What the Federalist Papers Can Teach Us Today

Steven B. Smith , Howe Whitman III & Daniel Wiser, Jr.

March 05, 2023

The Federalist was written more than two centuries ago with a particular purpose: persuading Americans to back the Constitution. Yet far from being a period piece, it initiated nothing less than a revolution in political thought — one that fundamentally redefined how we understand popular government. Grasping this point could help today’s Americans make better sense of our society’s contemporary challenges.

Guest Steven Smith joins us to discuss how the authors of The Federalist defined the republic we know today, but also their silence on important matters of moral education and statesmanship.

Steven Smith is the Alfred Cowles Professor of Political Science at Yale University. His scholarship has focused particularly on the problem of the ancients and moderns, the relation of religion and politics, and theories of representative government. He is the author of numerous books, most recently Reclaiming Patriotism in an Age of Extremes.

This podcast discusses themes from Steven’s essay in the Winter 2023 issue of National Affairs, “Learning from Publius.”

For more on this topic, see Steven’s essay in the journal Liberties, “What is a Statesman.”


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