The Federalist Papers, No. 1 by Alexander Hamilton

The collection of essays known as The Federalist Papers was written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay between 1787 and 1788, under the pseudonym Publius. The writers' main objective was to garner support for the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Federalist No. 1 by Hamilton is both an introduction to and a blueprint for the collection. In this essay, Hamilton considers whether society is capable of forming a just government based on rational choice. Read the full text here.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. unequivocal
    admitting of no doubt or misunderstanding
    After an unequivocal experience of the inefficiency of the subsisting federal government, you are called upon to deliberate on a new Constitution for the United States of America.
  2. propriety
    correct behavior
    If there be any truth in the remark, the crisis at which we are arrived may with propriety be regarded as the era in which that decision is to be made; and a wrong election of the part we shall act may, in this view, deserve to be considered as the general misfortune of mankind.
  3. inducement
    a positive motivational influence
    This idea will add the inducements of philanthropy to those of patriotism, to heighten the solicitude which all considerate and good men must feel for the event.
  4. philanthropy
    the act of donating money or time to promote human welfare
    This idea will add the inducements of philanthropy to those of patriotism, to heighten the solicitude which all considerate and good men must feel for the event.
  5. solicitude
    a feeling of excessive concern
    This idea will add the inducements of philanthropy to those of patriotism, to heighten the solicitude which all considerate and good men must feel for the event.
  6. ardent
    characterized by strong enthusiasm
    But this is a thing more ardently to be wished than seriously to be expected.
  7. deliberation
    (usually plural) discussion of all sides of a question
    The plan offered to our deliberations affects too many particular interests, innovates upon too many local institutions, not to involve in its discussion a variety of objects foreign to its merits, and of views, passions and prejudices little favorable to the discovery of truth.
  8. formidable
    extremely impressive in strength or excellence
    Among the most formidable of the obstacles which the new Constitution will have to encounter may readily be distinguished the obvious interest of a certain class of men in every State to resist all changes which may hazard a diminution of the power, emolument, and consequence of the offices they hold under the State establishments...
  9. emolument
    compensation received by virtue of holding an office
    Among the most formidable of the obstacles which the new Constitution will have to encounter may readily be distinguished the obvious interest of a certain class of men in every State to resist all changes which may hazard a diminution of the power, emolument, and consequence of the offices they hold under the State establishments...
  10. aggrandize
    embellish; increase the scope, power, or importance of
    ...and the perverted ambition of another class of men, who will either hope to aggrandize themselves by the confusions of their country, or will flatter themselves with fairer prospects of elevation from the subdivision of the empire into several partial confederacies than from its union under one government.
  11. confederacy
    a union of political organizations
    ...and the perverted ambition of another class of men, who will either hope to aggrandize themselves by the confusions of their country, or will flatter themselves with fairer prospects of elevation from the subdivision of the empire into several partial confederacies than from its union under one government.
  12. disingenuous
    not straightforward or candid
    I am well aware that it would be disingenuous to resolve indiscriminately the opposition of any set of men (merely because their situations might subject them to suspicion) into interested or ambitious views.
  13. indiscriminate
    failing to make or recognize distinctions
    I am well aware that it would be disingenuous to resolve indiscriminately the opposition of any set of men (merely because their situations might subject them to suspicion) into interested or ambitious views.
  14. candor
    the quality of being honest and straightforward
    Candor will oblige us to admit that even such men may be actuated by upright intentions; and it cannot be doubted that much of the opposition which has made its appearance, or may hereafter make its appearance, will spring from sources, blameless at least, if not respectable—the honest errors of minds led astray by preconceived jealousies and fears.
  15. actuate
    give an incentive for doing something
    Candor will oblige us to admit that even such men may be actuated by upright intentions; and it cannot be doubted that much of the opposition which has made its appearance, or may hereafter make its appearance, will spring from sources, blameless at least, if not respectable—the honest errors of minds led astray by preconceived jealousies and fears.
  16. avarice
    extreme greed for material wealth
    Ambition, avarice, personal animosity, party opposition, and many other motives not more laudable than these, are apt to operate as well upon those who support as those who oppose the right side of a question.
  17. laudable
    worthy of high praise
    Ambition, avarice, personal animosity, party opposition, and many other motives not more laudable than these, are apt to operate as well upon those who support as those who oppose the right side of a question.
  18. proselyte
    a new convert; especially a gentile converted to Judaism
    For in politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution.
  19. heresy
    any opinions at variance with the official position
    For in politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution.
  20. evince
    give expression to
    To judge from the conduct of the opposite parties, we shall be led to conclude that they will mutually hope to evince the justness of their opinions, and to increase the number of their converts by the loudness of their declamations and the bitterness of their invectives.
  21. invective
    abusive language used to express blame or censure
    To judge from the conduct of the opposite parties, we shall be led to conclude that they will mutually hope to evince the justness of their opinions, and to increase the number of their converts by the loudness of their declamations and the bitterness of their invectives.
  22. zeal
    a feeling of strong eagerness
    An enlightened zeal for the energy and efficiency of government will be stigmatized as the offspring of a temper fond of despotic power and hostile to the principles of liberty.
  23. stigmatize
    condemn or openly brand as disgraceful
    An enlightened zeal for the energy and efficiency of government will be stigmatized as the offspring of a temper fond of despotic power and hostile to the principles of liberty.
  24. despotic
    having the characteristics of a tyrannical ruler
    An enlightened zeal for the energy and efficiency of government will be stigmatized as the offspring of a temper fond of despotic power and hostile to the principles of liberty.
  25. scrupulous
    characterized by extreme care and great effort
    An over- scrupulous jealousy of danger to the rights of the people, which is more commonly the fault of the head than of the heart, will be represented as mere pretense and artifice, the stale bait for popularity at the expense of the public good.
  26. pretense
    the act of giving a false appearance
    An over-scrupulous jealousy of danger to the rights of the people, which is more commonly the fault of the head than of the heart, will be represented as mere pretense and artifice, the stale bait for popularity at the expense of the public good.
  27. artifice
    a deceptive maneuver, especially to avoid capture
    An over-scrupulous jealousy of danger to the rights of the people, which is more commonly the fault of the head than of the heart, will be represented as mere pretense and artifice, the stale bait for popularity at the expense of the public good.
  28. concomitant
    an event or situation that happens at the same time
    It will be forgotten, on the one hand, that jealousy is the usual concomitant of love, and that the noble enthusiasm of liberty is apt to be infected with a spirit of narrow and illiberal distrust.
  29. vigor
    forceful exertion
    On the other hand, it will be equally forgotten that the vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty; that, in the contemplation of a sound and well-informed judgment, their interest can never be separated; and that a dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government.
  30. specious
    deceptively pleasing
    On the other hand, it will be equally forgotten that the vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty; that, in the contemplation of a sound and well-informed judgment, their interest can never be separated; and that a dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government.
  31. obsequious
    attentive in an ingratiating or servile manner
    History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.
  32. demagogue
    a leader who seeks support by appealing to popular passions
    History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.
  33. ambiguity
    unclearness by virtue of having more than one meaning
    The consciousness of good intentions disdains ambiguity.
  34. conformity
    correspondence in form, type, or appearance
    I propose, in a series of papers, to discuss the following interesting particulars:
    The utility of the union to your political prosperity
    the insufficiency of the present confederation to preserve that union
    the necessity of a government at least equally energetic with the one proposed, to the attainment of this object
    the conformity of the proposed constitution to the true principles of republican government...
  35. endeavor
    attempt by employing effort
    In the progress of this discussion I shall endeavor to give a satisfactory answer to all the objections which shall have made their appearance, that may seem to have any claim to your attention.
  36. superfluous
    serving no useful purpose; having no excuse for being
    It may perhaps be thought superfluous to offer arguments to prove the utility of the UNION, a point, no doubt, deeply engraved on the hearts of the great body of the people in every State, and one, which it may be imagined, has no adversaries.
  37. propagate
    cause to become widely known
    This doctrine will, in all probability, be gradually propagated, till it has votaries enough to countenance an open avowal of it.
  38. votary
    a devoted adherent of a cause or person or activity
    This doctrine will, in all probability, be gradually propagated, till it has votaries enough to countenance an open avowal of it.
  39. countenance
    consent to, give permission
    This doctrine will, in all probability, be gradually propagated, till it has votaries enough to countenance an open avowal of it.
  40. avowal
    a statement asserting the truth of something
    This doctrine will, in all probability, be gradually propagated, till it has votaries enough to countenance an open avowal of it.
Created on October 2, 2019 (updated October 22, 2019)

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