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Modern English Translation of The Federalist Papers Explains
How the US Constitution
Blocks the
Abuse of Power,
Blocks the 
Growth of Tyranny, and
Defends Individual Rights.

Mary E. Webster is a professional translator who got her AAS degree from St. Paul College. She’s worked as a translator both in the community, at the University of Iowa, and UI Hospitals and Clinics while finishing her degrees at the UI. The imperative for all translation assignments is to convey the exact message. During the four years that she spent writing her first translation of The Federalist Papers, she used Webster's Third International Dictionary to learn the 18th-century definitions of words.

The very most important thing that you’ll learn from The Federalist Papers is how tyrants gain power over any group or society, how the US Constitution was created to block abuse of power, how the current abuse of power by the federal government is the result of ignoring the Constitution, and how the people can use the Constitution to stop the development of tyranny.

The Federalist Papers use psychology to explain group behavior, often citing historical examples. Current readers of the Papers can quickly think of examples from the last century to verify the authors’ conclusions.  For example, Federalist Paper Number 1, paragraph 5 seems to explain the rise of Hitler, “Dangerous ambition is more often masked by a zeal for the rights of the people than the zeal for a firm and efficient government.  History teaches us that most men who have overturned the liberties of republics began their career by proclaiming their devotion to the people.  They gain position by arousing people's prejudices and end as tyrants.”

By reading a modern language translation of The Federalist Papers you will also learn:

  • what the Federalist Papers are,

  • why the Articles of Confederation needed to be replaced,

  • the history of republics,

  • the power and responsibilities of the federal and state governments,

  • how the Constitution blocks abuse of power,

  • why it is safer to have a united country,

  • why neighboring countries often go to war,

  • the federal government's limited powers,

  • how to reduce the violence of faction,

  • the importance of a republic, federal system, and Separation of Powers,

  • Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Powers

  • what is the system of Checks and Balances,

  • how tyranny takes root, grows, and blocks liberty,

  • why a Bill of Rights is redundant and can be dangerous,

  • how to defend the Constitution and,

  • much, much more!

Why should you read a translation? Because the English language has evolved over the past 250 years. Even the meanings of words (and spelling) has changed. The message left by our Founding Fathers is important, not the exact words.

The Federalist Papers discuss the problem with trying to convey a message:

“…Humans use words to express ideas.  Clear expression requires well-formed ideas and the appropriate words.  But no language has words and phrases for every complex idea.  And many words have several meanings.  Therefore, the definition of even a precise subject can be inaccurate because words are inaccurate.  This unavoidable inaccuracy grows worse as the subject becomes more complex or novel.

“When God, Himself, talks to mankind in our language, His meaning—brilliant as it must be—is made dim and doubtful by the cloudy medium through which it is communicated.


“There are three sources of vague and incorrect definitions: (1) indistinctness of the subject, (2) the brain’s imperfections, and (3) the language’s inadequacies.  When the constitutional convention worked to define the boundary between federal and State jurisdictions, it must have experienced all three problems.” 

Federalist Paper #37 [paragraphs 10-11], The Federalist Papers: Modern English Edition Two


The United States Constitution: Annotated with The Federalist Papers in Modern English presents The Federalist Papers in a unique way.  Each clause in the US Constitution is followed by the Federalist Paper references about that clause, taken from The Federalist Papers: Modern English Edition Two.


Here’s an example:

Article 1 Section 6.  The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out in the Treasury of the United States.


Number 51 [3]

…members of each branch should depend—as little as possible—on other branches for their pay…


Most of the entries are quite long, often citing several Federalist Papers. Here is an example from the Preamble to the Constitution:

promote the general Welfare,


Number 41 [26]

              …the language in the Constitution appears to be a copy of the Articles of Confederation.  The objective of forming a Union among the States, as described in Article Three, is “their common defense, security of their liberties, and mutual and general welfare.”  Article eight says: “All charges of war and all other expenses that shall be incurred for the com­mon defense or general welfare, and allowed by the United States in Congress, shall be defrayed out of a common treasury,” etc. )  Similar language again occurs in Article Nine.

              If we interpret these articles in the Articles of Confederation by the rules objectors have used on the new Constitution, the existing Congress has the power to legislate about everything.  But what if Congress disregarded the specifications that define and limit the general expressions and exercised an unlimited power of providing for the common defense and general welfare?  Would the people making the objections have employed the same reasoning in justification of Congress as they now make against the Convention.  How difficult it is for error to escape its own condemnation!


Number 26 [2]

              The public firmly believes that greater government energy is essential to the welfare and prosperity of the community.


Number 62 [11]

              A good government implies two things.  First, it is faithful to government’s objective—the happiness of the people.  Second, it knows how to reach this objective.

              Some governments don’t have either of these qualities.  Most governments don’t have the first.  In American governments, too little attention has been paid to the last.  The federal Constitution avoids this error.  And it provides for the last in a way to increase the security for the first.


Number 10 [6]

              Property rights originate from the people.  But men’s abilities are diverse, creating an insurmountable obstacle to equality of acquisitions.  Protection of these abilities is government’s primary function.   

From these examples, it is clear that The Federalist Papers do not have to be obscure. They are not irrelevant nor even “historical”.

They are, in fact, a guide to saving and guaranteeing a future for The United States of America.

Purchase a translation of The Federalist Papers.

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