I launched federali.st, my hand-crafted, micro-linkable, webbed edition of the Federalist Papers, about 18 months ago.
I thought it’d be interesting to take a look at the number of hits each paper’s received. Here’s what I’ve found:
- Numbers 10 and 51 are widely considered to be the most important of the papers, so it’s not surprising to find them both in the top 5. Federalist 84, famous for its argument against adopting a bill of rights, came in 15th.
- The five papers most cited by the Supreme Court, according to Wikipedia, are 42, 78, 81, 51, and 32. Two of these five (51 and 78) are in my top 5 (4th and 5th respectively). The Court’s favorite, № 42, came in a lousy 54th.
- Numbers 59, 60, and 61 comprise a three-part essay justifying Congress’ power to regulate the election of its members. Apparently, this is the least interesting power our legislature possesses—these three are the least popular papers on the site.
- The single-digit papers all appear in the top 21, and № 1 tops the list. This doesn’t really surpise me. The site’s had a fair amount of attention from web designers (e.g., via plaintxt.org). These visitors would tend to use the first few papers to see the various design elements of the site, typographical and otherwise. Similarly, casual visitors might click on the first few just to see what the site’s all about. This is the only series of related papers that clump together in the results.
In addition to the Federalist Papers, the site hosts copies of the Constitution, the Articles of Confederation, and the Declaration of Independence. Among these three documents, unsurprisingly, the Constitution is by far the most popular.