Indiana National Guard Capt. Nathan Harlan to sell Federalist Papers book

June 16th, 2009 - 12:17 am ICT by John Le Fevre  

The Federalist Papers An Indiana National Guard Captain preparing for his second tour of duty in Iraq is set to make history tonight when he sells a rare copy of The Federalist online through Heritage Auction Galleries.

Nathan Harlan, 35, was a high school junior when he paid $US7 for a 1788 first edition of volume one of the two volume collection of 85 articles advocating the ratification of the US Constitution.

The Federalist Papers serve as a primary source for interpretation of the Constitution, as they outline the philosophy and motivation of the proposed system of government.

Fifty one of the articles in the two-volume set were written by Alexander Hamilton, 29 articles by James Madison and five articles by John Jay.

All of the articles appeared under the pseudonym “Publius,” in honor of Roman consul Publius Valerius Publicola and published just months after the Constitution was drafted in September 1787 in Philadelphia.

Madison is generally credited as the father of the Constitution and became the fourth President of the United States. Hamilton was an active delegate at the Constitutional Convention, and became the first Secretary of the Treasury, and John Jay became the first Chief Justice of the United States.

Captain Harlan said he bought the 227-page book in 1990 after his mother spotted it among book stacks as they browsed at a South Bend, Ind., flea market.

He said his high school history class happened to be discussing The Federalist — also known as The Federalist Papers — that same week, so he knew the book was special.

Last year Heritage Auction Galleries sold a complete two-volume set for $US262,900.

Captain Harlan owns just a single volume, and its leather cover has been replaced, but the auction house estimates it will sell for $US8,000 to $US12,000.

James Gannon, Heritage’s director of rare books, calls that range “very conservative” and says bidding could push the final price between $20,000 and $30,000 because the book is sought-after.

Heritage is waiving its standard 20 percent seller’s commission in recognition of his upcoming service in Iraq.

Captain Harlan will deploy this summer with the rest of the 140-soldier 38th Combat Aviation Brigade for up to a year.

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