« PreviousContinue »
errors, Hamilton's authority is shown to be six times as good as that of Madison. But this is not all. In 1807 the Benson list, or one just like it, was published, and in 1810 came the edition of Hamilton's works, which gave four numbers to Jay, fourteen to Madison, and all the rest to Hamilton. Yet it was not until 1817 that the authority of these assignments was publicly disputed for the first time. Over ten years elapsed after the publication in the Portfolio before Madison contradicted Hamilton's list, which is a very serious matter if we again apply the rules of evidence. The excuse that it would not have been becoming in the President to have entered upon a literary controversy will not do, for the publication in the Portfolio preceded Madison's elevation to the presidency by nearly eighteen months, and there was certainly no reason why a Secretary of State should not defend his copyright. There is still another point which tells against Madison. In a letter to J. K. Paulding, written in 1831,* as well as in an unpublished memorandum † quoted by J. C. Hamilton in the introduction to his edition of the "Federalist," Madison argues from internal evidence that he was the author of certain of the disputed papers. This would not have been done probably by a man who had no doubt in his own mind as to the essays, and it certainly would not be the course of any one who had contemporary memoranda to guide and assure him. Madison's argument from internal evidence makes it clear that he compiled his list from memory. There is no direct evidence that Hamilton did the same, except from his error in regard to Jay's number on the treaty power. The probabilities, however, are strong that he also wrote his lists from memory, and all the lists, therefore, stand on the same footing in this respect.
* Writings of Madison, IV., 176.
† A careful search for this memorandum, which Mr. J. C. Hamilton alleges, in his edition of the "Federalist" (p. C), to have been in the State Department, has failed to reveal it. This is entirely unimportant, however, as the memorandum merely differs verbally from the argument in the letter to Paulding, which is of unquestioned authenticity.
The arguments from internal evidence on both sides, whether by Madison or others, seem to be for the most part worthless. One, for example, is that No. 49 speaks in terms of praise of Jefferson, and therefore could only have proceeded from Madison. But the essays were written in 1788, and in 1788 Hamilton knew Jefferson simply as a revolutionary leader, who was respected by all men, and had never had any political quarrel with him. Moreover, the essay, after quoting Jefferson and praising him, goes on to refute his doctrine as to the point in question. It is also said that 49 continues 48, and must therefore be by the same hand. But this argument fails if we examine the undoubted numbers. No. 9, for instance, is on "the utility of the Union as a safeguard against domestic faction and insurrection," while No. 10 is "the same subject continued," and No. 9 is by Hamilton and No. 10 by Madison. As to the historical examples cited in the essays, Madison and Hamilton used the same illustrations and drew from the same sources, as may be seen from the notes and briefs of their speeches. The differences in style are never sufficiently marked to lead to any safe conclusions.
This much, as has already been said, may be asserted with confidence: that Hamilton and Madison both relied upon their memories. We have therefore certain conflicting lists of the highest authority, and if we go merely upon the documentary evidence tried by the ordinary rules of historic evidence, the balance inclines very strongly in favor of Hamilton. The proportion of admitted errors, the ten years without contradiction, and Madison's arguments from internal evidence all tend to show in the strongest way that Hamilton's memory was decidedly the more accurate. But if we go beyond the direct documentary evidence, the case is not quite so clear. The best Hamilton list, that given to Benson, was written in haste and at a most agitating moment. It contains one acknowledged slip of the pen which gives 54 instead of 64 to Jay. As an ingenious writer in the Historical Magazine (vol. 8, 306) suggests, " 37 to 48 in
clusive by M." may have been another slip for "37 to 58 inclusive, by M." The essays from 49 to 58 inclusive, all deal with the same general subject of the popular element in the Constitution, including representation in the lower House, and on their face they certainly seem to be from the same pen. Madison, in the letter to Paulding just quoted, says that Hamilton's errors were due, of course, to haste and a lapse of memory, but if he himself was accused of errors they could only be attributed to a want of veracity. This is true to the extent that Madison gave time and thought to his assignment and contradicted Hamilton deliberately. Yet he, too, wrote from memory, and in four lists he made twelve errors, which were certainly owing to forgetfulness and not to untruthfulness.
The theory of the writer in the Historical Magazine provides very comfortably for the ten numbers from 49 to 58 inclusive, but it breaks down utterly as to 62 and 63, the remaining two of the twelve in dispute. As to these two I have very little doubt. I think they both belong to Hamilton. They follow three undoubted Hamilton numbers, and they treat of the Senate, a subject on which Hamilton made a most elaborate speech in the New York convention, and the general line of thought and argument is the same in both cases. It was, too, a topic to which Hamilton had given particular attention, and this may have been the reason that he fell into an error as to number 64, which is concerned with the treaty-making power of the Senate. As to every doubtful number outside of the ten from 49-58, Madison was in error, and this seems to me to be fatally against him as to 62 and 63.
In regard to the disputed ten, I have been able to come to no confident conclusion. Before I knew of the Washington list, and before I had discovered a curious addition to No. 56 in the edition of 1802, I felt that the probabilities were in favor of Madison, and I was inclined to assign those numbers to him, although not so confidently as in giving 62 and 63 to Hamilton.
The Washington list, both from its date and the character of its author, seems to me to tell very strongly against Madison. The other point to which I have just alluded in regard to number 56, has never been noticed before, so far as I am aware. When the edition of 1802 was in preparation, Hamilton was asked to revise it, but declared, in the strongest terms, that the "Federalist" must be printed as it was written, and he also insisted that full credit should be given to Mr. Jay and Mr. Madison in the preface for the excellence of their work. The edition was revised, unquestionably, I think, as Mr. Dawson has shown, by William Coleman, the editor of the New York Evening Post. Many changes were made, but, with one exception, they were utterly unimportant, effected no improvement, and were nearly all purely verbal. In number 56, however, in treating of the regulation of the militia, a sentence is inserted, as may be seen by referring to that number in this edition, which relates to the need of local knowledge in dealing with such troops. This sentence is a bit of military criticism, and could hardly have been written by any but a military man, for it would not have occurred to a civilian. It is very unlikely indeed that it would have occurred to Coleman, and he certainly would not have inserted it without Hamilton's approbation. On the other hand, there is little doubt that the proof-sheets of this edition were seen by Hamilton, and the sentence in question is very characteristic of Hamilton and of his mode of thought. He was rigidly scrupulous as to changes in the "Federalist," and was extremely particular as to the work of his fellow-writers. Hopkins, the publisher of the edition of 1802, wrote to Mr. J. C. Hamilton that the most scrupulous delicacy was observed in regard to the essays of Madison and Jay, and that a portion of the work was reprinted because a single favorite word of Madison had been changed in one passage. It is therefore in the highest degree improbable that Hamilton would have added such an important sentence himself, or permitted any one else to add it, to an essay which he did not know to be
his own. The insertion of this sentence, therefore, points very strongly to the conclusion that Hamilton, in 1802, considered number 56 his own, not in a moment of agitation and hurry, but when coolly examining proof-sheets. If this was his opinion at that time and under such circumstances as to number 56, it is difficult to believe either that he was mistaken as to that number or as to the other twelve in dispute. At the same time, the Washington list and the sentence in number 56 are not, of course, conclusive, and while these two bits of evidence have almost removed my inclination to believe in Madison's authorship of the disputed numbers, I am not even yet completely satisfied that they are not his work.
The outcome of it all is that the evidence in regard to the twelve disputed numbers is so conflicting that, although the balance is strongly in Hamilton's favor, the best which can be done is to present the plain facts and all the arguments as simply and clearly as possible, and then leave every one to draw their conclusions to suit themselves. No one is entitled to assign the disputed numbers to either Hamilton or Madison with absolute confidence. They were surely written by one or the other, and with that unsatisfactory certainty we must fain be content.
66 BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THE FEDERALIST."
Protracted and minute search, supplemented by widespread advertisements, and by the obliging aid of many kind correspondents, has enabled me to add only two editions to the list of editions of the "Federalist" already given by Mr. Dawson. In a few instances where Mr. Dawson was able to speak of an edition only from hearsay, I have succeeded in finding a copy and in obtaining a full description of it. This, however, is all, and the bibliography of the "Federalist" which follows is in the main that of Mr. Dawson's edition of 1863, to which the reader may be referred for