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Three definitions of republicanism in the new United States:
1) Ancient history͛s version: Popular amongst the members of the educated elite
- Republics could succeed only if they were small in size and homogenous in population
- Citizens have to sacrifice their own private interests for the good of the whole or government
would collapse
- Rank is based on merit rather than on inherited wealth and status
- Society is governed by ͞natural aristocracy͟: positions of power are based on talent
2) Economic version: popular amongst other members of the elite and some skilled craftsmen
- Emphasizes individual͛s pursuit of rational self-interest instead of people sacrificing for the
common good
- Influenced by theorist Adam Smith
- The nation could only benefit from aggressive economic expansion
- The entire nation would benefit when republican men sought to improve their own economic
and social circumstances
3) The more egalitarian version: supported by Thomas Paine and many who are barely literate
- Emphasizes widening men͛s participation in the political process
- Wanted government to respond directly to the needs of ordinary folk
- Rejected the idea that the ͞lesser sort͟ should go through their ͞betters͟
- Ideals similar to modern day democrats
Commonalities between the three versions:
Industrious virtue of America vs. corruption of Britain and Europe:
1st version: virtue came from frugality and self-sacrifice
2nd version: prevent self-interest from becoming a vice
3rd version: justification for including propertyless free men in the ranks of voters
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