James Warburton: Seminar March 2018

James Warburton:

‘What’s in a name: The use of Pseudonyms in Political Discourse and why the Federalists chose ‘Publius’’

My paper is based on the first chapter of my undergraduate dissertation. The chapter is part of a larger work looking into the role of the Roman Republic in shaping the views of the American Founding Fathers in regards to tyranny. The paper will focus on the role that the early Roman Republic played in shaping the discourse of early American politics, discussing the use of pseudonymity and the values that the Federalists wished to display via their usage of the name of Publius Valerius Publicola. I will demonstrate this by outlining the general use of pseudonymity during the late 18th Century, detailing the nature of the Federalist Papers, and discussing the role that Publius Valerius Publicola had to play both within the wider context of American pseudonymity and as a useful model for the Federalists in their pursuit of the ratification of the US Constitution. In the process, I will give potential reasons as to why other figures from the founding of the Roman Republic, such as Lucius Brutus and Collatinus, were not used by the Federalists – with reference to both the literature available to the Founding Fathers, and the use of evocation within political pseudonymity by the American political class.

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