Chapter 1: The Founders’ ‘Republican Cause’
1.1 REPUBLICAN SELF-GOVERNMENT Novus ordo seclorum. Inscribed on the great seal of the United States, the Latin phrase reflects the Founders’ intention to establish ‘a new order of the ages’. If they were not certain that it would succeed, the Founders knew that their experiment in self-government had no precedent in human history.1 Aware of the ‘rights of Englishmen’, informed by the work of moral and political philosophers, animated by the failures of the Articles of Confederation, cognizant of the dangers of ‘faction’, and conflicted about the tensions between the national and state governments, the Founders had a distinctive republican vision. To paraphrase Dr. Franklin, Americans could keep their republic – provided, first, that the Constitution’s formal institutional constraints were not the ‘parchment barriers’ that Madison imagined state Bills of Rights to be. Equally important, the Founders insisted that self-government requires both civic engagement and civic virtue. For the Founders this meant that political and, pari passu, moral discourse would be informed by political and moral philosophy, that political economy would be explicitly value-laden, and that citizens would be other-regarding. In the Founders’ imagination, then, postconstitutional, conflictual politics would be constrained, inter alia, by federalism, by the separation of powers, by the enumerated powers of the national government, and by the substantive and procedural rights codified in the Bill of Rights. But day-to-day politics would also reflect the reciprocal relationship between the peoples’ concern for the public good and the body of constitutional and statutory law. Possessed of preference and value...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.
Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.
Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.