The Noble Romans
It turns out that the founders of this nation had studied ancient Rome quite a bit. Philosophers thought that Rome had provided its citizens with the most freedoms the world had ever known. Because of their fondness for the Romans, the architecture of many buildings in Washington, D.C. reflects the "classical" style. Here are some of the ideas the framers learned from the Romans.
The United States' government is that of a democratic republic. If one takes the two separate ideas and combines them, a whole new form of government emerges. A republic is a form of government: dedicated to promoting the public good, where political authority is shared amongst the citizens, and which used chosen representatives to exercise this authority. A democracy is a government based on the will of the majority of the people.
This form of government was best exhibited by the Roman Republic of history. It promoted the common good above anything else. Each person was expected to cooperate with everyone else to reap the rewards that they all worked for together. The three main parts of this form of government are: civic virtue, moral education, and small, uniform communities. Civic virtue is evinced when someone sets aside their own personal desires for he good of the community. The people had much fewer rights than we do today because they were expected to be a part of the whole, working for a common end. The young children of this period were taught moral education. Good habits, the arts, and religion were all aspects of this education. The last quality, the small, uniform communities, is something one would be hard-pressed to find in some areas of the nation, today. In Rome, they believed that a small, tight-knit community fostered civic virtue and limited any bad emotions such as greed or jealousy. The United States is hardly a form of Classical Republicanism. However, we can learn from this form and incorporate some of its ideology into our form to improve upon it. After all, one can never have too much civic virtue!
Copyright © 1997 Jonathan Chin & Alan Stern