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The Athenian Democracy Compared To Today's Democracy

2340 words - 9 pages

The term democracy comes from the Greek language and means "rule by the people."(Democracy Building 2012) The democracy in Athens represents the events leading up to modern day democracies. Like our modern democracy, the Athenian democracy was created as a reaction to a concentration and abuse of power by the rulers. Philosophers defined the essential elements of democracy as a separation of powers, basic civil rights, human rights, religious liberty and separation of church and state. The most current definition of a democracy is defined as a “government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.”( The American democracy was greatly influenced by the Athenian democracy. The Founding Fathers of the American democracy borrowed ideas from the Athenian way of governing. Presently, Americans live in a democracy that is much different than that the Athenian democracy, and what the Founding Fathers of the American Democracy envisioned. Although there are some commonalities between Athens and what our Founding Fathers intended, there are major differences as well. Differences between the modern American democracy the Athenian democracy and what the Founding Fathers envisioned are size of the democracies, the eligibility of a citizen to participate in the democracy and how a citizen participated.
Athens was known as a city/state. Athens was the size of city in modern America and it consisted of rural communities. There are varying estimates of the population of ancient Athens during fourth century BC. There was an estimated amount 250,000–300,000 people in Athens. Athenian residents amounted to 100,000 people and out of those only 30,000 were adult male citizens entitled to vote in the assembly. That amount of people may seem small, but in the world of Greek city-states Athens was huge. When our Founding Fathers established a democracy there were thirteen colonies. The thirteen colonies was located on the eastern seaboard from New Hampshire to Georgia. You could drive through all of the thirteen colonies in one long day. The population of the thirteen colonies in 1776 was approximately 2.4 million people. This consisted of land owning men, women, children and slaves. Today, New York City has more than double that amount of people at 8.4 million residents. In 2012, the United States had over 313 million people. Out of the 313 million residents in America, over 221 million citizens are eligible to vote.(McDonald 2013) In the 2012 Presidential election, 117,416,696 voted for one of the two candidates running as President of the United States. The amount of citizens that voted in 2012 are over ten times the population of Athens and the thirteen colonies combined.
Athens had strict requirements for a person to be eligible to participate in their government. Athenian law...

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