What makes America truly exceptional?
Few understand that America's Constitution was created during a time of relative peace, and through the thoughtful deliberation of men dedicated to the establishment of a Republic that would provide security and liberty for its citizens. This itself is rather unique in history.
Having met for the purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation (the original document that bound the 13 colonies / states together during and after the successful Revolution, these patriots soon agreed that an entire NEW document was needed to establish our democratic republic. After laboring through a long, hot summer in Philadelphia, they produced the Constitution of the United States of America as a complete replacement for the Articles of Confederation.
Provisions in the Constitution required ratification by the states. While a majority of states quickly ratified the document, the State of New York suffered political factions strongly opposed to this document, making ratification by New York very much in doubt.
Under the pen name of "Publius," John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison wrote a series of short essays addressing the arguments against the adoption of the new Constitution and their rationale in its favor. These essays were published in a number of New York newspapers and other publications, and are commonly known as "The Federalist Papers," or simply, "The Federalist."
Where the original documents are written in the convoluted, difficult to understand 18th century English, these (arguably the most important) essays have been "translated" into modern day American English, and are thus easy to read and understand.
I believe that a reading of these essays is essential to the understanding of the original intent and purpose of the system of government contained in our Constitution. I also believe that after reading these essays, that average American will question the wisdom of many of the amendments to the Constitution, as well as a number of important Supreme Court decisions.
If it were in my power, I would require that one entire semester in high school would be spent on studying the three, founding documents; The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and the Federalist.
This book would be an excellent textbook for this course.
I have read other "Translations" of the Federalist, and can attest to the fact that this book closely parallels the other interpretations, is laid out in a more logical sequence, and includes principles and guides to thinking that are extremely useful to the application of this book to today's issues.
I highly recommend it.... and, again, if I had the power, would require the study of this book as a prerequisite to voting in any election.
The Original Argument: The Federalists' Case for the Constitution, Adapted for the 21st Century