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The Origins Of American Democracy Essay

961 words - 4 pages

The origins of American democracy took root hundreds of years before the Founding Fathers were even born. Greece and Rome, powerful nation states well-known for their expansive empires and widespread influence, have survived the test of time through their impact on other civilizations (i.e. America). America, founded on Greco-Roman principles, has grown “from sea to shining sea” on a government recognized for its stability and opportunity. The Founding Fathers used their education of ancient history to create the foundation of American law and government. By studying the past’s success and mistakes, the Founders were able to shape a system of policies that they hoped would ensure freedom and ...view middle of the document...

S. prior to 1920). The Consuls were the Roman version of the executive, except that two people made up the consulship, not one. Consuls had the authority to set taxes, create legislation, and command the army. However, the power of the consuls was limited through checks and balances and the power to veto. The Senate harbored about 300 politicians who governed financial and foreign policy, and were not allowed to create laws. Finally, the Assemblies were composed of various sub-assemblies such as the Centuriate and Tribal Assembly that dealt with military and tribunal affairs. The similarities between the Roman republic and the American political system are striking, providing evidence that the Founding Fathers were influenced by the Romans.
The ideological principles of Roman philosophers and orators shaped American ideology at its core. Thomas Jefferson’s ideal of the perfect society consisted of independent farmers tiling their small plot of land, with little governmental interference. He believed in a modest way of living, and thought there was no need to live ostentatiously. The popular Roman historian, Titus Livius (nicknamed “Livy”) wrote the History of Rome in 26 B.C. In this, Livy advocated for thrift and plain living, and believed that luxury was unnecessary. To Livy, self-indulgence was the source of moral corruption and had the potential to unravel societies. Another popular Roman who impacted the Founders was a man by the name of Marcus Tullius Cicero (the name Cicero translates to “chickpea”). A well learned lawyer and statesman, Cicero developed political theories that resurfaced during the American Revolution. In Cicero’s opinion, political power comes from the people, and no where else. Cicero rejected the idea of power concentrated in one person’s hand, but rather preferred the idea that power was distributed to the plebeians. This explains why Roman law was only passed with the consent (or presumed consent) of the...

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