Monday, December 20, 2021


By Douglas V. Gibbs
Author, Speaker, Instructor, Radio Host

Publius was a pseudonym used by the three writers of The Federalist Papers; James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay.  The Federalist Papers were originally essays and articles submitted to newspapers during the ratification period of the U.S. Constitution.  The collection of 85 essays were written to encourage ratification of the Constitution specifically by the State of New York.  There were fears that the Anti-Federalists were influencing the direction New York was going to go regarding the new Constitution and it was believed that which ever way New York went, the rest of the country would follow.  Hamilton and Jay were both residents of New York at the time, Madison was a resident of Virginia but was in New York at the time as a delegate in the Congress under the Articles of Confederation, and in turn he was recruited to also participate in the essay writing.  

The pseudonym "Publius" was chosen as the collective name for the trio due to its connection to Publius Valerius, who helped found the Roman Republic.  Cato and Cicero were also instrumental as statesmen during the time of the Roman Republic, the former being one of 46 pseudonyms used by various patriots during the Founding Era.  

While the most astute observers recognized the writing styles of the authors, and it was widely believed the authors of the Federalist Essays were Hamilton, Jay and Madison, nobody knew for sure, or to which essay each of those Founding Fathers were attached.  The identities of the authors were not revealed until after Hamilton's death in 1804, after which a list written by Hamilton tying each author to their work was found in his desk.  Madison later released his own list, in which he disputes a few of Hamilton's claims as to regards of which author wrote what.  Authorship of twelve of the essays remains disputed even now.

The use of Publius as a pseudonym was likely used to hide the writers' connections to the Constitutional Convention, as well as to hide their identities from the British since such writings were considered to be high treason against the British Empire.

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary


Anonymous said...

The first Federalist Paper was published in 1787. The Treaty of Paris, which acknowledged the United States' existence as a sovereign nation, went into effect in 1784.

So, no, it wouldn't have considered treason.

Douglas V. Gibbs said...

Yes, it was still considered high treason. Britain didn't recognize the United States as an independent sovereign country until after the War of 1812. In fact, when they lit the White House on fire and Madison was whisked away it was because if he was caught he would have been hanged as a traitor against the British Empire saw him as claiming to be the leader of a country that was illegally in existence since from the British point of view we were still a cluster of petulant English Colonies.

Anonymous said...

Clearly you've never read the Treaty of Paris of 1783:

"His Brittanic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz., New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and Independent States; that he treats with them as such, and for himself his Heirs & Successors, relinquishes all claims to the Government, Propriety, and Territorial Rights of the same and every Part thereof."

Britain. Acknowledged. The United States'. Soverignty. And Independence.

Anonymous said...

That is complete nonsense. Great Britain recognized the complete independence of the former colonies when it signed he Treaty of Paris in 1783. If Madison was in any danger it was because we were in a new war with Great Britain and they had briefly conquered Washington, D.C.

The US had declared war on Great Britain in 1812 over disputes involving American trade, expansion into the Northwest Territory, and misconduct by the British Navy against US vessels on the high seas.

Douglas V. Gibbs said...

You are partially correct. Yes, in the language of the 1783 Treaty of Paris a recognition of sovereignty was indicated, and Britain signed that document. But, despite that document the government did not recognize U.S. Sovereignty in the same way the other countries did, still considering the States to be petulant colonies who were in insurrection. If you read the story of when the Library of Congress and White House were burned in the War of 1812 Madison was ushered away due to the threat of being hanged as a traitor to the empire. One of the main causes behind the War of 1812 was British encroachments against American Sovereignty which included a refusal to surrender western forts as promised in the treaty because Britain saw no sovereignty in the first place. "The impressment or forcible seizure of American seamen by the British Royal Navy in the late 18th and early 19th centuries has traditionally been viewed as a primary cause of the War of 1812. Americans at that time regarded impressment as a deliberate and dastardly act perpetrated by a foreign power against innocent men." The impressment was done because as far as Britain was concern it was still their right to do so because Americans were still British subjects because they overall rejected American Sovereignty. They viewed American sailors as being British deserters. "To the British, a person born in the British Empire was a subject of that empire for life, a status they could not change." The actions by Britain were clearly a "denial of American sovereignty"

Anonymous said...

Nothing there suggested that the British didn't recognize the United States' soveirgnty.

Impressment was an issue over competing sovereignties; both countries believed they had a claim over those impressed.

Similarly, Britain's not honoring its treaty obligation doesn't mean it didn't recognize the United States' sovereignty. It means it didn't care and thought it could get away with it.

Both are examples of Britain's not respecting the United States; neither is Britain taking the position that the United States doesn't exist and its citizens actually were still treasonous British subjects.

Douglas V. Gibbs said...

There's an old saying. "Actions speak louder than words." While on the surface Britain made it look like they accepted our sovereignty, i.e. accepting the terms of the 1783 Treaty, and accepting John Adams as the first “United States Minister to the Court of St. James’s,” thereby establishing diplomatic relations on June 1, 1785; the reality was that we had committed three great sins against the British that in the beginning was not acceptable, and our very existence outside the British Empire was considered high treason by the monarchy as a result. 1. We dared to proclaim independence and commit insurrection (in their minds) to achieve it. As stated earlier, the belief was that to be subject to British rule was something that lasted a lifetime. It wasn't something you legally end simply because you want to, or declare independence. 2. We separated our monetary system from them. Article I. Section 8 of the Constitution established that Congress had the job of coining our money, and our unwillingness to play ball in the larger banking scheme of things was among the reasons for the American Revolution. Unfortunately, Alexander Hamilton was quick to temporarily change that separation through the creation of the Bank of the United States, which damaged our economy, caused massive inflation, and placed wealth into the hands of a very few. Once the charter expired in 1811 the sin of going it on our own monetarily was so egregious to the British and the European Bankers (largely controlled at that time by London) that some argue the War of 1812 was ordered largely due to the unwillingness of the Americans to renew the charter of the First Bank of the United States. 3. We separated from the international legal system. The international bar association became an illegal membership for our own lawyers and judges with the passage of the original 13th Amendment, of which, when it came to timing, interestingly had a creation date that coincided with the demise of the Bank of the United States. While the original records were burned up when the British burned the White House and surrounding government buildings a couple years later (including the Library of Congress) evidence has emerged showing that Virginia likely became the final ratification vote in 1811. An 1819 document sought to reestablish that ratification vote because of the reality of the original documents being destroyed. Numerous publications between 1820 and 1860 show the original Thirteenth Amendment (a friend of mine has one of those books, I have an image of the pages revealing that fact if you care to see it). Also, various papers from State Houses reveal the existence of that Constitutional Amendment that later was largely erased from existence by the legal institution and bankers of the time. The British saw the members of the United States not only as petulant insurrectionists that had won the favor of many of their enemies but also as a protectionist entity that dared not to play ball on the world stage the way they would be expected to. Therefore, U.S. Sovereignty was not respected and U.S. Sovereignty, even though Britain signed a treaty saying they accepted it, was not recognized in truth. That is a reality in history. Often the tyrants say one thing but act in the opposite manner. Tyranny lies, they use deception. They don't usually mean what they say.

Anonymous said...

Nations routinely show disrespect for each other's sovereignty. You continue to confuse not respect with not recognize.

All of which just to justify your notion that the authors of the Federalist Papers used a pseudonym because they feared being labeled as traitors. When the more mundane reason is that pseudonyms were in vogue then, as the learned class believed they discouraged ad hominem attacks. The proponents of the U.S. Constitution want the debate to be about the U.S. Constitution, and not its authors.

Douglas V. Gibbs said...

I can't count how many sources I have read that basically say, "After the Revolutionary War, Britain continued to see the United States as nothing more than petulant rebellious colonies. Even though Britain signed a treaty to end the war, the monarchy and British parliamentary leadership felt that the new country would not survive long and when it fell apart, Britain would simply reclaim as many colonies as it could and hang those they believed to have been party to what they considered to be high treason. This attitude led in part to the later War of 1812, and was largely not extinguished until after the end of that war." I have thousands of books, many of them more than a century old, and the recurring theme in the books that point to that particular moment in history is that while technically on paper the British said they recognized our sovereignty, they actually did not; and when the White House was lighted ablaze they rushed President Madison away worried that if captured he would be hanged for high treason against the British Empire for being the leader of what Britain considered (though, perhaps, not on paper) an illegitimate government that existed due to insurrection against the empire. The funny thing is that narrative is stated less and less as we get further away from that moment in history in my books. But, based on my research and a lifetime of reading about American History, the reality is that despite the official paperwork saying they recognized our sovereignty, the truth is, in reality, they did not. The Framers were fully aware of this truth, and though you are partially correct in much of what you say about the idea that pseudonyms were in vogue, and they did wish to discourage ad hominem attacks since two of them were directly involved in the writing of the U.S. Constitution, and they did in fact wish that the conversation was more directed at the Constitution rather than at who they were, the reality of, and the emergence of the use of, pseudonyms in the first place during that time period, was also largely because there were worries about the attitude of the British in the sense of loyalty to The Crown. As Ben Franklin said when they got the whole independence thing officially launched with the Declaration of Independence, if we don't hang together we will surely hang separately. For example, in today's political arena there is no official designation of the current administration in Washington today as being illegitimate or the result of an unlawful administrative and electoral coup, but there is a huge contingency that believes that to be true. There is no reason whatsoever to believe that the January 6 Trump Supporters were a bunch of insurrectionists, and there is evidence up the wazoo showing that it was a false flag staged Reichstag-style operation, but there are also a lot of people who believe it was indeed an "insurrectionist riot" by a bunch of "crazy right-wing white supremacist Trump supporters." For some people, that is a reality in history. From my studies, from my point of view regarding those actions taken that were clearly tied to the fact that Britain did not respect America's claim to sovereignty, and from the historical perspective of a long list of writers going all the way back to that time period (unfortunately, most of my books are at my other home right now as we are in the process of possibly moving our primary base of operations to that location) the British Empire's inner-circle still believed that the "colonists" were in a state of high-treason and despite pressure by other countries who saw things otherwise, the British did not respect nor recognize America's sovereignty and from their point of view through the War of 1812 they were going to take back those petulant colonies as soon as their silly little experiment put them into a position of begging to take back their place as subjects to the empire.

Anonymous said...

It is surprising that, among these countless (or is it thousands?) books (spread across multiple homes), there is no specific reference to even one that plainly stated and showed that Britain's signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783 wasn't actually a recognition of the United States' sovereignty, despite the treaty saying exactly that and that the treaty's primary purpose was, in fact, to end the war by recognizing that sovereignty.

Regardless, this cul-de-sac about the War of 1812 is irrelevant to why the Framers in 1787 used the then-common practice of pseudonyms: there continues to be no evidence that this practice was based on any fear of Britain. The Framers' intent in 1787 can't be inferred from a different war that occurred a generation later, as time travel hasn't been invented.

Comparisons to contemporary political events also are unhelpful. In addition to also not being relevant to 1787, there is no evidence of a present-day so-called false-flag operation. Hundreds of people have been arrested for their actions on January 6, and many of them have vocally proclaimed their loyalty to the defeated former president. In fact, several ironically self-proclaimed Oath Keepers recently were arrested on charges of seditious conspiracy; they would be surprised to learn that they were only useful idiots (for someone other than the defeated former president, that is).

More basically, a singular blogger's beliefs aren't automatically true. A singular blogger could believe, for example, that Vice President Harris isn't a U.S. citizen, but she continues to serve in the office to which she was duly elected.

Anonymous said...

Birther time travel is at work again here. It reminds me of how they use an English translation of de Vattel's The Law of Nations that was not in existence until 10 years after the Constitution was written to justify an incorrect definition of "natural-born citizen".

Douglas V. Gibbs said...

Again, Anonymous, you are incorrect. Vattel's Law of Nations was published in 1758, translated into English in 1760 ... not that it mattered, a large segment of the delegates also spoke and read French. As a note, the proper definition of Natural Born Citizen (born of two citizen parents) is not only supported by Vattel's Law of Nations (of which I have a copy of) but also 5 dicta by Chief Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. They are listed in the Constitution Association lawsuit against Kamala Harris for her violating eligibility, which has worked its way up to the 9th Circuit.

Douglas V. Gibbs said...

The 1797 Edition of Vattel's Law of Nations, of which my copy is based upon, was an updated version because, according to the 1797 editors, the 1760 edition contained some flaws. I believe the two copies Ben Franklin brought to the convention were one of each language, one French, one the 1760 English translation. George Washington brought one copy, which was the 1760 English Translation. In 1789 Washington borrowed a copy of Vattel's Law of Nations from the original New York Public Library, but unfortunately never returned it (eight years before you state it was available).

Douglas V. Gibbs said...

Anonymous, you are apparently a victim of being taught many things that simply are not true. If you would like, I could personally tutor you so that you can protect yourself from being wrong a large portion of the time regarding our founding documents and history as a country.