In the period between the Revolution and the drafting of the Constitution, Jefferson noted that the eventual existence of a dictator in place of a king in Ancient Rome clearly indicated the existence of real failings within the Roman system: It would also defend against the tyrannical impositions of a majority society on the minority.
dictator is entirely antithetical to republicanism's "fundamental principle...that the state shall be governed as a commonwealth," that there be majority rule, and no prerogative, no "exercise of [any] powers undefined by the laws." "Powers of governing...in a plurality of hands." (Zuckert, 1996, p. 214)
As a result, Jefferson, like the philosophes before him (and the Iroquois) would turn to ideas that would balance the necessary evils of government power with the rights of the people. James Madison agreed wholeheartedly, and urged in "Government of the United States" that a constitutional government based on separation of powers was the only sure way of preventing the country from taking the "high road to monarchy." (Morgan, 1988, p. 97) Thomas Paine, for his part, recognized the significance of government as both a protector and destroyer of rights. In the ideal and happy world of Rousseau, government would not have been necessary - the general will took care of the social contract. Voltaire, on the other hand, had understood that governments - even strong governments i.e. absolute monarchs were sometimes necessary to protect basic rights such as those of property and person. Paine saw the problems with both of these approaches:
His founding covenant aims at augmenting rather than diminishing power "by a condensation of all the parts." In this version, the contracting parties form an alliance which gathers together the isolated strength of all the allied partners and binds them into a new power structure in which all the co-associates partake, "so that each individual should possess the strength of the whole number."
(Kalyvas & Katznelson, 2006)
Separation of powers would achieve the dual goals of protecting the rights of each individual, and of all individuals, by increasing the relative strengths of each position. In this less than perfect civilized world, in no case must one be permitted to exceed the power of the other. The doctrine of separation of powers, developed and applied on every level of the new republic's government and within its society, would essentially prevent the abuses of past republics, and as well, forestall any reversion to monarchy or dictatorship. The states would balance the national government. The multiplicity of seats in the congress would offset the influence of any one individual or official. A formal, written ...
Thus, the separation of powers doctrine as it related to the preservation of natural rights, and the balancing of the general will with the rights of the individual, set up an idealized social contract such as that recognized by the Enlightenment philosophers. The Founding Fathers realized that many of the principles described in the Enlightenment writings, while essential aspects of human freedom, were also in conflict with one another. Government was a necessary evil that both guaranteed these rights and also potentially undermined them. Jefferson and Paine understood that bad governments need to be overthrown. In conformance with the ideas of Rousseau, they discerned the essential purpose of government as the protection of the fundamental rights of all individuals. But like Voltaire, they realized that individual rights were distinct from those imposed by the general will. Both these classes of rights would have to be protected. Each was equally natural, a fact understood by "noble savages" like the Iroquois who had created their won version of a model republic, much along the lines of the best Ancient Roman principles. By balancing one force against another, the people could achieve true freedom. If that freedom was not being afforded them, they had the right to rebel, to launch a revolution against their oppressors - this was the lesson of the writers of the Eighteenth Century Enlightenment.
Black, E. (1988). Our Constitution: The Myth That Binds Us. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Brooks, C.K. (1996). Controlling the Metaphor: Language and Self-Definition in Revolutionary America. CLIO, 25(3), 233+.
Eicholz, H.L. (2001). Harmonizing Sentiments: The Declaration of Independence and the Jeffersonian Idea of Self-Government. New York: Peter Lang.
Kalyvas, a., & Katznelson, I. (2006). The Republic of the Moderns: Paine's and Madison's Novel Liberalism. Polity, 38(4), 447+.
Morgan, R.J. (1988). James Madison on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. New York: Greenwood Press.
Paine, T. (1995). Rights of Man, Common Sense, and Other Political Writings (M. Philp, Ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Shafer, G. (2002, January/February). Another Side of Thomas Jefferson: He Was the Icon Who Drafted the Declaration of Independence. The Man Who Most Ardently Championed the Fight for Individual Rights at a Time When Such Notions Were Singed with Controversy. And Yet. The Humanist, 62, 16+.
Strang, L.J. (2005). The Clash of Rival and Incompatible Philosophical Traditions within Constitutional Interpretation: Originalism Grounded in the Central Western Philosophical Tradition. Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, 28(3), 909+.
Toth, C.W. (Ed.). (1989). Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite: The American Revolution & the European Response. Troy, NY: Whitston Publishing.
Zuckert, M.P. (1996). The Natural Rights Republic: Studies in the Foundation of the American Political Tradition (Revised ed.). Notre Dame, in: University of Notre Dame Press.
It would also defend against the tyrannical impositions of a majority society on the minority.
Women in the American Revolution Social Status of Women in the Revolution Molly Pitcher - the real story Evidence supporting her existence Evidence denying her existence An American Icon Other Women who took up Arms Women as Spies Ann Bates Miss Jenny Life as a Camp Follower Women in Supporting Roles The winds of Equality Abigail Adams Patriotism Men's views on Women in the Revolution Women as a Symbol of the Comforts of Home Women in the American Revolution played a deciding factor in the success of
The Writings of Thomas Paine: An Unsung Hero and Architect of the American Revolution The writings of Thomas Paine were a critically influential voice that helped tip the balance of popular opinion in favor of revolution in colonial America. It is easy to forget that many of the Founding Fathers were deeply embedded in the governing structures of Great Britain within the colonies, even though they attempted to gain a greater voice
Writers such as Poe, Herman Melville, and Nathaniel Hawthorne became known as the key figures in the Dark Romantic sub-genre that emerged out of Transcendentalism. American literature also found its voice through poetry during the 19th century, particularly in the works of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. The two poets produced remarkably dissimilar bodies of work. Whitman rose to prominence during the American Civil War with his free verse extolling
In many ways, the how of the evolution of the Civil War is a pseudo-chicken-and-egg question; which issue supported the other? Did the slave labor of the South spawn the abolition rampant throughout Union ideology or did the economics of one-sided success and agricultural threat pose a fundamental insecurity system? New Jersey highlighted the road in between. "Let the south be protected in all her rights but let the
" Here, Burke argued that revolution in general, and the French Revolution in particular, must be matched with reason and a reluctance to completely give up to radical thinking. Rousseau gave in directly to the revolution, arguing that it is a direct result of man's socialization, but Burke was much more cautious: Revolution is not automatically good for Burke, nor is it intrinsic to man. Given Burke's record as a strong supporter of
The author portrays the Pontiac War, for example, as an Indian war of independence against British rule. The level of bloodshed and the number of displaced or destroyed Indian populations grew not only in relation with Indian-British violent relation but also due to East-West migration. As soon as French presence disappeared, white colonists started moving aggressively in Indian territory creating even more instability in the region for Britain. Weakened