Books That Matter: The Federalist Papers

See what the 85 essays that make up The Federalist Papers can tell us about American government from its founding to today.
Books That Matter: The Federalist Papers is rated 4.6 out of 5 by 88.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very well presented I bought this course to understand the thoughts and aims of the foundation of our constitution. I am really impressed by the manner in which the Federalist Papers were written as well as the individuals who were responsible for its creation. The professor does a fenomenal job of making this, otherwise dry topic, an exciting trip back to the post revolutionary America This course is a must have for today's citizens who need to understand the function of the federal government.
Date published: 2021-09-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Federalist Papers I thoroughly enjoyed this course, as well as Professor Hoffmann's lecture structure, insights and perspectives. He has a relatable, comfortable and informative teaching style. I highly recommend this course!
Date published: 2021-09-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Solid and thought-provoking A solid piece of historical analysis that makes you hungry for more. Prof. Hoffmann examines what the authors of the Federalist Papers were thinking and why. You can't listen to his lectures without wondering what Madison, Hamilton, et al., would make of what we've become and whether the Constitution can survive the divisive forces active in the US today.
Date published: 2021-08-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Video Series The instructor for the video is clearly knowledgeable about the material. However, the videos repeatedly veered in the direction of discussing political events that do not directly relate to the Federalist papers. A couple of episodes were almost entirely digressions, which only lightly touched on the relevant topic of Federalism. Nevertheless, this video series is unique in how its contents mostly pertain to the Federalist Papers. This uniqueness makes it an important resource for anyone with a desire to learn more about these documents. I have watched the video series in its entirety and will surely do so again. I am happy with my purchase.
Date published: 2021-08-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A fine summary of the Federalist Papers I had the book for years, but never took the time to read it. The GC audio course gives a fine summary of the papers content, with historical insights of the authors, the people of the time. I found the presentation, organized by topic, to be effective as we are getting all the relevant info about each topic at one time.
Date published: 2021-08-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What an Amazing course! An Outstanding lecture series, One of the best of the Great Courses. With Republicans hating Democrats, and Democrats hating Republicans and each side saying they are following the thoughts of he founding fathers. This course is a breath of fresh air. Professor Hoffmann is brilliant, Concise and methodical never omitting or confusing. You understand the issues and implications. An exceptional class.
Date published: 2021-08-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brings Mt. Rushmore to mind Very interesting, well presented. Leaves me wanting to know more about these papers.
Date published: 2021-08-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very interesting and lively Professor Hoffman is an excellent lecturer and we learned much about how our system of government and Constitution came to be and are interpreted today from the Federalist papers written by Jay, Hamilton, and especially Madison.
Date published: 2021-07-08
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Overview

Books That Matter: The Federalist Papers gives you the chance to delve into one of the most influential guides to the U.S. Constitution. Taught by acclaimed professor and legal scholar Joseph L. Hoffmann of the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, these 12 thought-provoking lectures unpack the 85 brilliant essays by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay that serve essentially as the Bible of American government.

About

Joseph L. Hoffmann
Joseph L. Hoffmann

Criminal law has become the sole province of the government acting on behalf of society as a whole, rather than on behalf of the crime victims.

INSTITUTION

Indiana University Maurer School of Law

Joseph L. Hoffmann is the Harry Pratter Professor of Law at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, where he has taught since 1986. He received a J.D. (cum laude) from the University of Washington School of Law. After law school, Professor Hoffmann clerked for the Honorable Phyllis A. Kravitch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and for then-associate justice William H. Rehnquist of the U.S. Supreme Court. Professor Hoffmann is a nationally recognized scholar in the fields of criminal law, criminal procedure, habeas corpus, and the death penalty. He was a co-principal investigator for the Capital Jury Project, the largest empirical project ever to study jury decision making in capital cases, and has been a consultant in criminal and death penalty cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. At Indiana University, Professor Hoffmann has been recognized with the Outstanding Junior Faculty Award, the Leon H. Wallace Teaching Award, the Trustees’ Teaching Award, the Teaching Excellence Recognition Award, and the Gavel Award. Professor Hoffmann is the co-author of two of the leading casebooks used by law students across the United States: Defining Crimes and Comprehensive Criminal Procedure. In 2007, Professor Hoffmann appeared in the PBS series The Supreme Court.

By This Professor

Law School for Everyone
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Books That Matter: The Federalist Papers
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Books That Matter: The Federalist Papers

Trailer

A Blueprint for American Government

01: A Blueprint for American Government

Understanding The Federalist Papers starts with understanding who wrote them and why they were written. In this opening lecture, go back to 1787 to meet Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay to find out what challenges they faced in communicating the need for the new U.S. Constitution.

34 min
A Democracy or a Republic?

02: A Democracy or a Republic?

The Framers of the Constitution believed pure democracy was something to be feared for the way it would lead to the rise of factions, which would in turn tear apart the system. Was it possible to create a new model that offered the benefits of representative democracy without the problems of factions? See how the Framers tackled this conflict.

34 min
A Federation or a Nation?

03: A Federation or a Nation?

When the Framers gathered in Philadelphia to write a new constitution, they essentially were representing a loose federation of nation-states. Their original charge was to modify the Articles of Confederation, but there was a solid case for a strong central government. Examine this dilemma and the compromises that Madison and Hamilton made.

35 min
American Federalism

04: American Federalism

Given all the conflicts and compromises of 1787, how did the American federal system come about? How did the Framers solve the issues of the day while preserving flexibility for the future? Review the enumerated powers of the federal government and see how power was balanced between the federal government and the states.

33 min
Dual Sovereignty

05: Dual Sovereignty

The system that emerged under the new constitution gave the federal government the ability to determine the scope of its own powers. What checks did the system place on the federal government? Who gets to decide when the federal government has violated its powers? Reflect on the powers of the states and the American people.

34 min
Popular Sovereignty and States’ Rights

06: Popular Sovereignty and States’ Rights

The idea of popular sovereignty—the power of the American people—reshaped the relationship between the states and the federal government. In this lecture, consider the ever-changing relationship of the states to the federal government. See how the institution of slavery was the catalyst for a crisis.

33 min
The Separation of Powers

07: The Separation of Powers

In Federalist Nos. 47 through 51, James Madison explains why the concept of “separation of powers” is so important for the future of the American government. Dig into these five amazing essays to understand what the familiar term “separation of powers” really means—and why he was so optimistic about America’s future.

32 min
The Federal Legislature

08: The Federal Legislature

James Madison believed the legislature posed the greatest threat to the integrity of the system the Framers had so carefully designed. In “Federalist No. 48,” “Federalist No. 51,” and elsewhere, he laid out warnings about the legislature seizing too much power, as well as the solution of a bicameral legislature. Delve into this thorny issue.

32 min
The President of the United States

09: The President of the United States

Shift your attention from the legislature to the chief executive, the single most powerful government official in the world today. But, as you will learn in your exploration of The Federalist Papers, the Framers had a different view of the presidency. Review Alexander Hamilton’s essays about the office and the powers of the president.

32 min
The Federal Judiciary

10: The Federal Judiciary

Round out your study of the branches of government with an in-depth look at the federal judiciary, one of the three branches of the federal government. The Framers believed the judiciary was the branch least likely to infringe on the liberty of the American people. Reflect on its role and its power, and then review the most important constitutional law case in American History: Marbury v. Madison.

33 min
The Evolution of American Federalism

11: The Evolution of American Federalism

The story of the Constitution is one of both stability and change. In this lecture, take a look at some of the most important ways the Constitution has evolved over the past 230 years. Consider whether the changes have largely honored the original spirit of the Constitution or broken faith with the vision of the Framers.

33 min
The Future of the United States Constitution

12: The Future of the United States Constitution

What does the future look like for America’s democratic republic? As you have seen, one of the most important trends has been the gradual increase in federal power, but the tension between federal and state power remains. Is there still a future for republican government? What might a Second Constitutional Convention look like? And would we want to find out?

35 min