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Reading the Federalist Papers in a Time of Discord

Derek Webb ‘98 | 12pm, September 20

When Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay attempted to defend the new U.S. Constitution in the Federalist Papers, they did so against a backdrop of deep disagreement between rivalrous emerging parties, mutual suspicion, intimidation, name-calling, and even political violence. In addition to offering a blueprint for the new federal system, the Federalist Papers also provide a sustained meditation on the deliberative process itself, both its occasional prospects and its enduringly fragile nature. This talk explores that meditation, particularly what the authors of the Federalist Papers called the "lesson in moderation" that all participants in a public debate should learn, and how best to make what they called "an argument open to all."

Derek A. Webb is an Associate at Sidney Austin LLP in the Supreme Court and Appellate and Commercial Litigation and Disputes practice groups.

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