Thomas Jefferson is one of the most famous Republican thinkers. Known for being the primary author of the Declaration of Independence and as the third President of the United States, he is a fitting start to a Spotlight post.
In the UK, Republicans tend to be linked with either the IRA or left wing extremists. In America, the word is inseparable with the political party of the same name. In this post, and hopefully others later, I shall be looking at famous/infamous Republicans and their views.
By the people
“A government is republican in proportion as every member composing it has his equal voice in the direction of its concerns: not indeed in person … but by representatives chosen by himself and responsible to him at short periods.”
Jefferson believed in democracy, and often times used the word ‘Republic’ when speaking of pure democracy. The constitution was described as making sure majority rule functioned in the nation’s interests.
“The principles of government… [are] founded in the rights of man.”
“The equality among our citizens [is] essential to the maintenance of republican government.”
“It is, indeed, of little consequence who governs us, if they sincerely and zealously cherish the principles of union and republicanism.”
Individual rights, like those in the Constitution, are more than a necessity for Jefferson’s ideal republic.
On establishing a Republic
“[To establish republican government, it is necessary to] effect a constitution in which the will of the nation shall have an organized control over the actions of its government, and its citizens a regular protection against its oppressions.”
“[The first step is] to concur in a declaration of rights, at least, so that the nation may be acknowledged to have some fundamental rights not alterable by their ordinary legislature, and that this may form a ground work for future improvements.”
With this, we can see how essential a constitution is to a republic for Jefferson – majority rule balanced by law.