The American political and education systems have been very successful in convincing the people that the Founders established a national democracy when they wrote the Constitution. Nothing could be further from the truth. The members of the Federal [Constitutional] Convention of 1787 realized that pure democracy, government exercised directly by the people, was one of the worst systems of government ever devised. Therefore, they designed a republican or representative form of government, based on a written constitution, with checks and balances to restrain the majority from imposing democratic tyranny on the minority. FN-1
MEMBERS OF THE FEDERAL CONVENTION ATTACK DEMOCRACY
On May 29, 1787, Governor Edmund Randolph of Virginia introduced a resolution in the Federal Convention proposing:
"[T]hat a Republican Government...ought to be guarantied by the United States to each state."
Speaking in support of his resolution, Randolph stated:
"Our chief danger arises from the democratic parts of our [State] constitutions. It is a maxim which I hold incontrovertible, that the powers of government exercised by the people swallows up the other branches. None of the [State] constitutions have provided sufficient checks against democracy."
On May 31, during debate on Randolph's resolution, Elbridge Gerry, a delegate from Massachusetts said:
"The evils we experience flow from the excess of democracy. The people do not want virtue, but are dupes of pretended patriots. In Massachusetts it had been fully confirmed by experience that they are daily misled into the most baneful measures and opinions by false reports circulated by designing men..."
Randolph, in agreement with the observation made by Mr. Gerry stated:
"[T]he general object was to provide a cure for the evils under which the U.S. laboured; that in tracing these evils to their origin every man found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy."
During the debates that followed, Alexander Hamilton of New York said:
"We are now forming a republican government. Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments."
Luther Martin, Attorney General of Maryland, made the following observation during the debates:
"This general government, I believe, is first upon earth which gives checks against democracies..."
Through their studies of history, leading members of the Convention reached the conclusion that government exercised directly by the people led to tumult, attacks on persons and property, and finally to despotism. Their belief was that democracy could only be a transitory stage of government that would evolve into tyranny of the rich or powerful demagogue who patronized the people. FN-2
MADISON EXPLAINS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A DEMOCRACY AND A REPUBLIC
In the Federalist essays, James Madison discussed the difference between a democracy and a republic:
"[D]emocracies 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 deaths...
A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking."
"[I]n a democracy the people exercise the government in person; in a republic they administer it by their representatives..."
In a republican form of government, representatives are interposed between the people and the law making process to control the will of the majority. In a constitutional republic, such as the United States of America, only those laws made in pursuance to the powers granted in the Constitution are valid. Under this system of government, the Constitution is supreme and above the will, or the vote, of the majority.
DIETZE ON DEMOCRACY
Professor Gottfried Dietze, in his book "The Federalist," wrote the following about democracy:
"Democracy tends to be the rule of an 'interested and overbearing majority,' which does not consider the rights of the minority and is incompatible with the protection principle. It is also incompatible with the principle of popular participation in government, since it has a tendency to degenerate into tyranny."
Democracy is tyranny by the majority. It allows the majority to use the political process to infringe on the life, liberty and property of the minority because the will of the majority determines the law. Individual rights have no place in a democracy because there are usually no safeguards to protect those rights from the vote of the majority.
ATWOOD ON REPUBLICAN GOVERNMENT
In his 1927 book, "The Constitution Explained," Harry Atwood, an attorney, used an interesting analogy to distinguish a democracy from a republic:
"A democracy is a form of government in which the people speak and act directly on public questions. It permits too much participation by the people and finally results in chaos. It creates the kind of condition in the world of government that would be created in the field of medicine if, in the event of our illness, we were to submit to a popular vote what medicine we should take, and then take it regardless of the consequences."
"A republic is a form of government in which power is vested in regularly selected representatives with authority to act and decide public questions. It provides just enough participation by the people in governmental affairs and leads to orderly progress. It creates the kind of condition in the world of government that is created in the field of medicine when, in the event of our illness, we select a doctor whom we regard as qualified to treat our ailment."
On September 18, 1787, one day after the Federal Convention completed its work, a lady approached Dr. Benjamin Franklin and asked, "Well, Dr. Franklin, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?" "A republic," replied the doctor, "if you can keep it." FN-3
FN-1. Americans tend to confuse a democracy with a democratic process. The representatives we elect under our republican form of government are elected through a democratic process. Even though representatives are usually elected by a majority vote, the majority cannot directly control how their representatives vote on legislation. If the representatives act contrary to the wishes of the majority, the people have the power to use the democratic process to remove the representatives and replace them with new representatives.
FN-2. In his book, "Notes on Democracy," H.L. Menckin wrote: " [T]he only sort of liberty that is real under democracy is the liberty of the have-nots to destroy the liberty of the haves."
Cicero, an intellectual of ancient Rome, wrote that the man usually chosen as the leader in a democracy is: "Someone bold and unscrupulous who curries favor with the people by giving them other men's property."
FN-3. The system of government established by the Constitution could also be referred to as a "democratic republic" because, as stated in footnote 1, representatives are elected through a democratic process.
Some other, related reading:
Now Available! See Editor's review here.
of Rights Does Not Grant You Any Constitutional Rights"
$10.00-includes shipping and any applicable sales tax.
Email any questions concerning the book/booklet to Bob at-govtnitwit [at] yahoo.com
Greenslade focuses his writing on issues surrounding the federal government
and the Constitution. He believes politicians at the federal level, through
ignorance or design, are systematically dismantling the Constitution in
an effort to expand their power and consolidate control over the American
people. He has dedicated himself to resurrecting the true intent of the
Constitution in the hope that the information will contribute, in some
small way, to restoring the system of limited government established by
If you are interested in finding out more about the Constitution, take a look at this book. I use it in many of my articles and it is the best book I've found on this subject. Bob
Reprint of the 1868 edition. ''Perhaps the ablest analysis of the nature and character of the federal government that has ever been published. It has remained unanswered.'' This review of Judge Story's Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States is perhaps the ablest analysis of the nature and character of the Federal Government that has ever been published. It has remained unanswered. Indeed, we are not aware that any attempt has been made to challenge the soundness of its reasoning. The great vise of Judge Story and the Federalists consisted in desiring the clothe the federal government with almost monarchical power, whereas the States had carefully and resolutely reserved the great mass of political power for themselves. The powers which they delegated to the federal government were few, and were general in their character. Those which they reserved embraced their original and inalienable sovereignty, which no state imagined it was surrendering when it adopted the constitution. Mr. Madison dwelt with great force upon the fact that ''a delegated is not a surrendered power.'' The states surrendered no powers to the federal government -- they only delegated them. 160 pages.
Please see the bottom of the page for Bob's book offer.