chancellor of New York, were school fellows. That is that Hamilton was their teacher.
LAMB: I started to ask about Federalist 68 because that popped up a lot during the recent Florida recount story.
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Yeah.
LAMB: I can read it--part of it here. It's by Alexander Hamilton. `It was equally desirable that the immediate elections should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice.' Here's one more sentence. `A small number of persons selected by their fellow citizens from the general mass will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to so complicated an investigation. These are the electors.'
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Yeah.
LAMB: It also is interesting in that chapter and that paper that it--they clearly didn't think the masses could make decisions then, did they?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Well, the electors would be to the voters as the US Representatives are to the voters. They would be guided by the voters when the voters, you know, had a strong view, though they were not bound the voters. But let me add something to that. Hamilton makes more of the matter of discretion than other members of the Constitutional Convention did. That was not an important consideration in setting up the Electoral College in the other convention. It was--was for Hamilton and it was for some others. And almost immediately, the idea of the discretionary elector went by the boards. There was one--one elector in 1796 in Pennsylvania who did not cast his vote for John Adams even though he was a Federalist elector, and Madison said, `What's he doing? He wasn't chosen to think, he was chosen to vote.'
LAMB: But this line I wanted to ask your reaction to...
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Yeah.
LAMB: ...based on what we've just been through. `The process of election affords a moral certainty that the office of president will seldom fall to the lot of any man who is not in an imminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.' All because of the electors?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Oh, no. Not because of--there's another part of the argument. It was made more in the Constitutional Convention in favor--a direct election of the president, because there were a lot of delegates who wanted a direct election. The people can see, and the people can judge the characters for the presidency, much better than Congress. The alternative was congressional selection. Congressional selection would turn out a poor executive, because of congressional cabals, Congress would want to elevate a pre-eminent person, whereas the people could make that judgment.
LAMB: Oh, and in 68, this line, too. `Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue and corruption.'
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Yeah.
LAMB: Again--once again, corruption, corruption.
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Yeah. That--oh, yes.
LAMB: What do you think these three men would think today? They come back and look at what's happened in the last 200 years.
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Well, if they looked--well, they would say that the system has worked pretty well, that it is very hard to corrupt the electors, because they're only elected for that purpose. They cannot hold any other federal office. They cast their votes and they're gone. And they were especially concerned with foreign policy, because as they looked at the--at elections, let's say, in Poland, they saw options for foreign corruption. Indeed, actual foreign corruption in choices made.
LAMB: You're from where originally?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: From Boston.
LAMB: So your whole life you've been in Boston?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: No. Most of my life, I've probably--I've been away. I left Boston when I was 17, when I joined the Navy. And I got out and went to college on the West Coast. Finished up in the Midwest...
LAMB: Where?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: I went to a junior college, Compton College, and then UCLA for my BA and MA. And then the University of Chicago for the PhD. And then I taught in the Midwest at Michigan State and at SUNY-Buffalo before returning to Boston.
LAMB: Why did you get into this business in the first place?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: It--I don't--well, it went this way, Mr. Lamb. I get out of the Navy. I didn't have--I had not graduated from high school. I quit to join the Navy. And I had a voracious appetite by the time I got out, which I did not have four years earlier. And so I just went through practically to the end, and almost as though they said, `Now you can go no further. You've got a PhD. Go and teach.' Now I decided when I got to the PhD level that, indeed, this would be the next step in my life. So in a sense I never left the academy.
LAMB: We've talked a lot here about the University of Chicago over the years. Was Leo Strauss there when you were there?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Yes, he was.
LAMB: Did he teach you?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Yes, he did.
LAMB: Are you a Straussean?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: In a--to the extent that I understand, yeah. He was one of the two best--my two best teachers. The other was Herman Pritchett, who taught constitutional law. And I did my dissertation with Herman Pritchett. But, they were the two--in quite different ways, the two most stimulating teachers in the department of political science in Chicago when I was there.
LAMB: Why do you teach? What is it that motivates you to do this, stand in that classroom and talk to those young folks?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Some students-- make them think. Touch--perhaps touch souls, and you can touch souls in different ways. That is, it's the closest thing to being in a priesthood perhaps, but in a--at a somewhat different--but somewhat you have a certain responsibility when you teach, too. There's something tremendously satisfying in that.
LAMB: Do you lecture or do they--you open it up to questions?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: I open it up to questions, and sometimes I base it largely on discussions. For example, when I teach "The Federalist," after we--after they get their feet wet a little bit, I'll have them make summaries of the essays and then we use that as a basis of discussion.
LAMB: What do you mean by summaries? How? How?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: I tell them, `Well, you read Federalist Number 10. See if you understand the argument. Lay out the main points of Federalist Number 10. Problem of factions. What is a faction? Ways of curing factions, eliminating causes, controlling,' in fact, just to see if they get it. And I might say that may also be an influence in the courses I took with Strauss. And that is to take serious arguments seriously. And I try to transmit that in my teaching to my students. To learn--to teach them to read. And also I teach myself to read. I'm constantly surprised that--at things that I have not seen before when I reread them, either because I glossed over them or I thought that I knew them.
LAMB: Where did you do your work on the--the editing of these papers? Where--what physical location?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: A fair amount of it up in Maine. I was on sabbatical last fall. And I was back up there last summer. We have a place in Maine.
LAMB: Where do you go in Maine?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: On the coast. It's a lobster port called Spruce Head.
LAMB: You work better there than you do in Boston?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Probably. Yeah. I do--I do my work better there because I'm more isolated. I don't have the distractions of that wonderful city by me. I qualify that somewhat, because there are things that I want. And so every so often, I make a safari down to Boston in order to get more books and check documents.
LAMB: How many books have you written in your life?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Book two, I think--about four.
LAMB: And what kind of books are they?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Well, it's somewhat different. My first thing was on the Michigan Legislature. I did something on the Michigan institution in the context of separation of powers. It's called the "One-Man Grand Jury." I did a reader on the judicial process. That would not count. I did a monograph with Harvey Mansfield on representation in the founding--the theory. He handled the theory, I handled the founding. A book on South Vietnam and a monograph on South Vietnam and a book on the Supreme Court and the presidency. I'm not sure what that adds up to.
LAMB: Are you going to do more?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Yes. I've got a book about halfway through on citizens and aliens in American society, ranging from the founding up to the present time. A new kind of citizenship, a modern, a liberal citizenship.
LAMB: This Modern Library version of "The Federalist" sells for $25. If--it's hard back. If someone has never read them, the papers, and they don't have you to guide them in the classroom, how do you recommend that they go about this?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Take a good course, or patiently read them. I was going to--my--I thought of making my introduction a kind of an explanation of the Federalist papers. I didn't for two reasons. For one thing, I thought that I had to take up the question of authorship because the earlier edition had its description of authorship and I just couldn't ignore that, so I dealt with that. But also, I tell my students, don't read introductions. Because you read introductions and a lot of them are bad or they'll give you a wrong understanding. Or even if they give you the correct understanding, you won't read the essays. You depend upon what somebody else has told you. Now this is in the context of my teaching material. How a student does it by himself? By a lot of hard work.
LAMB: Are there Cliff Notes for "The Federalist"?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: There are. I looked at them once, but so long ago, I don't remember them.
LAMB: Why were each of these...
PROF. SCIGLIANO: They might help.
LAMB: ....these Federalist papers signed `Publius'?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: It was common practice then not to use one's own name. My own belief is, writing for the newspapers was not quite proper. Only later did political people sign their name. Publius itself was chosen because he was the defender of the Roman republic, the one who helped establish the republic. And that was done for a political reason, because there were charges by the anti-Federalists that the Constitution was aristocratical or a maniacal document. And Hamilton said, `No, Publius the author is the defender of a republic.'
LAMB: Do you know whether these three men were paid to write these articles?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Oh, no, no.
LAMB: And did the newspapers that published them have a commitment to the Constitution?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Not necessarily. Because one of the newspapers stopped reprinting them because, oh, about 27 of its subscribers wrote and said, `Why are you wasting all this time on that stuff?'
LAMB: And they stopped publishing?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: And they stopped. Probably afraid of losing their subscribers.
LAMB: Are any of the newspapers on file at the Library of Congress or at any other...
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Yes.
LAMB: Have you seen them yourself?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: I have seen reproductions of some of the essays. But I've not seen them, no.
LAMB: Where in the newspaper did they put them?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: That's a good question.
LAMB: You don't know whether it was on the front page or inside?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: I--my guess--my assumption is--well, it's really a guess, on the first page. But I don't know.
LAMB: Now as you list them here, one through 85 and you said the last--What?--seven were not published in the papers or...
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Were initially published in book form.
LAMB: Were these published just like this, chronologically, one, two, three, four, five?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: There was one paper switched around and put in a more logical position. And then-- and one paper was cut in two, because of it’s over length.
LAMB: And...
PROF. SCIGLIANO: But other than that, they appear in their chronological form.
LAMB: And how is it blocked off in the--you know, of the 85, what are the major categories that they wrote about? Like the executive, I know, is one of them. And the House is one and the Senate's another one. What are some of the other ways that they...
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Yeah. Well, if you--I tried to make the table of contents clear so that a reader could almost--could tell the organization there. So if you look, you see that. The--it's the structure of the government, generally separation of powers and checks and balances, and then the--Publius goes into each of the branches of government, the House of Representatives, the Senate, the president and the judiciary.
LAMB: Here we can see...
PROF. SCIGLIANO: And that constitutes the largest number of them.
LAMB: Which one of all the 85 do you find in class the students like the least? And why?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: It would be easier for me to turn that around and say which ones they seem to like the most. I think they like Number 1. It's the kickoff to the rest. Interesting things in there. Certainly Number 10, Madison's famous argument. Federalist Number 15 is interesting because it ends up with the nucleus of the Monroe Doctrine, that we can become the mistress in the new world. The ones on separation of power, and checks and balances, 47 through 51; 62 and 63 on the Senate and why you need a Senate as a restraint on the House of Representatives. You learn about--a lot about the House in reading about the Senate. And then the great argument of Hamilton's on executive energy, Number 70. And then the one, the difficult essay, but a rewarding essay, Federalist 78, on the role of the judiciary and judicial review.
LAMB: Were there articles written at the same time that answered these?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Yes.
LAMB: Who did them?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Well, various anti-Federalists. The two most prominent of the opponents--at least the ones that come to my mind--were the Federal Farmer and Cato. In fact, I think Cato started writing before Publius got into the fray.
LAMB: And were there names--do we know who wrote them?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: There's some dispute as to whether Cato was Governor Clinton of New York. Some people thought, I think, that he was. And it was thought that the Federal Farmer was one of the Lees of Virginia.
LAMB: Who's on the cover there?
PROF. SCIGLIANO: Oh, that's the Constitutional Convention. That looks like Washington standing up front. That was one part of the book that I had nothing to do with. But I'm pleased with it. It's a painting of the members of the Convention. And is that Franklin sitting prominently in the front?
LAMB: Right in the middle there. Our guest has been Robert Scigliano, professor of Boston College. And the cover you're looking at is the newest version of "The Federalist" put out by the Modern Library. Thank you very much for joining
PROF. SCIGLIANO: My pleasure.
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