2 Purpose of the LessonThis lesson will help you understand why the Founders (people who established government in the US) thought a republican form of government was best. You will also learn about civic virtue and the common welfare.
3 You will need:A lined piece of paper (this will go after your last notes on government in your social studies section of your binder).PencilBrain turned on**You will be copying down the notes written in red.
4 ReviewWe discussed earlier that the Founders, when trying to decide on how to run the new country, looked at John Locke’s philosophy to consider how government should be run.John Locke said that government should be established to help protect the natural rights of the people. He also said that kings should not have absolute power and that there should be a social contract that says the population is willing to give up some freedoms in exchange for security and protection.
5 Terms to Define along the way Similar to our last set of notes, the first section of your notes will be for vocabulary, and the second section will be for content. Be sure to leave enough space under each word for a definition.Roman Republic 5. civic virtuearistocrats 6. dictatorrepublican government 7. separated powerscommon welfare 8. balanced powers
6 THE FOUNDERS WERE INFLUENCED BY: their study of history Over 2000 years before our nation began, there existed in ancient Europe a government which greatly influenced the ideas of the Founders. This was the Roman Republic, which lasted from 509 B.C. to 27 B.C. Its capital was Rome, which was located in Italy. Some of the ruins of the buildings of this ancient government can still be seen in Rome today.
8 How were they influenced? The Founders were influenced by what historians had written about the people and the government of the Roman Republic. They read that during the Republic, the Roman people governed themselves without a king. The common people and the artistocrats (wealthy upper class) shared the power to govern. The people chose leaders to make and administer the laws for their country.
9 Founders defined a republican government as a government in which… The power of government is held by the people.The people give power to leaders they elect to represent them and serve their interests.The representatives are responsible for helping all the people in the country, not just a few people. Common welfare (good of entire community)
10 Advantages? What are the advantages of republican government? The Founders thought a republican government was the best kind of government they could choose for themselves. They believed that the advantages of republican government were:Fairness. They believed that laws made by the representatives they elected would be fair. If their representatives did not make fair laws, they could elect others who would.Common welfare. The laws would help everyone instead of one person or a few favored people.Freedom and prosperity. People would have greater freedom and be able to live well.
11 Problem solving Your interests and the common welfare How do you decide what the common welfare is? When should you give up your own interests to do something that is good for everyone? Each person has to answer this question for himself or herself. The following exercise will help you do this.
12 Directions:Work in groups of about three to five students. Each group should discuss the following questions. Be prepared to explain your group's answers to the class. You can write this on a scrap piece of paper pulled from beside the genre report bin. Only one response from each group needed.Describe a situation in which you think you should try to help others instead of just doing what you want for yourself.Explain a situation in which you think you should do something for yourself instead of trying to help others.Sometimes people disagree about what is the best thing for everyone. Describe a situation where this might happen. How do you think such disagreements should be settled?Describe some things your government does to help everyone in the country. What other things could your government do? Why?
13 So what?The Founders thought that a republican government was possible in Rome only because of the civic virtue of the Roman citizens.
14 What is civic virtue?When you work to help others and promote the common welfare, you are showing civic virtue. The Founders thought civic virtue was important for a republican government. People with civic virtue are interested in having the government help all the people. The Founders thought it was necessary to teach children the importance of helping others. Young people learned about civic virtue in their homes, schools, and churches. Adults also heard about civic virtue from their religious and political leaders.
15 Cincinnatus: An example (and model) of civic virtue (No, you don’t have to write this down) In the year 460 B.C., Rome was in great danger. An army from the east was burning and plundering the countryside. The defending Roman army was surrounded on all sides by its enemies.
16 CincinnatusThe leaders of the government decided to ask Cincinnatus , a skilled military leader, to help them during this crisis. Messengers were sent asking him to serve as dictator (supreme ruler with absolute power) for as long as the crisis would last.
17 CincinnatusCincinnatus was a hard-working farmer with only four acres of land. When the messengers found him, he was quietly plowing the fields. Because he loved his country, he left his plow to go to Rome to lead the army.
18 CincinnatusIn a battle that lasted two days, his army defeated the enemy and saved the country.
19 CincinnatusCincinnatus was honored and praised by his people. But when the battle was over, he did not try to remain as a dictator of his country. He did not want to continue fame. Instead, he returned to his home and his life as a farmer and a citizen.
20 CincinnatusBy returning to his home, Cincinnatus showed that he valued being a citizen of Rome more than he valued fame and personal power. He respected the government of Rome. He did not want to use his popularity to take power away from the representatives elected by the citizens. This was an example of the civic virtue that the Romans were known for during the period of the Republic.
21 Did they think we had what it takes? The Founders thought a republican government would work in our country. They believed most of the people had civic virtue. They thought the people would select leaders who would work for the common welfare.
22 How should a republican government be organized? The Founders also learned about republican government from Montesquieu ( ).This good-looking fellow!
23 Who was Montesquieu?He was a French writer the Founders admired so much that they often called him “the celebrated Montesquieu”. They thought that he was an expert on what republican government should look like.
24 What did Montesquieu believe? Montesquieu believed that the best way to make sure a government would serve the common welfare was to do the following things:Separate the powers of government among the different branches, or parts, of the government so that no one branch would have all the power. Each branch should represent the interests of a different group of society.Balance the powers among these branches so no one branch would have so much power it could control the others.Give each branch ways to check the use of power by the other branches.
25 Think about it.The Founders believed the values of republican government were that citizens and their leaders should lead modest lives and work hard. They thought that people should care about the common welfare.
26 Write about it.Nowadays, do you think people still exhibit these traits (hard work and modest living)? Do you think people care about the common welfare?In a brief, well-developed paragraph (including a topic sentence, three supporting ideas, three points of elaboration for each supporting idea, and a concluding sentence), explain your opinion on whether or not Americans still exhibit these original values of a republican government. Include specific examples from real life. What you don’t finish now will be homework this evening.
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