Who says you can’t learn anything from watching television (besides me, when I’m telling my kids to turn off the TV)? Thanks to these week’s episode of Scandal, I just learned a little bit more about American legal history.
As a lawyer, I’m sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America. Today all Americans take the Constitution for granted, of course, even as we fiercely debate what it means to us. But more than 225 years ago (if my math is right), the Constitution had not yet been ratified and its eventual adoption was not a sure thing. So some of our founding fathers, including Alexander Hamilton, wrote a series of papers now known as The Federalist Papers. Almost all of these essays were published in newspapers in New York (where opponents to the Constitution had already written attacks on the proposed document) and their influence on the eventual ratification of the Constitution is apparently debated. Courts still refer to them today, however, when discussing the framers’ intent when drafting the Constitution.
So what does any of this this have to do with Scandal? Most of us remember The Federalist Papers from high school but they certainly weren’t mentioned in this week’s episode of Scandal. [SPOILER ALERT!] They weren’t, but their author was. While Hamilton, along with James Madison and John Jay, wrote The Federalist Papers, they wrote them using a pseudonym. And that pseudonym was – dum, dum, dum – Publius! James mentioned this week that the name had historical significance so I had to look him up and discovered that James is comparing his efforts to take Cyrus down to our founding fathers’ efforts to get the Constitution ratified. Hamilton, meanwhile, was comparing his efforts to that of one of the founders of the Roman Republic, Publius, who helped overthrow the last Roman king.
Hamilton and Publius were ultimately successful in their efforts. I have less faith in James’ ability to outsmart (much less overthrow) his husband.
(I’d like to thank Wikipedia for providing me with today’s educational lesson.)