Tyranny, Democracy, and the Polity: Aristotle’s Politics

Aristotle argued that there were six general ways in which societies could be organized under political rule. The Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that questions of the state, how it should be organized, and how it should pursue its ends, were fundamental to the achievement of happiness. His text Politics is an exploration of different types of state[…]

Aristotle’s ‘Constitution of the Athenians’

Ancient accounts of Aristotle credit him with 170 Constitutions of various states. Introduction The Constitution of the Athenians is a work by Aristotle or one of his students. The work describes the constitution of Classical Athens, commonly called the Areopagite constitution. It was preserved on two leaves of a papyrus codex discovered at Oxyrhynchus, Egypt[…]

Ancient Roman Censors: Moral Monitors, Population Counters, Tax Collectors

Censors were elected every four or five years by the comitia centuriata, the assembly of Rome with a wealth qualification for members. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction A censor was one of two senior magistrates in the city of ancient Rome who supervised public morals, maintained the list of citizens and their tax obligations known as[…]

A Message Too Far: The House Reprimand of Theodore Roosevelt in 1909

Only four representatives dared to speak up in his defense. The Speech Laughter flooded the House Chamber, rising from both sides of the floor and cascading down from the crowded galleries. Atop the marble rostrum Speaker Joseph G. Cannon of Illinois, looking to regain order, banged his gavel so hard that he cracked the top[…]

National Politics and the Populist Party at the End of the Nineteenth Century

From the perspective of farmers, the legal system was being commandeered by attorneys representing railroads and trusts. Rise of the Populist Party During the 1880s, farmer’s collective organizations known as the Grange declined, as did the Greenback Party. However, the twin ideals of monetary reform and legislation beneficial to farmers were carried on by a[…]

Losing Sight of Jefferson and Falling into Plato

Thomas Jefferson was aware of the pitfalls of democracy and never believed in the “pure democracy” scorned by Plato. Many professors at higher-level academic institutions profess to be practitioners of a Socratic method of teaching, which is a method of students arriving at understanding by a teacher “pestering” them with probing questions that lead to self-searching. Many, if not[…]

Administrative and Government Buildings of the Roman Forum

A highly important function of the Forum Romanum was as a center of administration and politics. The Roman Forum (Forum Romanum) was the main and central forum of the city of Rome. It became the economic, political, and religious center of the city in early Republican times, around the seventh century BCE. It continued to be[…]

Rule of Law as the Measure of Political Legitimacy in the Ancient Greek City-States

The ideal was formulated in the Archaic period and became a feature of Greek identity. Abstract This paper explores how a conception of the rule of law (embodied in a variety of legal and political institutions) came to affirm itself in the world of the ancient Greek city states. It argues that such a conception,[…]

Elections in the Ancient Roman Republic

During the Roman Republic the citizens would elect almost all officeholders annually. Introduction Elections in the Roman Republic were an essential part to its governance, with participation only being afforded to Roman citizens. Upper class interests, centered in the urban political environment of cities, often trumped the concerns of the diverse and disunified lower class;[…]

The Oligarchic Coup in Athens, 411 BCE

The movement toward oligarchy was led by a number of prominent and wealthy Athenians. Introduction The Athenian coup of 411 BC was the result of a revolution that took place during the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. The coup overthrew the democratic government of ancient Athens and replaced it with a short-lived oligarchy known[…]

Demos and Kratos: People and Power in Ancient Athens

Athenian democracy was indeed a direct democracy, but not for everybody. By Georgios Mavropalias A sequence of events allowed the birth of democracy in ancient Athens; the reforms of Solon which weakened the aristocracy and redefined citizenship, their reinstatement by Cleisthenes after the oligarchy reemerged, and the shrinkage of the power of Areopagus by Ephialtes,[…]

A History of Political Parties in the United States

The winning supporters of ratification of the Constitution were called Federalists and the opponents were called Anti-Federalists. The First Political Parties: Federalists and Anti-Federalists Overview The winning supporters of ratification of the Constitution were called Federalists, the opponents were called Anti-Federalists. The Federalist Era was a period in American history from roughly 1789-1801 when the[…]

The First Party System in the Early American Republic

By 1796 politics in every state was nearly monopolized by two parties, with party newspapers and caucuses becoming especially effective tools to mobilize voters. Introduction The First Party System is a model of American politics used in history and political science to periodize the political party system that existed in the United States between roughly[…]

A (Very) Brief History of Government since the Graeco-Roman World

One of the reasons humans prefer an organized government is that we’ve had them for thousands of years. Introduction For much of human history, people seem to prefer to live in organized groups. These groups took different forms in different times and places, but generally there seems always to have been a process by which[…]

Ancient Persian Governors

Persian governors and the satrapy system established the paradigm recognizable in the present day of a central government. Introduction The Achaemenid Persian Empire functioned as well as it did because of the efficient bureaucracy established by its founder Cyrus the Great (r. c. 550-530 BCE) which was administered through the satrapy system. A Persian governor of[…]

Ancient Persian Government

Cyrus drew on earlier models of Akkadian and Assyrian administration and greatly improved them. Introduction The government of ancient Persia was based on a highly efficient bureaucracy which combined the concepts of the centralization of power with the decentralization of administration. The Achaemenid Empire (c. 550-330 BCE) founded by Cyrus the Great (r. c. 550-530[…]

Authority in Ancient Rome: Auctoritas, Potestas, Imperium, and the Paterfamilias

Examining various types of authority which spanned across centuries and covered all facets of Roman life. By Jesse SifuentesArtist and Historian Introduction Authority in ancient Rome was complex, and as one can expect from Rome, full of tradition, myth, and awareness of their own storied history. Perhaps the ultimate authority was imperium, the power to command the Roman army. Potestas was legal power belonging[…]

Government in the Roman Republic

The Roman Republic emerged out of what one historian called “the ashes of the monarchy.” Introduction Western Civilization is forever indebted to the people of ancient Greece and Rome. Among the numerous contributions these societies made are in the fields of art, literature and philosophy; however, perhaps their greatest gift to future generations was the[…]

Daniel Webster and the Dazzling 1830 Defense of a Strong Federal Government

New England statesman Daniel Webster believed in strong, centralized power when it served his region’s interests. For generations, school children memorized the ending to Daniel Webster’s “Second Reply to Hayne,” delivered during the famous Webster-Hayne debate of January 1830. This most-famous-of-debates began in a modest fashion, with an argument over westward expansion and morphed into[…]

Senate Nominations and Confirmations: An Historical Overview

From its earliest years, the Senate has jealously guarded its power to review and approve or reject presidential appointees to executive and judicial branch posts. Introduction In its history, the Senate has confirmed 126 Supreme Court nominations and well over 500 Cabinet nominations. In the 19th century, the Senate referred few nominations to committees. Since[…]

A Brief History of the United States Senate

The U.S. Senate was designed to be a more deliberative body than the U.S. House. Introduction The United States Senate is the upper chamber of the United States Congress, which along with the United States House of Representatives—the lower chamber—comprises the legislative branch of the federal government of the United States. Like its counterpart, the[…]

A History of Italian Citizenship Laws during the Era of the Monarchy (1861-1946)

The evolution of Italian citizenship from political unification to the end of the Second World War. By Dr. Luca BussottiInternational Studies Centre, ISCTE/IUL, Lisbon Abstract This article aims to present the evolution of Italian citizenship from political unification to the end of the Second World War, which in Italy corresponds with the end of the[…]

An Historical Overview of Absolutism in Early Modern Europe

The era of absolutism, exemplified by the “Sun King” Louis XIV Bourbon of France, marks the rise of rulers throughout Europe who had absolute power over their nations. The era of absolutism, exemplified by the “Sun King” Louis XIV Bourbon of France, marks the rise of rulers throughout Europe who had absolute power over their[…]

The Medieval Idea of Legitimacy and the King’s Two Bodies

The idea of the sacred nature of political power in the medieval world. By Dr. Lorena StuparuInstitute of Political Sciences and International RelationsRomanian Academy Abstract Based on Ernst Kantorowicz’s work The King’s Two Bodies, this paper intends to show that the idea of the sacred nature of political power, of the legitimacy which transcends the[…]