Republicanism in the United States

Republicanism in the United States

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Republicanism
Republicanism
Republicanism is the ideology of governing a nation as a republic, where the head of state is appointed by means other than heredity, often elections. The exact meaning of republicanism varies depending on the cultural and historical context...

is the political value system that has been a major part of American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 civic thought since the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

. It stresses liberty
Liberty
Liberty is a moral and political principle, or Right, that identifies the condition in which human beings are able to govern themselves, to behave according to their own free will, and take responsibility for their actions...

and inalienable rights as central values, makes the people as a whole sovereign
Sovereign
A sovereign is the supreme lawmaking authority within its jurisdiction.Sovereign may also refer to:*Monarch, the sovereign of a monarchy*Sovereign Bank, banking institution in the United States*Sovereign...

, supports activist government to promote the common good, rejects inherited political power, expects citizens to be independent in their performance of civic duties, and vilifies corruption
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

. American republicanism was founded and first practiced by the Founding Fathers
Founding Fathers of the United States
The Founding Fathers of the United States of America were political leaders and statesmen who participated in the American Revolution by signing the United States Declaration of Independence, taking part in the American Revolutionary War, establishing the United States Constitution, or by some...

 in the 18th century. This system was based on early Roman
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

, Renaissance and English models
Rights of Englishmen
The rights of Englishmen are the perceived traditional rights of British subjects. The notion refers to various constitutional documents that were created throughout various stages of English history, such as Magna Carta, the Declaration of Right , and others...

 and ideas. It formed the basis for the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

 and the consequential Declaration of Independence
United States Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence was a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. John Adams put forth a...

 (1776) and the Constitution (1787), as well as the Gettysburg Address
Gettysburg Address
The Gettysburg Address is a speech by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and is one of the most well-known speeches in United States history. It was delivered by Lincoln during the American Civil War, on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery...

.

Republicanism is not the same as democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

, for republicanism asserts that people have unalienable rights that cannot be voted away by a majority of voters. Since the 1830s when Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville was a French political thinker and historian best known for his Democracy in America and The Old Regime and the Revolution . In both of these works, he explored the effects of the rising equality of social conditions on the individual and the state in...

 warned about the "tyranny of the majority
Tyranny of the majority
The phrase "tyranny of the majority" , used in discussing systems of democracy and majority rule, is a criticism of the scenario in which decisions made by a majority under that system would place that majority's interests so far above a dissenting individual's interest that the individual would be...

" in a democracy, advocates of the rights of minorities have warned that the courts needed to protect those rights by reversing efforts by voters to terminate the rights of an unpopular minority. (This concern actually pre-dated de Tocqueveille by decades, and was the primary reason for the Bill of Rights, as protections for individuals and minority factions against the power of the democratically elected federal government.)

"Republicanism" is derived from the term "republic", but the two words have different meanings, and people sometimes confuse them. "Republic" is a form of government and "republicanism" is a political ideology.

Two major parties were explicitly named after the idea—the Republican party of Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 (founded in 1793, and often called the "Democratic-Republican party" by political scientists), and the current Republican party
History of the United States Republican Party
The United States Republican Party is the second oldest currently existing political party in the United States after its great rival, the Democratic Party. It emerged in 1854 to combat the Kansas Nebraska Act which threatened to extend slavery into the territories, and to promote more vigorous...

 (founded in 1854).

Republican virtues


The colonial intellectual and political leaders in the 1760s and 1770s closely read history to compare governments and their effectiveness of rule. They were especially concerned with the history of liberty in England
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

 and were primarily influenced by the "country party" (which opposed the Court Party that held power). Country party relied heavily on the classical republicanism
Republicanism
Republicanism is the ideology of governing a nation as a republic, where the head of state is appointed by means other than heredity, often elections. The exact meaning of republicanism varies depending on the cultural and historical context...

 of Roman heritage; it celebrated the ideals of duty and virtuous citizenship in a republic. It drew heavily on ancient Greek city-state and Roman republican examples. The Country party shared some of the political philosophy of Whiggism
Whiggism
Whiggism, sometimes spelled Whigism, is a historical political philosophy that grew out of the Parliamentarian faction in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. The whigs' key policy positions were the supremacy of Parliament , toleration for Protestant dissenters, and opposition to a Catholic on the...

 as well as Tory critics in England which roundly denounced the corruption surrounding the "court" party in London centering on the royal court. This approach produced a political ideology Americans called "republicanism", which was widespread in America by 1775. "Republicanism was the distinctive political consciousness of the entire Revolutionary generation." J.G.A. Pocock
J.G.A. Pocock
John Greville Agard Pocock , as a writer known as J. G. A. Pocock, is a historian noted for his trenchant studies of republicanism in the early modern period , for his treatment of Edward Gibbon and his contemporaries as historians of Enlightenment, and, in historical method, for his contributions...

 explained the intellectual sources in America:
Revolutionary Republicanism was centered on limiting corruption and greed. Virtue was of the utmost importance for citizens and representatives. Revolutionaries took a lesson from ancient Rome, they knew it was necessary to avoid the luxury that had destroyed the Empire . A virtuous citizen was one that ignored monetary compensation and made a commitment to resist and eradicate corruption. The Republic was scared, therefore it is necessary to served the state in a truly representative way, ignoring self-interest and individual will. Republicanism required the service of those who were willing to give up their own interests for a common good. According to Bernard Bailyn “The preservation of liberty rested on the ability of the people to maintain effective checks on wielders of power and hence in the last analysis rested on the vigilance and moral stamina of the people....” Virtuous citizens needed to be strong defenders of liberty and challenge the corruption and greed in government. The duty of the virtuous citizen become a foundation for the American Revolution .

Cause of Revolution


The commitment of most Americans to republican values and to their property rights helped bring about the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

. Britain was increasingly seen as corrupt and hostile to democracy, a threat to the established liberties that Americans enjoyed and to American property rights. The greatest threat to liberty was thought by many to be corruption—not just in London but at home as well. The colonists associated it with luxury and, especially, inherited aristocracy, which they condemned. (A few Americans did gain English titles, but they moved to London.)

Historian Thomas Kidd (2010) argues that during the Revolution Christians linked their religion to republicanism. He states, "With the onset of the revolutionary crisis, a major conceptual shift convinced Americans across the theological spectrum that God was raising up America for some special purpose." Kidd further argues that " new blend of Christian and republican ideology led religious traditionalists to embrace wholesale the concept of republican virtue."As virtuous republicans, citizens had a growing moral obligation to eradicate the corruption they saw in the monarchy .

Historian Gordon Wood
Gordon Wood
Gordon Wood may refer to:* Gordon S. Wood , American historian* Gordon Wood , high school football coach in Texas* Gordon Wood , Australian...

 has tied the founding ideas to American Exceptionalism
American exceptionalism
American exceptionalism refers to the theory that the United States is qualitatively different from other countries. In this view, America's exceptionalism stems from its emergence from a revolution, becoming "the first new nation," and developing a uniquely American ideology, based on liberty,...

."Our beliefs in liberty, equality, constitutionalism, and the well-being of ordinary people came out of the Revolutionary era. So too did our idea that we Americans are a special people with a special destiny to lead the world toward liberty and democracy." Americans were the protectors of liberty, they had a greater obligation and destiny to assert republican virtue. In Discourse of 1759 Jonathan Mayhew states “An absolute submission to our prince, or whether disobedience and resistance may not be justified able in some cases…to all those who bear the title of rulers in common but only to those who actually perform the duty of rulers by exercising a reasonable and just authority for the good of human society.” The notion that British rulers were not virtuous, nor exercising their authority for the “good of human society” prompted the colonial desire to protect and reestablish republican values in government. This need to protect virtue was a philosophical underpinning of the American Revolution

Founding Fathers


The "Founding Fathers
Founding Fathers of the United States
The Founding Fathers of the United States of America were political leaders and statesmen who participated in the American Revolution by signing the United States Declaration of Independence, taking part in the American Revolutionary War, establishing the United States Constitution, or by some...

" were strong advocates of republican values, especially Samuel Adams
Samuel Adams
Samuel Adams was an American statesman, political philosopher, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. As a politician in colonial Massachusetts, Adams was a leader of the movement that became the American Revolution, and was one of the architects of the principles of American...

, Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry was an orator and politician who led the movement for independence in Virginia in the 1770s. A Founding Father, he served as the first and sixth post-colonial Governor of Virginia from 1776 to 1779 and subsequently, from 1784 to 1786...

, George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

, Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine
Thomas "Tom" Paine was an English author, pamphleteer, radical, inventor, intellectual, revolutionary, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States...

, Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin
Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

, John Adams
John Adams
John Adams was an American lawyer, statesman, diplomat and political theorist. A leading champion of independence in 1776, he was the second President of the United States...

, Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

, James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

 and Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury...

.

Thomas Jefferson defined a republic as:
The Founding Fathers discoursed endlessly on the meaning of "republicanism." John Adams in 1787 defined it as "a government, in which all men, rich and poor, magistrates and subjects, officers and people, masters and servants, the first citizen and the last, are equally subject to the laws."

Virtue vs. Commerce


The open question, as Pocock suggested, of the conflict between personal economic interest (grounded in Lockean liberalism) and classical republicanism, troubled Americans. Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 and Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

 roundly denounced the Federalists for creating a national bank as tending to corruption and monarchism; Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury...

 staunchly defended his program, arguing that national economic strength was necessary for the protection of liberty. Jefferson never relented but by 1815 Madison switched and announced in favor of a national bank, which he set up in 1816.

John Adams
John Adams
John Adams was an American lawyer, statesman, diplomat and political theorist. A leading champion of independence in 1776, he was the second President of the United States...

 often pondered the issue of civic virtue. Writing Mercy Otis Warren
Mercy Otis Warren
Mercy Otis Warren was a political writer and propagandist of the American Revolution. In the eighteenth century, topics such as politics and war were thought to be the province of men. Few women had the education or training to write about these subjects. Warren was the exception...

 in 1776, he agreed with the Greeks and the Romans, that, "Public Virtue cannot exist without private, and public Virtue is the only Foundation of Republics." Adams insisted, "There must be a positive Passion for the public good, the public Interest, Honor, Power, and Glory, established in the Minds of the People, or there can be no Republican Government, nor any real Liberty. And this public Passion must be Superior to all private Passions. Men must be ready, they must pride themselves, and be happy to sacrifice their private Pleasures, Passions, and Interests, nay their private Friendships and dearest connections, when they Stand in Competition with the Rights
of society."

Adams worried that a businessman might have financial interests that conflicted with republican duty; indeed, he was especially suspicious of banks. He decided that history taught that "the Spirit of Commerce ... is incompatible with that purity of Heart, and Greatness of soul which is necessary for a happy Republic." But so much of that spirit of commerce had infected America. In New England, Adams noted, "even the Farmers and Tradesmen are addicted to Commerce." As a result, there was "a great Danger that a Republican Government would be very factious and turbulent there."

Other influences


A second stream of thought growing in significance was the classical liberalism
Classical liberalism
Classical liberalism is the philosophy committed to the ideal of limited government, constitutionalism, rule of law, due process, and liberty of individuals including freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and free markets....

 of John Locke
John Locke
John Locke FRS , widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social...

, including his theory of the "social contract
Social contract
The social contract is an intellectual device intended to explain the appropriate relationship between individuals and their governments. Social contract arguments assert that individuals unite into political societies by a process of mutual consent, agreeing to abide by common rules and accept...

". This had a great influence on the revolution as it implied the inborn right of the people to overthrow their leaders
Right of revolution
In political philosophy, the right of revolution is the right or duty, variously stated throughout history, of the people of a nation to overthrow a government that acts against their common interests...

 should those leaders betray the agreements implicit in the sovereign-follower relationship. Historians find little trace of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought.His novel Émile: or, On Education is a treatise...

's influence in America. In terms of writing state and national constitutions, the Americans used Montesquieu
Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu
Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu , generally referred to as simply Montesquieu, was a French social commentator and political thinker who lived during the Enlightenment...

's analysis of the ideally "balanced" British Constitution. But first and last came a commitment to republicanism, as shown by many historians such as Bernard Bailyn
Bernard Bailyn
Bernard Bailyn is an American historian, author, and professor specializing in U.S. Colonial and Revolutionary-era History. He has been a professor at Harvard University since 1953. Bailyn has won the Pulitzer Prize for History twice . In 1998 the National Endowment for the Humanities selected...

 and Gordon S. Wood
Gordon S. Wood
Gordon S. Wood is Alva O. Way University Professor and Professor of History Emeritus at Brown University and the recipient of the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for History for The Radicalism of the American Revolution. His book The Creation of the American Republic, 1776–1787 won a 1970 Bancroft Prize...

.

Historiography


For a century, historians have debated how important republicanism was to the Founding Fathers. The interpretation before 1960, following Progressive School historians such as Charles A. Beard
Charles A. Beard
Charles Austin Beard was, with Frederick Jackson Turner, one of the most influential American historians of the first half of the 20th century. He published hundreds of monographs, textbooks and interpretive studies in both history and political science...

, Vernon L. Parrington and Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr.
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr.
Arthur Meier Schlesinger, Sr. was an American historian. His son, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. was also a noted historian.-Life and career:...

, downplayed rhetoric as superficial and looked for economic motivations. Louis Hartz
Louis Hartz
Louis Hartz was an American political scientist and influential liberal proponent of the idea of American exceptionalism....

 refined the position in the 1950s, arguing John Locke
John Locke
John Locke FRS , widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social...

 was the most important source because his property-oriented liberalism
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 supported the materialistic goals of Americans.

In the 1960s and 1970s, two new schools emerged that emphasized the primacy of ideas as motivating forces in history (rather than material self interest). Bernard Bailyn
Bernard Bailyn
Bernard Bailyn is an American historian, author, and professor specializing in U.S. Colonial and Revolutionary-era History. He has been a professor at Harvard University since 1953. Bailyn has won the Pulitzer Prize for History twice . In 1998 the National Endowment for the Humanities selected...

, Gordon Wood
Gordon S. Wood
Gordon S. Wood is Alva O. Way University Professor and Professor of History Emeritus at Brown University and the recipient of the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for History for The Radicalism of the American Revolution. His book The Creation of the American Republic, 1776–1787 won a 1970 Bancroft Prize...

 from Harvard formed the "Cambridge School"; at Washington University the "St. Louis School" was led by J.G.A. Pocock
J.G.A. Pocock
John Greville Agard Pocock , as a writer known as J. G. A. Pocock, is a historian noted for his trenchant studies of republicanism in the early modern period , for his treatment of Edward Gibbon and his contemporaries as historians of Enlightenment, and, in historical method, for his contributions...

. They emphasized slightly different approaches to republicanism. However, some scholars, especially Isaac Kramnick
Isaac Kramnick
Isaac Kramnick is an American historian, social scientist and the Richard J. Schwartz Professor of Government at Cornell University. He is a subject-matter expert on English and American political thought and history.-Research:...

, continue to emphasize Locke, arguing that Americans are fundamentally individualistic and not devoted to civic virtue. The relative importance of republicanism and liberalism remains a topic of strong debate among historians, as well as the politically active of present day.

New Nation: The Constitution


The Founding Fathers wanted republicanism because its principles guaranteed liberty, with opposing, limited powers offsetting one another. They thought change should occur slowly, as many were afraid that a "democracy"- by which they meant a direct democracy
Direct democracy
Direct democracy is a form of government in which people vote on policy initiatives directly, as opposed to a representative democracy in which people vote for representatives who then vote on policy initiatives. Direct democracy is classically termed "pure democracy"...

- would allow a majority of voters at any time to trample rights and liberties in the "heat of a moment". They believed the most formidable of these potential majorities was that of the poor against the rich. They thought democracy could take the form of mob rule
Ochlocracy
Ochlocracy or mob rule is government by mob or a mass of people, or the intimidation of legitimate authorities.As a pejorative for majoritarianism, it is akin to the Latin phrase mobile vulgus meaning "the fickle crowd", from which the English term "mob" was originally derived in the...

 that could be shaped on the spot by a demagogue. Therefore they devised a written Constitution which could only be amended by a super majority, preserved competing sovereignties in the constituent states, gave the control of the upper house (Senate) to the states, and created an Electoral College, comprising a small number of elites, to select the president. They set up a House of Representative to represent the people. In practice the electoral college soon gave way to control by political parties. In 1776 most states required property ownership to vote, but most citizens owned farms in the 90% rural nation, so it was not a severe restriction. As the country urbanized and people took on different work, the property ownership requirement was gradually dropped by many states. Property requirements were gradually dismantled in state after state, so that all had been eliminated by 1850, so that few if any economic barriers remained to prevent white adult males from voting.

"Republican" as party name


In 1792–93 Jefferson and Madison created a new "republican party" in order to promote their version of the doctrine. They wanted to suggest that Hamilton's version was illegitimate. According to Federalist Noah Webster
Noah Webster
Noah Webster was an American educator, lexicographer, textbook pioneer, English spelling reformer, political writer, editor, and prolific author...

, a political activist bitter at the defeat of the Federalist party in the White House and Congress, the choice of the name "Republican" was "a powerful instrument in the process of making proselytes to the party.... The influence of names on the mass of mankind, was never more distinctly exhibited, than in the increase of the democratic party in the United States. The popularity of the denomination of the Republican Party, was more than a match for the popularity of Washington's character and services, and contributed to overthrow his administration." The party, which historians later called the Democratic-Republican Party
Democratic-Republican Party (United States)
The Democratic-Republican Party or Republican Party was an American political party founded in the early 1790s by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Political scientists use the former name, while historians prefer the latter one; contemporaries generally called the party the "Republicans", along...

, split into separate factions in the 1820s, one of which became the Democratic Party
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

. After 1832 the Democrats were opposed by another faction that named themselves "Whigs" after the Patriots of the 1770s who started the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

. Both of these parties proclaimed their devotion to republicanism in the era of the Second Party System
Second Party System
The Second Party System is a term of periodization used by historians and political scientists to name the political party system existing in the United States from about 1828 to 1854...

.

Republican motherhood


Under the new government after the Revolution, "republican motherhood
Republican motherhood
"Republican Motherhood" is a 20th century term for an attitude toward women's roles present in the emerging United States before, during, and after the American Revolution . It centered on the belief that the patriots' daughters should be raised to uphold the ideals of republicanism, in order to...

" became an ideal, as exemplified by Abigail Adams
Abigail Adams
Abigail Adams was the wife of John Adams, who was the second President of the United States, and the mother of John Quincy Adams, the sixth...

 and Mercy Otis Warren
Mercy Otis Warren
Mercy Otis Warren was a political writer and propagandist of the American Revolution. In the eighteenth century, topics such as politics and war were thought to be the province of men. Few women had the education or training to write about these subjects. Warren was the exception...

. The first duty of the republican woman was to instill republican values in her children, and to avoid luxury and ostentation.

Two generations later the daughters and granddaughters of these "Republican mothers" appropriated republican values into their lives as they sought independence and equality in the workforce. During the 1830s thousands of women mill workers went on strike to battle for their right to fair wages and independence, as there had been major pay cuts. Many of these women were daughters of independent land owners and descendants of men who had fought in the Revolutionary War; they identified as "daughters of freemen". In their fight for independence at the mills, women would incorporate rhetoric from the revolution to convey the importance and strength of their purpose to their corporate employers as well as to other women. If the Revolutionary War was fought to secure independence from Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

, then these "daughters of freemen" could fight for the same republican values that (through striking) would give them fair pay and independence just as the men had.

Democracy


As late as 1800, the word "democrat", as then used, was mostly used to attack an opponent of the Federalist party. Thus George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 in 1798 complained, "that you could as soon scrub the blackamoor white, as to change the principles of a profest Democrat; and that he will leave nothing unattempted to overturn the Government of this Country." The Federalist Papers
Federalist Papers
The Federalist Papers are a series of 85 articles or essays promoting the ratification of the United States Constitution. Seventy-seven of the essays were published serially in The Independent Journal and The New York Packet between October 1787 and August 1788...

 are pervaded by the idea that pure democracy is actually quite dangerous, because it allows a majority to infringe upon the rights of a minority. Thus in encouraging the states to participate in a strong centralized government under a new constitution and replace the relatively weak Articles of Confederation
Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation, formally the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, was an agreement among the 13 founding states that legally established the United States of America as a confederation of sovereign states and served as its first constitution...

, Madison argued in Federalist No. 10
Federalist No. 10
Federalist No. 10 is an essay written by James Madison and the tenth of the Federalist Papers, a series arguing for the ratification of the United States Constitution. It was published on Friday, November 22, 1787, under the pseudonym Publius, the name under which all the Federalist Papers were...

 that a special interest may take control of a small area, e.g. a state, but it could not easily take over a large nation. Therefore, the larger the nation, the safer is republicanism.

By 1805 the "Old Republicans" or "Quids", a minority faction among Southern Republicans, led by Johan Randolph, John Taylor of Caroline
John Taylor of Caroline
John Taylor usually called John Taylor of Caroline was a politician and writer. He served in the Virginia House of Delegates and in the United States Senate . He wrote several books on politics and agriculture...

 and Nathaniel Macon
Nathaniel Macon
Nathaniel Macon was a spokesman for the Old Republican faction of the Democratic-Republican Party that wanted to strictly limit the United States federal government. Macon was born near Warrenton, North Carolina, and attended the College of New Jersey and served briefly in the American...

, opposed Jefferson and Madison on the grounds that they had abandoned the true republican commitment to a weak central government.

Property rights


Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story
Joseph Story
Joseph Story was an American lawyer and jurist who served on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1811 to 1845. He is most remembered today for his opinions in Martin v. Hunter's Lessee and The Amistad, along with his magisterial Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, first...

 (1779–1845), made the protection of property rights by the courts a major component of American republicanism. A precocious legal scholar, Story was appointed to the Court by James Madison in 1811. He and Chief Justice John Marshall
John Marshall
John Marshall was the Chief Justice of the United States whose court opinions helped lay the basis for American constitutional law and made the Supreme Court of the United States a coequal branch of government along with the legislative and executive branches...

 made the Court a bastion of nationalism (along the lines of Marshall's Federalist Party and a protector of the rights of property against runaway democracy. Story opposed Jacksonian democracy
Jacksonian democracy
Jacksonian democracy is the political movement toward greater democracy for the common man typified by American politician Andrew Jackson and his supporters. Jackson's policies followed the era of Jeffersonian democracy which dominated the previous political era. The Democratic-Republican Party of...

 because it was inclined to repudiate lawful debts and was too often guilty of what he called "oppression" of property rights by republican governments. Story held that, "the right of the citizens to the free enjoyment of their property legally acquired" was "a great and fundamental principle of a republican government." Newmyer (1985) presents Story as a "Statesman of the Old Republic" who tried to rise above democratic politics and to shape the law in accordance with the republicanism of Story's heroes, Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury...

 and John Marshall
John Marshall
John Marshall was the Chief Justice of the United States whose court opinions helped lay the basis for American constitutional law and made the Supreme Court of the United States a coequal branch of government along with the legislative and executive branches...

, as well as the New England Whigs of the 1820s and 1830s such as Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster was a leading American statesman and senator from Massachusetts during the period leading up to the Civil War. He first rose to regional prominence through his defense of New England shipping interests...

. Historians agree that Justice Story--as much or more than Marshall or anyone else--did indeed reshape American law in a conservative direction that protected property rights.

Military Service


Civic virtue required men to put civic goals ahead of their personal desires, and to volunteer to fight for their country. As John Randolph of Roanoke
John Randolph of Roanoke
John Randolph , known as John Randolph of Roanoke, was a planter and a Congressman from Virginia, serving in the House of Representatives , the Senate , and also as Minister to Russia...

 put it, "When citizen and soldier shall be synonymous terms, then you will be safe." Scott (1984) notes that in both the American and French revolutions, distrust of foreign mercenaries led to the concept of a national, citizen army, and the definition of military service was changed from a choice of careers to a civic duty. Herrera (2001) explains that an appreciation of self-governance is essential to any understanding of the American military character before the Civil War. Military service was considered an important demonstration of patriotism and an essential component of citizenship. To soldiers, military service was a voluntary, negotiated, and temporary abeyance of self-governance by which they signaled their responsibility as citizens. In practice self-governance in military affairs came to include personal independence, enlistment negotiations, petitions to superior officials, militia constitutions, and negotiations regarding discipline. Together these affected all aspects of military order, discipline, and life.

Civil War and Reconstruction


Historian Frank Lawrence Owsley
Frank Lawrence Owsley
Frank Lawrence Owsley was an American historian who taught at Vanderbilt University for most of his career, where he specialized in southern history and was a member of the Southern Agrarians.-Life and career:...

 depicted antebellum Southern society as a broad class of yeoman farmers who stood and worked between the slaves and poor whites at one end and the large planters at the opposite end of the economic spectrum, Owsley asserted that the real South was liberal, American, and Jeffersonian, not radical or reactionary. It reflected the best of republican principles (though Owsley did not use the word "republicanism" but his followers did) Agrarianism in the 20th century was a response to the industrialism and modernism that had infiltrated the South. According to Owsley, the position of the South vis-à-vis the North was created not by slavery, cotton, or states' rights, but by the two regions' misunderstanding of each other. J. Mills Thornton argues that in the antebellum South the drive to preserve republican values was the most powerful force, and led Southerners to interpret Northern policies as a threat to their republican values.

In reaction to the Kansas-Nebraska Act
Kansas-Nebraska Act
The Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854 created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, opening new lands for settlement, and had the effect of repealing the Missouri Compromise of 1820 by allowing settlers in those territories to determine through Popular Sovereignty if they would allow slavery within...

 of 1854, antislavery forces in the North formed a new party. The party officially designated itself "Republican" because the name resonated with the struggle of 1776. "In view of the necessity of battling for the first principles of republican government," resolved the Michigan state convention, "and against the schemes of aristocracy the most revolting and oppressive with which the earth was ever cursed, or man debased, we will co-operate and be known as Republicans."

After the war, the Republicans believed that an important aspect of securing citizenship for freedmen was to give them the franchise; that the true political education was to be gained in exercising the right to vote and organizing for political purposes. At the time, only men were allowed to vote. Constitutional amendments were passed granting citizenship to freedmen and the franchise to men.

Progressive Era


A central theme of the Progressive era was fear of corruption, one of the core ideas of republicanism since the 1770s. The Progressives restructured the political system to combat entrenched interests (for example, through the direct election of Senators), to ban influences such as alcohol that were viewed as corrupting, and to extend the vote to women, who were seen as being morally pure and less corruptible.

Questions of performing civic duty were brought up in presidential campaigns and World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. In the presidential election of 1888
United States presidential election, 1888
The 1888 election for President of the United States saw Grover Cleveland of New York, the incumbent president and a Democrat, try to secure a second term against the Republican nominee Benjamin Harrison, a former U.S. Senator from Indiana...

, Republicans emphasized that the Democratic candidate Grover Cleveland
Grover Cleveland
Stephen Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th president of the United States. Cleveland is the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms and therefore is the only individual to be counted twice in the numbering of the presidents...

 had purchased a substitute to fight for him in the Civil War, while his opponent Benjamin Harrison
Benjamin Harrison
Benjamin Harrison was the 23rd President of the United States . Harrison, a grandson of President William Henry Harrison, was born in North Bend, Ohio, and moved to Indianapolis, Indiana at age 21, eventually becoming a prominent politician there...

 had served in combat. In 1917, a great debate took place over Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

's proposal to draft men into the U.S. Army after war broke out in Europe. Many said it violated the republican notion of freely given civic duty to force people to serve. In the end, Wilson was successful and the Selective Service Act of 1917
Selective Service Act of 1917
The Selective Service Act or Selective Draft Act was passed by the Congress of the United States on May 18, 1917. It was envisioned in December 1916 and brought to President Woodrow Wilson's attention shortly after the break in relations with Germany in February 1917...

 was passed.

New Deal Era to present


"Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country!" said Democratic Party
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 President John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 in a dramatic call for the American people to honor the core republican value of civic duty.

In the presidential election of 2004
United States presidential election, 2004
The United States presidential election of 2004 was the United States' 55th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. Republican Party candidate and incumbent President George W. Bush defeated Democratic Party candidate John Kerry, the then-junior U.S. Senator...

, one of the chief topics of discussion was whether the candidates John Kerry
John Kerry
John Forbes Kerry is the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts, the 10th most senior U.S. Senator and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2004 presidential election, but lost to former President George W...

 and George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 had fulfilled their civic duty of fighting for their country, part of the republican duties. Opponents charged that Bush had shirked his National Guard duties, while the Swift Vets and POWs for Truth
Swift Vets and POWs for Truth
Swift Vets and POWs for Truth, formerly known as the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth , was a political group of United States Swift boat veterans and former prisoners of war of the Vietnam War, formed during the 2004 presidential election campaign for the purpose of opposing John Kerry's candidacy...

 alleged that Kerry did not earn the medals he was awarded for his service in Vietnam.

Legal terminology


The term republic does not appear in the Declaration of Independence, but does appear in Article IV of the Constitution which "guarantee[s] to every State in this Union a Republican form of Government." What exactly the writers of the constitution felt this should mean is uncertain. The Supreme Court, in Luther v. Borden
Luther v. Borden
Luther v. Borden, 48 U.S. 1 , was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States established the political question doctrine in controversies arising under the Guarantee Clause of Article Four of the United States Constitution Luther v. Borden, 48 U.S. 1 (1849), was a case in which the...

(1849), declared that the definition of republic was a "political question" in which it would not intervene. In two later cases, it did establish a basic definition. In United States v. Cruikshank
United States v. Cruikshank
United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542 was an important United States Supreme Court decision in United States constitutional law, one of the earliest to deal with the application of the Bill of Rights to state governments following the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment.-Background:On Easter...

(1875), the court ruled that the "equal rights of citizens" were inherent to the idea of republic. The opinion of the court from In re Duncan(1891) held that the "right of the people to choose their government" is also part of the definition. It is also generally assumed that the clause prevents any state from being a monarchy — or a dictatorship. Due to the 1875 and 1891 court decisions establishing basic definition, in the first version (1892) of the Pledge of Allegiance
Pledge of Allegiance
The Pledge of Allegiance of the United States is an expression of loyalty to the federal flag and the republic of the United States of America, originally composed by Christian Socialist Francis Bellamy in 1892 and formally adopted by Congress as the pledge in 1942...

, which included the word republic, and like Article IV
Article Four of the United States Constitution
Article Four of the United States Constitution relates to the states. The article outlines the duties states have to each other, as well as those the federal government has to the states...

 which refers to a Republican form of government, the basic definition of republic is implied and continues to do so in all subsequent versions, including the present edition, by virtue of its consistent inclusion.

Democracy


In March 1861 in his famous First Inaugural Address
Lincoln's first inaugural address
Abraham Lincoln's first inaugural address was delivered by President Abraham Lincoln, on Monday, March 4, 1861, as part of his taking of the oath of office for his first term as the sixteenth President of the United States...

, Abraham Lincoln denounced secession as anarchy, and explained that majority rule had to be balanced by constitutional restraints in the American system.:
"A majority held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations, and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people."


Over time, the pejorative connotations of "democracy" faded. By the 1830s, democracy was seen as an unmitigated positive and the term "Democratic" was assumed by the Democratic Party
History of the United States Democratic Party
The history of the Democratic Party of the United States is an account of the oldest political party in the United States and arguably the oldest democratic party in the world....

 and the term "Democrat" was adopted by its members. A common term for the party in the later 19th century was "The Democracy." In debates on Reconstruction, Senator Charles Sumner
Charles Sumner
Charles Sumner was an American politician and senator from Massachusetts. An academic lawyer and a powerful orator, Sumner was the leader of the antislavery forces in Massachusetts and a leader of the Radical Republicans in the United States Senate during the American Civil War and Reconstruction,...

 argued that the republican "guarantee clause" in Article IV supported the introduction by force of law of democratic suffrage in the defeated South.

As the limitations on democracy were slowly removed, property qualifications for state voters were eliminated (1820s); initiative, referendum
Referendum
A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, the recall of an elected official or simply a specific government policy. It is a form of...

, recall and other devices of direct democracy became widely accepted at the state and local level (1910s); and senators were made directly electable by the people (1913).

See also

  • Democracy
    Democracy
    Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

  • First Party System
    First Party System
    The First Party System is a model of American politics used by political scientists and historians to periodize the political party system existing in the United States between roughly 1792 and 1824. It featured two national parties competing for control of the presidency, Congress, and the states:...

  • Second Party System
    Second Party System
    The Second Party System is a term of periodization used by historians and political scientists to name the political party system existing in the United States from about 1828 to 1854...

  • Third Party System
    Third Party System
    The Third Party System is a term of periodization used by historians and political scientists to describe a period in American political history from about 1854 to the mid-1890s that featured profound developments in issues of nationalism, modernization, and race...

  • Republican motherhood
    Republican motherhood
    "Republican Motherhood" is a 20th century term for an attitude toward women's roles present in the emerging United States before, during, and after the American Revolution . It centered on the belief that the patriots' daughters should be raised to uphold the ideals of republicanism, in order to...