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be governed by a body in which they were not repre- /sented. If then, the War of Independence was not waged primarily for the purpose of founding a republic, it was waged in the interest of democracy, in the interest of founding a government which on the one hand should be responsible to the people and for which on the other, the people should be responsible. /
Any particular state is merely the expression of an ideal of society and when the Revolution had ended and the time had come to shape a constitution, it was natural that our forefathers should have chosen a republican form of government, in which not only are the policies to be pursued formulated by the citizens through their representatives, but the executives of these policies are also named by them. /
In modern times and on so large a scale, the experiment was new and we have the distinction of having been the first of the great modern republics. The experiment, and such it was, was viewed abroad with interest and suspicion. During our early trials, and they were many and serious, few on the other side of the Atlantic believed that the new and struggling government could endure. For not only was our state a new departure, but the way of life of the colonists also; and the structure of their society differed in many respects from that of the great European powers. We had, to be sure, inherited the liberal traditions of the English law and the English constitution, but the great European states still maintained the social order known as feudal, developed in the Mid-/ die Ages and based upon the existence and official
recognition of privileged classes. Of such a class and such a feudal tradition we knew nothing, and the ignorance was a fortunate one.
If the little republic embarked upon an uncharted sea, it did so under the most favorable conditions ever vouchsafed to man. A people of pioneers, unhampered by constraining traditions, we were threatened by no fear of invasion by powerful and aggressive neighbors and we had been given as our inheritance what was to become the richest section of the habitable globe. Our past could not hamper us, and the future with untold wealth and an almost unlimited domain, lay before us "like a land of dreams." We were free as no European nation could possibly be free to carry out in relative peace and security the great democratic experiment. Before the world our rich endowment brought with it a corresponding responsibility never adequately recognized by the mass of our citizens. We have been justly regarded by others and should more frequently and seriously regard ourselves as the initiators of and the sponsors for the democratic idea; government of the people, by the people, and for the people, as Lincoln put it in memorable words. It was such a state based on ideas of freedom and social and political equality that Washington sought to found, that Lincoln maintained against internal division, and that President Wilson is now defending against unwarranted foreign interference and the unprovoked aggression of an autocratic power. Our democracy today is for the first time in history called upon to
justify itself and to defend itself against autocracy. The aim of democracy is the liberty and welfare of the individual; the aim of autocracy is the power of the rulers and the state. The idea of conquest, cf forcing an alien rule upon a strange people is foreign to the spirit of democracy. It is, however, of the essence of autocratic governments. It is well, therefore, that we now bethink ourselves and take counsel with our leaders.
It is a mistake to believe that democracy as we know it in America is a form of government sanctioned by classical examples reaching back to remote antiquity and with a long tradition behind it. Those who are tempted to believe otherwise should read carefully a passage written in 1901 by no less an authority than Woodrow "Wilson. _
; As a matter of fact democracy as we know it is no older than the end of the eighteenth century. The doctrines which sustain it can scarcely be said to derive any support at all from the practices of ths4 classical states, or any countenance whatever from the principles of classical statesmen and philosophers. The citizens who constituted the people of the ancient republics were, when most numerous, a mere privileged class, a ruling minority of the population taken as a whole. Under their domination slaves abounded, and citizenship and even the privileges of the courts of justice were reserved for men of a particular blood and lineage. It never entered into the thought of any ancient republican to conceive of all men as equally entitled to take part in any government, or even in
the control of any government, by votes cast or lots drawn. Those who were in the ranks of privileged citizenship despised those who were not, guarded their ranks very jealously against intruders, and used their power as a right singular and exclusive, theirs, not as men, but as Athenians of authentic extraction, as Romans of old patrician blood.
"Modern democracy wears a very different aspect, and rests upon principles separated by the whole heaven from those of the Roman or Grecian democrat. Its theory is of equal rights without respect of blood or breeding. It knows nothing of a citizenship won by privilege or inherited through lines of descent which cannot be changed or broadened. Its thought is of a society without castes or classes, of an equality of political birthright which is without bound or limitation. Its foundations are set in a philosophy that would extend to all mankind an equal emancipation, make citizens of all men, and cut away everywhere exceptional privilege. 'All men are born free and equal' is the classical sentence of its creed, and its dream is always of a state in which no man shall have mastery over another without his willing acquiescence and consent. It speaks always of the sovereignty of the people, and the rulers as the peoples' servants.- .
"Democracy is the antithesis of all government by privilege. It excludes all hereditary right to rule, whether in a single family or in a single class or in any combination of classes. It makes the general welfare of society the end and object of law, and declares that no class, no aristocratic minority, no single group of men, however numerous, however capable, however enlightened, can see broadly enough or sufficiently free itself from bias to perceive nation's needs in their entirety or guide its destiniAs for the benefit of all. The consent of the governed must at every turn check and determine the action of those who make and execute the laws."
Neither is our democracy the first and primitive form of government as is sometimes supposed. It is as a matter of fact the latest form of government, designed to give the individual the greatest degree of liberty and responsibility. We must not therefore regard it as something which will "run itself" or which has "always been so." Indeed men of great authority like the English political historians, Lecky and Sir Henry Maine, have looked upon certain recent popular tendencies with grave misgiving. Maine admitted that the great tendency of recent decades has been to turn power more and more into the hands of the people, but felt that the movement was not intelligent, that the people did not know why they desired this power or what they would do once they had it in their possession. Lecky felt this same distrust. The quest for power in our democracy has only too often been selfish. If the people wish to exercise the great prerogatives of government, they must also assume the equally serious responsibility of molding "our confusion of purposes, traditions, habits, into a common ordered tradition."
The American people have come to us from every continent, they are of different races and diverging national traditions. They can only be united and welded into a truly great nation if we make these divergent traditions converge upon a definite and identical future. Though it must be a long task, it