Republic

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A republic is a form of government in which affairs of state are a "public matter" (Latin: res publica), not the private concern of the rulers, in which public offices are consequently appointed or elected rather than privately accommodated (i.e., through inheritance or divine mandate). In modern times, the common definition of a republic is a government which excludes a monarch.

Quotes[edit]

  • "Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?"
    "A Republic, if you can keep it."
    • Response attributed to Benjamin Franklin at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, when queried as he left Independence Hall on the final day of deliberation, in the notes of Dr. James McHenry, one of Maryland's delegates to the Convention. McHenry's notes were first published in The American Historical Review, vol. 11 (1906), and the anecdote on p. 618 reads: "A lady asked Dr. Franklin Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy. A republic replied the Doctor if you can keep it." When McHenry's notes were included in The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, ed. Max Farrand, vol. 3, appendix A, p. 85 (1911, reprinted 1934), a footnote stated that the date this anecdote was written is uncertain.
  • The Republic needed to be passed through chastening, purifying fires of adversity and suffering: so these came and did their work and the verdure of a new national life springs greenly, luxuriantly, from their ashes.
    • Horace Greeley, Greeley on Lincoln, ed. Joel Benton, p. 78–79 (1893).
  • You and your descendants have to ascertain whether this great mass will hold together under the forms of a republic, and the despotic reality of universal suffrage; whether state rights will hold out against centralisation, without separation, whether centralisation will get the better, without actual or disguised monarchy; whether shifting corruption is better than a permanent bureaucracy; and as population thickens in your great cities, and the pressure of what is felt, the gaunt spectre of pauperism will stalk among you, and communism and socialism will claim to be heard.
  • But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all republicans—we are federalists.
    • Thomas Jefferson, inaugural address (March 4, 1801); in Andrew A. Lipscomb, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (1904), vol. 3, p. 319.
  • In truth, the abuses of monarchy had so much filled all the space of political contemplation, that we imagined everything republican which was not monarchy. We had not yet penetrated to the mother principle, that "governments are republican only in proportion as they embody the will of their people, and execute it." Hence, our first constitutions had really no leading principles in them. But experience and reflection have but more and more confirmed me in the particular importance of the equal representation then proposed.
    • Thomas Jefferson, letter to Samuel Kercheval (July 12, 1816); in Paul L. Ford, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (1899), vol. 10, p. 37.
  • When a monarchy gradually transforms itself into a republic, the executive power there preserves titles, honors, respect, and even money long after it has lost the reality of power. The English, having cut off the head of one of their kings and chased another off the throne, still go on their knees to address the successors of those princes. On the other hand, when a republic falls under one man's yoke, the ruler's demeanor remains simple, unaffected, and modest, as if he had not already been raised above everybody.
    • Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, ed. J. P. Mayer, trans. George Lawrence, vol. 1, part 1, chapter 8, p. 123 (1969). Originally published in 1835–1840.

External links[edit]

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