Founding Fathers
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What was the Founding Fathers' position on direct democracy?

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2013-04-25 17:56:10

The Founding Fathers realized that direct democracy could not

work on such a large scale as the population of the newly formed

nation. Hence, the whole idea of a "democracy" and a "republic"

were very frightening at the time, for many worried that the

country would be unstable and falter to despots and corruption,

like they saw happen in Rome during the time of Cicero leading to

Julius Casear, Marc Antony, and Augustus Caesar. Therefore, several

founders, such as Alexander Hamilton, advocated for a strong

central government and even a monarch (with George Washington as

King, something which he rejected with passion).

Today, we look back at this and scorn such anti-democracy ideas,

but it is important to understand the context in which people like

Hamilton were coming from. The idea of a democracy was completely

radical and hard to fathom actually working. Although, technically,

England had experienced a democratic revolution in their Civil War,

the British still kept their monarch and formed a constitutional

monarcy instead. Therefore, the English Civil War is never really

seen as the Revolution it was. Moreover, there was fear of the

anarchy that was happening in France, as the French Revolution

entered the Reign of Terror Period.

Thus, while the Founding Fathers believed that direct democracy

worked well in small populations, like the Greek city-states, they

knew it would be impossible to have such an institution with such a

massive population (at the time). The Founding generation hoped to

establish a republic, but there were still plenty of concerns over

how successful the new and radical government would be.

"Answer" id="Answer">Answer

I have to disagree somewhat with the first reply to this answer.

The reason there was no "direct democracy" espoused by the founders

was largely because they believed pure democracy, i.e., the

majority of people are always correct, to be contemptible.

Obviously, there are certain laws that should not be disregarded

simply by the will of the people; else imagine what a large-spread

but temporary panic could do to a democracy. The system of checks

and balances instituted into our government was not put there

merely because of a difficulty in speedy communication; it was put

there to bound the will of the people.

In today's age of praise for "democracy," people often assume

that things such as representation (as opposed to legislation

through direct voting by the people, etc.) and checks &

balances are out-dated relics. The founders knew that direct

democracy would never work because human nature never changes, and

people are often mislead, often misinformed, often selfish, and

always imperfect.

"Answer" id="Answer">Answer

pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and

to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God,

indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

In the Pledge of Allegiance we all pledge allegiance to our

Republic, not to a democracy. "Republic" is the proper description

of our government, not "democracy." I invite you to join me in

raising public awareness regarding that distinction.

The distinction between our Republic and a democracy is not an

idle one. It has great legal significance.

The Constitution guarantees to every state a Republican form of

government (Art. 4, Sec. 4). No state may join the United States

unless it is a Republic. Our Republic is one dedicated to "liberty

and justice for all." Minority individual rights are the priority.

The people have natural rights instead of civil rights. The people

are protected by the Bill of Rights from the majority. One vote in

a jury can stop all of the majority from depriving any one of the

people of his rights; this would not be so if the United States

were a democracy. (see People's rights vs Citizens' rights)

In a pure democracy 51 beats 49[%]. In a democracy there is no

such thing as a significant minority: there are no minority rights

except civil rights (privileges) granted by a condescending

majority. Only five of the U.S. Constitution's first ten amendments

apply to Citizens of the United States. Simply stated, a democracy

is a dictatorship of the majority. Socrates was executed by a

democracy: though he harmed no one, the majority found him



Government. ....the government is but an agency of the state,

distinguished as it must be in accurate thought from its scheme and

machinery of government. ....In a colloquial sense, the United

States or its representatives, considered as the prosecutor in a

criminal action; as in the phrase, "the government objects to the

witness." [Black's Law Dictionary, Fifth Edition, p. 625]

Government; Republican government. One in which the powers of

sovereignty are vested in the people and are exercised by the

people, either directly, or through representatives chosen by the

people, to whom those powers are specially delegated. In re Duncan,

139 U.S. 449, 11 S.Ct. 573, 35 L.Ed. 219; Minor v. Happersett, 88

U.S. (21 Wall.) 162, 22 L.Ed. 627. [Black's Law Dictionary, Fifth

Edition, p. 626]

Democracy. That form of government in which the sovereign power

resides in and is exercised by the whole body of free citizens

directly or indirectly through a system of representation, as

distinguished from a monarchy, aristocracy, or oligarchy. Black's

Law Dictionary, Fifth Edition, pp. 388-389.

Note: Black's Law Dictionary, Fifth Edition, can be found in any

law library and most law offices.


Notice that in a Democracy, the sovereignty is in the whole body

of the free citizens. The sovereignty is not divided to smaller

units such as individual citizens. To solve a problem, only the

whole body politic is authorized to act. Also, being citizens,

individuals have duties and obligations to the government. The

government's only obligations to the citizens are those

legislatively pre-defined for it by the whole body politic.

In a Republic, the sovereignty resides in the people themselves,

whether one or many. In a Republic, one may act on his own or

through his representatives as he chooses to solve a problem.

Further, the people have no obligation to the government; instead,

the government being hired by the people, is obliged to its owner,

the people.

The people own the government agencies. The government agencies

own the citizens. In the United States we have a three-tiered cast

system consisting of people ---> government agencies ---> and


The people did "ordain and establish this Constitution," not for

themselves, but "for the United States of America." In delegating

powers to the government agencies the people gave up none of their

own. (See Preamble of U.S. Constitution). This adoption of this

concept is why the U.S. has been called the "Great Experiment in

self government." The People govern themselves, while their agents

(government agencies) perform tasks listed in the Preamble for the

benefit of the People. The experiment is to answer the question,

"Can self-governing people coexist and prevail over government

agencies that have no authority over the People?"

The citizens of the United States are totally subject to the

laws of the United States (See 14th Amendment of U.S.

Constitution). NOTE: U.S. citizenship did not exist until July 28,


Actually, the United States is a mixture of the two systems of

government (Republican under Common Law, and democratic under

statutory law). The People enjoy their God-given natural rights in

the Republic. In a democracy, the Citizens enjoy only government

granted privileges (also known as civil rights).

There was a great political division between two major

philosophers, Hobbes and Locke. Hobbes was on the side of

government. He believed that sovereignty was vested in the state.

Locke was on the side of the People. He believed that the fountain

of sovereignty was the People of the state. Statists prefer Hobbes.

Populists choose Locke. In California, the Government Code sides

with Locke. Sections 11120 and 54950 both say, "The people of this

State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve

them." The preambles of the U.S. and California Constitutions also

affirm the choice of Locke by the People.

It is my hope that the U.S. will always remain a Republic,

because I value individual freedom.

Thomas Jefferson said that liberty and ignorance cannot

coexist.* Will you help to preserve minority rights by fulfilling

the promise in the Pledge of Allegiance to support the Republic?

Will you help by raising public awareness of the difference between

the Republic and a democracy?

  • "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of


it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson,



Just after the completion and signing of the Constitution, in

reply to a woman's inquiry as to the type of government the

Founders had created, Benjamin Franklin said, "A Republic, if you

can keep it."

A Republic is representative government ruled by law (the

Constitution). A democracy is direct government ruled by the

majority (mob rule). A Republic recognizes the inalienable rights

of individuals while democracies are only concerned with group

wants or needs (the public good).

Democracies always self-destruct when the non-productive

majority realizes that it can vote itself handouts from the

productive minority by electing the candidate promising the most

benefits from the public treasury. To maintain their power, these

candidates must adopt an ever-increasing tax and spend policy to

satisfy the ever-increasing desires of the majority. As taxes

increase, incentive to produce decreases, causing many of the once

productive to drop out and join the non-productive. When there are

no longer enough producers to fund the legitimate functions of

government and the socialist programs, the democracy will collapse,

always to be followed by a Dictatorship.

Even though nearly every politician, teacher, journalist and

citizen believes that our Founders created a democracy, it is

absolutely not true. The Founders knew full well the differences

between a Republic and a Democracy and they repeatedly and

emphatically said that they had founded a republic.

Article IV Section 4, of the Constitution "guarantees to every

state in this union a Republican form of government"....

Conversely, the word Democracy is not mentioned even once in the

Constitution. Madison warned us of the dangers of democracies with

these words,

"Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and

contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal

security or the rights of property; and have in general been as

short in their lives as they have been violent in their


"We may define a republic to be ... a government which derives

all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the

people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during

pleasure for a limited period, or during good behavior. It is

essential to such a government that it be derived from the great

body of the society, not from an inconsiderable proportion or a

favored class of it; otherwise a handful of tyrannical nobles,

exercising their oppressions by a delegation of their powers, might

aspire to the rank of republicans and claim for their government

the honorable title of republic." James Madison, Federalist No. 10,


"A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor

wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but

little virtue in the action of masses of men." Henry David Thoreau


Our military training manuals used to contain the correct

definitions of Democracy and Republic. The following comes from

Training Manual No. 2000-25 published by the War Department,

November 30, 1928.


A government of the masses. Authority derived through mass

meeting or any other form of "direct" expression. Results in

mobocracy. Attitude toward property is communistic--negating

property rights. Attitude toward law is that the will of the

majority shall regulate, whether is be based upon deliberation or

governed by passion, prejudice, and impulse, without restraint or

regard to consequences. Results in demogogism, license, agitation,

discontent, anarchy. REPUBLIC:

Authority is derived through the election by the people of

public officials best fitted to represent them. Attitude toward law

is the administration of justice in accord with fixed principles

and established evidence, with a strict regard to consequences. A

greater number of citizens and extent of territory may be brought

within its compass. Avoids the dangerous extreme of either tyranny

or mobocracy. Results in statesmanship, liberty, reason, justice,

contentment, and progress. Is the "standard form" of government

throughout the world. (Angelo Cobrasci, Founder ~ Defenders of


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