Beginning his political career through a close military association with George Washington in the Continental Army, Hamilton soon distinguished himself as a strong proponent of federalism. He represented New York at the Annapolis Convention, and participated as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention at which he proposed a tremendously strong centralized government with a president who served for life. When the U.S. Constitution was delivered to the states for ratification, Hamilton played an integral role to pass the document in New York State through his joint authorship of a series of persuasive essays called the Federalist Papers. He served as Secretary of the Treasury during Washington's presidency and distinguished himself through his strong financial policy and leadership. He died as a result of a duel fought with Aaron Burr in 1804, thus depriving the Federalist Party of its strongest leader.
John Jay was the most moderate of the three authors of The Federalist, having resisted independence from England until the Declaration of Independence. After the formal dedication of war, Jay was a devoted statesman and foreign ambassador, serving in New York State as Chief Justice, as delegate to the Confederation Congress, as one of the negotiators for the Treaty of Paris, and as ambassador to Spain. Although Jay was struck with a bout of rheumatism that prevented him from writing a significant portion of the federalist essays, he worked closely with Alexander Hamilton throughout the ratification process in New York to spread the federalist ideas. He later served as Chief Justice of the United States.
James Madison was a delegate from Virginia to both the Annapolis Convention and the Constitutional Convention who strongly clamored for a vigorous and powerful central government. Prior to attending the Constitutional Convention, Madison prepared two papers on government, A Study of Ancient and Modern Confederacies and Vices of the Political System of the United States, from which he drew most of the ideas for the plan of government that was proposed on May 29th, 1787. Because of his central role in creating the U.S. Constitution, and because of the diligence with which he maintained records during the Convention, he is known as "the father of the Constitution." He faced off against Patrick Henry in the Virginia debate over ratification, and contributed his nationalist arguments, along with Hamilton and Jay, to the series of federalist propaganda compiled in The Federalist. Later in his political career, he moved away from the federalist political party and became a strong supporter of the Jeffersonian Republicans. Madison followed Jefferson as the fourth president of the United States.
The name used by all three authors of The Federalist to conceal their true identity. Publius referred to the legendary Publius Valerius Puplicolo, the founder of republican government in ancient Rome.