Free Essay. Evolution of Republicanism in America

Published: 2023-03-17
Free Essay. Evolution of Republicanism in America
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Politics Government American revolution
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1783 words
15 min read

Republicanism political ideology, which was widespread during the colonial era in America, was the distinctive political consciousness in the revolution of the United States. The foundation principles of republicanism are liberty and unalienable individual rights that make collectively make people a sovereign society. The philosophy of republicanism refuses monarchy, aristocracy, and other forms of assumption of political power through inheritance. The citizens are required to be patriotic and carry out their civic duties faithfully. The system also reviles all forms of corruption and unaccountability in governance. The American republicanism ideology was developed by the founding fathers who considered the philosophy, not just as a form of government but as a lifestyle. There was an evolution in the republicanism ideas that changed the concept of a good country. The ideology of the right to ownership of property changed from socialism to capitalism, which had a significant impact on the acquisition of property. Also, the idea of democracy evolved from the concept of majority rule to the idea of having an organized society founded on justice and actions directed towards the common good. Furthermore, the idea of voluntary military service as a form a civic duty to a structured organization had an impact on the role of the military. The ideology of republicanism underwent significant changes from the revolutionary to the constitutional period that significantly changed the conceptions of a good republic.

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The American Revolution Era

The principles of republicanism formed the basis for the American Revolution. The revolution of America, also acknowledged as the American Battle of Liberation, occurred between 1765 and 1783. It was characterized by the revolt against Great Britain's colonial rule, and France assisted the Americans to gain independence and form the United States of America. The rise of revolting was informed by increasing fear of political corruption and the threat to liberty. The Americans were disgusted by the rising levels of corruption propagated by the British colonialists, mismanagement of public resources, and hostility that threatened the idea of democracy. The ideals of republicanism of liberty and corruption-free society inspired the Americans to take action against the British rule. The revolution period was followed by the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the establishment of the American Constitution in 1787 (Campbell, 2017). Between this period, there was a shift in the ideologies of republicanism that changed the conception of republicanism values. Republicanism's understanding was that the revolt against the British rule was not merely meant to eject the colonial government but to institutionalize liberty and democracy.

Common Good and Legitimacy

The doctrine of republicanism is that the laws and the state should always serve the nation's people. The republicanism liberty states that subjection to the law and magistrates should be in an equal for all members in the population, and all actions should be for the common good but not private will or domination of any private master. The aspirations of liberty and a government that served the will of the people made America go to war against the British rule (Shi & Tindall, 2016). The ideologies of republicanism had immense contribution in writing the declaration of independence and towards the constitution. Also, the principles had a strong influence in establishing the big democracy that the United States is today. The idea of republicanism evolved from republicanism to democratic republicanism, where not only should the government service for the goodwill of the people, but such a government should be of the people, by the people and for the people (Shi & Tindall, 2016). The new idea of republicanism puts more emphasis on legitimacy, meaning the consent of the people must form a government.

Majority rule to the foundation of justice

During the drafting of the American constitution, the founding fathers wanted to have a constitution based on the principles of republicanism to guarantee liberty. They had fears that democracy, more so a direct democracy which involves a government by the rule of the majority, had the risks of the people trampling rights and liberties. The founding fathers had fears that democracy might take the form of a mob rule of which a demagogue could take advantage of such a system and which would put liberty and democracy at risk. The ideology was a warning against the tyranny of the majority in a direct democracy republic (Miller & Lynn, 2016). The idea of a government formed by the majority vote was objected by the founding fathers and but it was included in the constitution. However, some provisions were included in the constitution to recede the power to power to vote from the majority. This concern informed the need to have electoral colleges comprising of a few numbers of elites to elect the president (Miller & Lynn, 2016). In this ideology, the concept of the people changed from masses to an organized society founded on justice and concern for the common good. Therefore, there was an evolution of republicanism idea of the government by the people, that after recognizing that such powers can potentially work against liberty and democracy. This evolution of republicanism impacted on the ability of people to make decisions on their president. The changes in concept ensured that liberty was safeguarded.

Socialism to Capitalism

Another republicanism idea that evolved was the value that republicanism attached to property rights. Assets possessing democracy is a societal structure that allowed state-run authorities to facilitate an impartial supply of prolific chattels amongst the population largely, instead of permitting monopoly to emerge and govern the commerce. The members of the population are given a just and impartial chance to part in the marketplace (McIvor & Martin, 2017). In its early years and during the start and the spread of republicanism, the idea was that the state should own the property. However, towards the years of the constitution, the property-owning idea evolved, and republicanism embraced the idea of capitalism whereby the country's trade and business industry are controlled by individuals to make profits as opposed to the state-controlled economy. The evolution from socialism to capitalism created a huge gap between the rich and the poor.

Military as a Civic Duty to Military as a Career

Republicanism ideology also required citizens to put civic goals and duties above personal desires. This principle required men to volunteer in military service to fight for their country during the American revolution (Shaffer, 2017). The voluntary military was, therefore, an integral part of civic duty, and it demonstrated patriotism, virtuousness, and faithfulness to the nation. American revolutionists distrusted foreign mercenaries to fight for the liberation of the country, fearing that such interventions face the risk of fighting for control rather than fighting for liberation. Republicanism was thus of the view that voluntary military by the citizens was the guarantee to liberation. During the American Revolution era, military service was an indication of self-governance (Shaffer, 2017). However, towards the period of the constitution, the republicanism view on civic-military service evolved to the idea of having military service as a career. The structure and order of military changed from civic service to constitutionally controlled service with negotiated enlistments, the petition to hierarchical ranking, and negotiations towards discipline. Military service was transformed into a career. The Americans, therefore, could no longer offer themselves to work in the military as a sign of patriotism.

Republicanism Ideology on the Economy

The early republicanism ideology on the economy was the financial environment of the people to inculcate responsibility and other moral values that were at the heart of the republicanism ideology such as independence, honesty, and accountability. These values were critical for liberty and democracy to function. Republicanism principles opposed the policy of the federalists, which championed for self-interest. Those who embraced the principles of republicanism argued that the economic policy of the federalists debased the economic environment for the people instead of improving it. Therefore, the federal government was not acting in the interest of the common good for the people. They farther argued that the existing economic policy deluded the people instead of making them free. Hamilton's economic policy argued the federal government to introduce tariffs and excise tax on commodities such as whiskey, an idea that was vehemently opposed by western farmers. According to republicanism principles, the taxation and introduction of tariffs were not in the interest of the people, and therefore, the federal government was oppressing its people. Hamilton's proposals also included the establishment of a national bank that would have the capacity to distribute liquid capital. The federal bank would have a capital that was additional five times than the other entire American bank collectively. Hamilton's proposals were seen to contradict the principles and ideologies of republicanism and it led to initial opposition. The argument against Hamilton's proposals was that the establishment of the central bank would give the federal government the power to control the economy which was a right reserved for the people. However, the idea of republicanism changed and Hamilton proposals were adopted. The adoption of the proposals gave the federal government the power to control the economy.


Republicanism ideologies evolved between the American Revolution era and the constitutional period, and the changes in republicanism principles had significant changes to the concepts of a good republic. The founding fathers were inspired by the principles of republicanism, which exhort liberty and limiting corruption. The ideals inspired a revolt against British colonial rule. The republicanism principles mostly informed the constitution with safeguarding liberty and democracy being the key considerations in the making of the constitution. However, although the key principles of republicanism remained liberty, corruption-free society, and a government that upholds the common good of the people, other ideologies evolved with time and to significantly change the concept of a good republic that republicanism ideologies envisioned and advocated. The ideology of legitimacy to go alongside common good was strengthening, as the values of democracy evolved from a simple majority rule to an organized structure founded on justice. The ideology of socialism evolved into capitalism, which shifted ownership of the property from the state to individuals. Also, the ideology of military service participation as a sign of patriotism changed to having military as a career with the military men and women paid for their services.


Campbell, J. (2017). Republicanism and Natural Rights at the Founding. Retrieved from

McIvor, Martin. "Republicanism, socialism, and the renewal of the left." In search of social democracy. Manchester University Press, 2017. Retrieved from

Miller, Lisa Lynn. The Myth of Mob Rule: Violent Crime and Democratic Politics. Oxford University Press, 2016. Retrieved from

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