A nation is defined and sustained by its history, core principles, and traditions. Failure to share that heritage with each new generation means it will be lost and posterity will be cast adrift. Many have observed, on these pages (The Price of Ignorance) and elsewhere, that public education no longer coveys these essentials. That duty falls now to parents and everyone else who has some appreciation and understanding of that history. In order to make the right choices at the ballot box, knowledge of the Constitution and the protections it affords is required. Without that knowledge, how do we vet our candidates or judge those currently holding office?
The Federalist Papers are a primer for understanding the Constitution and the remarkable men whose wisdom and foresight made the American experiment a reality. However, reading the Federalist Papers can be somewhat daunting. People today just don’t speak the same way as did the great thinkers Hamilton, Madison, and Jay. Nor do most of us have the classical grounding they had.
In an effort to expand my own comprehension and encourage others, I decided to share my efforts to distill 18th century context, vocabulary, and prose in 21st Century terms. This is a bold undertaking that I don’t approach lightly. I hope other readers of the Federalist Papers will contribute and offer suggestions or corrections. I don’t claim to be in the same exalted company as the original writers. Please accept this effort in the spirit in which it is offered – as a response to many conversations with friends who relayed the difficulty they experienced in parsing the original language.
Periodically, I will publish one of these efforts under the Federalist category. Stay tuned.