Venetians also called the government of their famous city a republic, though it was certainly not democratic.
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When the members of the United States Constitutional Convention met in , terminology was still unsettled. Had the framers of the United States Constitution met two generations later, when their understanding of the constitution of Britain would have been radically different, they might have concluded that the British system required only an expansion of the electorate to realize its full democratic potential.
Thus, they might well have adopted a parliamentary form of government. Embarked as they were on a wholly unprecedented effort to construct a constitutional government for an already large and continuously expanding country, the framers could have had no clear idea of how their experiment would work in practice.
Religion and the American Republic
Given the existing confusion over terminology, it is not surprising that the framers employed various terms to describe the novel government they proposed. A few months after the adjournment of the Constitutional Convention, James Madison , the future fourth president of the United States , proposed a usage that would have lasting influence within the country though little elsewhere. In November , only two months after the convention had adjourned, James Wilson , one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, proposed a new classification.
In a monarchy , the supreme power is vested in a single person; in an aristocracy…by a body not formed upon the principle of representation, but enjoying their station by descent, or election among themselves, or in right of some personal or territorial qualifications; and lastly, in a democracy, it is inherent in a people, and is exercised by themselves or their representatives.
But when we take an extensive and accurate view of the streams of power that appear through this great and comprehensive plan…we shall be able to trace them to one great and noble source, THE PEOPLE.
Reclaiming Our Republic - The American Mind
Thus, by the end of the 18th century both the idea and the practice of democracy had been profoundly transformed. Political theorists and statesmen now recognized what the Levelers had seen earlier, that the nondemocratic practice of representation could be used to make democracy practicable in the large nation-states of the modern era. Representation, in other words, was the solution to the ancient dilemma between enhancing the ability of political associations to deal with large-scale problems and preserving the opportunity of citizens to participate in government.
To some of those steeped in the older tradition, the union of representation and democracy seemed a marvelous and epochal invention.
Representation was not the only radical innovation in democratic ideas and institutions. Book Description iUniverse. Seller Inventory ING Ships with Tracking Number!
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