posted on Mar, 29 2004 @ 11:55 PM
A Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, "Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?" With no hesitation whatsoever,
Franklin responded, "A republic, if you can keep it."
The Founding Fathers supported the view that (in the words of the Declaration of Independence) "Men … are endowed by their Creator with certain
unalienable Rights." They recognized that such rights should not be violated by an unrestrained majority any more than they should be violated by an
unrestrained king or monarch. In fact, they recognized that majority rule would quickly degenerate into mobocracy and then into tyranny. They had
studied the history of both the Greek democracies and the Roman republic. They had a clear understanding of the relative freedom and stability that
had characterized the latter, and of the strife and turmoil — quickly followed by despotism — that had characterized the former. In drafting the
Constitution, they created a government of law and not of men, a republic and not a democracy.
But don’t take our word for it! Consider the words of the Founding Fathers themselves, who — one after another — condemned democracy.
• Virginia’s Edmund Randolph participated in the 1787 convention. Demonstrating a clear grasp of democracy’s inherent dangers, he reminded his
colleagues during the early weeks of the Constitutional Convention that the purpose for which they had gathered was "to provide a cure for the evils
under which the United States labored; that in tracing these evils to their origin every man had found it in the turbulence and trials of
• Samuel Adams, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, championed the new Constitution in his state precisely because it would not create a
democracy. "Democracy never lasts long," he noted. "It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself." He insisted, "There was never a democracy that
‘did not commit suicide.’"
• New York’s Alexander Hamilton, in a June 21, 1788 speech urging ratification of the Constitution in his state, thundered: "It has been observed
that a pure democracy if it were practicable would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position is more false than this. The
ancient democracies in which the people themselves deliberated never possessed one good feature of government. Their very character was tyranny; their
figure deformity." Earlier, at the Constitutional Convention, Hamilton stated: "We are a Republican Government. Real liberty is never found in
despotism or in the extremes of Democracy."
• James Madison, who is rightly known as the "Father of the Constitution," wrote in The Federalist, No. 10: "... 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 are violent in their deaths." The Federalist Papers, recall, were written during the time of the ratification debate
to encourage the citizens of New York to support the new Constitution.
• George Washington, who had presided over the Constitutional Convention and later accepted the honor of being chosen as the first President of the
United States under its new Constitution, indicated during his inaugural address on April 30, 1789, that he would dedicate himself to "the
preservation … of the republican model of government."
• Fisher Ames served in the U.S. Congress during the eight years of George Washington’s presidency. A prominent member of the Massachusetts convention
that ratified the Constitution for that state, he termed democracy "a government by the passions of the multitude, or, no less correctly, according
to the vices and ambitions of their leaders." On another occasion, he labeled democracy’s majority rule one of "the intermediate stages towards …
tyranny." He later opined: "Democracy, in its best state, is but the politics of Bedlam; while kept chained, its thoughts are frantic, but when it
breaks loose, it kills the keeper, fires the building, and perishes." And in an essay entitled The Mire of Democracy, he wrote that the framers of
the Constitution "intended our government should be a republic, which differs more widely from a democracy than a democracy from a despotism."