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In 1787, when the Founding Fathers had hammered out the U.S. Constitution in Independence Hall in Philadelphia, 
Benjamin Franklin told an inquiring woman what the gathering had produced, "A republic, madam, if you can keep it."


A Republic - NOT a Democracy!
"A simple democracy is the Devil's own government."
Benjamin Rush

James Madison - 4th U.S. President and primary author of the Constitution: "But I go on this great republican principle, that the people will have virtue and intelligence to select men of virtue and wisdom. Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks--no form of government can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea. If there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men. So that we do not depend on their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them."

"In the first place, it is to be remembered, that the general government is not to be charged with the whole power of making and administering laws: its jurisdiction is limited to certain enumerated objects, which concern all the members of the republic, but which are not to be attained by the separate provisions of any." --James Madison, Federalist No. 14, 1787

"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." --James Madison, letter to William Hunter, 1790

"There is no good government but what is republican. That the only valuable part of the British constitution is so; for the true idea of a republic is 'an empire of laws, and not of men.' That,as a republic is the best of governments, so that particular arrangement of the powers of society, or in other words, that form of government which is best contrived to secure an impartial and exact execution of the law, is the best of republics." --John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776

"Republics decline into democracies and democracies degenerate into despotisms." - Aristotle (384-322 BC)

"[In a pure democracy], [a] common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert results from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such 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 deaths." James Madison

"The fundamental principle of our Constitution, which enjoins that the will of the majority shall prevail." (Within the framework of the Constitution and Biblical Law, not mob rule.) George Washington (1732-1799) Father of the Country, 1st President of the United States

"A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine." Thomas Jefferson

See also: The Electoral College was designed as a major ingredient in the Republic, versus a democracy, to prevent "mob rule" in the states when electing the President.


“That Book (the Bible) is the rock on which our Republic rests.”
Andrew Jackson

"It has been observed, by an honorable gentleman, that a pure democracy, if it were practicable, would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position in politics is more false than this. The ancient democracies, in which the people themselves deliberated, never possessed one feature of good government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure, deformity. When they assembled, the field of debate presented an ungovernable mob, not only incapable of deliberation, but prepared for every enormity." ~ Alexander Hamilton

Republic vs. Democracy - (Video 10:35) "A Republic, If You Can Keep It" - The American Form of Government

Federalist No. 14 - Author James Madison - ...The error which limits republican government to a narrow district has been unfolded and refuted in preceding papers. I remark here only that it seems to owe its rise and prevalence chiefly to the confounding of a republic with a democracy, applying to the former reasonings drawn from the nature of the latter.

The true distinction between these forms was also adverted to on a former occasion. It is, that in a democracy, the people meet and exercise the government in person; in a republic, they assemble and administer it by their representatives and agents. A democracy, consequently, will be confined to a small spot. A republic may be extended over a large region. 

...Under the confusion of names, it has been an easy task to transfer to a republic observations applicable to a democracy only; and among others, the observation that it can never be established but among a small number of people, living within a small compass of territory.

James Madison, Federalist No. 44 - "What is to be the consequence, in case the Congress shall misconstrue this part [the necessary and proper clause] of the Constitution and  exercise powers not warranted by its true meaning, I answer the same as if they should misconstrue or enlarge any other power vested in them...the success of the usurpation will depend on the executive and judiciary departments, which are to expound and give effect to the legislative acts; and in a last resort a remedy must be obtained from the people, who can by the elections of more faithful representatives, annul the acts of the usurpers."

James Madison Federalist No. 48 - 1788 (Separation of Powers) - An ELECTIVE DESPOTISM was not the government we fought for; but one which should not only be founded on free principles, but in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among several bodies of magistracy, as that no one could transcend their legal limits, without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.


Thomas Jefferson on Politics & Government 19. Separation of Powers: Federal and State The Federative Principle was the mechanism introduced by the Founders that made possible a republic spread over a vast continent. In addition, by dividing governmental power into co-equal, independent responsibilities, each branch of government might serve as a check on the other and thus prevent either one from undermining the safety of the public liberty. "Our country is too large to have all its affairs directed by a single government. Public servants at such a distance, and from under the eye of their constituents, must, from the circumstance of distance, be unable to administer and overlook all the details necessary for the good government of the citizens; and the same circumstance, by rendering detection impossible to their constituents, will invite public agents to corruption, plunder and waste." --Thomas Jefferson to Gideon Granger, 1800. ME 10:167

...It is not by the consolidation or concentration of powers, but by their distribution that good government is effected. Were not this great country already divided into States, that division must be made that each might do for itself what concerns itself directly and what it can so much better do than a distant authority. Every state again is divided into counties, each to take care of what lies within its local bounds; each county again into townships or wards, to manage minuter details . . . It is by this partition of cares descending in gradation from general to particular that the mass of human affairs may be best managed for the good and prosperity of all.

Quote from Thomas Jefferson "The several states composing the United States of America are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a general government for special purposes [and] delegated to that government certain definite powers and whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force. To this compact each state acceded as a state, and is an integral party, its co-states forming, as to itself, the other party. The government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself, since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution the measure of its powers." (Click here for a compilation of Jefferson quotes.)

"I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground that 'all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states or to the people.' To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, not longer susceptible of any definition." --Thomas Jefferson, Opinion on the Constitutionality of a National Bank, 1791

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Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

"Each of these States is sovereign under the Constitution; and if we wish to preserve our liberties, the reserved rights and sovereignty of each and every State must be maintained. [God forbid that any man should ever make the attempt [undermine State sovereignty]. Let that Constitution ever be trodden under foot and destroyed, and there will not be wisdom and patriotism enough left to make another that will work half so well. Our safety, our liberty, depends upon preserving the Constitution of the United States as our fathers made it, inviolate, at the same time maintaining the reserved rights and the sovereignty of each State over its local and domestic institutions, against Federal authority, or any outside interference." --Abraham Lincoln - Sixteenth President of the United States

"On every question of construction, let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed." --Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) Third President of the United States 

"The first and governing maxim in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it." --James Wilson (1742-1798) Founding Father, assisted in drafting the Constitution, Supreme Court Justice 

"The state governments, I think, will not be endangered by the powers vested by this Constitution in the general government. While I have attended in Congress, I have observed that the members were quite as strenuous advocates for the rights of their respective states as for those of the Union. I doubt not but this will continue to be the case, and hence I infer that the general government will not have the disposition to encroach upon the states. But still the people themselves must be the chief support of liberty. While the great body of the freeholders (voters) are acquainted with the duties which they owe to their God, to themselves, and to men, remain free. But if ignorance and depravity should prevail, they will inevitably lead to slavery and ruin." --Samuel Huntington (1731-1796) Founding Father, patriot and statesman

"Another not unimportant consideration is, that the powers of the general government will be, and indeed must be, principally employed upon external objects, such as war, peace, negotiations with foreign powers, and foreign commerce. In its internal operations it can touch but few objects, except to introduce regulations beneficial to the commerce, intercourse, and other relations, between the states, and to lay taxes for the common good. The powers of the states, on the other hand, extend to all objects, which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, and liberties, and property of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the state." --Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

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Excerpt from: U.S. Supreme Court PACIFIC STATES TELEPHONE & TELEGRAPH CO. v. STATE OF OREGON, 223 U.S. 118 (1912) 223 U.S. 118 - PACIFIC STATES TELEPHONE & TELEGRAPH COMPANY, Plff. in Err., v. STATE OF OREGON. No. 36. - Argued November 3, 1911. Decided February 19, 1912.

1. Difference between a republic and democracy.

2. In ascertaining the meaning of the phrase 'republican form of government,' the debates of the constitutional conventions and the federalist papers are of great importance, if not conclusive.

3. The framers of the Constitution recognized the distinction between the republican and democratic form of government, and carefully avoided the latter.

4. The extent of territory of the states alone sufficed, in the judgment of the framers of the Constitution, to condemn the establishment of a democratic form of government.

5. The form of state government perpetuated by the Constitution was the republican form, with the three departments of government, in force in all the states at the time of the adoption of the Constitution.

6. The history of other nations does not furnish the definition of the phrase 'republican form of government,' as those words were used by the framers of the Constitution. They distinguish the American from all other republics by the introduction of the principle of representation.

7. Initiative legislation is invalid because government by the people directly is inconsistent with our form of government.

8. The well-known practices of (a) adopting state Constitutions by popular vote, and of (b) local legislation in 'town meetings,' furnish no precedent for the lodgment of legislative power in the ballot box. [223 U.S. 118, 139]   V.

The Tyranny of the Minority by A.W.R. Hawkins - When the Founding Fathers created this nation, they designated it a republic rather than a democracy. They did so because a republic is fixed and tends toward stability over time, whereas a democracy, which is always in flux, is prone to violent dissolution at any moment.  In fact, many of them referred to democracy as “mob rule,” and wanted to avoid it like the plague for fear that it could provide a faction the opportunity to access to the levers of political power and change the course of the nation for the worse in a relatively short period of time.

Although we have all but abolished the Constitution the Founders left us and moved closer to a democracy with each passing generation, we have still managed to remain a republic foundationally. Yet somewhere along the way, between 1776 and now, we opened the door to a rabid political correctness that has actually nurtured the very faction-like atmosphere which tends to undo a republic. But it's not the kind of faction our Founders feared: not one where a majority of voters unite for a cause and force their will upon the citizenry as a whole. Instead, it's a perverted use of the court system and groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that allow a person to claim that he's been offended and then to levy the charge against those who gave offense in order to control their actions. In other words, we're not dealing with the tyranny of the majority, but the tyranny of the minority.

We have lost nativity scenes in cities across America because one citizen of one city doesn't like Christmas. We have lost freedom of religious expression in our public school system because a student here or there is bothered when people pray. We have lost crosses on many of our war memorials because atheists want to shield their children from religious exposure. And we are poised to lose even more freedoms if we don't stop this scourge before it sweeps across our land and our intellectual landscape completely.

Democracy Versus Liberty By Walter E. Williams - Contrast the framers' vision of a republic with that of a democracy. Webster defines a democracy as 'government by the people; especially: rule of the majority.' In a democracy, the majority rules either directly or through its elected representatives. As in a monarchy, the law is whatever the government determines it to be. Laws do not represent reason. They represent force. The restraint is upon the individual instead of government. Unlike that envisioned under a republican form of government, rights are seen as privileges and permissions that are granted by government and can be rescinded by government. To highlight the offensiveness to liberty that democracy and majority rule is, just ask yourself how many decisions in your life would you like to be made democratically. How about what car you drive, where you live, whom you marry, whether you have turkey or ham for Thanksgiving dinner? If those decisions were made through a democratic process, the average person would see it as tyranny and not personal liberty. Is it no less tyranny for the democratic process to determine whether you purchase health insurance or set aside money for retirement? Both for ourselves and our fellow man around the globe, we should be advocating liberty, not the democracy that we've become -- where a roguish Congress can do anything simply by mustering a majority vote.

James Madison, Federalist No. 55, 1788 - "As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust: So there are other qualities in human nature, which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence. Republican government presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form. Were the pictures which have been drawn by the political jealousy of some among us, faithful likenesses of the human character, the inference would be that there is not sufficient virtue among men for self-government; and that nothing less than the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another."

ObamaCare, democracy, and the Republic By John Hayward - One of the most common category errors in political discourse is referring to the United States of America as a “democracy.” It is not a democracy, and it never has been. The Founding Fathers would be absolutely horrified to learn their descendants would routinely use the term.  Democracy is mob rule. The Founders opposed it as strongly as they opposed monarchy. The government they created was designed to restrain both the despotic control of a ruling elite, and the transitory passions of the crowd. How often have you heard it said that we must preserve the rights of minorities against the tyranny of the majority? This idea is profoundly hostile to “democracy,” in which the majority always gets its way, subject to whatever absolute limits might be placed on the power of the State. If you are a person of middle age, you may have noticed there is much less talk about protecting the rights of the minority these days, or of placing absolute limits on the power of the State. Dissent ceased to be the highest expression of patriotism roughly five years ago.
   The old battle between “democracy” and the Republic flared up on the set of a talk show yesterday, in the context of ObamaCare and the movement to defund it, as reported by Politico: Rev. Al Sharpton argued with Rep. Doug Collins over Republican efforts to defund Obamacare in a government funding bill, asking him if that’s consistent with democracy and prompting Collins to declare America’s not a democracy, but a republic.
   ...Sharpton seized on the comment, saying he was eager to share that news with Collins’s constituents. “I really hope the people in the 9th District know in the next election they should not vote thinking this is a democracy. That Doug Collins says this is not a democracy. I’ll even send you the clip so you can play it in your next campaign,” Sharpton said.
   ...So yes, for the record, Sharpton is absolutely wrong, Collins is absolutely correct, and if you think otherwise, you should return any high-school or college diplomas in your possession and consider suing the schools you got them from for malpractice.  The people of the 9th District should be insulted that Al Sharpton thinks they are as ignorant as he is.
   But let’s take this opportunity to consider why the difference between a democracy and a republic is important, beginning with the observation that even if Sharpton was correct, it wouldn’t help the argument he was trying to make.  For starters, if America really was a “democracy,” ObamaCare would be dead and buried by now.  The people hate it; they have always hated it; they hate it more as they learn more about it; a strong majority has always disapproved of it.  Democracy is essentially government by referendum, and if the American people were given a chance to directly vote on the survival of ObamaCare, it would not have survived beyond 2011. ObamaCare exists entirely because America is a republic.  
   The Democrats used a temporary lock on both houses of Congress, plus the White House, to shove the Affordable Care Act onto the books. Even at that, it was necessary to hold a black-market bazaar of backroom deals and special carve-outs to buy the votes needed for passage. None of that would have worked if America was a democracy. There’s no way the Democrats could have purchased enough popular support to muscle it through. That’s not an argument in favor of democracy, incidentally. Direct popular government is quite capable of making awful mistakes. It is more prone to such mistakes than a republic, on balance.  
   ...These parts of Sharpton’s outburst are complete non sequiturs. He’s not really complaining about offenses against “democracy” – he’s whining about political initiatives he personally dislikes. He is also willfully misrepresenting the current legislative situation, which should come as no surprise. The Republicans are not the ones threatening to shut down the government; Barack Obama and the Democrats are. The choice before them is funding the entire government, except for the badly broken and unworkable program known as the Affordable Care Act, or shutting down the government to defend the ACA.  It is unsurprising that every liberal in the nation will lie through his teeth about the nature of the situation, since they’ve put a lot of effort into making the American public frightened of “government shutdowns” and angry at those who precipitate them.  ...if Mitt Romney had won the 2012 election and postponed the employer mandate of ObamaCare, precisely the way Barack Obama has done, the Left would be howling with rage, and Democrats in Congress would probably be talking about impeaching him.
   ...America was created as a republic to protect the rights of the minority, encourage meaningful dissent (as opposed to rhetorical dissent, which amounts to bolting a suggestion box to the office door of a tyrant) and de-centralize power. The Left was very clever about turning the strengths of the Republic against it, beginning with the crucial evisceration of the Constitution: removing the restraints upon government, making the states helplessly subordinate to an all-powerful federal system, and sheltering power in the hidden recesses of the bureaucracy, where voters and their representatives would never be able to retrieve it. The states were actually supposed to have direct influence upon federal legislation – that was the original purpose of the Senate, corrupted by the switch to direct election of Senators with the Seventeenth Amendment, early in the Twentieth Century. ObamaCare was, perhaps, the ultimate corruption of republican virtue.  It might prove to be the final corruption of the Republic. Its architects and apologists could at least do the Republic the courtesy of calling her by her proper name while they dump the last shovels full of dirt on her coffin.  

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