The Federalist Papers Explain U.S. Constitution

Title page of the first printing of the Federalist Papers.

Title page of the first printing of the Federalist Papers.

I want to introduce myself and my qualifications to write about the U.S. Constitution to American Clarion readers.  When I use quotes from The Federalist Papers to explain constitutional issues, I want readers to feel confident that I thoroughly understand the subject.  Although I have several college degrees and a bunch of famous ancestors, neither makes me qualified to discuss the U.S. Constitution.  My qualification is the result of studying The Federalist Papers for nearly 20 years.

I was a teenager, 50 years ago, when I first discovered that some people were systematically destroying the very foundation of our nation—the foundation that led to the most innovations and prosperity the world has ever seen.  At the time, I didn’t realize that the “foundation” they were destroying was the U.S. Constitution.  Now I know that a war against the Constitution began immediately after the Constitution was ratified.  And it will continue until the republic of the United States loses.  We, the defenders of the Constitution, will never be able to declare full victory.  But every battle we win postpones the inevitable and ultimate destructiveness of tyranny.

In the fall, 1994, I returned to the questions I’d pondered 30 years earlier.  And I decided to find out what the U.S. Constitution meant to the people who ratified it.   I didn’t want to know about 200 years of constitutional interpretation. Common sense told me that human error, greed, and love of power would have influenced and swayed constitutional interpretation throughout the years.   I wanted to know what it meant to the people who ratified it!  When they ratified the Constitution, they were standing in for me and all the generations of United States citizens who followed them.

Ted Cruz 2016


Although I’d heard of The Federalist Papers, I had no idea what they were.  I picked up the book and started reading the introduction, which explained that the Papers were written following the Constitutional Convention.  They were published in New York newspapers in the fall and spring, 1787-88.  They explained the new Constitution and encouraged New York to ratify it.   I had discovered the book with the answers to my questions about the United States Constitution!

As I read the first paragraph of Paper Number 1, felt the author reaching through time, grabbing me, and telling me that I had found the most important work of my life:

“You are asked to study and consider adopting a new Constitution for the United States of America to replace the current, ineffective federal government.  This is a very important decision.  Our country’s existence depends on it.  So does the safety and welfare of its people, communities, and States.  We will decide the fate of a nation that is, in many respects, the most interesting in the world.  The people of this country will decide important questions:  Can societies establish a good government by careful thought and choice?  Or are people destined to be governed only by accident and force?  The answers depend on our response to the current crisis.  And the wrong decision will be unfortunate for all of mankind.”*

Ever since that day in December 1994, I’ve been studying and sharing the concepts within The Federalist Papers.  Everything that I know about the United States Constitution, I learned from The Federalist Papers.  I don’t read other interpretations or opinions.  I try to only share the arguments left by the authors of the Papers.

My first translation of The Federalist Papers was published in 1999.  For me, the word “translation” is a technical term and involves a specific, learned skill set.  I studied translating and graduated from St. Paul College.  If not done with the highest professionalism, translations can go horribly wrong, as shown in this short video:

However, I am a trained translator.  And I had scholars check my translation with the original text to make sure that I did not deviate from the authors’ original intent.  The Papers, themselves, talk about how language can be an obstacle to understanding the meaning of a message.  It is almost like the author knew that the specious argument that the “original text” of The Federalist Papers must be studied, not a translation, would arise.   Federalist Paper #37 says:

“Humans use words to express ideas.  Clear expression requires well-formed ideas and the appropriate words.  But no language has words and phrases for every complex idea.  And many words have several meanings.  Therefore, the definition of even a precise subject can be inaccurate because words are inaccurate.  This unavoidable inaccuracy grows worse as the subject becomes more complex or novel.

“When God himself talks to mankind in our language, his meaning–brilliant as it must be–is made dim and doubtful by the cloudy medium through which it is communicated.  There are three sources of vague and incorrect definitions: (1) indistinctness of the subject, (2) the brain’s imperfections, and (3) the language’s inadequacies…” [10-11]*

I am looking forward to sharing what I’ve learned from The Federalist Papers with a new audience.

*Webster, The Federalist Papers: Modern English Edition Two, 2008.

This article is printed with the permission of the author(s). Opinions expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the article’s author(s), or of the person(s) or organization(s) quoted therein, and do not necessarily represent those of American Clarion or Dakota Voice LLC.

Comment Rules: Please confine comments to salient ones that add to the topic; Profanity is not allowed and will be deleted; Spam, copied statements and other material not comprised of the reader’s own opinion will be deleted.

Similar Posts:

Mary E. Webster is a descendant of Noah and Daniel Webster, and traces her ancestry back to the Mayflower. She is a graduate of the University of Iowa, College of Business. She has worked as a writer for the Media Research Center, and has authored several books including "The Federalist Papers: In Modern Language."
Mary Webster
View all articles by Mary Webster
Leave a comment with your Facebook login
  • SDJammer

    This is exactly the type of educational material that I personally think will be beneficial for us. Our educational system has deprived several generations of Americans of a true understanding of our Constitution. I look forward to her articles, but I do hope she keeps it as simple as possible as I am not necessarily smarter than a fifth grader when it comes to much of this material.

    Great job by the American Clarion in bringing this resource to us.