Chapter

The Pleasures of Statistics

pp 47-67

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Who Wrote the Disputed Federalist Papers, Hamilton or Madison?

  • Frederick MostellerAffiliated with

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Abstract

When I worked at the Office of Public Opinion Research with the social psychologist Hadley Cantril, beginning in 1940, I got to know Frederick Williams, a political scientist. He and I collaborated on some articles in the study of public opinion that appeared in a book edited by Hadley Cantril. One day in 1941, Fred said, “Have you thought about the problem of the authorship of the disputed Federalist papers?” I didn’t know there were Federalist papers, much less that both Hamilton and Madison had claimed authorship of some of them. I had attended an engineering school where very little classical literature was taught at the time. I had, however, been reading in the statistical journal Biometrika articles by G. Udny Yule and by C. B. Williams (a different Williams) on the resolution of some disputes about authorship.