Who was the American Publius? Lecture by Drs. Parks and Corbin Explores the Federalist Papers


Publius, "cherisher of the people," was the alias for the American authors of the Federalist Papers and, in the view of King's Dr. Matthew Parks, was a telling indicator of their influence on the founding of the United States. Roman patriot Publius Valerius Publicola was an insurrectionist partially credited with the establishment of the Roman Republic, making the pseudonym fitting for authors in the American Revolutionary era.

"John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison couldn’t have chosen a better pen name for the Federalist Papers," Parks said in his lecture on "Publius' America" on Oct. 25 in Classroom 626.

Parks and Dr. David Corbin, dynamic duo of the PPE program and padrones of The Publius Society, led this second lecture in series, on the anniversary week of Federalist No. 1's publishing. Drs. Parks and Corbin believe Publius was an appropriate name to illustrate the trio's willingness to make personal sacrifices for the benefit of the American people. Publius was even willing to lose a debate in order to prove to the people what true victory means.

Publius Society member Elle Rodgers ('19) opened up the event by introducing the lecturers, as well as provided an overview of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute's Publius Society’s aspirations and mission. The Society is a King's College-based group of students serious preserving the ideas of the American tradition.

The Federalist Papers, a collection of 85 essays written under the pen name “Publius" which helped promote the ratification of the United States Constitution. Parks explained the main political goal of the Papers was to promote the ratification of the Constitution. Yet the philosophical goal dealt with a heavier issue: maintaining a good government founded in reflection and choice.

Parks answer to the question "how can we maintain a government through reflection and choice" indicated a responsibility of the American people. Citizens must ensure that political policies secure the rights and interests of the people. Parks expounded on the moral values of a government that are founded on preserving the rights stated in the Constitution.

“A government that is founded in reflection and choice is noble in its ends and its means,” Parks noted.

Corbin followed Parks with a further discussion on what the American government would look like if one put Publius’ tidings into action.

“A government that is establishing justice and rights for all is a Republican government with a lowercase 'r,'” Corbin said.

Corbin concluded his lecture with a call to action for the Publius Society to represent and put into practice everything that Publius stood for.

At the end of the lecture, audience members posed questions. One student, asking about the Civil War as an example of republican government failing to protect moral value, Parks responded to by saying, “The Civil War was a consequence of democracy gone mad.”

The event concluded with Rodgers thanking Parks and Corbin and introducing the next lecture: the “History of the Presidency.”

CampusSarah FoxComment