Republican Influences on the French and American Revolutions
M.N.S. Sellers, REPUBLICAN LEGAL THEORY, Ch. III, Macmillan, 2003
28 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2008 Last revised: 14 Oct 2008
When George Washington gave his inaugural speech as the first President of the United States under the new federal Constitution, he asserted that the destiny of the republican model of government was deeply, perhaps ... finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American People . A new Senate would meet on the Capitol hill, overlooking the Tiber (formerly Goose Creek) river, as in Rome, to restore the sacred fire of liberty to the western world. The vocabulary of eighteenth-century revolution reverberated with purposeful echoes of republican Rome, as political activists self-consciously assumed the Roman mantle. James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, the primary authors and advocates of the United States Constitution, wrote together pseudonymously as Publius to defend their creation, associating themselves with Publius Valerius Poplicola, founder and first consul of the Roman republic. Camille Desmoulins attributed the French Revolution to Ciceros ideal of Roman politics, imbided by children in the schools. At every opportunity, American and French revolutionaries proclaimed their desire to re-establish the stupendous fabrics of republican government that had fostered liberty at Rome.
Keywords: republicanism, history, american history, french revolution, american revolution, legal theory
JEL Classification: K1, K4
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation