The American Founders made a revolutionary move when forming the new nation of the United States. They departed from the old European system of monarchy—in which executive power resides in a hereditary monarch such as a king or queen—and created a new and unique political system, a constitutional republic. A republic is a political system in which non-hereditary, elected executives and representatives govern for the citizens of a civil state. The Founders’ American republic was based on the principle that the people hold political power or sovereignty and may choose representatives to govern for them. It is sometimes called a representative democracy. In Federalist Paper 39, Founder and Constitution architect James Madison describes a republic as to include “a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices…for a limited period, or during good behavior.” A constitutional republic follows a written constitution of laws by which the people, their representatives, and the government agree to abide. A republic differs from a pure or direct democracy, as Madison explains in Federalist Paper 14, which is governed directly by the whole body of citizens who “meet and exercise the government in person.” Due to the direct involvement of all citizens, a direct democracy is only practical for a small nation, while a republic “may be extended over a large region.” America’s constitutional republic—its organization, limits, and laws—is laid out in the U. S. Constitution of 1787.
When constructing the American republic, the Founders studied the political systems and experiences of other ancient and modern nations for insights—including the democracies of ancient Greece, the republic of ancient Rome, and the first government of ancient Israel. They were interested in Greece and Rome because these nations had democracies—unlike most other nations in history which were authoritarian. Americans were also interested in ancient Israel for its moral guidance on wise governance. Ultimately, the Founders created a new republic for America that resembled, in some ways, the ancient Roman Republic. Americans supported this system, in part, because it was morally consistent with ancient Israel’s early practices in the Bible. The Founders determined that a republic was the best form of government for the new nation because it supported Americans’ philosophical beliefs and governing principles of freedom, popular sovereignty or the people’s rule, consent of the governed, and limited self-government. It was also a practical system, they saw, for effectively governing a large nation. The Founders’ innovative system in America became the first modern republic.
The Idea and Lessons of the Direct Democracy of Ancient Greece
When creating the American republic, the Founders looked to the city-state of Athens, Greece, of 594-338 BC to understand the strengths and weaknesses of direct democracy. Indeed, the western idea and understanding of democracy comes from ancient Greece where democracy was first practiced. The word “democracy” derives from …
the Greek words demos meaning “people” and kratos meaning “power” or “authority.” Democracy literally means “power of the people” and refers to a political system in which the people govern the state and its institutions. Athens practiced direct democracy—in which all the citizens regularly assembled together to vote and govern the city based on majority rule. Such governance was feasible due to the city’s small territory and population. During this time, Athens flourished in power, economic prosperity, culture, the arts, philosophy, and education. Athenians greatly valued education because they believed that it led to good citizens. … [subscribe_to_unlock_form]
However, Athens’ democracy declined following the Peloponnesian War which, as Founder Alexander Hamilton says in Federalist Paper 6, “terminated in the ruin of the Athenian commonwealth.” As many historians observe, the decline of Athens was caused, at least in part, by the weaknesses of its direct democracy. According to ancient historian Thucydides in his 300s BC History of the Peloponnesian War, after the trials of war and plague, and the death of their beloved leader Pericles, the Athenians governed their city by the “whims of the multitude” which led to factions or “private cabals for the leadership of the commons,” “civil discord,” and “a host of blunders.” As Collin Garbarino affirms in his 2020 essay Athenian Democracy, the Athenians cast off moral restraint, ignored wise counsel, inclined to demagogues, neglected the city’s defense, violated the rights of dissenting individuals, and ruled unwisely and unjustly as a mob in their assemblies. In its weakened state, Athens was conquered by Macedonia.
The American Founders closely analyzed Greece’s direct democracy when considering the right form of government for America. They appreciated Athens’s novel political system in which the whole people held governing power in the state. “The Athenian democracy,” affirms Garbarino, “left a legacy that people can be loyal to the state rather than certain individuals and that the common people can direct the political institutions.” However, the Founders also saw that direct democracy is flawed and unstable because it lacks protections against factions and majority tyranny. Factions, as Madison describes in Federalist Paper 10, are groups of citizens united by a common passion or interest “adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.” Factions and majority tyranny, he says, can compromise the public good or the private rights of minorities and individual citizens. Religious or moral restraints alone are not always enough to control these negative tendencies in the people. Madison elaborates on this vulnerability in a direct democracy like Athens: …
It may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole…and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.
The Founders thus saw that direct democracy—though an admirable idea and system to give the people power—is vulnerable to instability, violence, oppression, and injustice. It does not adequately serve the state or secure the people’s rights and freedoms over a long period. The Founders hoped to avoid such dangers when designing the government of their new nation.
The Governing Practices and Model of the Ancient Roman Republic
The American Founders also closely studied the ancient Roman Republic of 509-27 BC—the earliest example of a republic in history—for insight on how to best construct America’s government. Unlike Greece’s direct democracy, the Roman Republic was a representative democracy—a democracy governed by representatives of the people, on the people’s behalf. The Romans called this system a republic based on the Latin phrase res publica which means “public thing” as it regards the whole people and their general welfare. Within their republic, the Romans applied a mixed government that contained elements of all three major forms of government—monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy—with the aim to check and balance the rule of the one, the few, and the many against each other.
Ancient Rome’s representative, mixed system provided a primitive separation of powers and checks and balances to limit both the people majority and the government itself. For example, the Romans …
separated the legislative and executive functions of government, with each function administered by representatives. They had a two-bodied legislature that represented their society’s two classes—the aristocracy or “patricians” and the commoners or “plebeians.” The two bodies included 1) a Senate of nobles appointed to represent the patricians, and 2) a Plebeian Council or popular assembly with elected officials or Tribunes to represent the plebeians. The Romans also had two chief executives called Consuls, nominated by the Senate and elected by a military assembly, to lead the republic and its army. These two consuls shared power, so that no one person possessed too much power. The Senate, Plebeian Council, and Consuls reflected aristocracy, democracy, and monarchy respectively. “The genius of the Roman Republic,” says Steve L. Jones in his 2020 essay The Fall of Rome, was that it blended “all three forms of government, in the hopes that the strengths of each would be a check on the weaknesses of the others.” The Roman Republic grew to be the most powerful state in the ancient civilized world. Following military success and prosperity, however, the republic began to decay, say historians, when Roman society became decadent and its governing bodies became careless. Rome’s leaders amassed greater power for themselves, changing institutions, laws, and traditions that limited their power. The republic ended when the Senate granted supreme authority to Roman emperor Caesar Augustus in 31 BC.
The American Founders saw many qualities in ancient Rome that contributed to their favor of republicanism. To be sure, they saw some flaws in it, as Jones notes, like contention between consuls over executive authority, a military that held too much power, and lack of a constitution to prevent leaders from changing laws and institutions for their own interests. However, the Roman Republic, like America, aspired to popular sovereignty, consent of the governed, and limited self-government. It gave the people governing power yet filtered the people’s rule through representatives to protect against factions and majority tyranny. Further, it checked and balanced the state’s power to minimize corruption in the government. It was also practical for a large nation, with representatives assembling and governing on the people’s behalf since all the citizens could not feasibly assemble. As such, the Roman Republic became a model for the Founders’ United States government.
The Inspiration of the “Republic” of Ancient Israel
In addition to studying the ancient Greek and Roman democratic models, early Americans also looked to the history and governing practices of ancient Israel, as revealed in the Old Testament of the Bible, for moral guidance on wise governance in America. Like the early American Puritans, founding-era Americans found support for republican government over monarchy in considering Israel’s success during its first, pre-monarchical government led by Moses and elders, and God’s disapproval of its later monarchy. With such support, they defended popular sovereignty over the Divine Right of Kings, or the people’s rule over king’s rule.
The American Puritans of the 1600s were among the first in America to practice representative government, having elected representatives in their colonies of Massachusetts and Connecticut. The Puritans supported this practice from ancient Israel’s first government of 1200s-1100s BC—from the time of the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt to their settlement in the land of Canaan. While this government was theocratic, it applied elements of representation. The prophet Moses served as the people’s leader and representative before God. Moses eventually appointed elders to help lead, judge, and represent the tribes because the work was too heavy for him alone. In Exodus 18:19-21, Moses’ father-in-law Jethro affirms Moses as “‘the people’s representative before God’” but advises him to “‘select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.’” Moses listened and did what Jethro suggested. Subsequently, in Deuteronomy 1:13-15, Moses says to the people, “‘Choose some wise, understanding and respected men from each of your tribes, and I will set them over you. You answered me, ‘What you propose to do is good.’ So I took the leading men of your tribes, wise and respected men, and appointed them to have authority over you—as commanders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens and as tribal officials.’” The Puritans noticed that, during this period, God raised no protest against Israel’s choosing of elders and judges.
Puritan leaders John Winthrop, Thomas Hooker, and John Cotton cited Exodus and Deuteronomy to support elected representatives in their colonies. Citing Deuteronomy 1:13, Hooker asserted in his 1638 Connecticut Court Sermon that “the choice of public magistrates belongs unto the people, by God’s own allowance.” In his 1641 Abstract of the Laws of New England, Cotton also cited Deuteronomy 1:13-15 in stating that “All Magistrates are to be chosen.” These verses, they believed, clearly supported representation by the people’s consent, for here the people explicitly approve of the election process and respond to Moses, “What you propose to do is good.” Further, since the power of election is with the people, the Puritans noted, the people have a responsibility to elect godly, moral leaders. Cotton cited Exodus 18:21 on the people’s need to choose “the ablest men and most approved amongst them” to govern. The Puritans believed that God supported such representation, for as Cotton writes in a 1636 letter, “Jethroes counsell was approved of God.” The Puritans concluded that the best states are governed by chosen representatives.
Founding-era Americans of the 1700s similarly found moral affirmation for republican government when considering ancient Israel’s history and governing practices. Like the Puritans, they saw the benefits of representation in Israel’s first government and thus described this system as Israel’s “republic.” This system resembled a republic, they thought, because it had no earthly king and appointed judges and elders, chosen by the people, to represent and decide cases for each tribe. They drew from this example to support republicanism in their new nation. Early Americans also found support for republicanism in 1 Samuel 8 in considering God’s disapproval of Israel’s later monarchy which began in 1020 BC. 1 Samuel 8 reveals God’s protest against Israel’s demand for a human, hereditary king to rule their nation. It suggests that such kings often ruled not for God and people but for their own interests. Through the prophet Samuel, God warns the people of the trials they will suffer under evil kings, that a king will take their best possessions and “you yourselves will become slaves.” Moreover, it reveals that God wanted to be their king. God tells Samuel, “They have rejected Me as their king.”
During the American Revolution, American ministers and patriots drew from ancient Israel’s history to support America’s fight for freedom and independence from the British Crown and quest for self-government. They pointed out the opportunity in America to create a new, self-governing republic, affirmed by Israel’s first government. For example, in his 1775 sermon before the Massachusetts legislature, Harvard College president Samuel Langdon praised Israel’s first government as a “perfect Republic” and an “excellent general model” for modern government, and he conveyed God’s disapproval of monarchy. Alluding to Exodus 18, Deuteronomy 1, and 1 Samuel 8, he asserts, …
The Jewish government, … if considered merely in a civil view, was a perfect Republic. The heads of their tribes, and elders of their cities, were their counsellors and judges. They called the people together in more general or particular assemblies, took their opinions, gave advice, and managed the public affairs according to the general voice. … And let them who cry up the divine right of Kings consider, that the only form of government which had a proper claim to a divine establishment was so far from including the idea of a King, that it was a high crime for Israel to ask to be in this respect like other nations; and when they were gratified, it was rather as a just punishment of their folly…than as a divine recommendation of kingly authority.
Every nation, when able and agreed, has a right to set up over themselves any form of government which to them may appear most conducive to their common welfare. The civil Polity of Israel is doubtless an excellent general model, allowing for some peculiarities; at least some principal laws and orders of it may be copied, to great advantage, in more modern establishments.
Referencing Exodus 18:21, Langdon further praised the freedom in his colony of “chusing, from among ourselves, wise men, fearing God, and hating covetousness to be honorable Counsellors” for its government. He concluded by recognizing the potential opportunity to create a new republic in America, much like what the Puritans had enjoyed in their early colonies. As such, he defended popular sovereignty over the Divine Right of Kings.
Not long after Langdon’s sermon, revolutionary pamphleteer Thomas Paine published his well-known 1776 political tract Common Sense which also defended republicanism over monarchy based on ancient Israel’s history and first government in the Bible. Referencing Exodus 18, Deuteronomy 1, and 1 Samuel 8, Paine writes, …
As the exalting of one man so greatly above the rest, cannot be justified on the equal rights of nature, so neither can it be defended on the authority of Scripture; for the will of the Almighty, as declared by Gideon and the prophet Samuel, expressly disapproves of government by kings.
Near three thousand years passed away from the Mosaic account of creation, till the Jews under a national delusion requested a king. Till then their form of government…was a kind of republic, administered by a judge and the elders of the tribes. Kings they had none, and it was held sinful to acknowledge any being under that title but the Lord of Hosts. And when a man seriously reflects on the idolatrous homage which is paid to the persons of kings, he need not wonder, that the Almighty, ever jealous of his honour, should disapprove of a form of government which so impiously invades the prerogative of heaven.
Based on the view that God favored Israel’s “republic” and disapproved of its monarchy, Paine, like Langdon, refuted the Divine Right of Kings doctrine in favor of popular sovereignty. He denounced Britain’s policies in America and questioned the legitimacy of King George III’s rule and power. Paine’s Common Sense was widely read in America and played a significant role in validating and strengthening Americans’ cause for independence and favor for republican government.
Based on ancient Israel’s history and governing practices in the Bible, the American Puritans and founding-era Americans believed that God favored popular sovereignty over the Divine Right of Kings. In particular, they believed He favored representative government for His people. As a result, patriot Americans viewed a republic as a moral and wise form of government for America. With a similar view, Founder Samuel Adams, in a 1785 letter to Founder Richard Henry Lee, expressed his belief that God preferred a republic for America, writing, “I firmly believe that the benevolent Creator designed the republican Form of Government for Man. Will you venture so far as to say that all other Institutions that we know of are unnatural & tend more or less to distress human Societies? ”
A Constitutional Republic in the U. S. Constitution
When considering the best form of government for the new nation of the United States, the American Founders looked, in particular, to the unique governments of ancient Greece, Rome, and Israel for insight. While they appreciated Greece’s direct democracy, they recognized its instability and impracticality for America. However, they saw that Rome’s Republic, though having its own vulnerabilities, possessed many qualities that aligned with America’s needs, principles, and aspirations. It also was morally consistent with Israel’s first government in its consensual representation. As such, the Founders looked to Rome’s system as a model for the American system.
The Founders ultimately created a constitutional republic for the United States—with indirect self-governance by the people through elected civil representatives, as seen in Rome. They chose this system because it upholds Americans’ governing values and principles of popular sovereignty, consent of the governed, and limited self-government. More specifically, they saw that a republic 1) works well for a large nation and 2) has restraints to guard against instability, corruption, and tyranny. Firstly, since the whole citizenry cannot feasibly assemble to govern the nation, a republic allows a small body of representatives to assemble and govern the nation for the people, on the people’s behalf. Secondly, because a republic filters the people’s rule through representatives, it buffers the negative effects of factions and majority tyranny, facilitating more just, stable governance. The benefit of elected representatives is that, ideally, they often possess more virtue than the people themselves and are more likely to protect the public good and citizens’ rights. Elections of representatives, says Madison in Federalist Paper 10, help to sift out “unworthy candidates” and allow the people to choose individuals “who possess the most attractive merit and the most diffusive and established character.” Thus a republic, Madison explains, serves to: …
refine and enlarge the public views by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations. …[T]he public voice, pronounced by the representatives of the people, will be more consonant to the public good than if pronounced by the people themselves.
A republic restrains impulsive governance and, as Donald Lutz affirms in his 1988 Origins of American Constitutionalism, encourages deliberation to determine “whether a proposed policy serves the community’s permanent, aggregate interests.” In addition, America’s large size further diffuses factions and majority tyranny, Madison notes, by making it “less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens.” In sum, the Founders, observes Garbarino, sought to create a self-government with “the checks and restraints that [direct] democracy lacked” and that “had a better chance at promoting human flourishing than did a true democracy.” A republic is, they believed, the most moral, just, and workable system for America.
Like ancient Rome, the Founders created a republic with a mixed system—incorporating elements of democracy, aristocracy, and monarchy—with checks and balances on each power and separation of powers to restrain the government itself. As Jones explains, they created…
a two-body legislature with a Senate resembling the Roman Senate based on aristocracy and a House of Representatives resembling the Roman Plebeian Council’s representatives based on democracy. (The U. S. Senate was originally elected indirectly by state legislatures, but today both houses of Congress are elected by direct popular election.) The Founders also created two chief executives, President and Vice-President, resembling the two Roman consuls based on monarchy. These executives are elected indirectly by an electoral college, just as Roman consuls were elected indirectly by its council. To limit conflict between the two consuls on decision-making, as happened in Rome, the Founders gave the president preeminence. To prevent military leaders from seizing power by force, as Rome experienced, they made the civilian president the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. To prevent leaders from changing the government and its laws for their own interests, as occurred in Rome, the Founders created a written constitution. They also included a law that requires each state in the union to practice republican government. In addition, they separated the functions of government into not just two branches, as Rome had, but three branches—legislative, executive, and judicial. As such, the Founders created a republic for America modeled in many ways after the Roman Republic but possessing alterations to strengthen it and to further guard against corruption and tyranny. The Founders, says Jones, “consciously imitated the political systems of Ancient Rome so as to replicate their success” and “also took steps to modify Rome’s weaknesses in the hope of avoiding its fall.”
It is important to note that, in creating a republic, the Founders recognized the essential need in a republic for a virtuous people in order to function successfully. Citizens, they saw, have the moral and civic responsibility to be civilly educated, uphold and support just laws and policies that protect citizens’ rights and freedoms, and elect moral representatives who seek the common, national good and practice restrained, limited government. As such, the Founders continually exhorted the people of the need to maintain virtue. For example, Founder Richard Henry Lee remarks, “It is certainly true that popular government cannot flourish without virtue in the people.” Bill of Rights contributor George Mason confirms, “Justice and virtue are the vital principles of republican government.” Founder and President George Washington states in his Farewell Address that “virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.” Founder Benjamin Franklin points out, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.” Madison similarly observes, “No theoretical checks…can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea.” The Founders further believed that good, moral religion is the most effective way for people to gain virtue. For this reason, they greatly valued and encouraged moral religion—particularly Christianity—in society. Founder John Adams thus observes, “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. … Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Indeed, the Founders, says Steven Waldman in his 2008 Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America, “were fairly obsessed with the question of how to instill enough virtue into citizens that a republic could flourish. Institutions that could imbue personal and communal values…were viewed as essential building blocks for democracy.” In this regard, education and religion, school and church play an crucial role, the Founders believed, in a free republic.
When constructing a national government for the United States, the American Founders sought to create a political system that was moral, just, stable, and practical. They sought a system that upheld Americans’ philosophical beliefs and governing principles of freedom, popular sovereignty, consent of the governed, and limited self-government—principles to which the early Puritans, the American colonies, and founding-era Americans like themselves had long aspired. Americans also wanted a system that was morally consistent with their understanding of wise governance as conveyed in the Bible and ancient Israel. Drawing on ancient Rome as a model and incorporating innovative changes, the Founders created a constitutional republic for America. In this republic, the people govern indirectly through chosen representatives who are accountable to them and the law. Ideally, the people elect moral representatives who uphold America’s values. These representatives feasibly govern for the people as well as restrain or filter majority rule. The republic functions within a mixed system that checks and balances its governing powers, providing further restraints on the government itself. A written constitution, as the supreme law of the land, provides the legal framework within which the people, their representatives, and the government may operate. As such, the Founders created the first modern republic—a political system that deters corruption and tyranny, encourages peace and stability, protects citizens’ individual rights and freedoms, maintains law and order, and reflects American values. As Madison expresses in Federalist Paper 39, …
The first question that offers itself is whether the general form and aspect of the government be strictly republican. It is evident that no other form would be reconcilable with the genius of the people of America; with the fundamental principles of the Revolution; or with that honorable determination which animates every votary of freedom to rest all our political experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government.
The Founders’ departure from old-world monarchy and creation of a constitutional republic was a major shift in world history and governance and one of the most important outcomes of the American Revolution.
 These representatives may be directly elected by the people or appointed by elected leaders and so indirectly elected by the people. Both methods are forms of election.
 James Madison, Federalist Paper 39, 1788, in The Federalist Papers, ed. Clinton Rossiter (New York: Mentor Books, 1961), 241.
 James Madison, Federalist Paper 14, 1787, in The Federalist Papers, ed. Clinton Rossiter (New York: Mentor Books, 1961), 100.
 Madison, Federalist Paper 14, 100.
 Madison, Federalist Paper 14, 100.
 Alexander Hamilton, Federalist Paper 6, 1787, in The Federalist Papers, ed. Clinton Rossiter (New York: Mentor Books, 1961), 54-55.
 Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War, book 2, trans. Richard Crawley (London: J. M. Dent & Sons, Ltd; New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1910, 1914), 142. Thucydides wrote his History around 430-411 BC.
 Collin Garbarino, Athenian Democracy, in The Origins of Our Founding Principles, ed. Christopher Hammons (Houston, TX: Morris Family Center for Law & Liberty at Houston Baptist University; Periclitus Press, 2020), 23-25.
 Garbarino, Athenian Democracy, 21.
 James Madison, Federalist Paper 10, 1787, in The Federalist Papers, ed. Clinton Rossiter (New York: Mentor Books, 1961), 78.
 Madison, Federalist Paper 10, 80-81.
 Madison, Federalist Paper 10, 81.
 Steven L. Jones, The Fall of Rome, in The Origins of Our Founding Principles, ed. Christopher Hammons (Houston, TX: Morris Family Center for Law & Liberty at Houston Baptist University; Periclitus Press, 2020), 32.
 Polybius, The General History of Polybius, in Two Volumes, 5th ed., vol. 2, book 4, trans. by James Hampton (Oxford: W. Baxter, 1823), 178-79; Russell Kirk, The Roots of American Order, 3rd ed. (Washington, DC: Regnery Gateway), 102; Jones, Fall of Rome, 36-43.
 Jones, Fall of Rome, 43-44.
 While the European kings believed that Israel’s monarchy supported the Divine Rights of Kings, the Americans refuted that position.
 All Bible verses are taken from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise noted.
 Thomas Hooker, Sermon Before the Connecticut General Court in Harford, May 31, 1638, in The Puritan Tradition in America, 1620-1730, Revised ed., ed. Alden T. Vaughan (Hanover, NH: U Press of New England, 1997), 8. In a 1638 letter to John Winthrop, Hooker also refers to Deuteronomy 17:10-11 and 2 Chronicles 19 to support chosen representatives, stating, “A general counsel, chosen by all, to transact businesses which concern all, I conceive, under favor, most suitable to rule and most safe for relief of the whole. This was the practice of the Jewish church, directed by God, Deut. 17:10, 11; 2 Chron. 19; and the approved experience of the best ordered states give in evidence this way.” Thomas Hooker to John Winthrop, Fall 1638, in Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society, vol 1. (Hartford, CT: Published for the Society, 1860), 12.
 John Cotton, Abstract of Laws of New England, 1641 (London: Printed for F. Coules and W. Ley at Paules Chain, 1641), 1.
 Cotton, Abstract of Laws of New England, 1. In a 1638 letter to William Fiennes, Cotton again cited Exodus 18:21 on electing godly representatives, stating, that “the judges, and officers to be set over the people, should be men fearing God, Exod. 18.21.” John Cotton to William Fiennes, Lord Saye and Sele, 1636, in Puritan Political Ideas, 1558-1794, ed. Edmund S. Morgan (1965; repr. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 2003), 170.
 John Cotton to William Fiennes, Lord Saye and Sele, 1636, in Puritan Political Ideas, 1558-1794, ed. Edmund S. Morgan (1965; repr. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 2003), 170.
 1 Samuel 8:17. 1 Samuel 8:10-18 says, “Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, ‘This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.’”
 1 Samuel 8:7
 See also Harry S. Stout, The New England Soul: Preaching and Religious Culture in Colonial New England (New York: Oxford U Press, 1986), 280, 293-5, 304.
 Samuel Langdon, Government Corrupted by Vice, and Recovered by Righteousness, A Sermon Preached Before the Honorable Congress of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, May 31, 1775 (Watertown, MA: Printed and sold by Benjamin Edes, 1775), 11-12.
 Langdon, Government Corrupted, unnumbered.
 Thomas Paine, Common sense, 1776, in The Works of Thomas Paine, Secretary for Foreign Affairs to the Congress of the United States, in the Late War, in Two Volumes, vol. 1 (Philadelphia: Printed by James Carey, 1797), 10-11. Gideon as mentioned in this excerpt was a judge, prophet, and military warrior who refused to become king of Israel in place of God after his defeat of Midian. Judges 8:22-23 says, “The Israelites said to Gideon, ‘Rule over us—you, your son and your grandson—because you have saved us from the hand of Midian.’ But Gideon told them, ‘I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The Lord will rule over you.’”
 Samuel Adams to Richard Henry Lee, Boston, 14 April 1785, in The Writings of Samuel Adams: 1778-1802, vol. 4, ed. Harry A. Cushing (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1908), 314.
 Madison, Federalist Paper 10, 82-83.
 Madison, Federalist Paper 10, 82.
 Donald S. Lutz, The Origins of American Constitutionalism (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State U Press, 1988), 85.
 Madison, Federalist Paper 10, 83.
 Garbarino, Athenian Democracy, 27, 28. Brackets mine.
 See Jones, Fall of Rome, 43-44; See Kirk, Roots, 101-102.
 Article IV, Section 4 of the U. S. Constitution states, “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.”
 Jones, Fall of Rome, 45.
 Richard Henry Lee to Colonial Martin Pickett, Chantilly, 5 March 1786, in Memoir of the Life of Richard Henry Lee and His Correspondence, vol. 2, ed. grandson Richard H. Lee (Philadelphia, PA: Carey and Lea, 1825), 70.
 George Mason to Patrick Henry, Fairfax County, Gunston Hall, 6 May 1783, in The Life of George Mason, 1725-1792, vol. 11, Kate Mason Rowland (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1892), 44.
 George Washington, Farewell Address to the People of The United States, 17 September 1796, in The Writings of George Washington, 1794-1798, vol. 13, ed. Worthington C. Ford (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1892), 308.
 Benjamin Franklin to Messrs. Les Abbes Chalut and Arnaud, Philadelphia, 17 April 1787, in The Works of Benjamin Franklin in Philosophy, Politics, and Morals, 1753-1790, vol. 6, ed. William T. Franklin (Philadelphia, PA: William Duane, 1817), 199.
 James Madison, Speech on the Power of Judiciary at the Virginia Ratifying Convention, 20 June 1788, in The Writings of James Madison, vol. 5/1787-1790, ed. Gaillard Hunt (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904), 223.
 John Adams to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, 11 October 1798, in The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, vol. 9, ed. Charles F. Adams (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1854), 229.
 Steve Waldman, Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America (New York: Random House, 2008), 61.
 James Madison, Federalist Paper 39, 1788, in The Federalist Papers, ed. Clinton Rossiter (New York: Mentor Books, 1961), 240. [/subscribe_to_unlock_form]
Contributed by AHEF and Angela E. Kamrath.
This article is available as a printable PDF handout in the member resources section on americanheritage.org. Simply sign up and login as a member (no cost), go to the resources page, and look under Miracle of America articles.
Source for more information: Kamrath, Angela E. The Miracle of America: The Influence of the Bible on the Founding History and Principles of the United States of America for a People of Every Belief. Second Edition. Houston, TX: American Heritage Education Foundation, 2014, 2015, 2020. Third Edition (2020) is available!
1. The Principle of Popular Sovereignty–the People’s Rule–in the U. S. Declaration and Constitution
2. How Protestant Religious Reformers Supported Popular Sovereignty from the Bible
3. How Reformed Political Thinkers Defended Popular Sovereignty From the Bible
4. How Catholic Churchmen Supported Popular Sovereignty from the Bible
5. Why Puritan Thomas Hooker Favored Democracy over Aristocracy
6. Thomas Hooker as the “father of American Democracy”
7. Why the Puritans Elected Representatives to Govern in their American Colonies
8. How the Great Awakening Impacted American Unity, Democracy, Freedom, & Revolution
9. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense: God’s Opposition to Absolute Monarchy
10. The American Revolution
11. American Revolution Debate: The American Quest for a New, Bible-Inspired Republic
12. The American Quest for Self-Government
13. America’s Founding Philosophy in the Declaration: God as Supreme Judge, Lawgiver, and King
14. The Creator God: The Basis of Authority, Law, & Rights for Mankind in the Declaration
15. Self-Evident Truth: Equality and Rights in the Declaration of Independence
16. The American, Bible-based Defense of Unalienable Rights in the Declaration
17. The American Social Contract in the U. S. Declaration and Constitution
18. The Bible-Inspired Influences on the U. S. Constitution and Bill of Rights
19. The Principles of Limited Government and Separation of Powers in the U. S. Constitution
20. The Covenant-Inspired Principle of Federalism in the U. S. Constitution
21. The Purpose of American Civil Government
High School Activity – Influences on America’s Constitutional Republic
Activity/Source: Miracle of America High School Teacher Course Guide, Unit 8, Part 1, Activity 4: Influences on America’s Constitutional Republic, p. 270-271. HS.
Purpose/Objective: Students learn key principles of the United States Constitution including a self-governing constitutional republic, why Americans saw a republic as the best form of government for the nation, and how influential thinkers and early Americans connected this concept with the Bible.
Suggested Reading: Chapter 8 of Miracle of America sourcebook/text. Students read sections Introduction, 3.9, 6.6, 8.3-11, 8.14-8.16, 8.20, & pp. 288-296.
Problem and Solution Map: Students will analyze the philosophies, principles, experiences, and historical influences that led the founders to choose a constitutional republic for the new government–including the histories of ancient Greece, Rome, and Israel. The teacher may want to make a class reading set of the essay “The Principle and Practice of a Constitutional Republic” by Angela K. Kamrath as well as related sections in Chapter 8 of the Miracle of America text for students to read/study/review/discuss. Students should consider how early Americans viewed and admired the Rome’s Republic and Israel’s “republic.” Students should recognize and understand why many founding-era Americans thought a civil republic was the best form of government for their new nation. Students should be able to identify corresponding original writings, speeches, and Bible verses that support a civil republic. Students will organize their findings from the reading/discussion with a graphic organizer such as a “Problem and Solution Map” or one of the teacher’s choice.
To download this whole unit in the course guide, sign up as an AHEF member (no cost) to access the “resources” page on americanheritage.org. To order the printed binder format of the course guide with all the units, go to the AHEF bookstore.
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