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Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay wrote The Federalist Papers under the pseudonym "Publius".

In college I had heard that Publius referred to one of the founders of the Roman Republic but that thinking seems to have fallen out of favor. Is there consensus on what Publius, as far the Federalist Papers goes, refers to?

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    From the Wikipedia article on the Federalist Papers: "Alexander Hamilton chose the pseudonymous name "Publius". While many other pieces representing both sides of the constitutional debate were written under Roman names, historian Albert Furtwangler contends that "'Publius' was a cut above 'Caesar' or 'Brutus' or even 'Cato'. Publius Valerius helped found the ancient republic of Rome." – sempaiscuba Oct 23 at 16:22
  • Yes. That was the story I had heard in college. – Mayo Oct 23 at 16:24
  • Why the downvote? – Mayo Oct 23 at 16:24
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    I'm not the one who downvoted, but there is an excellent post on our meta site which may have the answer: Why did my question get a downvote? – sempaiscuba Oct 23 at 16:27
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I'm not sure if there are any immediate historical sources to answer this question directly, but their choice of pen name is hardly surprising. According to Wikipedia it was a very common name in ancient Rome and, "is thought to derive from the same root as populus and publicus, meaning 'the people' or 'of the people'.

  • Yes. I hear that a lot now (and saw it on the wiki page): that Publius simply means "Of the People" – Mayo Oct 23 at 16:21
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Publius was a common Roman personal Name, like John, Fred, Thomas. For the Federalist papers the name was chosen by Alexander Hamilton and is believed to be a reference to Plublius Valerius Publicola and to mean "friend of the people". Publicola helped found the ancient republic. Hamilton had used the name previously when writing anonymously in service to the country.

The Federalist Papers
Alexander Hamilton chose the pseudonymous name "Publius". While many other pieces representing both sides of the constitutional debate were written under Roman names, historian Albert Furtwangler contends that "'Publius' was a cut above 'Caesar' or 'Brutus' or even 'Cato'. Publius Valerius helped found the ancient republic of Rome. His more famous name, Publicola, meant 'friend of the people'."[10] It was not the first time Hamilton had used this pseudonym: in 1778, he had applied it to three letters attacking fellow Federalist Samuel Chase and revealing that Chase had taken advantage of knowledge gained in Congress to try to dominate the flour market

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