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A PORTRAIT OF DEMOCRACY

CONTENTS

Argument.......................................................................................................4
Argument.......................................................................................................4
Argument.......................................................................................................4
1. Live and Let Live.......................................................................................7
1. Live and Let Live.......................................................................................7
1. Live and Let Live.......................................................................................7
2. The Emergence of the Colonial Government..........................................13
2. The Emergence of the Colonial Government..........................................13
2. The Emergence of the Colonial Government..........................................13
3. Slavery in the United States.....................................................................17
3. Slavery in the United States.....................................................................17
3. Slavery in United States...........................................................................17
4. Press Pioneering.......................................................................................21
4. Press Pioneering.......................................................................................21
4. Press Pioneering.......................................................................................21
5. The U.S. Constitution..............................................................................28
5. The U.S. Constitution..............................................................................28
5. The U.S. Constitution..............................................................................28
5.1 The Bill of Rights...................................................................................................33
5.1 The Bill of Rights...................................................................................................33
5.1 The Bill of Rights...................................................................................................33
5.2 Analyzing the U.S. Amendments...........................................................................36
5.2 Analyzing the U.S. Amendments...........................................................................36
5.2 Analyzing the U.S. Amendments...........................................................................36

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6. American Suffrage...................................................................................42
6. American Suffrage...................................................................................42
6. American Suffrage...................................................................................42
6.1 African-American Movement................................................................................45
6.1 African-American Movement................................................................................45
6.1 African-American Movement................................................................................45
6.2 The Women’s Movement.......................................................................................47
6.2 The Women’s Movement.......................................................................................47
6.2 The Women’s Movement.......................................................................................47
7. Personalities.............................................................................................48
7. Personalities.............................................................................................48
7. Personalities.............................................................................................48
7.1 George Washington................................................................................................48
7.1 George Washington................................................................................................48
7.1 ....................................................................................................George Washington
......................................................................................................................................48
Thomas Jefferson..........................................................................................................51
Thomas Jefferson..........................................................................................................51
Thomas Jefferson..........................................................................................................51
7.3 Abraham Lincoln....................................................................................................55
7.3 Abraham Lincoln....................................................................................................55
7.3 Abraham Lincoln.................................................55
7.4 Martin Luther King.................................................................................................58
7.4 Martin Luther King Jr.............................................................................................58
7.4 Martin Luther King,..................................................58
7.5 Alice Malsenior Walker.........................................................................................60
7.5 Alice Malsenior Walker.........................................................................................60
7.5 Alice Malsenior Walker.............................................60
8. My America.............................................................................................62
8. My America.............................................................................................62
8. My America.............................................................................................62
An Outline of Romanian History.................................................................65
An Outline of Romanian History.................................................................65
An Outline of Romanian History.................................................................65
2. Half of a Millennium of Slavery..............................................................70

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2. Half of a Millennium of Slavery..............................................................70


2. Half of a Millennium of Slavery..............................................................70
3. Constitutional Attempts...........................................................................76
3. Constitutional Attempts...........................................................................76
3. Constitutional Attempts...........................................................................76
4. The Early Signs of Romanian Democracy...............................................79
4. The Early Signs of Romanian Democracy...............................................79
4. The Early Signs of Romanian Democracy...............................................79
5. Press in the Romanian Background.........................................................93
5. Press in the Romanian Background.........................................................93
5. Press in the Romanian Background.........................................................93
6. The Romanian Revolution of 1989........................................................100
6. The Romanian Revolution of 1989........................................................100
6. The Romanian Revolution of 1989........................................................100
6.1 The Constitution of 1991......................................................................................105
6.1 The Constitution of 1991......................................................................................105
6.1 The Constitution of 1991......................................................................................105
7. Personalities...........................................................................................107
7. Personalities...........................................................................................107
7. Personalities...........................................................................................107
7.1 Mihail Kogălniceanu............................................................................................108
7.1 Mihail Kogălniceanu............................................................................................108
7.1 Mihail Kogălniceanu............................108
7.2 Alexander John Cuza............................................................................................110
7.2 Alexander John Cuza............................................................................................110
7.2 Alexander John Cuza............................................110
7.3 Ion I. C. Brătianu..................................................................................................113
7.3 Ion I. C. Brătianu..................................................................................................113
7.3 Ion I. C. Brătianu.................................................113
7.4 Nicolae Titulescu..................................................................................................115
7.4 Nicolae Titulescu..................................................................................................115

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7.4 Nicolae Titulescu..............................................115


7.5 Constantin-Grigore Dumitrescu...........................................................................117
7.5 Constantin-Grigore Dumitrescu...........................................................................117
7.5 Constantin-Grigore Dumitrescu.....................................117
8. My Romania...........................................................................................119
8. My Romania...........................................................................................119
8. My Romania...........................................................................................119
Conclusions................................................................................................123
Conclusions................................................................................................123
Conclusions................................................................................................123
REFERENCES..........................................................................................128
REFERENCES..........................................................................................128
REFERENCES..........................................................................................128

Argument

I became interested in this vast and complex topic after I had noticed numerous
democratic “dysfunctionalities” in our society. And so, the end of this paper is to offer
an insight view upon democracy in America and our country, and to work out an
approach in a domain in which not many other approaches have been elaborated.
As we live in a democratic society that has not yet properly assimilated the
democratic principles, which I believe to still govern (and I have no reason to believe
otherwise) the pioneer nation of democracy, the United States of America, I felt the need

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to illustrate what is democracy not from a plain linguistic approach (Date: 1576;
etymology: French “democratie”, from Late Latin “democratia”, from Greek
“dēmokratia”, from “dēmos + -“kratia”, “cracy” – government by and for the people;
especially : rule of the majority; a government in which the supreme power is vested in
the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of
representation usually involving periodically held free elections – “Democracy”,
Merriam), but from a historical approach on the issue of human rights. This is
compulsory in order to better expose, in a broad outline, the evolution of democratic
principles in both nations, from their birth as nations and up to modern times.
We all know that the first inhabitants in America in the colonial period brought
neither usages nor memories of democracy in their new country. But, what I found
amazing is the fact that without knowing each other, they succeeded to bring an
incredible participation in the affairs of their townships, districts and later states. Even
from those times, the American people were aware of the fact that general prosperity and
a stable society influenced their own happiness. In this respect, the American individual
is used to see his labor as a part of his prosperity. According to Alex de Tocqueville
(2000) the American citizen contributes to the public fortune, working for the good of
state, not only because of his duty, but out of his greed. This can be interpreted to some
extent as a responsible and aware behavior. An idea which can shock at the first glace
through its simplicity, but so little known by the Romanian society.
In Romania, these things are diametrically opposed. Beginning with the
communist era and up to now, the Romanian society has been mainly characterized by
boredom, animosity and a high dose of indifference. Romanian people are not aware of
the fact that responsibility and liberty are interdependent. A democratic society will
never function if its members do not have a fair social position based on their actions.
This is the reason why in our country the political persons, and not only, prefer to avoid
using the term “responsibility”. (Hayek, 99)
In what concerns liberty, we should assert that any democratic political system
(represented by political pluralism) relies to a large degree on the concept of human
rights and liberties. The question of present interest in Romania is that the concept of

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democracy is not understood properly or it is just an instrument of misleading used by


the politicians to deceive people. People who are not interested in politics, and what is
unbelievable, people who do not know important events that took place in their national
history, until democracy was adopted as the political regime. For example, in the second
part of this paper – Romania: a Diachronic View on Human Rights and Constitutions,
chapter 2. A Half of a Millennium of Slavery, I have concentrated on the issue of slavery
in the Romanian background, from the Middle Ages (Walachia - 1358 and Moldavia -
1428) to the present day. I assume that no more than 50-70 percent of the Romanian
population does really know what slavery means and the fact that slavery was practiced
in our country for a long period of time. I find this situation unacceptable. Even if this
chapter is a dishonorable one for our national history, this has to be made known in
order to become aware of and capable to prevent such dehumanizing practices in our
society in all their aspects.
Another reason that determined me to concentrate my research activity on this
topic (otherwise impossible to analyze exhaustively) is strictly related to the Romanian
mentality. It is enough to mention the picturesque Romania before 1989 and the cult of
Ceauşescu and you hear pros and cons immediately. After twenty years of political and
economical transition, Romania is unfortunately associated or remembered for its
dictator and his ‘socialist’ regime. The Revolution of 1989 and the Constitution of 1991
did not succeed in promoting a truly democratic image of our country, but a
controversial one. All the democratic structures we have are shadowed, because of the
“never-ending” transition, whose political and social life are characterized by instability,
poverty, corruption and discrimination (see: gypsies).
Unfortunately, we have to admit that this negative image is the result of the
“struggle” carried by the civil society (almost inexistent at the present moment) and by
the political class (too numerous and inefficient) that is still governed by interests of
small influential groups. In the two decades of the 21st century we witnessed Romania’s
(in)capacity to wipe up all that meant socialism. But the actions as a whole proved only
little efficiency in accelerating the democratic assimilation. According to many political
critics and historians, this situation is mainly caused by the communist “accident” that

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made the Romanian democracy to stagnate and progressively deteriorate for almost half
a century.
Therefore, all these reasons determined me to concentrate my efforts towards the
research of the American and Romanian history, upon the democratic measures they
took in order to enlarge their citizens’ rights and liberties. I consider that presenting their
own backgrounds and official documents concerning the aforementioned themes, a
better understanding can be provided at least, of the degrees of democracies in these two
countries. Maybe, if Romanians had more knowledge about American democracy, with
all its achievements and flaws, and what is more, if they had knowledge about Romanian
roots of democracy and human rights before the communist era, they might understand
better how their country should “look” like.

1. Live and Let Live

The Early Coming

The northern part of the American continent was the witness of the greatest
European emigration that began with four centuries ago, and continuing up to 20th
century. American continent was the image of a free land, where most of the former
colonists, and not only, considered it as a blessed land by God, where the Heaven and
the Earth met to frame a place for man’s habitat. (Hamby, 6).
Human life on American continent it is believed to date before 12.000 BC.
Gradually Native Americans (also called Indians) spread across the continent, especially

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northwards, from what is now the central Mexico. Due to the mild climate, they
cultivated corn, squash and beans. The natural conditions favored a steady increase of
the native tribes, like Hohokam, Adena, Hopewelian etc. These small populations
organized themselves in the earliest form of village, having even systems of irrigation
for their cultures (~3.000 BC). Native Americans were much attached to their lands,
because their religion beliefs were based on the primordial elements, like: water, Sun
and Earth.
These natural elements offered Indians enough resources to survive, through
primitive activities like hunting, foraging, trading and agricultural ones. Some of the
ancient villages like Cahokia (which was situated on the Mississippi River) thrived from
their trading networks, exchanging ceramics, copper, seashells, salt, stone hoes, and
many other commodities. Cahokians made also trade with slaves, and they used to
practice human sacrifices. (“Cahokia”, Microsoft)
Most of the Indian societies were based on a co-dependent relationship between
men and women. In this sense, women had a vital role – they were farming and
distributing food, while men were responsible for hunting and taking part in wars for
defending the village, or for extending their territories.
It is worth mentioning that not all the Native Americans were nomads. In many
cases, due to abundance of the natural resources, they began to settle in permanent
villages, communities that are believed to exist earlier than 1000 BC. For example, the
pre-Columbian Native-Americans lived on the Pacific Northwest Coast, where they
could easily find food supplies for surviving and extending their village. The idea,
according to which Europeans had a major positive impact on the Native-Americans, is
at least misleading, if not completely false. American native populations did not need to
be civilized, because they lived in civilized society, but based on other principles than
European ones. The major difference consisted of a deep respect for nature and rituals.
What Native Americans needed perhaps was the divine message from God,
through missioners, and also abandonment of some of their pagan rituals, like human
sacrifices and the worship of earthly and celestial deities. In some cases, we dare say,
that Native Americans’ civilization was superior to European people. For example, in

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Anasazi region, located in the southwest part of the United States, the Hopi Indians were
very skilful in building stone and adobe pueblos. These dwelling places resembled the
apartments, having an amazing view, due the fact they were situated along cliff faces.
The most famous building stone is the “cliff palace” of Mesa Verde, which has an
unbelievable number of rooms – 200, being located in Colorado. But, there is a far more
bigger building of this type, the Pueblo Bonito – that has a stunning number of rooms:
800, and is located along New Mexico’s Chaco River. (Hamby, 8)
So, North American continent had a culture and a civilization incredibly
developed and in the same time varied. After many archeological studies, it is believed
that the population of the Western Hemisphere was equal to the population of Western
Europe, totalizing 40 million persons. But in our time, the U.S. historians advanced the
idea that Native Americans do not outnumber more than 18 million, and according to
other historians, there are mentioned even lower figures. This decrease of Indian
population can be perceived as one of the results of European process of civilization.
Europeans new comers brought with them new diseases, like smallpox, unknown at that
time by the indigenous population. These diseases had an incredible impact on American
Native rate of population. For example, the smallpox it is believed to have decimated the
Indian population in 1600’s. (8)
It is essential to mention that due to their culture, Native-Americans manifested
extensive and formal relations, both friendly and hostile between tribes, and to some
extend with the first Europeans settlers (8)
As we have mentioned above, Native-Americans were friendly with the first
colonists. In this respect, in 1620 the Mayflower ship, full with English colonists, called
Pilgrims – name given to those persons who visit holy places with religious intend,
settled at Plymouth, New England. The pilgrim’s first winter was a very hard one,
mainly because freezing temperatures and scarce supplies. During this period of
starvation, many of the colonists died, but when the spring time has arrived, the
Wampanoag leader, named Massasoit, and his tribe taught the newcomers how to raise
corn, beans, pumpkin, squash, and to catch fish, saving in this way the pilgrims from
starvation. Moreover, later it was signed a peace treaty between Wampanoag tribe and

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the colonists in which each of the parts promised to live in peace and support the other if
attacked. [“Pilgrims (American history).” Microsoft]
Therefore, we can say that Native Americans lived by their healthy social norms,
in full communion with nature and other people, no matter if there were other tribes, or
as we have seen, colonists, who sought better times and places, away from political and
religious persecutions. And so, the Indian tribes lived in harmony and let live the
colonists.

Reasons for the Early Coming

The countless waves of European newcomers on the North American Continent


were generated by concrete and various reasons. Concrete reasons, capable of moving
westwards entire families or persons who were directly or indirectly interested in leaving
their homes. Besides expenses, the potential colonists had to face tremendous risks, in
order to reach one of the line coasts of North American continent. Risks that at that time
were inherent to such long travels (5.000 km across the ocean), and the ships did not
have any kind of comfort or safety equipments – everything being so, extremely
primitive.
For example, in England the government did not sponsor the emigration, but in
turn the private owners of ships did, in order to make profit. Thus, the settlers were
transported in small, overcrowd ships, the travel during from six up to twelve weeks,
with meager food supplies. But besides all this, many of the travelers died of various
diseases during the journey, the ships were often destroyed by bad whether conditions or
even got lost somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. (Hamby, 11)
The first category of the European colonists, directly interested in leaving their
homeland, for unknown plains, belonged to those persons who wanted to escape from
the misery conditions in which they lived, but above all, to set free from political and
religious repression. In addition to what it has been mentioned, it was the economic
crisis that England faced for fifteen years, from 1620 up to 1635. A great number of

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English men did not afford the bare necessities, and more than that, it took place the
Commercial Revolution, that led to the expansion of textile industry. Landlords decided
to close down a great number of farmlands, renouncing so, to peasants’ labor, in favor of
other industrial activities, much more profitable. (11)
In the same time, we must consider the high economical potential that the new
continent provided to its new inhabitants. Due to the vast natural resources, like: virgin
forests of nearly 2.100 kilometers along the Eastern seaboard, minerals, fur etc., all of
these were for the colonists powerful reasons to settle down, and to build small farms.
The first economic activity they began, immediately after arriving, was clearing the
forests in order to build log houses, firewood for heating them, respectively furniture,
export commodities, and even ships (p.12).
Due to all these reasons, the first of the British colonies that settled in North
America was Jamestown. In 1607, King James I granted a charter to Virginia Company,
obliging more than 100 persons began to look for a new place to settle, somewhere
around the Chesapeake Bay, being coordinated in their action by Captain John Smith.
During the year 1610, only one third of the original 300 settlers were still alive, mainly
because of the harsh conditions. But, this event did not discourage the other newcomers
who were looking for a new place to settle, like those who founded the town of Henrico
(now, entitled Richmond). This case was favored by the commerce with tobacco, fur,
pelt, timber etc. (12)
On the one hand, we have analyzed the main reasons for the Europeans to come
and settle in North America. But, on the other hand there were lots of motifs for Native
Americans to defend, reject in the last resort, the Europeans and everything they
brought: war, diseases, lust for more land etc. They were so, well-founded to defend
their tribes, customs, lands and even their people for the unwelcome intrusion of the
newcomers. Thus, the relations they had with the colonists had been “an uneasy mix of
cooperation and conflict” (as cited in Hamby, 12).
The incipient colonial period was generally characterized by exemplary relations,
but later there was “a long series of setbacks, skirmishes, and wars, which almost

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invariably resulted in an Indian defeat and further loss of land” (as cited from Hamby,
2005, 16).
Getting back on the main two categories of newcomers, directly and indirectly
interested in exploring the New World, we are now to approach those who formerly had
not the intention in adventuring new lands. But, they were later persuaded by skilful
promoters, like William Penn who was the responsible for publicizing in England the list
of opportunities for going on the North Continent, more exactly in Pennsylvania colony.
Moreover, judges and prison authorities helped increasing the waves of emigrants, by
giving the possibility to convicted persons to choose between imprisonment sentence or
a “free ticket” towards the overseas continent (18).
Another important reason, for leaving the European continent, was the great
chance for the colonists, to begin a new life, a prosperous for this time, and (previously
thought) beyond the European authorities. So, despite the fact that few of the colonists
afforded to finance the high costs of the passage, for themselves and their families, there
were other “legal” formalities to reach the new continent. Most of the ships’ captains,
offered the poor travelers, service contracts; in which it was mentioned that once arrived
in one of the English colonies, they reserved their rights to sell these acts to rich former
settlers, and the newcomers becoming, indentured servant for some time. One more
reason to cross the ocean was provided by free expenses of transportation and
maintenance, supported by colonizing agencies, like Virginia and Massachusetts Bay
Companies. But even this free of charge ticket, was eventually paid by the colonists. By
signing the above mentioned contracts, the colonists were indentured to these agencies,
working for them four or up to seven years consequently. (18)
It is believed that half of the colonists settled in the south part of New England,
America, made use of this system. Despite the transportation facilities, this system
offered also “freedom dues” (as cited in Hamby, 2005, p. 18). Besides these rights, there
were also small tracts of land in same cases, conferred only to those who served the
companies until the labor contracts have run out.
The prospect of having a homestead and enough land for agricultural activities,
capable of providing food and enough money, was unquestionably a powerful reason

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added to those already mentioned above. One aspect which predicted in a way or another
the democratic road that the colonies from North America continent followed, was the
fact that, after all those years when the most of the colonists had to work as indentured
servants, no social stigma was attached to their families. Moreover, they were the part of
the emerging society, having equal rights like any other former or later colonist, without
any social-economic difference. It was the first sign of liberty, of living in a democratic
society, without any prejudges. And the fact that every colony struggled to have its share
of leaders, elected within the colony, it represents an essential aspect in the evolution of
what it will be later the United States of America.

2. The Emergence of the Colonial Government

The major characteristic of the English colonies was the lack of a direct political
control exercised by the English government. This situation was a consequence of the
way how these colonies firstly emerged – all of these, except Georgia, were feudal
proprietorship on the basis of charters issued by the Crown or companies of
shareholders. The role of stock companies and of proprietors was a central one in
exercising an indirect influence over the colonies’ policy. For example, the charter of
Virginia Company was given governmental authority, the Crown imposing to the
company to declare its residence in England (this legal statute of the company allowing
the English government to dictate the rule of Virginia’s colony). (Hamby, 29)

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But the colonists’ vision upon their political statute was totally different from the
English Crown. The colonies considered to be a sort of commonwealth or even small
states, having just diplomatic relationships with English government. In this respect, the
colonists who previously had sought political liberties and rights in England, now signed
the Virginia’s first charter, on the basis of legal principles – “as if they had been abiding
and born within this our Realm of England” (as cited in Hamby, 30)
This declared statute of the colony, it allowed to take benefits and privileges
from Magna Charta (or the Great Charter of Freedoms) – issued by King John in 1215,
and as well from the English system of law, becoming so, much like England. Moreover,
in 1618, Virginia Company had its appointed governor, granting the colonists the right
to elect representatives to join the Governor in taking the decisions. Also, there was an
appointive council with roles “in passing ordinances for the welfare of the colony” (as
cited in Hamby, 30).
This case was the precedent in the American colonialism history. From that
moment on, the colonies made use of the right to participate in elaborating and
implementing the decisions made by their own governments. In response to this political
emancipation, the Crown provided in colonial charters new clauses that allowed free
men only from the colonies to actively take part in elaborating the legislation. So, the
Calverts from Maryland, the proprietors from North and South Carolina and New Jersey
took this privilege and transposed it into their legislation. Despite the fact that this
legislative intervention had no legal basis, the English government did not contest it. In
this respect, some of the colonies, like Plymouth took the initiative to establish their own
government and run their economic activities without the interference of the Crown. (30)
The above case was soon followed by Massachusetts Bay Company. Here the
only difference was the fact that the company was conferred the right to govern by itself
by the English government. This stemmed from the fact that, at the beginning of settling
the colony, there was a group that came in America (from England we assume), which
tried to govern autocratically (term deriving from the word autocracy that means a
system of government in which one person or group has unlimited power (“Autocracy.”,
Longman)

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But, most of the colonists disagreed with this, and more than that they threatened
with a mass migration, if they were refused free election of representatives. Therefore,
the company members were forced to agree with the colonists’ claims and let the
colonists to involve in the colony’s policy. After this major accomplishment, other
colonies felt encouraged to take the destiny of their settlements into their hands. In this
sense, we can mention here two New England colonies, Connecticut and Rhode Island,
which succeeded in setting up free governmental systems after the model of Plymouth.
The main reason invoked by these two colonies, was the fact that they were located
beyond any English authority (Hamby, 29-30).
The emancipation of the colonies was so great that even New York, which was
granted to Duke of York (who later became King James II) and Georgia, which
belonged to a group of trustees, succeeded to gain their political freedom, as the local
English authorities capitulated to colonialists’ insistences.
The mid of the 17th century was a very favorable context to the enforcement of
the incipient colonial free institutions of the British sphere of influence. Between 1642
and 1649, took place the Civil War and the instauration of Puritan Commonwealth
established by Oliver Cromwell. This period of time was a tumultuous one for English
political scene, granting the colonists an unexpected lack of political control over their
institutions (31).
Besides all, we have to consider the immense distance between Europe (in our
case British Isles) and North American Continent. At that time, this was a major obstacle
in controlling the colonies. And what is most important to bring out here, is the changed
mentality of the old Europeans, into the spirit of liberal-democratic precepts. Once they
have left the over-populated and poor European towns, but with very restrictive laws, for
wide fertile plains and where the individual initiative was supported either by local
authorities or by English government to some extend, the colonists adopted an individual
manner of living. From that moment on, they wanted that their own decisions to be
adopted in their own government.
Notwithstanding, the process of gaining more and more independence was
relatively a slow one, that had encumbered lots of obstacle before officially obtaining it.

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In the year 1670, a royal committee, entitled The Lords of Trade and Plantations, went
for drastic measures in some of the colonies. For example, in Massachusetts Bay was
introduced the mercantilism system, in order to prevent any further colonial resistance to
English governmental policy. (31)
Mercantilism represented an economic policy developed in Europe, during the
16th, 17th and 18th century. It was the solution to internal trade barriers of the Middle
Ages. It based on the theory according to which a national economy required the
interference of the governmental control over industry and trade, in order to influence
the rate of exports over imports, resulting in possessions of gold and silver. Initially, this
economic theory encouraged the national industry, and later the colonial areas – as
supply depots for Europeans economies. (“Mercantilism”, Microsoft)
In 1685, James II created a Dominion of New England and extended his
jurisdiction over few south colonies through New Jersey jurisdiction. The Crown
property was administered by a royal governor, named Sir Edmund Andros, who made
severe pressures over the colonies by levying taxes and sending to prison the colonists
who disobeyed his authority. This harsh rule lasted just one year, and the governor was
jailed. This happened due the fact that colonists learned about Glorious Revolution and
the deposition of James II. Immediately after this episode, a new charter was drafted and
in 1691 took place the union of Massachusetts and Plymouth as the royal colony of
Massachusetts Bay; and the rest of the New England’s colonies reinstalled their own
governments. (Hamby, 31)
The very first steps in establishing the basis of the constitution of what would be
later called the United States of America, took place in the late of the 17th century, with
the Toleration Act and the English Bill of Rights. These two important acts, stipulated
several limits of the English Crown over colonialists’ territories and also, the freedom of
worship for Christians, both inside the colonies and in England. Another one was
comprised in John Locke’s major theoretical work “Second Treatise on Government”
(1690). He explained that the government’s statute should no more rely on the divine
right, but on contract. And, in case the government violated the people’s rights, like the

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fundamental right to life, liberty or property, they are entitled to depose the government.
(32)
In the early 18th century, almost all the English colonies were under the direct
jurisdiction of the English government. Despite the fact that the colonial governors were
trying to exercise full powers over the colonists, just as the king used in England until
the Glorious Revolution, the colonists maintained their claims concerning the
legalization of their inalienable rights and liberties. As a consequence, the colonists
succeeded in gaining the right to vote taxes and expenditures. So, we came to the same
conclusion drawn by Alonzo L. Hamby that the legislative role has transferred from the
English authorities to the colonists. (32)
These vital rights conferred on colonies, had a great influence over the political
decisions to come, because now they were capable to check and restrict the power of the
royal governor, and also capable of initiating legislation for enlarging the colonists’
rights and freedoms. But often, things lead to vigorous confrontation between the
governor’s interests and colonial assemblies. But, even so, these conflicts of interests
generated precedents and principles that are later to be found part of the unwritten
“constitution” of the North American colonists.

3. Slavery in the United States

Unwilling immigrants to North America were Africans brought as slaves


between 1619 and 1808 (around 500.000 people). The year 1808 is a significant moment
in American slavery history, as the act of importing slaves into the United States became
illegal. But this dehumanizing practice continued up to 1865, particularly in the agrarian
South. This vast region was mainly recognized as the most distinctive and colorful
American territory. Particularly in coastal areas, southern slaveholders grew wealthy by
raising and selling cotton and tobacco. The most economical and profitable way to raise
these crops was on large farms, called plantations. This form of agriculture needed

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intensive work of many laborers, and in order to supply this extensive need among
southern colonies, the plantation owners relied on slaves regularly brought from Africa.
This common practice soon generated the system of slavery (commonly called
“slavery”) throughout the South. On April 1861, it debuted one of the largest and
complex process of democratizing political and social structure in American society,
aiming the end of slavery. This overarching issue soon became the major disagreement
between the Northerners and the Southerners. In this respect, the states from the North
declared slavery as immoral, while the states from South believed it was integral to their
way of life. (Clack, 5)
This delicate relationship in principles of human rights soon degenerated into the
Civil War, conflict that began on April 12, 1861. The North was more superior to the
South in many perspectives: 25 states with its combined population totalizing 22 million
people against 11 states that could count not more than 9 million inhabitants. It is worth
mentioning here that almost a half of its population (approximately 4 million) consisted
of black slaves. Moreover, most of the factories that were capable of producing war
materials were located in the North, and their sections were well equipped with
railroads, while the South, was a region of farms. (Gallagher, Microsoft)
According to Gary (2007) the step towards the abolition of slavery took place on
January 1, 1863, when the President of the Unites State of America, Abraham Lincoln
issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring freedom for all the slaves concerning
the states from the North, as well as the states still in rebellion against the federal
government. These states were eleven slaveholding states which unified their forces
against the national government, under the title of the Confederate States of America
(also called Confederacy). After four years of battles, on April 1865, Union signaled the
end of the long defense of Confederacy at Richmond, after the moment when the Lee’s
army retreated westward, being forced to surrender at Appomattox Court House.
But slavery was entirely abolished throughout the United States with the addition
of the Thirteenth Amendment to the fundamental law of the American States, ratified on
December 6, 1865 – “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment

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for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United
States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” (as cited in the U.S.A. Constitution).
The end of the Civil War brought the abolition of slavery across the U.S.A. But,
it is also true that the American authorities were not ready yet to provide African
Americans with political and economical equally. Immediately after the war, African
Americans were the subjects to segregation and inferior education. Many of the African
Americans moved with their families from the South to North. But, even so they still
confronted other problems, like the impossibility to find work or even the obligation to
live in run-down, meager and densely populated areas of the cities, apart from the
“white” neighborhoods.
In response to these problems that the African Americans still confronted up to
20th century, Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. took the initiative, becoming his own people
representative. He used a range of non-violent actions, from boycotts, marches to out-
door speeches in front of thousands of people. His actions aimed equal treatment in front
of the law and a true end to racial prejudice. One of his most important speeches took
place on August 28, 1963, entitled “I Have a Dream”. This speech was read in front of
200.000 people. But, what was outstanding in that place – Lincoln Memorial in
Washington D.C., was that people of all races gathered together to hear out their
disappointments through the voice and words of Martin Luther King Jr., saying: “I have
a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of
former slaveholders will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood…”. In a
short period of time, due to this overarching speech and actions to follow, the U.S.
Congress passed laws prohibiting discrimination in voting suffrage, education,
employment, housing and public accommodation. (Clack, 1997, 5)
Nowadays, the population of African Americans is a very significant one in the
United States (in 2008 African Americans represented 13.5 percent of its total
population). In 2001, 38 percent of the employed Africans had “white-collar” jobs, like
positions in managerial levels, rather than service or labor jobs. Moreover, it was
noticed that a high percentage (around 56 percent) of black high school graduates were
enrolled in college. But, despite this improvement of the social conditions of African

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Americans, there still exist burning problems like the average income of blacks, which is
lower than of whites, the high rate of young African Americans regarding the
unemployment, and above all, there still is a shade over black urban neighborhoods
given by poverty, drug use and high rate crime. (5)
Recently, the focus on the civil rights back shifted. Due to the fact that African
Americans steadily moved into the middle class, the government’s question over the
years is whether or not the effects of past discrimination be remediate. In this respect,
one of the initiatives of American governments, called “affirmative action” include
hiring a certain number of African Americans, and also other minorities, admitting a
certain number of minority students to a school/high school/college etc., and setting the
boundaries of a congressional district in order to make possible the election of minority
representatives.
In what concerns the relationships between black and white southerners, these
have changed, emerging into the New South mentality. White and black respect each
other and work together for social purposes, like contributing to the economical
development of the states (still based upon manufactured products), building up sky
scrapers, like Atlanta and little Rock, Arkansas. Above all these aspects, the greatest
change in American society concerning the condition of African Americans and other
minorities, took place in the attitudes of America’s white citizens. It is admitted that all
started with the famous speech of Martin Luther King, Jr. “I Have a Dream” and
continued with the young generations of black and white citizens who contribute to the
materialization of the dream, by incorporating not only African Americans, but all
minorities in its structure so well that it can not be conceived a democratic one,
otherwise. (13 -16)
In the first part of the 19th century, the frontier of the early 13 colonies moved
west beyond the Mississippi River. In 1828, Andrew Jackson was elected as the
president of this new region. Despite the optimism among the states under their new
president, the country had serious problems regarding the fundamental rights of its
citizens, like equality among black and white men. The legislation lacked any regulation
concerning the 1.5 million slaves. (22)

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In 1860 when Abraham Lincoln, an active opponent of slavery, was elected


president of the United States, eleven states left the union, proclaiming themselves as an
independent nation, under the title of Confederate States of America, including: South
Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia Arkansas,
Tennessee, and North Carolina. So, the conflict was imminent. In the summer of the
year 1863, the Confederate Army started well in the early part of the war, due to some of
its commanders, especially General Robert E. Lee. But the Union due to its superior
logistics (professional soldiers and resources) won the decisive battle at Gettysburg.
Moreover, as the Union General, Ulysses S. Grant occupied the city of Vicksburg,
located on a strategic position on Mississippi River; this allowed the North to control the
entire Mississippi Valley, and eventually to divide the Confederacy States in two. (23)
In 1865, the Confederates surrendered as a result of the long and extensive
campaign of the Union. This was sustained by the General in Chief of the Army, Ulysses
S. Grant, against the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia commanded by General
Robert I. Lee. According to historians, the Civil War was the most traumatic episode in
American history. It can be perceived as a cornerstone in building up an incipient
democratic nation, setting down for this time two vexing problems. On the one hand, it
definitely put an end to slavery, and on the other hand it decided that the country was
more than a collection of semi-independent states, but an inseparable nation state, under
the same flag and rules. (23)
4. Press Pioneering

Analyzing the U.S. Constitution, we observe the fact that it was not ratified by
the thirteen former colonies, until the famous ten amendments, entitled the Bill of rights,
were added to the Constitution in 1791. This set of amendments, were a sine qua non
condition in order to adopt the constitution, because this extra legal document stated
more accurately the individual freedoms, especially the one concerning the freedom of
expression by the press (later by media) - “Congress shall make no law respecting an
establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the

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freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and
to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” (as cited from the First
Amendment, “U.S. Constitution”).
This means that the roots of the press in the United States go back to colonial
period, more exactly to the beginning of the 17th century. The development of the
colonial society brought inevitably the need of dispersing information. In 1638, took
place the inauguration of the first printing press in the English colonies and the second in
North America, which was installed at Harvard College. (Hamby, 27)
In New England, due to its socially-economic development, an important literary
production is recorded, especially sermons (at that time, the sermons were the most
common product of the press). This lead to an immediate need to facilitate the
distribution of them, but only in 1704 in Cambridge, Massachusetts emerged the
solution: the newspaper. According to historians, by 1745 there were 22 newspapers
published in British North America. (28).
Among these, we can mention The Boston Newsletter (it came out in1704, used
to convey news from London), The New-England Courant (1721 – the first newspaper
that was not under the influence of British Crown), and The New-York Gazette (1725 –
the New York City’s first journal). (“History of Publishing”, 2010)
An interesting fact, which John W. Johnson (n.d.) mentions in his essay “The
Role of a free Media”, is the fact that in the American history, the freedom of speech and
press have been “intertwined” in the mind of public since the drawing up of the First
Amendment.
According to W. Johnson (n.d.) the appropriate way to observe the evolution of
the role of a free media in U.S. “is to examine the historical development of this concept
through decisions by American courts.” Further on, we will see how the judicial system
took the idea from the 18th century and protected it against those forces in America
which felt quite vexed by the press.
But, we must be aware that the freedom of the press was not understood in the
English colonies on the North America continent as it is today. In this respect, around
the year 1734, an important step took place in the long process of setting up the principle

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of freedom of press. It all began with the trial of a New York newspaper New York
Weekly, published by the German American printer, John Peter Zenger (or as it is also
called “The Zenger Trial”). John Peter Zenger was charged with seditious label by the
government of New York, after publishing an article that criticized the political action of
the colony, unfolded by the royal governor. He was accused of erecting courts without
the consent of the legislative, and also denying, in an arbitrarily way, the right of a trial
by jury to the members of the colony.
These serious accusations made the colonial governor to act in response. He
ordered that the author of the publication to be sent to prison, on the basis of seditious
label. But, even so Zenger kept editing articles, captivating the attention of all the
colonists. Andrew Hamilton, the lawyer who defended Zenger, proved that the
accusations printed by his client were based on true facts, hence not libelous. So, the
publisher John Peter Zenger was found by jury not guilty of seditious libel and acquitted
him (Hamby, 28).
For the first time, the American judicial system established the principle
according to which charges of libel represent no reliable charge against someone, if they
prove to be true. This principle was absolutely necessary to complete the area of action
of the First Amendment and in order to avoid situations like the one mentioned above in
the future.
In 1798, the U.S. Congress passed the Seditious Act stipulating that “write, print,
utter or publish … any false, scandalous and malicious writing” is considered a serious
crime. This act is inspired from the English legal principle, stated by William
Blackstone. He said that publishing mischievous papers represented a crime and could
be punished. This new law, made victims among journalists, like Fames Thomson
Callender, who wrote about President John Adams in 1880 that he was a “hoardy-
headed incendiary” (as cited in Johnson, 1).
During the 19th century, the charge of libel was transferred from the criminal
court to the civil court. This is the result of the increasing cases of the criticized popular
individuals, who took over suits, in order to repair their own stained social honor. In
1833, the U.S. Supreme Court mentioned that the Bill of Rights restricted only the

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national government from intrusion upon individual rights, offering so more power of
decision to states. This changing of perspective gave birth to major consequences like
censoring newspapers and other print media, up to 20th century. Anyway, the fact that
the nation’s court granted little protection to those persons who had the courage to
criticize the government, there was a number of writers and editorial cartoonists who
took the risk and continued defending through newspapers and magazines the free
speech (for example, we can mention here two of cartoonists’ favorite politicians:
Abraham Lincoln or William Bryan).
But, during the World War I, the status of free of speech in the United States was
tied by new acts. In 1918, the U.S. Congress passed a Seditious Act which regarded the
illegal obtaining, receiving and transmitting of defense information. This act legalizes
penalties on expression that could tend to advantage America’s military enemies.
Therefore, under this regulation, the freedom of speech and press was surprisingly
censored. An interesting case, settled by the U.S. Supreme Court was that of a publisher,
named Jacob Abrams, who was accused of violating the here-mentioned Seditious Act.
He wrote a paper in which he criticized the policy of the President Woodrow Wilson
towards the Bolshevik Revolution. His paper was in English and Yiddish and partially
distributed in New York City. The Supreme Court found Abrams’s conduct liable of
clear danger to civic peace and this could be punished by government.
In what concerns the applicability of the content of the First Amendment, the
U.S. Supreme Court has never made a clear distinction between the freedom of
“speech” and of “press” – maybe because they are “frequently joined in the facts of a
case”. (as cited in Johnson, 2)
Therefore, it was not granted more protection to the person who chose to publish
their ideas, believes in newspapers than to those who express orally their convictions.
In 1925, it is signaled the practice of the First Amendment as a constitutional
principle in protecting individual expression. Everything began when a communist,
named Benjamin Gitlow, published a pamphlet addressed to the government. New York
State considered this a serious crime, capable of removing the government by force. And
so, the author of the article was sued. Despite the fact that the court upheld Gitlow’s

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conviction, it also sustained the right of speech and of press, based on the 14 th
Amendment, ratified in 1868 – “ nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty,
or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction
the equal protection of the laws.” (as cited from the Amendments, “U.S. Constitution”)
From that moment, the procedural use of the 14th Amendment was initiated as an
instrument to make use of the Bill of Rights in favor of the individual, rather than
government. This major changing lasted for more than 40 years, evolving from a local
level up to the federal one. (p.2)
Six years later, took place another important step forward in the evolution of the
press. One of the notorious magazines of Minnesota state, entitled Saturday Press,
published by a well-known racist – J. M. Near, it was forbidden by a state judge,
decision taken on the ground of the Public Nuisance Abatement Law. It allowed a judge
to close down any publication that it seemed obscene, scandalous or defamatory. Once
again, the U.S. Court had to settle down this burning issue. After five to four vote a
constitutional defense of the publication was enunciated, based on the English common
law <<that there should be no “prior restraint” of the press>> (as cited in Johnson, n.d.,
p.3). And punishing J. M. Near for his publication was considered inappropriate,
because it did not represent an extreme case of malicious, libelous security matter for the
nation.
The twentieth century gave the “public figure doctrine” (as cited in Johnson, 3),
which was later developed by the Supreme Court in favor of the individuals. According
to this new doctrine, a person who did not enjoy popularity was far more protected from
the criticism delivered by media, than a well-known one. Therefore a public person had
to face ferocious critics from media, if he/she could not prove that the publication acted
with malice. Once a person was determined by a court as a public figure, it was
exceedingly difficult to prove that he/she has been libeled or not.
In order to better exemplify this doctrine, we can illustrate an advertisement from
1960. It was published in New York Times, in order to defend civil rights leader Martin
Luther King, Jr. The advertisement was to expose the fact that King was the object of
harassment from the local officials from Montgomery and Alabama. In response to this

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advertisement, the Commissioner of Public Safety in Montgomery sued the newspaper


for defamation. The State Court gave its verdict in favor of the newspaper, stating that
the article did not contain mistakes or malicious statements about Martin Luther King,
Jr. Moreover, 20 years later, the freedom of press reached a more relaxed level in terms
of legal restriction. Jerry Falwell, another popular figure of Conservative Party, was the
object of a sexually parody in a magazine. The politician imputed the magazine that it
had stained his reputation through that pamphlet, but the court disagreed, arguing that
cartoonists enjoy substantial freedom of expression. (4)
Over years, American courts have reached a hierarchy of protection regarding
the freedom of speech. In top of this hierarchy, stands the political message. The courts
have argued that American democracy was along the history the target of the political
criticism and suppression coming from Britain. And the protection of the democratic
messages should be a priority for the American Judicial System. Just below the political
message, we find the commercial speech. This freedom is protected by the First
Amendment, only under the assumption that it is sustained by true facts. In addition,
Commercial claims can be more easily verified than political assertions that are allowed
to contain hyperbole and minor factual errors.
The lowest rank is rated by obscenity. This means that obscenity and
pornography has unprotected expression. But, here the problem is how one defines the
term obscenity, because for someone it can be represented by an artistic masterpiece or
novel, just like the case of “Ulysses” by James Joyce. However, we believe that one can
join Justice Potter Stewart’s assertion in what concerns the best way to identify the use
of obscenity: “I know it when I see it”. (as cited in Johnson, 4)
But, even so, the American courts have not reached a standard definition of
obscenity and this is the main reason that in the late 30 years of media, in the American
society two extreme movements coexist: the complete free expression and total
conservatism.
An interesting aspect that has to be analyzed in this chapter is the legal means of
gathering information, news under the specification of the First Amendment. In 1972,
Supreme Court ruled that reporters are obliged to reveal their confidential sources to

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grand juries, if necessary. Eighteen years later, the Supreme Court brought a new
regulation that partially voids the former one. Any state can bring charges against
reporters who breach a promise of confidentially to their sources. In the spirit of the free
press, the American courts had to be characterized as well by open judicial proceedings.
Any trial should be open, except the case when a defendant can’t have a fair trial, unless
by closing the courtroom. In this context, the access of the press can be legally forbidden
in courts of room, where for example, juvenile crimes are judged. (4)
In order to see the degree of freedom of the press in the American society, it is
necessary to present the influence of technological development upon the freedom of
media. In 1960’s, American courts have granted more protection to print media, than
broadcast media. The explanation for this inequality in rights consisted of the incapacity
of the communicators to get used with this new emerging media. In consequence, there
was a high chance that the parts involved in judicial action to not have enough time to
respond to the statements broadcasted on television by other candidates. Currently, this
situation has changed. Because of the ceaselessly development of cable, satellite
television and Internet, American courts are placing this type of media on the same rank
as print media (4).
The principle “the public has the right to know” can be considered as the axiom
of the American press across history. The legal rights that have resulted from the First
Amendment are essentially in preserving democracy. As we have seen, there were many
obstacles to pass over, which helped in maturing and enforcing the role of the press in
the American society. Even today, the press struggles to defend its freedom and to
increase the free expression of published ideas (in print or broadcast media).
We would like to conclude this chapter by referring to the assertion with value of
principle made by W. Johnson (n.d.), according to which a nation can be considered a
democratic one, only by granting the freedom of speech and press. And this has no
value, if the protection of media is left behind.

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5. The U.S. Constitution

The context for drafting the United States Constitution was a very tensioned one.
In 1787, the United States were not united, but disunited, as there was an inflated
economy, dissension over foreign policy and the burning question of slavery threatened
the United States to fall apart.
The American people had to confront with the idea of living under a national
government. That reality was beginning to take shape having as its basis the Articles of
Confederation (drafted in 1777). Through this document, each of the American states
was declared sovereign and independent. During Congress’s works, each state had the

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right to vote, regardless the size of its population. Congress was entitled to declare war
and peace, make foreign treatises, coin or borrow money – all these with the consent of
two-thirds of the states. Still, the 13 states proved to be reticent regarding the power of
the national government. This moment was the beginning of what could have been the
death of democracy in America. Because of its narrow powers, Congress could not levy
taxes, in order to obtain revenues from the states to pay the army. The former colonies
neglected among other payments, the national pre-debt to British creditors. In this
respect, the Superintendent of Finance stated that talking about money to the states was
just like preaching to the dead. The social situation across the Unites States went from
bad to worse. In Massachusetts the debt-ridden farmers tried without success to take the
control of state house. Also, there were conflicts and rebellions within the states
especially over boundary claims. To all these, added a rumor that a king would rule over
the United States. These dramatic situations proved a need for a strong and less limited
central government. (Showalter, “We the People”)
James Madison realized that necessity of a change in the Articles of the Confederation.
He proposed a convention at Annapolis, Maryland on September 1786. But, this
initiative did not have a real success. So, another meeting was convoked on May 14,
1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The inevitable was about to happen. Eleven days after the aforementioned date, 55
delegates, elected from the men who served the army during the Revolution (1775-1783
- conflict between 13 British colonies in North America and their parent country, Great
Britain) and the State governments met in Philadelphia. The delegates came from twelve
States, instead of thirteen, as Rhode Island refused to send any. (Showalter, “We the
People…”)
We want to present several names that brought their contribution to elaborating
this unique constitution at that time. This list is opened by George Washington,
continued by James Madison and his colleague Edmund Randolph of Virginia;
Benjamin Franklin, Gouverneur Morris and James Wilson of Pennsylvania, Alexander
Hamilton of New York, Thomas Jefferson and the list may continue as well.

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What is interesting is the fact that the delegates agreed to keep the proceedings
secret under the reason of revising the Articles of Confederation. But, they all agreed
that a new form of government was needed. From that moment, democratic precepts
began to rule the convention. For example, the delegates gave their vote for the president
of proceedings in the person of George Washington.
The convention was declared opened on May 29, being presented the Virginia
Plan. It upheld the political system of two-house legislature. The House of
Representatives was elected by the people, while Senate was elected by the members of
the House. This democratic legislature was based on two elements: the first one based on
the size of “free inhabitants” of each state, and the second one concerned the way in
which the executive power was elected (by legislature and an independent judiciary).
The main objection to this system was the disproportioned rate of representatives in the
legislative system, because of the small states. A solution to this issue came with New
Jersey Plan. It defended the position of smaller states and granted more power to
Congress, namely to levy taxes and control commerce. The target of this proposal was
one house legislature with equal representation of all states and a body of executives
elected by the legislature, while judiciary to be elected by the Executive Branch. The
Convention decided that Virginia Plan should be adopted, but it had not reached a
common point regarding the question of representation. The solution came on June 20,
at the initiative of Connecticut delegation. They proposed that representation in the
House be based on population size of free inhabitants plus three-fifths of all other
persons (here was aimed the social category of slaves), while in Senate, the
representation be equal of all states. (Showalter, “We the People…”)
Another issue brought into discussion was the Executive Branch. There were two
main ways to deal with this problem: either a board of executives, or one single person.
The length of the terms varied as well from four, seven and even ten years. But,
eventually the delegated voted for a single executive elected by Congress and a length of
term of seven years, providing just one office term for the elected candidate. The first
draft of the Constitution included precepts taken from the Articles of Confederation,
state constitutions and various other documents. There were used innovative concepts,

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like: president, Congress, Senate, House of Representatives, Supreme Court; and above
all, the phrase – “We the People”.
On August 6, 1787, the new Constitution was ready to be forwarded to the
Convention and debated upon. Showalter (n.d.) mentions that the first topic that was
discussed by the members of the Convention was the length of term for chief executive.
They agreed to a four year term office, allowing the executive to take a second run. It
was also settled the conditions for a person to fulfill before running the election – a
natural born citizen or a naturalized citizen of the United States of America. In the latter
case, he had to live at least for 14 years in one of the American states; he had to be at
least 35 years old and be elected by a group of “electors” chosen by states. On
September 15, the Constitution underwent the final 24 modifications, before being
ratified by all the states. One of them had serious doubts concerning the applicability
phrase: “We the People”, to which be added the name of the states. That because the
delegates were incapable to predict the state’s reaction towards the ratification of the
Constitution. The phrase was then, reformulated into “We the People of the United
States”.
In the same year on September 15, the Convention was ready to debate the final
draft. Three delegates, Edmund Randolph (the person who introduced the Virginia Plan
to the Convention), George Mason (the author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights) and
Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts expressed their dissatisfaction with the incomplete
form of the Constitution. They argued the incorporation of a set of amendments to
guarantee the rights of citizens all across the United States. The president of the
Convention called for a vote, and the conclusion was to preserve the form and content of
the Constitution. Two days later, the Convention met for the last time. Benjamin
Franklin called all the delegates who participated at the convention’s works, to sign the
American Constitution. From the former 55 delegates, only 42 delegates were present at
the event. Among those who did not sign, were Randolph, Mason and Gerry who
protested this way against the Constitution. (Showalter, “We the People…”)
On September 20, the Constitution was printed in newspapers across the United
States, being also presented to Congress. Due to the fact that the members of Congress

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were the same who participated at the Convention, they helped in a way the ratification
of the document much sooner, than expected. But, it is also true that the states formerly
divided into two parties – the Federalists and the anti-Federalists. The first party
supported the Constitution and followed the procedure to ratify it. The second party in
turn, was against it, arguing that the states’ rights were threatened.
By January 9, 1788 five small states have ratified the Constitution. They were
Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut and Georgia. From February to June
another four states followed their example: Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina
and New Hampshire. In that moment, the United States Constitution was officially
ratified, as got the approval of nine states, from the thirteenth states. The only
governments which did not ratify this document were the largest states: Virginia and
New York; these two had a large influence over the other states, as most of their people
considered that the Constitution would never be honored without the approval of all the
states. (Showalter, “We the People…”)
So, a vigorous campaign was undertaken by George Washington and James
Madison to make the ratification of the document possible in Virginia, too. The new
government was attacked by Patrick Henry and George Mason, the representatives of
anti-federalist party. Patrick Henry disagreed with the phrase “We the People of the
United States” proposing as an alternative the individual states’ names. Mason instead,
upheld the abolishment of slavery, qualifying it as diabolical and disgraceful to
humankind. According to him, a Constitution that did not explicitly outlawed slavery, it
sustained it for the years to come (twenty years).
Eventually, the two parties came to a common point, that the amendments should
be adopted. But, there was another source of conflict – the Federalists insisted that the
Constitution be first ratified and only after that the amendments added to it, while the
anti-Federalists upheld the addition of the amendments before ratification.
On June 25, the delegates of both parties voted the ratification of the constitution
with the recommendation for adding the amendments. A month later, on July 26, New
York ratified at its turn the official document. This was the result of the collaboration
between Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison, who used as their main

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“weapon” – “The Federalist Papers”. They were letters published in the New York
magazines. They succeeded to spread confidence among its citizens, presenting the
advantages of a federal government, with executive, legislative and judicial branches
that verified and balanced each other. (Showalter, n.d., “We the People…”)
Until that moment, eleven states ratified the Constitution, except North Carolina
and Rhode Island. In what concerns North Carolina State, the federal government
promised the exemption of duties imposed on imported goods, determining the state
assembly to vote for the ratification, on November 21, 1789. Rhode Island instead, was
threatened with embargo on commercial goods coming from all the American states, in
case it did not vote for the ratification of the Constitution. Eventually, the state
capitulated and ratified the document on May 29, 1790.
We would like to highlight what means the word “recommendation” in a
democratic society. As we have seen Virginia State ratified the Constitution with a
recommendation based on the proposal made by Edmund Randolph and later sustained
by George Mason, in the context of Virginia assembly. So, the recommendation
formulated by George Mason to amend the Articles of Confederation (mainly regarding
the issue of slavery) came into effect merely after four years (September 15, 1787 – the
date of this proposal, and December 1791 – the date of ratification of the Bill of Rights).
This was an “immediate” measure taken by Congress in order to take into consideration
the “recommendation” made by Virginia when ratified the Constitution. And, in what
concerns the issue of slavery arisen by George Mason, this found its solution after
twenty years, in 1808 (the date when U.S. law forbade the importation of slaves from
abroad, although some smuggling of slaves continued).

5.1 The Bill of Rights

The U.S. Constitution written in Philadelphia around the year 1787 could not be
legalized without being ratified by at least nine of the thirteen states. Several of the
states believed that American Constitution failed to prove specific guarantees regarding

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the rights of the individuals. These states beginning with Virginia, Pennsylvania,
Maryland, Delaware and few others, added to their state constitutions an extra
document. This document aimed to better clarify and lay down what were the rights
protected by law of the former colonists. In this respect, Virginia State drafted the
“Declaration of Rights”. This document was an answer to the incapacity of U.S.
Constitution to provide enough guarantees regarding the rights of its people. It was
obvious that something had to be done in order to gain the states’ confidence. The
solution came with a new document made of ten clarifying amendments, which were
added to the Constitution in 1789. (Showalter, “We the People…”)
These amendments are concentrated in one document entitled the Bill of Rights,
being legalized and incorporated into the US Constitution in 1791. (Clack, 33)
Originally the Bill of Rights could operate only within the federal government,
but in a series of 20th century cases, the Supreme Court decided that most of its
provisions can and must apply to all the states. Thus, this official document represents
the legal basis upon which the freedom of speech, of religion, and of the press is
protected. It also provides the Americans with the right to assemble in public places, to
protest against government politics, and to demand change. Furthermore, it prevents
police or soldiers to stop and search a person without good reason. They are legally
forbidden to search a person’s home or office without the permission from a court to do
so. In what concerns the crime sphere, The Bill of Rights stipulates that any person
accused of a crime is subject to a speedy trial, with or without a jury. The accused must
be allowed representation by a lawyer and to call witnesses to speak in his/her favor.
(34)
Since its adoption, 17 other amendments have been added to the Constitution.
Among all, the most important ones are the Thirteenth, the Fourteenth, and the
Nineteenth. The Thirteenth Amendment outlaws slavery; the Fourteenth Amendment
guarantees all citizens equal protection before the law, and the Nineteenth Amendment
gives women the right to vote.
As interpreted by the Supreme Court, the Bill of Rights is the most extensive
charter of liberties in the world at this very moment. Many countries have used the Bill

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of Rights as a model for defining civil liberties in their constitutions. But, it is also true
that other nations, like Canada, Great Britain, France and to some degree ex-communist
countries, observed most of the same rights, but not necessarily in the same way or to
the same measure. (Lieberman, “Bill of…”)
It is important to point out that in the United States, neither Congress nor the
state legislatures may pass a law that comes into conflict with the Bill of Rights. We
would like present in a briefly way how individual rights are enforced in the
aforementioned countries. The inhabitants of Great Britain enjoy civil liberties, but the
Church of England exercise a great influence on the freedoms of speech and of the press,
which are weaker than in the United States. Moreover, Parliament has a vast jurisdiction
and may pass laws that violate civil liberties, in some cases. France has a different type
of criminal law system, and many protections afforded to the accused in the United
States do not exist in this country. Constitutions of the former Communist countries,
including Romania, established civil liberties just on paper and created no enforcement
mechanisms. One of the first legal steps taken in the newly emerging democracies in
Eastern Europe, from 1990s and up to now, in Romania’s case, was to add enforceable
civil liberties in its rewritten constitution. The first ten amendments to the Constitution
proved for more than 200 years that have a crucial importance to the political and legal
development of the United States. This historic, and yet modern document accomplished
three important purposes. Firstly, it declared an important ideal – that the people have
rights with which no government may interfere. Placing ideals into the Constitution
makes it harder for totalitarian regimes to restrict human rights. Secondly, it provided
the basis for actually securing the rights. In 1789 statesman Thomas Jefferson wrote
James Madison that a bill of rights “puts into the hands of the judiciary” a “legal check”
against tyranny by the legislature or the executive. The last purpose concerns the First
Amendment that protects democratic government by barring criminal prosecutions
against those who criticize the government and those who have unpopular beliefs.
(Lieberman, “Bill of…”)

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5.2 Analyzing the U.S. Amendments

The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech, of the press, of association


and assembly. It is also protected the right to worship any religion that one believes in.
In the same way, the right to petition the government for its unfair policies is granted as
well. (“The Constitution …”, 2004)
The Second Amendment maybe one of the cumbersome amendments, as it was
much debate upon it. There are, at least, two major interpretations regarding the right
protected by this regulation. Some scholars argued that it is about the right to own
munitions and weaponry. Other scholars interpreted the amendment as protecting only a
narrow right to possess firearms, as a member of a militia. However, the Supreme Court
has not resolved the debate so far, as it makes ambiguous commentary upon it, stating
that this amendment does not preclude certain government regulations on gun
ownership. (Lieberman, “Bill of…”)
The Third Amendment is an interesting one, as it does not apply anymore
nowadays. It was the colonies’ response to British rule. The colonists were forced to
feed and house British soldiers who came to enforce colonial tax laws. As they resented
this British measure, they banned it, writing this amendment, forbidding the government
to quarter soldiers in private residences during peacetime without resident’s permission
or in other situations not prescribed by law. (“The Constitution…”)
The Fourth Amendment protects the people’s homes and offices from
unreasonable search or seizure, coming from the police or government officials. This
can happen though, when police agents have a written search warrant from a judge,
mentioning exactly where they will search and what do they expect to find. (Hamby, 77)
The Fifth Amendment is a very extensive one, as it provides five essential
protections against arbitrary government. The first protection aims the impossibility of a
person to be prosecuted for a federal crime without being formally accused by a grand
jury. The second protection settles that a criminal suspect cannot be prosecuted in the
same time with more than one crime, and if the person is acquitted, there can not be
another trial based on the same accusations. The next protection is considered in most of

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the cases as a right. A person cannot be forced to testify against himself, avoiding so
self-incrimination. (Lieberman, “Bill of…”)
The fourth protection ensures that the government through its arbitrary decisions
should not deprive a person of three fundamental rights: life, liberty and property. The
last protection was created against government’s action to take private property unless it
is for public purpose and it is fairly indemnified for. (Lieberman, “Bill of…”)
The Sixth Amendment deals with criminal procedure. The suspect has the right
to a speedy and public trial. In federal cases, defendants have the right to be tried in the
area where the crime was committed and both state and federal defendants have the right
to an impartially jury. This amendment also, compels the government to correctly
inform the accused about the nature of the charges against him/her. The accused has also
the right to be confronted with the witnesses against him/her and to have witnesses in
his/her favor. (Lieberman, “Bill of…”)
The Seventh Amendment does not make any reference to states policies, but to
suits at common law where the value of the case has to exceed twenty dollars. It
guarantees the right to a jury in the case of federal non-criminal trials. (Lieberman, “Bill
of…”)
The Eighth Amendment obliges the courts to allow most criminal defendants to
leave jail before their trial on the condition they put up a reasonable bail (a financial
guarantee that they will come to the trial). In case that a person is convicted of a crime,
the government cannot impose cruel or unusual punishment. According to Supreme
Court, the terms “cruel and unusual” are used for a punishment that is disproportioned to
the crime committed. In this respect, the Court has also mentioned that death penalty
verdict given to a person regardless of what he/she committed, is a cruel and unusual
punishment. (Lieberman, “Bill of…”)
The Ninth Amendment mentions that the Constitution did not comprise all the
rights. But, even so, there is no legal basis to infer that they do not exist, and one person
cannot be defended against government arbitrarily actions. (Hamby, 77)

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The Tenth Amendment grants the right to the people to act freely, in case it does
not interfere with the scope of the federal government’s authority. (Lieberman, “Bill
of…”)
So, as we have seen, this series of amendments provides American people
guarantees of basic rights, like free speech, freedom of the press and religion, the right to
petition the government, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, freedom of
assembly, the right to a trial by a jury and the right to be compensated when your
property is taken by the government for the public good.
It is necessary to mention that 17 extra-amendments have been added to the
Constitution until the present moment, besides the former document, called the Bill of
Rights. Further on, we have analyzed the content of each of these amendments, coming
to these results:
The Eleventh Amendment (ratified February 7, 1795) refers to the state
governments that are immune to some suits in federal courts. (Lieberman, “Bill of…”)
The Twelfth Amendment (ratified June 15, 1804) dealt with the level of
representation in the government, based on ballot legislation. This act revised the
Constitution, regarding the position of candidates after a national election. So, with a
single vote an elector expressed his/her choice regarding two political offices: that of the
president and of the vice president. The members of Philadelphia convention had
decided that the candidate who received the most votes in the national election would
become president of United States, and the also-run would become vice president.
(Showalter, “We the People…”)
The Thirteenth Amendment (ratified December 6, 1865) implemented several
revisions for the amendments 13th, 14th and 15th. Through the official act, entitled “The
Emancipation Proclamation” issued in 1863, during the American Civil War (1861 –
1865), Abraham Lincoln in his position of President of the United States, declared all
slaves living in America to be free. After this declaration, the amendments 13th (1865),
14th (1868) and 15th (1870) were successively revised, abolishing slavery across United
States and guaranteeing basic civil liberties to all citizens (except the right to vote,

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granted only to former male slaves). This amendments ensured that slavery and peonage
are illegal are severely punished. (Showalter, “We the People…”)
The Fourteenth Amendment (ratified July 9, 1868) dealt with several issues
settled in five sections. The first section granted American citizenship to any person
born or naturalized in the United States. All citizens are entitled to due process on the
basis of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. In this respect, states must not deprive any
person of life, liberty and property without due process of law. The legislative acts must
be enacted and enforced in a way to grant people equal protection before the law. The
second section exposed the situation when a state prevents an adult person (21 years old)
from voting making the state’s congressional representation to be reduced
proportionally. The third section, settled the highest political level of those persons who
pledged their loyalty to the Confederacy States, during the Civil War. They were not
permitted to serve in Congress, unless two-thirds of Congress agreed to remove this
restriction for that candidate. The next section regarded the public debts incurred by the
Confederacy. All these were declared invalid and uncollectible from the states and the
federal government. The last section dealt with procedures of enforcement all these
regulations made by Congress. (Lieberman, “Bill of…”)
The Fifteenth Amendment (ratified February 3, 1870) aimed the extension of the
right to vote in The United States. The federal or state government must not deny or
abridge people from voting on account of race, color, or because they were formerly
slaves. This represents one of the measures taken by the Congress to eradicate
discrimination, later explicitly concretized in the ratification of Civil Rights Act (1964)
and Voting Rights Act (1965). (Lieberman, “Bill of…”)
The Sixteenth Amendment (ratified February 3, 1913) provided the beginning of
the federal income tax. The Congress had the authority to impose an income tax,
regardless the variances in state population size. (Lieberman, “Bill of…”)
The Seventeenth Amendment (ratified April 8, 1913) regulated the composition
of the Senate: two Senators from each state, who are elected by people on a term of six
years. Formerly, this power was granted to states’ legislatures to delegate Senators
(Article 1, Section 3). In what concerns the vacancy in a state’s Senate delegation, the

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state’s governor can appoint a replacement until an election is held to fill the vacancy.
(Lieberman, “Bill of…”)
The Eighteenth Amendment (ratified January 16, 1919) prohibited the process of
manufacturing, sale and transportation of liquors across the Unites States. This ban on
alcohol known as “Prohibition” was replaced in 1933 by Amendment 21st. (Showalter,
“We the People…”)
The Nineteenth Amendment (ratified August 18, 1920) gave the women the right
to vote after almost a century of prohibiting it. The Congress argued that this right to
vote should not be denied or abridged to any of the citizens of United States or of any
State regardless of sex. (Showalter, “We the People…”)
The Twentieth Amendment (ratified January 23, 1933) contains several
regulations, organized into six sections. The first section deals with the terms of the
president and vice president. It was settled that on January 20th of each year following
the presidential elections should begin the terms of president and vice president. The
second section settled that Congress should assemble at least once every year and the
session meeting should begin at noon on January 3, unless Congress decides otherwise.
The third section is a more complex one. In case the newly elected president dies before
taking office, the newly elected vice president takes his responsibilities, acting until
another president is chosen. If neither president nor vice president is chosen when the
president’s term is set to begin, Congress can determinate who becomes the acting
president. The following section goes deeply in the aforementioned issue of presidential
vacancy. Congress can pass a law to determinate the line of presidential succession after
the vice president. The section five refers to the date when Section one and two take
effect: on the 15th day of October. The last section takes into account the inoperativeness
of this amendment. But, in order to avoid this, it has to be ratified by three-fourths of the
states’ legislatures within seven years from the date of its submission. (Lieberman, “Bill
of…”)
The Twenty-first Amendment (ratified December 5, 1933) represents the end of
the national prohibition on liquor. The repeal of Amendment 18th was signed by

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President Roosevelt. Based on this amendment, states have retained their right to
regulate alcohol. (Showalter, WE THE PEOPLE)
The Twenty-second Amendment (ratified February 22, 1951) transformed the
precedent into law. This took place after 150 years when the first president of United
States, George Washington set the precedent: two terms presidency. With the ratification
of this amendment one president can have not more than two terms. In the history of
American Presidency, Franklin D. Roosevelt had been the only president to exceed this
limit. He was the President of United States for four times: March 4, 1933 – 1937;
January 20, 20 1937 – 1941; January 20, 1941 – 1944; January 20, 1944 – 1945.
(Showalter, “We the People…”)
The Twenty-third Amendment (ratified March 29, 1961) clarifies the way in
which the District constituting the sets of Government of the United States can appoint.
Moreover, it was conferred to the residents of Washington D.C. the right to vote in
presidential elections. (Showalter, “We the People…”)
The Twenty-fourth Amendment (ratified January 23, 1964) legalized the
universal suffrage. This amendment brought Afro-Americans one step towards the
universal suffrage. In this respect, the poll tax charged to vote or any other tax that
prevented people from voting was declared illegal. (Showalter, “We the People…”)
The Twenty-fifth Amendment (ratified March 29, 1961) is divided into four
sections. The first section resumes the provision of Amendment twenty, enhancing the
role of vice president in case of presidential vacancy. The second section regards the
vice presidential vacancy. In this case, the president can appoint a replacement subject to
a majority of both houses of Congress. The third section exposes the case when the
President notifies through a written declaration the congressional leaders that he is
unable to continue in office. Then, the vice president is empowered to take the
responsibilities of the Acting President. The last section brings further dispositions
related to president incapacity to exercise his duties. The president can be “undressed”
by his powers if the vice president and a majority of cabinet members certify that he is
incapable of doing the job. In order to get his powers back, two-thirds of each House has
to vote that he can serve the office. (Lieberman, “Bill of…”)

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The Twenty-sixth Amendment (ratified July 1, 1971) represents a completion to


U.S. election law. Everything started with amendment 15th which granted the right to
vote for all males, no matter the race; the amendment 19th provided the right to vote for
all females, regardless the race and this amendment 26th lowered the voting age from
twenty-one to eighteen in all federal and local elections. (Showalter, “We the people”)
The Twenty-seventh Amendment (ratified May 7, 1992) refers that the
Congressional pay rates cannot be changed until an intervening House of
Representatives election has occurred previously. (Lieberman, “Bill of…”)

6. American Suffrage

Once the Englishmen arrived in the New World they inevitably brought with
them the English model, especially the framework of the British legislative system. One
of its main features was the political philosophy of the 18 th century according to which
only men who owned land could exercise the right to vote. This represented the main
impediment to make suffrage universal in United States. But, once the American society
confronted with the issue of rights and liberties, it decided that the right to vote was one

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of the values of a democratic society and thus be granted by laws. (Bakken, “The
Creation…”)
The Americans wanted to incorporate the early constitution of England, in order
to transfer the rights of Englishmen to their social status. This legislative process, could
only took place within state’s constitutional conventions of the late 18 th century. The
delegates were charged with the expansion of the rights of American colonists. In this
respect, Maryland State enlarged the criteria for the election of delegates in its
constitutional conventions. In Georgia’s case, the delegates drafted a petition aiming a
mechanism that allowed to put into effect several revised Constitutions of 1789, 1794,
and 1797. In 1776, Massachusetts State began its former process of democratizing its
social and political structures by granting an increased authority to the people willing to
make constitutional improvements. General Court (Massachusetts’ legislature) asked for
the permission of state’s towns in order to draft the state constitution. In 18th century,
towns rather than a majority of electors controlled the fate of important decisions, and in
our case, they decided that no Constitution should be drafted. But, in the ensuing years,
towns began to give in. This was the case of Boston town, which was formerly against
any constitution. Eventually, it authorized the General Court to ratify the constitution. In
spite of this achievement, the citizens’ vote was against this document. (Bakken, “The
Creation…”)
In 1779, The General Court allowed people to elect in their towns the delegates
to the convention. As a result, in the following year, Massachusetts’ constitution was
ratified. In this legislative context, several regulations emerged, which are now
considered precepts: a constitution or other important documents are elaborated and
written within conventions made up of elected delegates; the legislative of any state
must guarantee access to the process of amending the constitution by means of voting,
and the people is the supreme authority that exercise its power through ballot box, to
ratify constitution. (Bakken, “The Creation…”)
The 19th century was marked by important social changes and it proved to be a
cornerstone in making official the universal suffrage, across the United States. Andrew
Jackson’s presidency (1829-1837) was an important phase in granting further rights and

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opportunities for all citizens, like small farmers, laborers, mechanics, and many other
Americans, besides black Americans. This category was still deprived of rights, because
his party promoted the interests of slaveholders and thereby helped to delay a solution to
the slavery question until it erupted into the Civil War in 1861. Above all, with this
presidency, American society began an intense process of democratizing its structures.
Everything began with the labor organizations, among skilled and later semiskilled
workers. Their claim was that the State should involve in reducing the working day to
ten hour of labor, which was later legalized in 1860 by several states.
Moreover, the spread of suffrage (granted by the ratification of the 15th
Amendment) led to the need for education. In order to elect a candidate, the electors
needed proper education. In response to this need, the states legalized free instruction.
(Hamby, 121)
A particular reform in American society concerned the alcohol abusers. This
social movement, also called “The Temperance Movement”, took place in Boston for
the first time, evolving later into American Temperance Movement (1833). It was aimed
the prohibition of all alcoholic beverages and the production and sale of alcoholic
products. Another series of reforms underwent by American society concerned the
problem of prisons and care for the persons who were mentally ill. Prisons were
transformed from simple places of punishment to penitentiaries where the convicted had
the chance to rehabilitate themselves. Related to the conditions for insane persons,
Massachusetts was the firs state where Dorothea Dix led a campaign for improvement of
wretched almshouses and prisons. This wave of outstanding social reform inevitably
brought the issue of women’s rights. An interesting aspect that was preserved from
colonial times was the fact that unmarried women had the same rights with men, but
things dramatically changed when women got married. From that moment on, they lost
their separate identities before law. Their education was mainly limited to basic notions
of reading, writing, music, dancing and needlework. So, their level of knowledge was a
major obstacle in granting the right to vote. The women’s movement in U.S. debuted
with the arrival of a Scottish lecturer and journalist, Frances Wright. She publicly
promoted women’s rights across U.S. during 1820’s. So, the first decade of the 19th

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century was a period of time when women were forbidden to speak in public place, but
Wright sustained and promoted the right of women to be well-informed upon birth
control and divorce matters. (121-122)
In 1840s in America took place the first social movement for advocating the
women’s rights. It emerged under the leadership of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Eight years
later, Cady Stanton and her colleague Lucretia Matt opened the first session of women’s
rights convention in the world, at Seneca Falls, New York. The result of this convention
was concretized in the adoption of “Declaration of Sentiments” on July, 1848 (document
patterned after the American Declaration of Independence). This document demanded
equality of women with men before the law, the right to vote and equal chances in
education and employment. (p.122)
In 1848, due the initiative of a Polish immigrant Ernestine Rose, New York State
passed a law entitled “Married Women’s Property Act”. It was designed to guarantee the
women’s right to keep their property in their own name.
During the year 1869, another measure was taken to uphold the women’s cause.
For example, it was founded the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) by
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. This association was created to promote
a constitutional amendment for women’s right to vote, being ratified only after a half a
century on August 18, 1920, under the name of Nineteenth Amendment. This
amendment gave the women the right to vote. Moreover, the Congress argued that this
right to vote should not be denied or abridged to any of the citizens of the United States
or of any State regardless of sex. (123)

6.1 African-American Movement

In 1960s the United States of America proved an open policy towards social
change. Groups that were considered inferior to dominant class of white males began to
demonstrate their social discontent. They were mainly African Americans, Native
Americans, women, the white ethnic group offspring of the “immigration” and Latinos.

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The major characteristic of these groups was that they received the support of the young
generation, who assimilated new ideas and attitudes towards the old social issues, due
college and university system. Under the influence of “countercultural” tendency, this
generation became the advocate of a new America characterized by a cultural and ethnic
pluralism. (Hamby, 276)
In the mid of the 1960s the African American Movement began. It was the
moment when the struggle of African Americans for civil rights amplified. Groups like
Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Student Nonviolent
Coordinating Committee (SNCC) sought the reformation of the entire society through
nonviolent direct action. These civil rights movements began in 1960 when African
American college students refused to leave the Woolworth’s lunch counter in North
Carolina, determining other similar demonstrations throughout the South. During 1961,
the civil rights leaders organized the “freedom rides” – buses with African Americans
and whites heading South, to demonstrate against social discrimination and so, to get the
mass-media attention. The most important demonstration took place on March, 1963.
More than 200.000 people gathered in Washington D.C. to show their commitment of
equality for all. The peak of this demonstration was reached by the famous speech of
Martin Luther King Jr. “I have a Dream”. (277)
American life was now confronting with new realities that needed to be enforced
by proper laws. In 1962, the President John F. Kennedy sent to the Congress a new civil
rights bill aiming the integration of public places. The next President of United States,
Lyndon B. Johnson got the Senate’s final vote on the Civil Rights Act of 1964,
preventing discrimination in all public accommodations. A new step towards social
equality took place in 1965 with the issue of the Voting Rights Act, permitting the
federal government to take into consideration the votes coming from South. As a direct
result, in 1968 more than a million African Americans used their right to vote. In the
same year, the Congress passed the law forbidding discrimination in housing. It is worth
mentioning that all the measures against racial discrimination were supported by court
decisions, congressional enactments and federal administrative regulations. These

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measures ensured the access of African American people into the ranks of the middle
class. (278)

6.2 The Women’s Movement

Between 1960 and 1970 the women’s demonstrations took place, inspired from
the civil rights movement. It was the consequence of the fact that more and more women
entered the labor force, and they were discriminated by men. For example, in 1963, the
average working women wage only 63 percent of what a man earned. And even today
women earn less money for the same professional and educational skills. For example,
in 2008 the U.S. Labor Department reported women’s median wage to be 79.9 percent
of men’s. Despite this, we can observe an important achievement in this view, as the
women’s pay rose rapidly between 1980 and 1990 – from 60.2 percent to 71.6 percent;
and decreased between 1990 and 2004 – from 71.6 percent to 76. 5 percent. In what
concerns the educational skills, the men’s work is subjectively considered as higher-
quality to the detriment of equal or better work by women. In this respect, female
scientists need to be at least twice as accomplished as men to receive equal credit.
(“Male-female …”)
In 1963, one of the Women’s Movement leaders, Betty Friedan published “The
Feminine Mystique”. It represents a radical critique addressed to the social practice
concerning women’s role in society. She considered that women were unjustly deprived
of any means of expression, other than being married and having children. Through this
feminist initiative, women were encouraged to find new roles and responsibilities,
doubled by personal and professional identities. (Hamby, 278)
The movement found its partisans from the middle class partaking at the
rebellion of 1960s that affected large segments of the U.S. population. In 1964, reforms
over legislation became essential. The Civil Rights Bill included amendments that
outlawed discrimination on the basis of gender and race. This bill became a valuable
instrument for advocating women’s rights. During 1966, several organizations were

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founded to bring female interests into the attention the federal authorities. The most
important one was the National Organization for Women (NOW), founded by Betty
Friedan and other 27 professional women. (279)
In 1972, the Congress passed the proposed amendment, entitled “Equal Rights”,
making official the democratic principle according to which equality of rights under the
law could not be restricted by the United States or by any State on account of sex. This
amendment was ratified by 35 of the American states. A year later, in the Roe v. Wade
case, the courts granted women an important right according to women organizations –
the right to abort during the early months of pregnancy. Anyway, Roe succeeded to cast
a shadow upon this “right” by encouraging the growth of anti-abortion movement. In the
late 20th century, the women’s movement was characterized by a period of stagnation.
The cause for this was that it could not reach a compromise between the moderate and
radical feminist, in order to broaden their appeal beyond the middle class. In the 21st
century women in America feel the effects of the social discrimination that still exists in
the social mentality, as they earn less money for the same education and professional
skill. (279)

7. Personalities

7.1 George Washington


“Father of His Country”
(1732-1799)

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George Washington was the first President of the United States (1789-1797) and
one of the most important leaders in United States’ history. He was one of the key
elements in gaining the independence for the American colonies and later in unifying
them under the new U.S. federal government. He brought his military experience to the
creation of the Continental Army, which fought and won the American Revolution
between 1775 and 1783. After eight years of psychological and material struggle, his
professional army succeeded to defeat the British troops at Yorktown, Virginia, and
forced Great Britain to grant independence to its overseas possession. (“George…”,
Microsoft)
Despite the fact that the Continental Congress was weak and divided,
Washington was an example in obeying its regulations. He was a leading influence in
persuading the states to participate in the Constitutional Convention, over which he
presided, and he used his immense prestige to help gain ratification of its product, the
Constitution of the United States. (“George…”, Microsoft)
On March 4, 1789, the Congress of the Confederation had to organize the first
presidential election throughout the United States. Due to the fact that all the states’
representatives saw in Washington’s personality the leader able to bring together the
states into a lasting union, George Washington was the only American president
unanimously chosen as the President of the United States. The oath of office took place
on April 30, 1789, Washington pledging to carry out his presidential duties faithfully
and to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of United States. From that moment
on, the U.S. presidents used to have these words in taking the oath of office. (Hamby,
77)
Being the first president of United States, George Washington had to deal with
some serious problems. The recent adopted Constitution (on September 17, 1787)
without full support of public opinion and the task of the new government to create a
judicial and a taxation system, represent just some of the most challenging tasks that
needed to be confronted with. During his mandate, the Congress created the
Departments of State and Treasury, which were in charge of Thomas Jefferson and
Alexander Hamilton as their respective secretaries. Also, there were created the

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Departments of War and Justice. One institution that came into being in a particular way
was the Presidential Cabinet. Its initiator was George Washington who preferred to
make decisions only after consulting only those persons whose judgment he valued.
Therefore, the Presidential Cabinet consists up to this moment of the heads of all
departments that Congress might vote. (77)
Another crucial institution that safeguards the U.S. democracy is the Supreme
Court. It consists of one chief justice and five associate justices, three circuit courts and
13 district courts. In this period of important social improvements, the country was
experiencing large weaves of Europeans immigrants. This massive immigration pushed
the America boundaries westwards: New Englanders and Pennsylvanians into Ohio;
Virginians and Carolinians into Kentucky and Tennessee. Farms were thriving and labor
was in strong demand as the rich valleys of Upper New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia
became important wheat-growing centers. (78)
A great number of items were still homemade, but soon the effects of the
Industrial Revolution began to materialize. For example, in Massachusetts and Rhode
Island the foundations of important textile industries were laid; Connecticut was
producing tin ware and clocks while New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania became
specialized in making paper, glass, and iron. Related to maritime industry, shipping was
to a large extent one important sector of economic development. American ships were
increasingly traveling to China, where it was mainly exported furs and imported tea,
spices and silk. This extensive trade brought Unites States as the second leader after
Britain, concerning the maritime commerce. (78)
In his political activity, George Washington relied on his wise leadership. He
succeeded in organizing a national government, in coordinating the settlement of the
former Britain and Spain Territories, and in signing the admission into the federal union
of three new states: Vermont (1791), Kentucky (1792) and Tennessee (1796). George
Washington was a promoter of foreign affairs, as he in his Farewell Address warns his
people about the importance of permanent alliances with any reliable state in the world.
It is worth considering that this vision was taken for granted by the American
generations to come. (78)

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Washington retired in 1797, declining to serve the nation as a president for more
than two terms (February 4, 1789 – 1792, March 4, 1793 - 1797). After he publicly
announced his intention, two candidates ran for the Presidential Office: from the
Republican Party was Thomas Jefferson and his opponent, John Adams from the
Federalist Party. The latter candidate won the Presidential elections, with a narrow
victory. (82)
After he participated at the inauguration of President John Adams on March 4,
1797, he left Philadelphia and went for Mount Vernon. Although, he left the political
scene with its departure form the Presidential Office, he still involved in the campaign
against the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798, which were an attempt to limit
federal powers in line with Jefferson’s beliefs. In his view, these political initiatives
were a threat to the Union. Due his remarkable military experience, he was appointed as
counselor over military problems, in the context of the hostility with France. The last
years of his life were concretized into journeys to the army camp at Harpers Ferry,
Virginia (now West Virginia), and to Philadelphia to consult on army matters.
(“George…”, Microsoft)
Because of its weak health condition, caused by problems related to the inflamed
throat and frequent blood-letting, George Washington died in the night of December 14,
1799. One of the last words he said were related to death, considering it “the debt which
we all must pay”. George Washington is remembered in American history as a great
military and political leader, and more than this, he was the first president of all the
former colonies, laying down the guidelines for future presidents.

7.2 Thomas Jefferson


“A democratic society depends upon
an informed and educated citizenry.”
(1743-1826)

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Thomas Jefferson is one of the most revered Founding Fathers of the United
States of America. He is evoked as the author of the “Declaration of Independence” and
the third President of the United States (1801-1809). He was a philosopher, educator,
naturalist, politician, scientist, architect, inventor, pioneer in scientific farming,
musician, and writer, and he was the foremost spokesman for democracy of his day.
Thomas Jefferson was the most notorious leader of the Democratic Republican Party. Its
main goal was that the United States remain a republic of the small, property-holding
farmers, who, according to its ideology, was its most trustworthy citizens. Democratic
Republicans envisioned a central government that was strong enough to protect
property, but not strong or active enough to threaten property or other republican rights.
(“Thomas…”, Microsoft)
Jefferson’s great political work, entitled “The Declaration of Independence”
(adopted on July, 1776) is one of the most important documents in the American history.
It announced the birth of a new nation governed by democratic principles. This new
philosophy would become a guideline for all democracies around the world. In drafting
this document, Jefferson was inspired by the French and English Enlightenment political
philosophy, and especially from the political work, entitled “Second Treatise on
Government” by John Locke. He is known for having a new vision upon the political
system of his time. His innovation consisted in universalizing the traditional rights of
Englishmen over the natural rights of all humankind. What Jefferson did was to realize
an implementation of Locke’s principles directly to the situation of American colonies.
He became thus, the supporter of a popular government capable to guarantee
natural rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Therefore, during his lifetime,
he sought to develop a government that would best assure the freedom and well-being of
the individual. (Hamby, 61)
At the end of the 18th century, American people were looking for a change.
Under the policies of George Washington and John Adams, the Federalists established a
strong government that failed to honor at some degree the principle according to which
this institution had to be responsive to the will of people, alienating so large groups of

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American citizens. An eloquent example is the issuing of the tax in 1798 on houses, land
and slaves, affecting all the properties in the American States.
Jefferson took advantage of this situation and his supporters among the small
farmers, shopkeepers and other workers, winning in 1800 a close victory due to his
appeal to American idealism. In this respect, he promised a government lead by sensible
decisions and economical expenditures, but still capable to preserve order among the
inhabitants, without interfering in their own pursuits of industry and improvement.
(Hamby, 83)
Jefferson’s election was inaugurated on March 4, 1801. The first presidential
inaugural address that was to be inaugurated in Washington, D.C. belonged to Jefferson,
where he concentrated on supporting the will of the majority that should prevail in all
cases. By this, he retorted the conservatives’ belief that democracy would lead to mob
rule and anarchy. He was a supporter of a strong union among the American States,
stating that the Americans were all Federalists. (“Thomas…”, Microsoft)
As president, Jefferson strengthened the powers of the executive branch of
government, by encouraging democracy. He was the first president to lead a political
party, and through it he exercised control over the Congress of the United States. He had
great faith in popular rule, and his optimism became the essence of what was later called
– Jeffersonian democracy. Jefferson opposed all forms of tyranny. He had also, a great
faith in the ability to rule by reason. Therefore, in helping to make laws for Virginia, his
guiding principle was to place as few restrictions as possible upon the people of the
state. Jefferson was a strong advocate of land reform in Virginia State. A few families
owned most of the land and, because ownership of land was a prerequisite for voting,
these same families also controlled the government. Due to his efforts the old hereditary
property laws were modified as to enable more people to own land, and so to expand
democracy in the state. Another worthy political achievement concerned one of his bills
(that later became law in 1786) establishing religious freedom and ensuring the
separation of church and state. (“Thomas…”, Microsoft)
During the elections of 1804, Jefferson was nominated again for the Presidency
by the Republican senators and congressmen. The Federalists chose Charles C. Pinckney

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to oppose Jefferson. In the landslide of 1804, Jefferson polled 162 electoral votes to
Pinckney's 14, winning every state but Connecticut and Delaware. We find here more
than interesting to mention some of the things that Jefferson mentioned in his second
inaugural address, that he kept on March 4, 1805. This speech was far different from his
first one. According to him, the former address was an exposition of the principles on
which he thought it was his duty to administer the government. The second one was a
statement of facts showing that his first term conformed to democratic principles, being
a promise, while the second term was a performance of those precepts. In the
presidential elections of 1808, Jefferson declined the Republican presidential
nomination, in favor of his protégé James Madison. His argument was the fact that he
wanted to follow the precedent set by George Washington, demonstrating thus, his
devotement to democratic rules. (“Thomas…”, Microsoft)
Thomas Jefferson was one of those political men aware of the importance of the
educational system, as some of his political initiatives concerned general diffusion of
knowledge. The programs he initiated during his political career envisaged schooling for
children whose parents could not afford private schools. In this respect, Jefferson
became the founding father of the University of Virginia. Today, this institution is
considered as being the most important works of Jefferson's later years in laying the
democratic structures in the American society. The university opened its doors in 1825,
addressing not only to the wealthy students, but also to the capable students who were
too poor to pay. Free public education had always been one of Jefferson's dreams, and he
managed to accomplish it at the university level, although not at lower levels. Eventually
his educational program embodied the U.S. national institution of the free public school.
(“Thomas…”, Microsoft)
Thomas Jefferson the political man, who played such a great part in the winning
of independence and enforcement of the democracy in America, died on Independence
Day, July 4, 1826. He was buried in the graveyard of his estate that now is called
Thomas Jefferson Memorial, being completed in 1943.

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7.3 Abraham Lincoln


“That this nation under God
shall have a new birth of freedom”
(1809-1865)

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th great president of the United States (1861-1865),
being one of the great leaders in American history. All along his political career, he was
a man eager to keep the Union together, not by means of force and repression, but by
incipient democratic principles, like warmth and generosity.
Abraham Lincoln’s political life began in the spring of 1832, when he decided to
run for a seat in the Illinois House of Representatives. In 1846, he was to represent the
seventh congressional district of Illinois in the U.S. Congress. With the passage of the
Kansas-Nebraska Act (a political compromise regarding slavery), a new Lincoln
emerged into the world of politics, being for the first time in his career, devoted to a
cause that affected the entire nation. He became thus, a foe of slavery, using his
oratorical abilities for the antislavery forces. (“Abraham…”, Microsoft)
In 1856 Lincoln publicly identified himself with the Republican Party, and in
May he attended the Republican state convention at Bloomington. In 1856 and 1857
agitation over the slavery issue increased, as the Northern abolitionists demanded
immediate destruction of slavery, while Southern apologists insisted that their “peculiar
institution” was favorable to both slave-owners and slaves. In 1858 the elections of
United States Senate took place where Lincoln expressed for the first time his public
beliefs regarding the slavery issue, denouncing slavery as an evil. He stated that slavery
was a concern not only for local governments, but for the entire United States.
Otherwise, the principle of popular sovereignty was false, not only in the western
territories, but at a national scale. In this respect, the first paragraph of his opening
campaign speech from 1858, referred to the national need for a final solution regarding
the slavery problem, as the federal government could not continue anymore half-slave
and half-free. (Hamby, 138)

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After Lincoln’s election in 1860, the Southern States began to secede one after
another. These were South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana,
and Texas. These states joined together to form the Confederate States of America, also
known as the Confederacy. In April 1861 the American Civil War (1861-1865) began
with the battle at Fort Sumter in South Carolina. (“Abraham…”, Microsoft)
Lincoln’s first inaugural address took place on March 4, 1861, when Lincoln was
sworn in as the 16th president of the United States. Lincoln's inaugural address was
aimed at relieving the Southern fears. He said he would not interfere with the
“institution” of slavery where it already existed, especially because of the military
implications. However, he was a supporter of the Union, rejecting the right of any state
to secede from the Union, and stating that his duty is to preserve, protect and defend the
federal government regardless the Southern States intentions. (“Abraham…”, Microsoft)
After the first act of the war that took place with the surrender of Fort Sumter
(fort at the mouth of the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina), on April 14, 1861,
Lincoln reacted rapidly by making use of the language and authority of a militia act
issued in 1795, where he declared that in those seven states the federal laws were
neglected or even disobeyed. To suppress the South insurrection he asked the loyal
states to provide 75,000 militia for three months' military service. He also called a
special session of Congress to convene on July 4, when the beginning of the Civil War
was officially declared. After the Union’s several defeats and a minor victory at the
Battle of Antietam in Maryland, Lincoln chose this opportunity to issue his
“Emancipation Proclamation”. On January 1, 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued this official
act, abolishing slavery in Washington, D.C., with compensation to the slaveholders and
voluntary colonization in tropical lands for the slaves. This act also declared that all
slaves in the states rebelling against the Union were free. The impact of this decision
was restricted only to Confederate States, leaving the slavery issue intact in the Border
States. Anyway, this official act proved its importance both in initiating the abolition of
slavery process and declaring it as the main objective of the Union war effort. To assure
the legal frame of emancipation, Lincoln insisted for the passage of a constitutional
amendment that would outlaw slavery from the United States forever. Later, acceptance

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of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution became a condition whereby Southern states
were readmitted to the Union. (Hamby, 144)
The Presidential election of 1864, took place in the context of Union’s victories
at Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and Chattanooga (1863), and as the overall victory seemed at
hand, Lincoln promoted Ulysses S. Grant General-in-Chief on March 12, 1864. When
the spring campaigns turned to no concluding result, Lincoln supported Grant's strategy
of wearing down Lee's Confederate army at the cost of heavy Union casualties. In the
imminent Presidential election, in order to strengthen Lincoln’s chances for a second
term, the Republican Party selected at the Convention Andrew Johnson, a War
Democrat from the Southern state of Tennessee, as his running mate to form a broader
coalition. They ran on the new Union Party platform uniting Republicans and War
Democrats. While the Democratic policy followed the Peace wing of the party and
considered the war “a failure” their candidate, General George B. McClellan supported
the war and repudiated the political platform. Lincoln provided Grant with new
replacements and mobilized his party to support Grant and win local support for the war
effort. On April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee the commander of Confederate Army of
Northern Virginia surrendered his army to the Union General Ulysses S. Grant at
Appomattox Court House, a village in Virginia. This moment represented the end of the
Civil War. As a consequence, the Democratic Party was deeply split, as it had some of
its leaders and most soldiers supporting Lincoln’s policy. The Union party was then
united and energized, helping Lincoln to win all but three states – Kentucky, Delaware,
and New Jersey, including 78 percent of the Union soldiers’ vote. On March 4, 1865,
Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address, his favorite of all his speeches. At that
time, Lincoln had important achievements: a victory over the Confederacy and slavery
was abolished. (“Abraham…”, Microsoft)
On April 14, 1865, President Washington held his last Cabinet meeting. In the
evening, he and his wife attended a performance at Ford’s Theater. As he was sitting in
the presidential box, he was assassinated by a Virginian actor, named John Wilkes
Booth. After several days, Booth was killed in a barn, victim of a gun fight that took

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place in the Virginia countryside, while his accomplices were captured and condemned
to death. (Hamby, 147)
Abraham Lincoln is remembered by American people for his honesty,
compassion, and strength of character. More than this, Lincoln remains one of the most
respected presidents in American history, due to his struggle to keep the American
Union together during the Civil War and to abolish slavery in the United States.

7.4 Martin Luther King, Jr.


(1929-1968)

Martin Luther King, Jr. is the most influential of African American civil rights
leaders during the 1960s. He is the most preeminent spokesman for civil rights, being a
supporter of peaceful marches to achieve African American goals of equality and social
integration.
Martin Luther King Jr. became a supporter of nonviolence while in college,
becoming in 1954 a minister of the Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. He
advocated the use of nonviolent actions to eliminate racial segregation, coming to
national prominence during a bus boycott by African Americans in Montgomery, in
1955. Two years later, he founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (an
organization of black churches and ministers that aimed to challenge racial segregation)
and in 1963 he helped organizing the March on Washington, where an assembly of more
than 200,000 protestors listened his famous speech, entitled “I have a dream”.
(“Martin…”, Encyclopædia)
The beginning of his activity for civil rights movement was triggered by his
selection to head the Montgomery Improvement Association, whose boycott efforts
ended the city’s policies of racial segregation on public transportation. Due to his
tenacity for civil rights and the organizations’ support he had for advocating his people
rights and liberties, the Supreme Court affirmed in 1956 that bus segregation was

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unconstitutional, taking the most obvious example that of bus school segregation.
(“Martin…”, Encyclopædia)
It is worth mentioning that few people really know that King’s main instrument
of social protest consisted of “satyagraha”, Indian name for designating a nonviolent
persuasion. This principle was found by King in 1959, when he visited India and
crystallized his beliefs, being inspired by principles of the Indian leader, named
Mohandas Gandhi. The next year he gave up his pastorate in Montgomery to become co-
pastor (with his father) of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Here, King and other
SCLC leaders encouraged the use of nonviolent direct action to protest against
discrimination. These activities included marches, demonstrations, and boycotts. There
were violent responses to these direct actions, coming from some whites, forcing
eventually the federal government to settle these issues of injustice and racism in the
South. (Norrell, “Martin…”)
In all his civil rights campaign King heavily based on strategic alliances with
white Protestant ministers in the North, that later broadened his success, influencing
public opinion in the United States. Through Bayard Rustin, a black civil rights and
peace activist, King kept in touch with older radical activists, many of them Jewish, who
provided financial support and advice. In this respect, Stanley Levison, a Jewish activist
and former member of the American Communist Party became the closest adviser upon
social strategies of Martin Luther King Jr. (Norrell, “Martin…”)
An important event took place in 1963, when King and other black leaders
organized the March on Washington, a massive protest in Washington, D.C., for jobs
and civil rights. On August 28, 1963, King delivered a stirring address to an audience of
more than 200,000 civil rights supporters. His speech, entitled “I Have a Dream”
expressed the hopes of African Americans concerning civil rights, this being based on
the United States Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all men are created equal.” principle transposed by King in his famous phrase “… I
have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not
be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” (Norrell,
“Martin…”)

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Due to his notable activity concerning the passage of the Civil Rights Act of
1964, which outlawed discrimination in public accommodations, facilities, and
employment, and the Voting Rights Act, Martin Luther King Jr. was awarded the Nobel
Prize for Peace in 1964.
After many other manifestations and impressive speeches, on April 4, 1968
Martin Luther King Jr. was killed by an assassin, named James Earl Ray, while he took
part at the striking black garbage workers in Memphis, Tennessee. News of his
assassination resulted in a deluge of shock and anger all over the United States and the
world, prompting riots in more than 100 cities of the America in the days following
King’s death. After his assassination in 1968, King became a symbol of protest in the
struggle for racial justice. King’s challenges to segregation and racial discrimination in
the 1950s and 1960s helped convince many white Americans to support the cause of
civil rights in the United States. (“Martin…”, Encyclopædia)
Martin Luther King Jr. represented and still represents in modern times the
highest degree of the black courage and achievement, high moral leadership, and the
ability of Americans to address and overcome racial separation.

7.5 Alice Malsenior Walker


(1944 - )

Alice Malsenior Walker is an Afro-American writer whose novels, short stories


and poems are noted for their insightful treatment of African American culture. Also,
she is the theoretician of Womanism as a social movement in United States of America.
(“Alice Walker”, Microsoft)
She was born in Eatonton, Georgia, on the remains of a plantation where her
grandparents and parents worked as sharecroppers. She lived under very difficult
conditions of life, where the civil rights were violated, especially in the interdiction of
her parents to vote. Even from high school (Spelman College in Atlanta) she was a
supporter of civil rights movement, as she was the witness of how hard her own people

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worked and how little they received in return of money or kindness, and she set her goal
to change the South mentality for them. So, she joined the student movement - the
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), being very much influenced by
the people in, and especially by its director, Bob Moses. (Goodman, “Pulitzer…”)
Through her literary works, she portrays the lives of the poor, of the oppressed
African American women in the early 1900s. Many themes of her books are related to
love, suicide, civil rights, and Africa. Her best-known novel, entitled The Color Purple
illustrates and concentrates its plot on black feminism, black women and their social
situation. It was highly considered by American critics, due to its strong
characterizations and the clear, musical quality of its colloquial language. As a result, in
1983 she won the “Pulitzer Prize” for this book. Besides this novel, she has written
many other bestselling books that have more or less the same theme, namely the
condition of black females. The recurrent themes in her “womanist prose” that can be
considered as the main points of womanism ideology are the following: the race issue,
the gender issue, black (female) artist and the biological and spiritual motherhood. In the
Meridian (1976) she depicts the life of an African American woman during the civil
rights movement of the 1960s. Another book is Possessing the Secret of Joy (1992),
where the tradition of female circumcision, still practiced in some places in Africa, is
explored. In a more recent novel, By The Light of My Father’s Smile (1998) Walker
portrays a Christian missionary family, concentrating on the relationship between the
father and his three daughters. The book also explores the relationship between
Christianity and the spiritual traditions of the African community in which the family
lives. Walker is also the author of several volumes of poetry including Revolutionary
Petunias and Other Poems (1973) and Goodnight, Willie Lee, I'll See You in the
Morning (1979). At the same time, she had some nonfiction inclinations, writing several
essays, like: In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose (1983), Living by the
Word (1988), and Anything We Love Can Be Saved (1997). (“Alice Walker”, Microsoft)
By this innovative term “womanism” (used for the first time in her nonfiction
essay - In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens, Womanist Prose), she describes the
perspective and experiences of black females. According to her, a womanist is a part of

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the survival and wholeness of entire people, male and female. Black feminism is not
opposing race liberation, but brings it closer. Moreover, she states that womanists are
not separatists, sustaining her point by providing the famous example of a
“multicultural” place where women and men of different colors and cultures coexists
like the flowers in a garden. (Torfs, “Alice’s…”)
But, she differentiates from the Feminism movement by creating the Womanism
movement, through which she adopted a particular attitude towards black females. She
compared the relation that exists between Womanism and Feminism with that of purple
and lavender. By this, Walker proved that both movements share certain features, and
yet are totally different. She considers that black females’ minority group is the victim of
the social oppression and it goes beyond that of either male blacks or white women. The
main reason for this is the fact that women find themselves socially, politically and
emotionally in none of the legislative initiatives of the authorities. And this, despite the
fact that many black female scholars agree that black women are faced with racism as a
community, but also with sexism not only from the exterior (society), but also from the
interior (their communities). (Torfs, “Alice’s…”)
We can say that Walker is a true promoter of democratic principles within
literature’s boundaries. Despite the fact that she considers the African women the most
fascinating creations in the world, she succeeds to uphold the black women’s condition
in the American society without vehemently criticizing men, white people, or the
authorities. Alice Walter is now considered as one of the advocates of black feminism,
who created by herself specific terms and approaches to the issue of African-American
women.

8. My America

Korey London – a former serviceman with the U.S. Air Force, at present assistant
director of public relations at Paine College, Augusta, Georgia.

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America is one of those countries where always has been plenty of opportunity
for those willing to take advantage of it. But, I remember the stories of cruelty that the
Africans endured before the institution of slavery was abolished in the United States. I
wondered how anyone could survive such difficult times. But they did. Sometimes,
when I look at my own black skin, I wonder if I could have survived in those conditions.
Then I thank God I didn’t have to go through what my ancestors did.
So, when I think of America, I often think of past generations of people who
came to the United States in search of opportunities, to improve their lives, and also
those who were brought here under the bondage of slavery. Both groups overcome
hardships and worked to prepare the younger generations to talk advantage of better
opportunities once they arrive. (Clack, 2006, 7)

Jacqueline Morais Easley – a freelance writer.

I became an American citizen just five years ago (in 2010 she celebrated 9 years
of American residency), when I was pregnant with my first child. I had married my
college sweetheart and we settled down in Maryland.
My husband and I try to raise our children in ways that help them understand
how privileged they are. We teach our girls to appreciate the talents and resources the
democratic society provides and do their best to use them for the betterment of others.
Our lives are filled with charity and community service, and the children’s books
provide different cultures and lifestyles with endless motherly lectures on tolerance and
diversity and compassion.
That’s why, diversity is alive and rampant – at least my life. This young country,
also called “land of immigrants” was and it is a shelter from intolerance, prejudice and
persecution.
It’s true that sometimes I feel embarrassed when I think about the tragic, terrible
parts of America’s fledged history. But name me any country, culture, religion or

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individual that does not have bad parts along with the good. What saddens me about
America is nothing compared to what amazes me about it – how much this country has
accomplished in so little time and how it champions democracy and human rights
around the world. (Clack, 2006, 5)

Eboo Patel – executive director of the Interfaith Youth Care in Chicago, Illinois.

I love America not because I am under the illusion that it is perfect as it is, but
because it allows me a child of Muslim immigrants from India, to freely participate in its
progress, to carve a place in its promise (an independent and democratic country) to play
a role in its possibility.
Due the fact that America ethos is a mixture of tolerance and reverence, it is a
place of souls gathering, from all over the world. The American genius lies in allowing
these souls to contribute their texture to the American traditions, to add new notes to the
American song.
In one eye I carry this ancient Muslim vision on pluralism; in the other eye I
carry the American promise. And in my heart, I pray that we make real this possibility: a
city on a hill where different religious communities respectfully share space and
collectively serve the common good; a world where diverse nations and peoples come to
know one another in a spirit of brotherhood and righteousness, a century in which we
achieve a common life together. (Clack, 2006, 9)

Kelly McWilliams - in 2007 student of Literature, at Brown University in Providence,


Rhode Island.

What is America? For me is my home while for others is not. But, even in my
case this was not always like this. For my ancestors, America was not their home, as

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they were immigrants. I am a mulatto, mixed black and white; I know that America is a
country malleable as gold that can be made our own, if words strike hard enough. Here,
words have power and our constitution demands them not to be silence – I am a writer. I
am American. History beckons that we work to make the land yield the truths on which
human souls subsist: freedom, opportunity and the right to struggle even against wrongs.
Recently I’ve wondered why Americans do not cry out against wrongs and why
there is silence. But always there is a rumble that begins and news sits itself a new
challenge to print and we begin to answer for our part in history. At this moment, people
of conscience are beginning to speak out against injustice and wrongdoings, like
Guantánamo Bay which will mark a dark period for us as a nation. But I remember that
the people are the poets of this nation. They will see to it that our country always wakes
from its nightmares. (Clack, 2006, 10)

1. An Outline of Romanian History

The Romanian people represent a unique case in Europe’s history, because it is the
single neo-Romanic people in South-Eastern Europe isolated from the rest of the neo-

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Romanic peoples in the West. Romanians are the result of an ethnic mixture of two
major components: the ancestral Thracian component (Geto-Dacian branch) and the
Roman component. To these components will be added some others too, in limited
proportions, originating from the migratory peoples, among which an important role had
the Slavs.
The territory that is now Romania first appeared in history as Dacia. Most of its
inhabitants were originally from the region of Thrace, in Greece; they were called
“Getae” by the Greeks, and later, by the Romans, they were known as “Dacians”. The
Geto-Dacian branch of the Thracians is mentioned in archaeological and written sources,
the latter from the second half of the first millennium before Christ. The Geto-Dacians
were living in tribes organized into union of tribes. The centre of their power was in the
Orăştie Mountains, Transylvania, where there are archaeological traces of their
civilization up to this moment. One of their most important leaders was the king
Burebista who controlled a large territory which was surpassing Dacia's borders (the
ancient denomination of contemporary Romania). He was assassinated in 44 BC, almost
at the same time with Julius Caesar, just before their confrontation. (Nelson, “Romania”)
Since the 2nd century BC, the Roman Empire has begun its vast process of
penetration in the South-Eastern Europe. In the 1st century BC, it occupied the territory
of today's Dobrogea, a province situated in South-Eastern Dacia, on the Black Sea coast.
In the next century there were sharp confrontations between the Geto-Dacians and the
Romans. Another powerful personality became Dacia's ruler: King Decebalus. He faced
successively the emperors Domitian and Trajan, the latter he defeated in two wars (101 -
102 AD and 105 – 106 AD). Dacia was conquered by the Romans after King Decebalus
committed suicide. Without a king and an organized army Dacia was rapidly
incorporated into the Roman Empire as a province. Roman colonists were sent into
Dacia, and Rome developed the region considerably. The Romans built roads, bridges,
and a great wall that stretched from what is today the Black Sea port of Constanţa across
the region of Dobruja to the Danube River. (Nelson, “Romania”)
Nelson (2007) mentions that the Romans ruled over Dacia during over 170 years, a
period in which - during almost five generations - an intense process of Romanization

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took place, similar to that which proceeded in the western parts of the empire. As a
consequence, a process of mixture of the Geto-Dacian population and of the Romans
took place, called “syncretism”. Keeping a number of words from their language and
some social and religious customs, the inhabitants of Dacia adopted in great measure
Latin, and also the way of life and the customs of the conquerors; the process of
Romanization had begun since the 1st century BC, before the conquest, on different
levels. Between 271 AD and 275 AD, under the pressure of the migratory populations,
the Roman province Dacia was evacuated, the army and the administration were
withdrawn.
An important Roman inheritance is Latin. Its influences can be traced back in the 4 th
and 5th century AD in Dobrogea and the northern part of Danube River. During this
period of time, the Romanian people assimilated the Christian principles. The role of
Christianity was an important one in the process of Romanization, as there is a particular
ecclesiastical terminology. Only in Romanian and Rhaeto-Romanic language the word
“biserică” is preserved, originating from the Roman term “basilica”. In the other
Romanic languages, the term derived from the Greek one “ecclesia”, forming in the
French the word “église”, in Italian the word “chiesa” and so on. The main explanation
consists in the fact that during the age of Constantine the Great, the term “basilica”
spread across the Eastern Roman Empire designating “church”. The spread of Christian
dogma to Daco-Roman population was supported by the eparchies that existed near the
Danube River. The most important of them are: the basilica in Slăveni, Sucidava and
Drobeta. Beginning with the 3rd century and continuing up to 6th and 8th century, the
spread of Christian elements persisted in the Daco-Roman space, as it eased a better
assimilation of Roman structures by the new Roman province. (Scurtu, Curculescu,
Dincă & Soare, 16)
Therefore, we can confirm the fact that the Romanian people was born Christian,
being later an advocate for defending and maintaining the Christian values in this part of
Europe. During a hundred years after the Roman withdrawal, the Daco-Roman people
were subjected to successive migratory populations, like the Huns, Avars, Slavs, and
Bulgars. Slavs brought Christianity to the region in the 4th century, and through

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intermarriage and assimilation process, it changed the ethnic balance in Romania. Its
inhabitants developed into a distinct ethnic group, known as the Vlachs, a name
designating Latin-speakers of the Balkan Peninsula.
For the last decades of the 3rd century until the end of the first millennium, the mixed
Daco-Roman population lived continuously in the Dacian space, theories about its
withdrawal towards the south of the Danube being contradicted by historical and
archaeological sources. The Daco-Roman population took refuge in mountains and
woods when the great invasions from the East took place. In the 9th century in
Transylvania there appeared incipient state Romanian formations, whose territory was
gradually occupied, by military conquest, during the first centuries of the 2 nd millennium
by the kingdom of Hungary. (“The Romanian History…” 2007)
So, in 1003 King Stephen I of Hungary extended its control over most of the region
of Transylvania. In the 13th century King Béla IV of Hungary began the process of
colonizing Transylvania bringing Saxons and other Germanic tribes. As a consequence,
the Romanians, which were native and the most numerous population, were gradually
marginalized from the confessional and socio – political life. (Nelson, “Romania”)
In what concerns the principality of Walachia, and later that of Moldavia these
appeared at the south and at the east of the Carpathian Mountains, during the 13th
century, as a consequence of the Hungarian expansion. Each of these principalities was
ruled by a “voivod” (the term used for native prince). They were generally under the
authority of either Hungary or Poland. Until the 19th century the history of Romania was
that of the separate principalities of Walachia and Moldavia. (Nelson, 2007, “Romania”)

The existence of the two independent states was constantly threatened from the
end of the 14th century by the Ottoman expansion in the Balkan Peninsula. At the south
of the Danube River, Ottomans submitted to their direct authority all the Christian
peoples. The two Romanian states on the northern side of the river carried out a hard
struggle of resistance and then accomplished a historic compromise with the Ottoman
Empire, to which they recognized the suzerainty. The Ottoman Empire accepted their

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uninterrupted existence as autonomous states ruled by a prince and by boyars (the term
used for nobility). (“The Romanian History…” 2007)
In the 16th century, the kingdom of Hungary was conquered by the Ottomans,
who founded the Buda "pashalyk" (the term used for an Ottoman province).
Transylvania principality achieved its autonomy, despite the fact that it was under the
suzerainty of the sultan, like Moldavia and Walachia. The only difference was that it
was ruled by Hungarian princes and nobles. Despite the fact that in Transylvania the
Saxons passed to Lutheranism and a part of the Hungarians to Calvinism, the Romanians
still remained orthodox.
Since the end of the 17th century, marked by the failure of Vienna's siege by the
Turks and the beginning of Ottoman Empire's decline, the autonomous principality of
Transylvania ceased its existence, becoming one of the Habsburg provinces.
During the second decade of the 18th century, the Ottoman Empire established in
Walachia and Moldavia the system of the Phanariot reigns. The princes who ruled the
two principalities were Greeks, originating from the Constantinopolitan quarter of
Phanar. This period of Ottoman influence lasted until 1821, contributing to some extend
to the realization of an institutional approach of the two principalities and the beginning
of some modernizing processes, due to some princes who were adepts of the enlightened
“despotism” (the term used for designating an arbitrarily government). (“The Romanian
History…”, 2007)
But, essentially, the 18th century marked the process of national renewal of the
Romanian nation, which took place in Transylvania and in the two autonomous
principalities: Walachia and Moldavia. Two revolutions that took place in 1821 and in
1848 symbolized the integration of the Romanian nation in the “century of
nationalities”.
The major goals of the Romanian national movement were the unification in a
national state, the modernization of the society through the gradual introduction of
democratic elements and the achievement of the independence statute among the other
European nations. But, there was a major opponent to these goals – Russia that

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exercised, between 1829 and 1856, an oppressive protectorate on Walachia’s and


Moldavia’s Principalities. (“The Romanian History…”, 2007)

2. Half of a Millennium of Slavery

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The first confirmations of the gypsies’ presence in Walachia (1385) and


Moldavia (1428) are made by the documents in which they were enlisted as the “assets”
of monasteries.
The first groups of gypsies that arrived in Moldavia were coming from the
Southern part of Danube River. But, before them, a relative small number of slaves
originated from the prisoners of war. These slaves were Tatars, who became prisoners
from the battles that marked the formation of the first Romanian state structures. The
Tatars are considered by historians as the supporters of slavery, because they introduced
in the 13th century the slavery institution on the Northern part of Danube River. It’s
likely to believe that they brought groups of gypsies that split from the main group
before its arrival in the Byzantine Empire. Until the 15th century the Tatar slaves were
assimilated in the mass of the gypsy slaves. (Socrates Program, “Istoria Romilor...”)
Depending on the social statute of the owners, the slaves were classified into
three major cathegories: the slaves who were belonging to the Prince or State, the slaves
of the boyars and of the monasteries. Initially, all the slaves were in the property of the
State, but they were eventually sold to the monasteries and boyars. An interesting aspect
is the fact that gypsies were made slaves mainly because they were craftsmen and had an
important contribution to the economic system.
In the Romanian Principalities the gypsy slave was a cheap and reliable labor.
They were renowned for the fact that they represented a sure and very profitable source
of income for their owners. They had a central place in the economy of Romanian
Principalities that was mainly specialized in agricultural activities. These could not be
maintained without proper tools and the Romanian craftsmen were not enough. The
minority group of gypsies filled this lack of work, eventually arriving, in the situation to
dominate this type of activities. (Socrates Program, “Istoria Romilor...”)
The groups of nomadic gypsies who continued the practice of traditional crafts
and who were paying special fees to the authorities succeeded to maintain themselves in
Bucovina, until the second half of the 19th century. A statistic from 1878, underlines the
fact that the entire population of gypsies became sedentary, the largest part of the
gypsies having as mother tongue Romanian language. The majority of the gypsies from

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Transylvania and Banat became sedentary during the 19th century. At this contributed, to
a great extend, the policy of assimilation supported by the authorities. (Socrates
Program, “Statutul Romilor…”)
On the one hand, this process is a normal extension of the one initiated as the
result of the measures taken by King Joseph II, at the end of the 18th century. It is true
that in Bucovina, the efficiency of the imperial decrees proved to be greater, than in
Transylvania. Here, the level of social integration of the gypsy minority groups by the
communities they lived in was higher. As a result, in this period of time, many gypsies
became Romanians, Germans, Serbians, or Magyars. On the other hand, in Transylvania
numerous groups of gypsies managed to conserve not only their language, but also their
traditional occupations and specific elements of internal regulations. This local
conservation groups was not affected by the almost complete process of sedentariness.
(Socrates Program, “Statutul Romilor…”)

The emancipation of gypsies in Walachia and Moldavia

In the 18th century and in the first part of the 19 th century, the situation of the
gypsies from Walachia and Moldavia worsened on many levels. It was the direct result
of the fact that they were disorganized (they lived in distinct groups), and had no social
or political protection granted by any of the two Principalities.
However, in the context of the reform projects drafted in the Romanian Principalities
after the coming back to the native ruling (1821), the idea of slavery abolition begins to
be mentioned. Those who upheld this legislative initiative were the young boyars who
studied in the western part of Europe. From countries, like France, England, Germany,
Italy etc. they assimilated liberal and democratic principles. After they returned in the
Principalities, they organized themselves in political parties, and from the year 1848
they were identified as the promoters of the democratizing Romanian society. (Scurtu,
Curculescu, Dincă & Soare, 86)

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A series of Romanian intellectuals expressed their view in the press of that time,
regarding the elimination of slavery. As the capital economy is introduced in the
Romanian Principalities (1800), the slaves are exploited more that in the past. The way
they were treated varied a lot, and generally they were at the discretion of their
slaveholder. The importance of a boyar was rising together with the number of slaves he
had. In this respect, the Criminal Code from Walachia was stipulating that “All the
gypsies are born slaves” and “he gypsies without a possessor are the property of the
State”. An essential role in the abolition of slavery in Romania had the political man,
Mihail Kogălniceanu. In 1837 he publishes the first Romanian paper referring to the
minority group of gypsies, being entitled: “Schiţa asupra istoriei, obiceiurilor si limbii
ţiganilor” (“An Outline of History, Customs and Language of the Gypsies”). This
identified with the European democratic direction, being translated into French at Berlin,
and three years later into German. The press was also, supporting the abolition
movement that was beginning to be visible in the Romanian society, by publishing the
concrete measures carried on by the authorities. To encourage more than that this policy
of anti-feudal injustice, the press provided information about the abolition of slavery in
the colonies of European countries, and also, about the evolution of abolitionist
movements in the United Sates of America. In 1848, Mihail Kogălniceanu continued to
support this legislative initiative. He published the program of the Moldavian
revolutionaries of 1848, having the tile: “Dorinţele Partidei Nationale in Moldova”
(“The Wishes of the National Party in Moldavia”) with reference to the abolition of
slavery in the Romanian society. (Socrates Program, “Statutul Romilor…”)
So, between 1843 and 1855 the abolition of slavery took place, both in Walachia
and Moldavia Principality. Initially, there more than a quarter million of slaves who
were freed. Many of them left the Principalities, being part of several generations,
related to the third largest wave of gypsies’ migration (after their first departure from
India a millennium ago, and the migration from Asia to Europe).
To many of the gypsies’ groups from Walachia and Moldavia, the laws of the
mid 20th century, regarding the slave liberation, provided in the first place the possibility
of free travel, at least in the ambiguous period generated by the application of the

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reforms. If in the feudal economic system the gypsies had an important place in the
society due to their crafts they practiced, this dramatically changed when the transition
to capitalism took place. They were forced to locate their families in the periphery of
towns, gradually transforming in an isolated population. In these conditions, the solution
that was adopted by these communities was to migrate towards Western States from
Europe. (Socrates Program, “Statutul Romilor…”)
In the fourth decade of the 19th century, other important laws were ratified in
order to clarify the situation of the gypsies who lived in Romanian Principalities. In
Walachia’s case, the State was buying slaves from their owners, because of economic
reasons. In Moldavia, the slaves were granted the “protimisis” right, specifying the
obligation of the slave owner to give freedom to the slave who paid the price that he was
intending to sell the slave. In this period of time, the restrictions related to the mixed
marriages between the Romanian people and gypsies were eliminated. (Socrates
Program, “Statutul Romilor…”)
In 1843, an important law was issued in Walachia. This obliged all the
slaveholders to assure to their slaves a proper establishment, namely houses. Here also,
the first law that officially abolished slavery of a certain category of gypsies was
adopted in the same year. It is about the law “for the abolition of the tributes under the
administration of Minister of Justice’s prisons”. In the years to come, in both of the
Romanian Principalities, laws that freed gypsies who belonged to the churches or
monasteries were ratified. This initiative took place for the first time in Moldavia, in
1844, its author being Mihail Sturdza. As a result, all the State’s slaves were officially
declared free, being granted the same rights as the rest of the Romanian citizens.
Moreover, the sums of money that were collected from the taxes paid by the free gypsies
would be used for the redemption by the state of other slaves who were still in private
property. In Walachia, the liberation of churches’ and monasteries’ slaves took place in
1847. The initiator of these measures is the Romanian Prince Gheorghe Bibescu.
(Socrates Program, “Statutul Romilor…”)
On December 10/12, 1855 the National Council of Moldavia adopted the “law
for abolishing slavery”, on the basis of a bill proposed by Petre Mavrogheni and Mihail

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Kogălniceanu. The slave owners who released their slaves received compensations from
the state. In case they renounced at these compensations, they would get a series of fiscal
facilities. A year later, “the law for the emancipation of all the gypsies who lived in
Walachia Principality” is adopted. This law obliged the released gypsies to establish in a
certain place, their displacement being later forbidden for a while. Compensations
gradually given by the State to the slave-owners were also mentioned in the law. After
these two laws were ratified, some of the boyars freely freed their slaves, without
claiming any compensation. But the social gratitude was present in Romanian society as
the journals published lists with their names on. The most important number of freed
slaves without compensations was recorded in Moldavia. (Socrates Program, “Statutul
Romilor…”)
During the 1930s, the first signs of organizations begin to appear at national level
in Romania. These organizations that struggled for “the emancipation and the reawaken
of Romany nation” significantly contributed to the trigger of the process regarding the
crystallization of the gypsies’ ethnic identity. Moreover, this movement had an impact
on the Romanian society, drawing the public attention to gypsies’ discrimination. The
leaders of this movement are those who tried for the first time to introduce the term
“rom” (“Romany”) instead of “ţigan” (“gypsy”), which has negative connotations. The
progresses towards an equal treatment, did not persisted for a long time, as they were
interrupted and eventually eliminated by the instauration of totalitarian regimes.
(Socrates Program, “Statutul Romilor…”)

The social condition of gypsies during the Second World War

Before and during the Second World War, Romanian gypsies drew the
authorities’ attention, which at that time was promoting a national, ethnocentric and
racist ideology. As a consequence, the social category of gypsies and Jewish became the
victim of numerous persecutions. They were considered as the “scapegoat” of the
difficult situation that Romania was going through, being unfairly accused of social
disobedience, riots, economic fraud etc. (Socrates Program, “Statutul Romilor…”)

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The gypsies in the communism era and after

During the communist regime, the gypsies were officially ignored by the
authorities. In this view, they were not recognized as making part of the minority groups,
any mention of them being passed over by the official discourse. (Socrates Program,
“Statutul Romilor…”)
After the fall of the communist system, the Romanian society assimilated
democratic principles, recognizing as citizens all its minorities and granting them rights
and liberties. In this respect, the Romanian Constitution of 1991 established the legal
framework of human rights, stipulating in article 1 (3) the following: “Romania is a
democratic and social state, governed by the rule of law, in which human dignity, the
citizens' rights and freedoms, the free development of human personality, justice and
political pluralism represent supreme values, in the spirit of the democratic traditions of
the Romanian people and the ideals of the Revolution of December 1989, and shall be
guaranteed.” Moreover, article 20 (1) stipulates the fact that the Constitution’s
regulations regarding the citizens rights and liberties will be interpreted and applied
according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and also, all the treaties and
conventions Romania has signed. (Chamber of Deputies, “The Constitution of
Romania”)

3. Constitutional Attempts

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The first Constitutions of the democratic Romanian State were preceded by


constitutional acts. The most important acts were the following ones: „Cererile
norodului românesc” (“The Petition of Romanian People”), the revolutionary
programme, entiled „Proclamatia de la Islaz” (“The Proclamation of Islaz”), the project
for a social reform, entitled „Constitutia Cărvunarilor” (“The Cărvunarilor
Constitution”) and a series of resolutions of the Ad-hoc assemblies from Moldavia and
Walachia around the year 1857. In what concerns the program of reforms undertaken by
Tudor Vladimirescu, entitled “The Petition of Romanian People”, it was drafted during
the Romanian revolution of 1821. The “Proclamation of Islaz” is one of the
revolutionary programs of the Romanian Revolution from 1848, being written by Ion
Heliade Rădulescu. (Ionescu & Ionescu, 53)

The “Constituţia Cărvunarilor" Petition

A particular act is “The Cărvunarilor Constitution” drafted On September 13,


1822, by Ionică Tăutul. This document was a constitutional bill that tried to introduce,
for the first time in Romanian Principalities’ history, a modern system of government. It
specified the constitutional principle of the rule of law and of the separation of powers,
on the basis of liberal principles. (Georgescu, “Forumul…”)
This reform bill had a series of valuable ideas that marked the ulterior
development of Romanian constitutionality. It aimed at the recognition of Moldavia’s
independence, the creation of the National Assembly (having the role of restricting the
princely powers), to guarantee the right to property and fair compensation in case of
expropriation. This document was inspired by the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and
of the Citizen” (1789), regarding the right to be free, to guarantee religious liberty and
equal chances in obtaining public functions. In what concerns the public administration,
there were established measures to punish the abuses made by the office workers.
(Georgescu, “Forumul…”)

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The Prince of Moldavia, Ioan Sandu Sturdza accepted this bill, but it did not get
the approval of Russia and Turkey. The high-ranking boyars struggled against this act,
as they could not get any compromise regarding the formulation of it, through which
they could still control the representative body, The Princely Divan Meeting.
These provisions, as many others, denote that the “The Cărvunarilor
Constitution” act anticipated from many points of view, a democratic development of
what was to be “Romanian society”. As a result, this document is one of the most
important constitutional bills in Romania, which denotes the old concern of Romanian
people to have a democratic constitution. (Georgescu, “Forumul…”)

The Organic Regulations

These documents represent the first acts with a constitutional role in the
Romanian modern history. They were written during the Russian occupation of the
Romanian Principalities (1828 - 1858). In 1831 the Organic Regulations were adopted in
Walachia, and after a year, in Moldavia, as a result of the regulations made by the Peace
Treaty of Adrianople (1829). (Ionescu & Ionescu, 53)
Despite all the critiques of these documents, they established the principle of the
separation of powers and contributed to the development of new economic relations.
Basically, these acts replaced the arbitrary system of the princes or rulers, and
introduced modern norms and institutions within the framework of the Principalities.
The influence of the French Revolution was extremely powerful in Romanian
Principalities. The internal context was a favorable one to create a fusion between
French principles and Romanian ideals. Numerous documents that were drafted during
and after the Romanian Revolution from 1848 are the testimony of this synthesis.
(Georgescu, “Forumul…”)

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The Paris Convention

On 7/19 August, 1858 the Great Powers met in Paris to discuss the demands
made by the two Romanian Principalities. The result was concretized into a document
with constitutional role. It established the principle of the separation of powers, being
exerted by a prince or ruler and Elective Assembly, in each of the two Principalities.
(Ionescu & Ionescu, 55)

The Expanding Statute of the Paris Convention

This act with constitutional role represents the revised variant of Paris
Convention. On May 2, 1864, Alexander John Cuza adopted the document, having the
juridical statute of a constitution. Important constitutional principles were mentioned.
For example, the idea of bicameralism was upheld – through the creation of the
Balancing Body (the former legislative body for the later Senate), and of the Elective
Assembly. These two institutions had legislative responsibilities. (Georgescu,
“Forumul…”)
The progress of the democratic system implementation in Romanian did not end
with the abdication of Alexandru John Cuza (February, 1866); on the contrary it
acquires new dimensions through the ratification of the new Romanian Constitution of
1866.

4. The Early Signs of Romanian Democracy

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By the double election of Alexander John Cuza (in Romanian – Alexandru Ioan
Cuza) in 1859, Romanian national state got a new statute and title, that of The United
Principalities of Moldavia and Walachia. On the occasion of the signed accord, entitled
Paris Convention from August 7/19, 1858, the settlement of political institutional
mechanisms took place, instituting the rule of law. (Stan, 9)
The political regime of the Convention had introduced the modern rule of
governing through the separation of powers. In each principality, the State Powers were
assigned to a ruler or prince and to an Elective Assembly, which acted in special cases
together with Central Commission. This Central Commission was the incipient form of
what we would call later the Parliament. This institution debated and enacted laws of
public interest. The effect of these laws was conditioned by the vote of the Elective
Assembly. The Principalities of Moldavia and Walachia were designed to function as a
confederation: two different rulers or princes and two different Elective Assemblies. We
have to point out that the ruler or prince had the legislative initiative, sending the bills to
legislative body for approval. Beside the fact that the ruler or prince was the
representative of the executive power, he had legislative prerogatives, too. In order to be
elected as a ruler, one person should have the vote of the Elective Assembly. Moreover,
he had to be a Moldavian or Walachian citizen, to have an income of 3.000 ducats (the
term used for designating the gold or silver coins) and to have had public positions, like
the one of being a member of the Representative Assemblies, for at least ten years. (9)
As a ruler or prince, he had the right to govern with the ministers he wanted to
assign in office. Another of his rights was that he could pardon the persons found guilty
of a crime, to propose laws of public interest, to plan the budget, to put in office officials
and to assure the conditions for law enforcement. All the official acts had to be signed
by the ministers, who were responsible for law-breaking before the High Court of
Cassation and Justice. (9)
The Legislative Power belonged to Elective Assembly that had a term of seven
years. This institution was convoked by the ruler or prince and held its annual meeting,
on the first Sunday of December. The works had a length of three months. The Elective

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Assembly could self-convoke during special sessions or even to dispose its dissolution.
(10)
The Presidency of the Elective Assembly was assigned to Metropolitan seat, and
the bishops had the positions of official secretaries. After a law was debated upon, it was
written in a protocol and sent to be published to the Official Gazette. The attributions of
this institution were the following ones: to adopt bills, budget plans proposed by the
ruler or prince of the principality and to amend laws. In what concerns the deputies, they
were elected in each principality by primary and direct electors, from districts and
towns. At this point, we can notice that one of the basic principles of democracy was
severely restricted. In order to vote, one should posses a very good financial position.
For example, the primary electors had a land income of 100 ducats, while the direct
electors had either a land income of 1000 ducats or they had a financial, industrial or
commercial capital of 6000 ducats (this applied only to those electors who lived in
towns). Another restriction of citizens’ rights concerned the age limit. To become an
elector, one had to be at least 30 years old and to possess 400 ducats. Regarding the
Elective Assemblies from the two Principalities, these were formed from one or two
deputies elected by the people of a county. Regarding the towns, here the condition was
that each town should have one deputy, except the largest ones, like Iaşi and Bucharest,
where two deputies were chosen. (11)
The Central Commission was a particular institution. It shared its legislative
responsibility with the Regency and the Elective Assembly. It had the same attributions
with those of a quasi-Parliament, through which the two principalities were united. The
Commission was made up of 16 members: half of them from Moldavia and the other
half from Walachia.
We would like to underline that the principle of democracy according to which
these members were the representatives of the people, was at its incipient formation.
This is the reason why half of them were elected by the deputies, while the other half
was arbitrarily named by the ruler or prince.
The responsibilities of this political body aimed the observance of the
constitutive dispositions of the principalities, the identification of the misuses of a

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modernized administration, and finally, the debate over the bill proposed by the
Regency. This institution was abolished in 1861. The third power in state was
represented by the judicial power. This was exerted by magistrates, put in office by the
ruler or prince. They were admitted and could advance only on the basis of the
immovability principle. In this respect, a step forward was made towards the unification
of the two principalities with the foundation of the High Court of Cassation and Justice
from Focşani, made up of immovable members. (11)
The political statute of the principalities was modified on December, 4, 1861,
when the Ottoman Porte confirmed the rule of Alexander John Cuza, and also the politic
and administrative union (one government and one Elective Assembly) of the
principalities. This confirmation made easier the process of transition from the
confederate state to unitary state. (12)
This new statute had an essential role towards the organization and
modernization of the Romanian state. But, it is also true that it caused several
controversies. For example, the representatives of conservative ideology argued that this
statute is nothing else than an extension of Organic Regulations. Liberals, in turn,
considered that the political institutions needed a radical reform through a new
Constitution, based this time on liberal and democratic views. In this respect, two of the
most important Romanian political persons upheld the need of a fundamental law
capable to incorporate liberties and equality in order to remove social discrimination.
Their conception was a democratic one, as they believed in people’s right to be fairly
represented in the government and parliament. Another claim made by some of the
liberal party leaders, like: I. C. Brătianu, M. Kogălniceanu, D. Bolintineanu etc. was that
they considered necessary to extend the right to vote to all Romanian people, to make
possible the creation of national sovereignty. (14-15)

Political Pluralism

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This is an essential part in the process of democratizing a society, without which


democracy can not emerge. In our case, everything begins with the double election of
Prince Alexander John Cuza, assisted by the political powers of that time from the two
principalities. The political class that reached power due to electoral bodies was merely
characterized by disunion, from the point of view of ideology. The institution of a
democratic regime helped to crystallize two parties and two philosophies: liberalism and
conservatism. (Stan, 16)
We feel the need to mention at this point that the Paris Congress in 1856
facilitated the creation and the maintenance of the two political parties by conditioning
the legality of the Ad Hoc and Elective Assemblies between 1856 and 1859. In this
respect, the members of these parties were mainly coming from business, culture and
different ideological domains. The most burning issues of that age were connected to the
applicability of liberty, property and concurrence principles. The political visions over
these problems differentiated the doctrines of the two parties: the liberal one and the
conservative one. The Conservatism ideology was adopted by the largest part of the
former political class during the principalities – previous members of National Assembly
from Iaşi and Bucharest. They were privileged individuals of the Organic Regulation,
and who, over night adopted an ideology and a denomination. So, behind this mask,
there were the same people of the former regime who wanted that their rights to be
preserved in a way or another. We can mention here some of the most important
representatives of the Romanian Conservatism: M.C. Epureanu, I. Ghica, A.G. Golescu-
Negru etc. (20)
In opposition with this party, liberalism emerged. Its ideology was based on
moral precepts and upheld a complete rupture from the past through the unification of
the Principality of Moldavia with the principality of Walachia. The founding fathers of
this party were the former leaders of the Romanian Revolution of 1848. They all
supported the cause of ploughmen and helped the peasants get out of the foreign
protection.
This party was a revolutionary one that made use of social pressure, like: the
organization of popular reunions (usually in common places, like the “Liberty Field”),

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signatures gathering, public manifestations etc. Due to the permanent contact with the
citizens, this party assimilated and promoted democratic ideas, arguing at that time the
necessity of defending the human rights. (18-19)

The Constitution of 1866

This Constitution was drafted during the inter-war period of time, when the
international context was vulnerable, as countries, like Russia, Hungary, and Bulgaria
adopted a totalitarian regime.
This fundamental document has a particular statute as it is the first Romanian
Constitution in the real sense of the word. It was drafted after the coup d’état of Prince
Alexander John Cuza. It was an answer to new realities – the abdication of the national
prince and the immediate election of a foreign prince, in the person of Prince Carol
Hohenzollern Sigmaringen and the incorporation of political aspirations coming from
the political parties. (Stan, 40 – 42)
This constitution was issued on July 1, 1866, being signed by King Carol
Hohenzollern Sigmaringen. It was signed before having the accord of European powers.
It was inspired after the Belgian Constitution (1831) that was considered at that time the
most liberal one in Europe. Other sources of inspiration were the democratic model of
Great Britain, principles that emerged from the French Revolution (1789) and from the
Constitution of the United States of America, as it was the second country in the world
where human rights were formulated and implemented, in special documents. (42)
This constitution aimed both the development and the modernization of the
Romanian society, introducing several regulations regarding the exact size of Romanian
territory, the civil liberties, the National Representatives, the democratic principle of
separation of powers, the responsibilities of the king and ministers and so on. An aspect
worth mentioning is the new official denomination of the state – Romania. This legal
initiative represented the national aspiration of achieving the state independence, under
the rule of a constitutional monarchy. In this respect, one of the authors of this

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Constitution, named A. Pascal, mentioned that this document was truly original in
Romania’s history. Its main role was to eliminate all the acts that had constitutional
directives, imposed by foreign countries, especially Russia through “The Organic
Regulations”. In his view, the objective of this document was to eliminate any type of
foreign influence in the process of defining democracy in Romanian society. By doing
this, the Romanian Constitution could be based on liberal and democratic principles,
being so able to guarantee those civil liberties that other European societies enjoyed.
(42)
In this respect, in these constitutions the following rights and liberties were
protected by law: the right to free assembly, individual freedom, the inviolability of
home and of property, the liberty of speech, of the press, the right to education (the
elementary education was obligatory and free of taxes). According to A. Pascal there
was a strong connection between democratic rights and education. The gratuity and the
obligation of education are absolutely essential, as they guarantee the preservation of a
democratic constitution. (as cited from Stan, 46-47)
The power of the state is shared by three institutions that did not overlap, but
completed each other. The Executive Power was represented by the king and the
government. The king’s responsibilities were the following ones: he could convoke,
postpone or dissolve the Deputies Assembly and Senate; he could initiate bills, amend or
issue laws; he had the veto right; he could put in office or revoke ministers; he was the
chief of the army; he had the right to coinage, to pardon, to declare war or to make
peace, to sign treaties with other states, only after he had the vote of Parliament. (Scurtu,
Curculescu, Dincă & Soare, 96)
Regarding the government, this was ruled by a prime-minister chosen by the
king. The prime minister was responsible with the election of the Cabinet team that had
to be approved by the king.
The Legislative Power belonged to Parliament, having a term of four years and
being elected through a qualification vote. This institution had the following attributes:
to debate and adopt the budget, to vote, amend or abolish laws, it had the right to
interpellate the government etc. (Ionescu & Ionescu, 55)

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In what concerns the Judicial Power this was represented by the tribunals,
courtrooms and the highest court: The Court of Cassation. The judicial decisions were
pronounced in the name of the king, and the judges were immovable.
As a result, this Constitution was not only the first Romanian Constitution, but
also the first democratic one of the Romanian people. It was drafted in the spirit of
democratic principles, legalizing many of the civil rights and liberties. But, it is also true
that it had several inconveniences, particularly related to the electorate law. The
qualification norms were still present, which hided the great landowners and liberal
bourgeoisie. In this way, we can observe how the right to vote was limited, violating one
of the fundamental elements of democracy.
Until 1923, it was modified three times. The first modification appeared in 1879,
when article VII was modified, through which the exclusion from voting of the non-
Christian persons was abolished, namely the Jews and the Muslims. The second amend
took place five years later, when the name of the state, that of monarchy is changed with
that of kingdom. The number of the electoral bodies was also modified, from four to
three, being the direct consequence of lowering the voting tax. This measure allowed
more people to exert their right to vote. The last modification occurred in 1917, when
the universal vote was officially recognized and the agricultural reform was realized.
(56)

The Constitution of 1923 (The Constitution of Unification)

Between 1918 and 1938 Romania was the scene where the act of instauration of
a democratic regime took place. Its beginning can be traced back into the previous
century, more exactly in 1858. This regime based on the separation of powers, universal
vote, political pluralism and the legalizing of the most significant civil rights and
liberties. Due to the guarantee of the right to vote of all Romanian citizens, it was
possible to increase the democratic process by calling to ballot of more than 3-4 millions
of people. In this respect, the configuration of the political parties depended on the

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results of the ballot. Moreover, the press could develop and diversify, the governmental
rotation system disappeared and a great importance was given to countryside, where
more than 80 percent of the people lived. (Scurtu, Curculescu, Dincă & Soare, 171)
This fundamental act was the legal basis for laying the foundations of inter-war
democracy in Romania. On March 28, 1923 it was adopted by Parliament, during the
liberal government. It was signed by King Ferdinand of Romania.
The issue of this constitution was considered as an answer to the new realities
after 1918: the achievement of the Great Union, the extension of the right to vote, the
emergence of the separation of powers etc. (Ionescu & Ionescu, 56)
This document was made up of eight titles – half of them were inspired from the
new socio-economic realities, while the other half were taken from the former
Constitution of 1866. This Constitution was a democratic one, legalizing the following:
the proclamation of the sovereignty, unity and independence of Romania, the principle
of separation of powers and the Romanian State became a constitutional monarchy. (56)
The Executive Power belonged to the king, who exerted it through the
government. The Legislative Power was divided between the king and the bicameral
Parliament – the Deputies assembly and the Senate. In what concerns the Judicial Power,
this was represented by the courtrooms, instances and The Court of Cassation and
Justice. (57)
This Constitution made legal important rights and liberties, not only for the
majority of Romanian inhabitants, but also for the minorities: universal vote, equality
before the law, the liberty of conscience, of the press, of education, the right to be
educated, the right to private property, the inviolability of the home etc. Nevertheless, it
was mentioned that the interest of the social community took priority over the individual
one, and when the case imposed an expropriation of property, this could be done only
with a fair compensation from the state. (57)
The guarantee of the right to vote was the symbol of democracy in Romania, too.
Each Romanian citizen (being excepted the women, the magistrates, and the soldiers)
who was at least 21 years old, could vote for Deputies Assembly, making Romania to be
among other democrat countries, like: France, Great Britain, Italy, United States of

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America etc. Through this fundamental document there were confirmed the importance
of the state, of the development of the democratic institutions, of the politic pluralism,
and even of the implementation of civic duties. (Scurtu, Curculescu, Dincă & Soare,
172)
“The Constitution of Unification” had a real importance for the Romania
between the two World Wars, considering that the international context was extremely
vulnerable. Several countries, like Russia, Hungary, Bulgaria… adopted the totalitarian
regime. This Constitution was in force until 1938, being re-enforced again in 1944, but
just for a short period.

The Romanian Democracy in the Inter-War Context

Due to the internal situation, and especially the European one, Romania had the
chance to adopt the model of a democratic political system. This could be easily noticed
in the increased development of education, science, literature, press, politics, and so on.
Above all these factors, the plurality of the political system could be instituted,
following three main directions: liberalism (represented by the Liberal Party), the
peasant ideology (represented by the National Peasant Party) and extremism
(represented by the National-Christian Defense League). In what concerns conservatism,
the Democrat Conservative Party disappeared from the political life.
It is fair to mention that there were also several dysfunctions that inter-war
Romanian democracy had. First of all, we would like to point out the fact that the press
knew an important development in this period of time (from a number of 16 periodical
publications in 1918, the Romanian press had in 1935 – 2.351 of periodical
publications). Some of them are: 1916 - Universul, 1924 - Argus, 1928 – Curentul, 1934
- Credinţa, 1937 - Timpul etc. But, during all this time, the journalists’ tendency to
exaggerate was remarked, especially in what concerns the press specialized in political
parties. In these articles one could find plenty of demagogy and subjectivism. Besides

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press issues, there were administrative abuses during the parliamentary, county and
commune elections. (Scurtu, Curculescu, Dincă & Soare, 202)
We have to underline that during the period between 1919 and 1937 the
democratic regime in Romania was seriously threatened. King Ferdinand of Romania
and his successor Carol II dissolved Parliament eight times (before the legal term of four
years), making use of regal decree. This regime that seemed to be more authoritarian
than democratic, arbitrarily dissolving Parliament and naming the government, led to
electoral success of king’s preferred party. During the reign of Carol the II (1930 –
1940), he progressively got involved in the governmental decisions; he had in view the
suppression of democracy in Romania, being replaced with regime of monarchal
authority. Because of this authoritarian policy, rise to power of extremist organizations
of right, which violated the democratic rights took place, by: using the political threats
and blackmails, encouraging the social violence and even murders (for example there
were several political victims, like: I.G. Duca – 1933, A. Călinescu – 1939, N. Iorga –
1940. (202)
Between 1918 and 1940, Romania experienced democracy to eventually arrive at
a authoritarian regime, and later to a dictatorial one. This was the way of political statute
specific not only to this country, but also to twelve more European states, which in 1940
had a dictatorial regime: Bulgaria, ex-Yugoslavia, Russia, Germany, Italy, Greece,
Turkey, Spain, Portugal and Finland. (202)

The Constitution of 1938

Unfortunately, this act was one of transition and regress in Romanian democratic
society. This act followed the Constitution from 1923 and anticipated the communist
Constitutions (there were three constitutions: in 1948, 1952 and 1965). The elections in
December 1937 prepared the instauration of an authoritarian regime instituted by King
Carol the II. As no political party succeeded in taking at least 40 percent of the votes to
assure parliamentary majority, the king named a new government, ruled by Octavian

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Goga, the leader of National Christian Party. Because this government proved its
inefficiency since it had no social support (in elections it got only 9, 15 percent of the
votes) it signed a pact with the Iron Guard. This led to a number of violations against
democracy, through numerous acts of violence. (Scurtu, Curculescu, Dincă & Soare,
181)
On the occasion of the coup d’état from February 10, 1938, the Constitution of
1923 was substituted with a new one, made official on March 27, 1938. This new
Constitution made several provisions, among which these are the most important: the
king became “the head of the state”, he had sovereign powers, making from the
monarchy a decisive component in ruling the state. According to this provision, one
more democratic principle was eliminated: the separation of powers. Another principle
that was violated concerned the age limit for voting. This increased from 21 years to 30
years, and only the literate persons having the right to vote. This Constitution abolished
most of the democratic principles, because the king was conferred special rights to name
the government, to form Parliament and control the Judicial Power. On March 30, 1938,
took place the foundation of a permanent counseling body, entitled the Crown Council.
In the same day, all the political parties were declared as illegal. Regarding the press and
radio, which were the main channels of information used by the people, they both
entered in the service of the regime. (181)
By this Constitution, King Carol the II tried to impose the authoritarian
monarchy and to adjust all the state institutions to the new international context,
threatened by the Hitlerite Germany. (182)
This Constitution lasted just two years until 1940, when the Romanian General I.
Antonescu was vested with all the powers by the King. That was the moment of
instauration of a military dictatorship.

The Communist Constitutions

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The fate of Romania and of other European countries was decided after the
Second World War by the Coalition of the United Nations. It was formed from the most
important states after the outcome of the Second World War: Great Britain, Russia and
the United States of America. By some secret accords, these three countries shared their
influence over the rest of the European countries. In Romania’s case, the United Nations
imposed a truce, which stipulated the occupation of this country by the soviet army
(September, 1944). Through the “Percentage Agreement” between Joseph Stalin and
Winston Churchill, Romanian space was under the soviet influence to the extent of 50
percent. (Scurtu, Curculescu, Dincă & Soare, 191)
On March, 1945, the adjunct of the minister for foreign affairs, A. I. Vîşinski
moved to the instauration of the soviet government, having as the prime minister Petru
Groza. From that moment on, the democratic state in Romania ceased to exist. Between
August 1945 and January 1946, King Michael of Romania and political parties sought
the help of European countries, hoping to form a democratic government in Romania
again, but without success. (191)
As a consequence of the external adverse context, doubled by the internal
context, Romania became one of those undemocratic countries, to which was imposed a
totalitarian regime. Like other states from central and south-east Europe, Romanian did
not have a real political opposition, capable to sustain the democratic system. Beginning
with the year 1944, Romania was separated from the rest of the world because of the
“Iron Curtain”. As a consequence, the Romanian society was the victim of multiple
social malformations and offences against democratic institutions. All these lasted until
the Fall of the Romanian communism, due to the Revolution of 1989. (195)
Soviet hegemony imposed a series of measures, like: the existence of one
political party, of a unique ideology, of a system of physical and psychological torture,
of complete control over mass-media etc. All these measures had to be transposed into
laws, and these laws into a body: a constitution. (220)
In Romania three communist constitutions were drafted. The first communist
Constitution was adopted on April 13, 1948; Romania’s name being changed into “the
Popular Republic of Romania”. This constitution abolished the democratic principle of

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separation of powers, arguing that the supreme power belonged to “The Great National
Assembly”. This institution had the following attributions: to elect the members of the
Presidium of the Great National Assembly, to form the government, to amend the
Constitution and to vote laws and the budget. On the basis of this Constitution the
Presidium of the Great National Assembly was created, being responsible for decree
issue, to convene the Assembly, to appoint or revoke ministers and to sign international
treaties; the government and the Superior Economic Council. Regarding the Legislative
Power, this institution was represented by a unicameral Parliament with one political
party - Romanian Workers' Party (Partidul Muncitoresc Român – PMR). The Executive
Power was exerted by the Council of Ministers that was ruled by a president. The
Judicial Power was conferred to instances and The Supreme Court of Justice. All these
were submitted to the communist influence. (Ionescu & Ionescu, 58)
The second Constitution was drafted in 1952, being much alike the previous
Constitution. This new official document officially entitled Romania as a “Popular
Republic”. By this, the Stalinist political model was established in Romanian society.
The role of the state became more authoritative in domains, like: internal economies,
social and political life, the press etc. In this Constitution there were several provisions
referring to the citizen’s responsibilities, like: he had to contribute at the welfare of the
community, to respect the work discipline and to bring his aid to the development of the
popular “democratic” regime. Other provisions were related to the administration. The
country was organized into regions and districts, inspired after the soviet model. In this
respect, there were 18 regions, among which was also the Magyar Autonomous Region.
The third communist Constitution was ratified on August, 1965. This document was
created after some internal changes in the communist party – the party leader Gheorghe
Gheorghiu-Dej was replaced with Nicolae Ceauşescu. This document settled that the
title of Romanian Workers' Party would be changed into the Romanian Communist
Party, becoming the directive force of Romania. By this statement all the exceptions
regarding the exercise of political rights was eliminated. The individual right to property
was completely eradicated, as the state was declared the owner of all subsoil resources,
production means, agricultural fields etc.

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In 1975 the Constitution was revised, being created the function of the President
of Romania. This political position had the following attributions: to preside over the
Council of State; the president became the commander-in-chief of the army and he was
authorized to appoint and revoke the ministers of the government and the members of
the Supreme Tribunal; to issue presidential decrees and to bestow decorations. (Scurtu,
Curculescu, Dincă & Soare, 215)
All the three communist Constitutions stipulated in their structures rights and
liberties for the Romanian people, and also for the minorities. However, these were not
applied in the real life.

5. Press in the Romanian Background

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The emergence of Romanian press has a fundamental importance in the process


of expansion of the liberty concept, specific to the emergence of Romanian modern
society. In this respect, we will analyze the evolution of Romanian press, from its
genesis to modern times.
The very first initiative to print and distribute Romanian newspapers, took place
between the years 1789, 1793 and 1794 respectively, when Ioan Molnar was precluded
by Austro-Hungarian authorities to publish an information sheet. (Petcu, 12)
Ioan Lupaş in “Novele sau gazete româneşti – în Lemberg la 1817” mentions the
Decree of Vienna, enacted on February 25th 1817, allowing Transylvanian individuals to
publish “Novele” and “Gazettes”. The first recorded individual initiative to publish an
incipient newspaper, belonged to Teodor Racoce, a Romanian translator from Lemberg.
He is remembered as the first Romanian person who printed a prospectus of a
newspaper. (Petcu, 11)
Petcu (2003) found that Racoce wanted to give Romanian people a newspaper
containing not only ordinary events from various foreign European countries, but
information regarding grammatical and theological concepts. The title of this newspaper
would be circular (Novele) or Romanian Gazettes.
A very interesting aspect that we believe to be worth mentioning here is the fact
that these gazettes could have been delivered at home, and there was the option of
subscription for an entire year, at a price of 60 Lei. The article “Înştiinţare pentru
Curierul Bucureştilor” by Eliad and Moroiu mentions the year 1829, as the moment of
reference to the official emergence of Romanian newspaper, through Curierul
Bucureştilor – inspired after the other west European states. This newspaper included
information regarding other European gazettes, aspects of national literature, commerce,
judicial decisions etc. It was published twice a week, in Bucharest, subsequently being
distributed in other parts of the Romanian Principalities. (Petcu, 16-17)
The same year is mentioned in “Înştiinţare despre Gazeta Românească din Ieşi”,
when a periodical journal appears in Iaşi, entitled Albina românescă, edited by
Gheorghe Asachi. Despite the fact that this journal was issued under the strict
permission of Russian authorities, it proved to have liberal inclinations. The same as

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Curierul Bucureştilor, it was published twice a week. The journal gave information
about international political issues, news from battle fields, historical, literary,
philosophical aspects and also words of advice concerning agricultural activities. What
can amaze us related to this newspaper is the fact that it offered a supplement that
included laws and state rules.
Gheorghe Asachi, (1788 – 1863) was one of the most important defenders of the
rights and liberties of Romanian journalism, against Russia’s influence. He was a
journalist, poet, painter, writer, editor and typographer. Asachi was the founder of
Romanian instruction in Moldavia, of Moldavian press (Albina Românească, 1829) and
of the theatre in Moldova (1816). (21)
Around the year 1838, according to the article “De la Redacţie” (“From the
Editors”), in Transylvania appears Gazeta Transilvaniei, published with the strict
permission of Ferdinand I of Transylvania. It was published once a week, and sometimes
it was annexed a page edited with latin letters. Gheorghe Bariţiu (1812 – 1893) was the
founder of Romanian press from Transylvania – 1838 - Gazeta Transilvaniei, 1838 -
Foaie pentru minte, inima şi literatură. (Petcu, 25). (22)
According to Cesar Bolliac (as cited in Petcu, 27) the essence of a representative
government is the publicity (made through articles from newspapers). The author of the
essay “About Publicity” asks himself how the citizen can know if the deputy who
represents his/her interests in defending the fundamental rights, does or does not carry
out his duty in regard to his responsibilities. Moreover, the author asks rhetorically, how
a politician can be aware of the disappointment of his electors, if not through press.
The publicity (meaning here newspaper) represents a vital aspect of a society, no
matter its political statute. Bolliac compares the notion of press with that of air, so
necessary for human existence. In Bolliac’s essay “About Publicity”, we found that the
major characteristic of publicity (press) is the availability to address to the whole
society, regardless of age, sex, or social position. According to Bolliac’s essay (as cited
in Petcu, 27), these major characteristics are defining for the emergence of the supreme
power, which consists of public opinion. The public opinion being perceived as the only
one that fights against the individual, against the private interest.

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Cezar Bolliac (1813-1881) – was a pressman, poet, translator, archeologist and


numismatist, publicist and unionist defendant. He founded the following publications:
Buciumul (1862 – 1864), Curiosul (1836) – a journal of literature, industry, agriculture
and novelties.
In the study realized by Mihail Kogălniceanu – “Jurnalismul Românesc în 1855”
(“Romanian Journalism from 1855”), he considered press as the main public instrument
of coercion. And yet, it stands for an efficient instrument of providing useful
information, about all the domains, at a national and international level. During
Kogălniceanu’s life, Romanian press was at its early stages. He remarks that, at the
beginning of the 19th century, within the borderlines of Romanian Principalities,
approximately five French and two German journals were distributed; Romanian
journals were either in financial difficulties, or forbidden by the authorities.
We have to remark here two important aspects. First of them reflects the
unaccustomedness of the Romanian society with the idea of press and its liberties, and
the second one reveals the right to be informed only conferred to noblemen and prince’s
cabinet (29).
Kogălniceanu’s study mentions several of the most significant Romanian
newspapers, beginning with the year 1827, when Eliade Rădulescu made all the
necessary formalities to found a newspaper in Romanian language, but without success.
After countless efforts and pressures against the authorities, he succeeded to publish on
April 1st 1829, the best journal that Romania had since then, according to Kogălniceanu.
This newspaper ceased to be published after “it has sunk in the catastrophe of the year
1848” (Kogălniceanu, quoted by Petcu, 30). This journal was replaced by another one,
entitled Albina Românească, which appeared in the same year, in Iaşi. It was edited by
Gheorghe Asachi.
According to Kogălniceanu, the main part of the existent Romanian journals that
had been edited during Russian protectorate, were censored. At the beginning, it didn’t
count too much, because these informed the citizens only about war ordinary events. But
later, the articles contained references to the liberties and rights of the western peoples.
Therefore, Kogălniceanu upheld the essential role of the press in the society evolution,

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even more vital than national primary schools, which despite of the large sums of money
invested, they had minimum results. Furthermore, he admitted that despite the incipient
forms of the journals, they were though capable of improving the standard of culture of
the citizens through science, belle arts, literature, moral precepts etc. More than that, the
citizens were called to take part actively at the public life and to sanction the politicians’
actions, where the case imposed it. (31)
Because Romanian society was very refractive from the emergence of the press
and its rights, it was very difficult for a newspaper to appear and resist over time.
Because of the numerous critics addressed not only to our politicians, but also to foreign
policies that controlled our internal affairs, many of the newspapers were either
suspended over long periods of time, or were declared illegal and so, banned. Analyzing
Kogălniceanu’s study, we found an interesting way of defending and promoting the
liberty of the press in Romanian Principalities. There was a scheme of articles’ changing
between Transylvania press and Principalities’ capital – Bucharest. What could not be
published in Bucharest, it was sent to be publicized in one of the Transylvanian’s
newspapers. (32)
The year 1848 is considered as a moment of profound crisis for Romanian
newspaper. It was a major turning point for the mergence of Romanian democratic
society, consisting of political and military uprising against the rule of the Russians and
Ottomans. Despite the fact that, the Romanian Principalities gained their independence
from the Ottoman Empire on May 21, 1877 (and later recognized at the Berlin
conference of 1878), Russia still kept its sphere of influence over Romanian territories.
This generated the disappearance of the Romanian free press, the only newspaper
allowed to publish, being Vestitorul Românesc. It was a political journal that published
only acts issued by Russian authorities and scarce information from abroad. (33)
The political system was a very restrictive one concerning the press, its rights
and liberties being almost eliminated. In this respect, Kogălniceanu presents in his study
a case of a newspaper, entitled România Literară that was banned immediately after it
was founded, even before distributing one single item, by the occupant authorities. The

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reason for this was its name that was directly referring to the union of the three
principalities Transylvania, Walachia and Moldavia under one name – Romania. (p.35)
As a result of the improvement of the political system, in 1855 once again were edited
the former political journals and other new ones, like: in Moldavia – Gazeta de
Moldova, Zimbrul; in Walachia – Vestitorul Românesc, Timpul; in Transylvania –
Gazeta de Transilvania and Telegraful.
Kogălniceanu’s study mentions important names of Romanian press, like Eliade
Rădulescu, Eutimie Murgu, Titu Maiorescu, C. Rossetti, Nicolae Brătianu, who
fought for the fundamental right of expression with the national or foreign authorities.
This was a tremendous difficult task, as the author mentions, because they were often
confronted with arguments, like the continuance of publishing one newspaper, would
lead to social disobedience, which finally would encourage the anarchy. And this state of
things would only cause confusion. These statements were serious accusations against
press, but based on unreal facts. Moreover, these false accusations were made as an act
of vengeance against those journals that revealed the abuses, illegalities and the state
constraints against the freedom of information in all the Romanian Principalities.
According to Kogălniceanu, the ideal of all Romanian journalists was to
contribute at the formation of the political society in the spirit of liberalism (obtaining
and protecting rights and civic liberties stemming from legislative acts), to promote
moral principles, as well as the development of the social criticism, based on true facts.
The article publicized by Bolliac, Cezar in Romînul during the year 1859, states
that - “all that is not liberty is tyranny, is power abuse, no matter if it is present in
legislature, judicial system, or administrative circle”. (as cited in Petcu, 41)
Bolliac found that liberty represents the sign that shows the health of the social
body, which cannot survive together with the malady, standing for the abuse. He also,
exemplifies his theory by pointing out that a person will immediately identify the liberty,
as he enters in a society where the liberty of assemblies, discussions and of press is
granted by law.
Bolliac’s parallelism between liberties of the press and a field is a very
expressive one. He compares a free press with a land treaded down and cultivated by

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free men, where each hectare is producing a larger quantity than another 20 hectares.
(35)
According to Bolliac, America has come into being under the auspices of liberty,
in comparison to our country, and in a period that stretched for almost 80 years, helped
here to be far more developed than any other state. In Bolliac’s article, we can find an
aspect that is generally valid, consisting of all leaders of state have arrived sooner or
later at the same conclusion – only the liberty devoid of any control from the
government power, is capable to provide civilization, contentment, and can avoid the
revolutions.
At some point, Bolliac refers to one of the assertions related to liberty made by
the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte – “Liberty is an idle word if nobody can
liberally express in writing his thoughts and opinions.” (as quoted in Petcu, 43)
The limits of the press are natural; consequently the governmental interference of
any kind is rather abusive, due the fact that these limits belong to sociability; they begin
from where the liberties of another institution start, where the natural and social liberties
of the family appear; where humanity, morale and society command her (liberty’s limit)
to stop. (Bolliac, quoted by Petcu, 50)
Bolliac concluded in an optimistic note, assuming that Romanian press would
follow the pioneering press from Unites States, or from other European democratic
nations, like England, Belgium, or Switzerland.
The essay “Începuturile Ziaristicei Noastre 1789 – 1795” written by Ilarie
Chendi, mentions the year 1900 when Romanian press has hardly reached the standard
of the modern societies, at least in what concerns the form. The author remarks that the
beginnings of the Romanian press correspond to the early phases of culture
manifestation, through literature. There were writers who recourse to newspapers in
order to publish new literary tendencies, poems etc. As the author mentioned, many of
the ideas and theories spread through the press were censured or banned by the
authorities, and yet capable of awaken the conscience of cultural importance and
national unity, only through a released press of any type of constraint.

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Constantin Bacalbaşa in “Presa în viitoarea constituţie” (1982) advocates for the


importance of the press in a society, through a saying –“any thing that proves to be too
useful, it ends to be a not very pleasant one”. This applies to the profession of journalist,
because he either tells the truth, or hides it, he is displeased. In this respect, in the
context of the parliamentary debates of the year 1884, the deputies started their works
from the principle of liberty concerning press expression. But soon, the proposed
solutions were different, and so there were strong disagreements between their
supporters. The only part that was prejudiced during this period of time was the statute
of the press, because its rights and liberties were narrowed at one’s free interpretation of
the law. (175 -176)
Due the fact that Romanian press proved to be very critic with the authorities, in
many instances the newspapers were suspended from being published by the
government. The reasons for this illegal suspensions, were the officials whose social
reputations were stained by defamatory articles, among which we can name: Gheorghe
Bibescu (1847), Vodă Carol (1876) etc. (178)
In his essay, Bacalbaşa relates one of the many situations when Romanian press
rights were violated by the officials. Because one of the journals published few
criticizing articles about the policy of liberal government from 1876, accusing also few
of its members, the minister of justice, Eugen Stănescu, asked the Prosecutor Magistracy
to take immediately measures against the journal that published those articles. His
petition had serious accusations against press policy. He stated that the press had an
aggressive language, promoting an attitude of dishonesty towards the government,
materialized through libel articles, untrue information etc., concluding that the press has
only spread insecurity among citizens and discrediting of the politicians. (pp. 180 – 182)

6. The Romanian Revolution of 1989

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Between 1945 and 1989 Romania was under the influence of socialist policy
intensely sustained by the communist party. This policy of the proletariat aimed at the
nationalization of the industry and assets in order to direct the entire economic activity
towards the reorganization of the society through the realization of social justice.
After 1989, this type of revolutionary socialism collapsed. This situation was
generated by three main causes: the utopia of social justice, the lost of intellectual and
economic attraction, and social abandonment through violence in Romania’s case, of all
that meant socialism. One of the weakest points of the communist regime was the
redistribution of the incomes exclusively by the State, to assure the social welfare. The
State’s dispositions were enforced by a secret police force, called Securitate. This
institution physically and mentally terrorized individuals, being responsible for the
arrests and deaths of thousands of people. (Hayek, 268)
The fall of the Romanian communism was to a great extent the consequence of
changing the relationship of political forces at the international scale. The downfall of
Soviet Union and the political and economical ascent of the United States of America
generated the collapse of the old regimes instituted in the Central and South-Eastern
Europe, on the basis of the “Percentage Agreement” between Joseph Stalin and Winston
Churchill, where Romanian entered under the influence of Soviet policy at the extent of
50 percent. (Scurtu, Curculescu, Dincă & Soare, 236)
Consequently, the year 1989 is the beginning of the Communism’s sunset in
Europe. Their political exponents lost political power in Poland, former Czechoslovakia,
Hungary, East Germany, Bulgaria and Romania. The political power was taken over by
neo-communists, who developed a collaboration with the political parties of the
opposition. Romania’s case is a particular one. The overthrow of totalitarian regime was
the consequence of the mass demonstration that turned into revolution. (236)
The Romanian Revolution began as a small-scale protest in Timişoara, to protect
a dissident priest, Lszl Tkes against the communist authorities. Immediately
after, in Bucharest and other important cities, manifestations against the communist
regime took place. These were violently suppressed by the Securitate, anticipating the
vast mass demonstrations. Because of the social pressure, the communist President

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Nicolae Ceauşescu and his wife fled by helicopter to Târgovişte, where on December 25,
1989, he and his wife were sentenced to death. After Ceauşescu’s departure, the
National Salvation Front (NSF) whose leader was Ion Iliescu took over the political
power in Romania. (Siani-Davies, Introduction)
We should point out that the Romanian Revolution in 1989 did not follow the
pattern of the northern revolutions. These remarked themselves in history by involving
peaceful demonstrators, which established pluralist regimes. But, Romania is a particular
case throughout the Europe. The “reforming” measures proved to be extremely violent.
During the events of the revolution, 1.104 deaths and 3.321 injured persons were
recorded. In the context of events that took place in last decade of the 20 th century,
Romania is categorized as one of the bloodiest revolutions of Europe, together with the
former-Yugoslavia. (Scurtu, Curculescu, Dincă & Soare, 236)
In the evening of December 25, Ion Iliescu in his quality of the President of the
National Salvation Front officially announced through the “Comunicat către ţară”
(“Official Statement to the Country”) that the communist era was brought to an end, and
that the Romanian society was beginning a new process, that of democratizing its
institutions. The measures included the adoption of political pluralism, the separation of
powers etc.; it was also stipulated that the political leaders could not have more than two
terms, and above all, the national need for a new fundamental law. (236)
The revolutionary movement that caused the downfall of the myth of
communism regime, entitled “The Golden Era” represented by the cult of personality,
aimed the liberty of the person, of political programs and options, of the press etc. In
order to create the legal basis for transposing these ideas in a new legislation, the
Council of the National Salvation Front enacted in 1989 the decree regarding the
registration and the functioning of the political parties and popular organization in
Romania. It was officially established that in Romania political pluralism is adopted,
with the exception of the fascist parties or any other that attempts against social order.
At the same time, it was stipulated that any discrimination on the basis of race,
nationality, religion, level of education, gender or political beliefs is banned. (236)

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As a consequence, due to the new democratic reality, the old political parties
reappeared, like the National Peasant’s Party, the National Liberal Party and the Social-
Democratic party. Moreover, new political parties emerged, like the Democratic
Convention in 1992.
On February 9, 1990 the Provisional Council of National Unity emerged as a
proto-parliament. It was formed by the representatives of the political groups that
immediately appeared after the revolutionary moment. This juncture is considered as the
official recognition of anti-Ceauşescu coalition, having in view the context of NSF
factory councils and the adoption of the new political-administrative system.
In the East part of Europe, the end of communist regimes ended in a lack of
violence and tumult, usually associated with “true” revolutions. Only in Romania a
bloody revolution capable to eliminate the old régime took place. In this respect, many
of the European historians compared the seizing of the central committee building in
Bucharest with the revolution of Bastille, and the execution of Nicolae Ceauşescu with
the fate of Louis XVI. (Siani-Davies, Introduction)
At the international level, Romania was characterized by diplomatic isolation
during the communist regime. But, after the national emancipation of 1989, Romania
was emerging as an incipient democratic state, which increased international activity in
order to integrate in the Euro Atlantic structures. Therefore, we would like to mention in
a very concise way, the years and the international acts that were signed by the
Romanian State. The first important document that Romania signed was the Association
Accord triggering the process of integration in the European Union (that came into effect
in 1995). In 1993, Romania was the first nation from the central and Southern part
Europe that became a member of the Partnership for Peace. On July, 1997 the Summit in
Madrid announced the nominalization of Romania as a candidate for the next expansion
of NATO. After seven years, in February, 2000, Romania started the negotiations with
the European Union for integration. On November 21, 2002, Romania was invited by
NATO to begin the negotiations of its integration. After two years, Romania became a
full member of NATO military integrated structure. On April 25, 2005 the signing of the
Accession Treaty of Romania and Bulgaria to European Union took place. On January 1,

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2007 Romania became a member of the European Union, having full rights. (Ionescu &
Ionescu, 115)
It is imporatnt to underline that December 25 does not represent the end of
Romanian Revolution. The months that followed this event, saw the struggle of the
National Salvation Front (NSF) to consolidate its political power and “to impose” a
democratic vision in the Romanian society, and later the campaign of the civil society
for supporting the real implementation of the democratic principle, especially in the
political class. A particular document, drafted by the Timişoara participants after the
events from 1989 was - “The Proclamation of Timişoara”. This act announced that the
Revolution’s ideals were betrayed and the demonstration should continue in a peaceful
manner to reform the communist structures. (WordPress, “Proclamaţia…”)
The proclamation found its necessary support in the entire country, especially
from Sibiu, Arad, Lugoj, Oradea, Cluj, Piatra-Neamţ and other important cities. At a
national level “communism free-zones” were declared, after the model of Timişoara.
Even in Paris demonstrations at the Romanian Embassy took place to support these
democratic reforms. Taking into consideration the vulnerable context after December
1989, this proclamation would be a self-evident document for the incipient democratic
regime in Romania. One of its most important provisions is point eight. It proposed that
the electoral law be modernized according to the new realities. It stipulated that no
former activists and Securitate staff can candidate for public functions during three
legislatures (a period of 12 years). This period of time was considered as necessary to
the development of democratic institutions and political party ideologies. In what
concerns Presidency, this institution was considered by the proclamation as the symbol
of the rupture between Romanian society and the communist regime. Moreover, the
document recommended that cultural and scientific personalities should run for the
Presidential Office. (WordPress, “Proclamaţia…”)
As a conclusion, we can affirm that the Romanian Revolution was motivated by
a desire of the people for greater political and intellectual freedom and economic
prosperity. In the recent history of Romanian State, the Revolution of December 1989

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proved a base for the subsequent post communist reforms, being a symbol of the
totalitarian collapse in the region. (Siani-Davies, “The Romanian...”)

6.1 The Constitution of 1991

This fundamental document is the newest Romanian Constitution. It was ratified


on November 21, 1991 by Parliament, being subsequently approved through national
referendum on December 8, 1991.
This Constitution was inspired by the Constitution of 1923. The role of this
constitution was to reinstitute the democratic regime in Romania, interrupted for almost
a half a century by the communist regime. It officially replaced the old structures with
new ones, establishing that the public administration is represented by town councils,
town halls, prefectures and county councils; the judicial authority is exerted by judicial
institutions and the legislative authority is represented by Parliament and Presidency.
(Scurtu, Curculescu, Dincă & Soare, 237)
Parliament regains its statute that of representative institution elected by people
(article 58). This institution is the only legislative authority of the country. It has the
responsibility to debate and vote constitutional, organic and ordinary laws. The structure
of Parliament is made of two chambers: the Deputies Chamber and the Senate. Both
these two chambers are elected by universal, direct, secret and free vote, to a four-year
term.
The President is the guarantee of national independence, of national unity and
territorial integrity of the State. The Constitution empowers the President to ensure the
faithful execution of the laws, the good functioning of the public institutions, to mediate
between the State’s Powers and also between the State and society, to appoint the Prime
Minister and the government on the basis of the vote given by Parliament (article 85), to
sign treaties, to appoint diplomats, to declare curfew, to confer decorations and titles, to
grant individual pardon and to issue laws. Further responsibilities are related to the
statute of president of the Supreme Council of National Defense and that of commander-

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in-chief (article 90). The President is elected on the basis of democratic rules, through
the exercise of the right to vote by all Romanian citizens, who are at least 18 years old.
The President’s term in office is five years and it can not be renewed more than twice.
(Chamber of Deputies, “The Constitution…”)
This Constitution brought a series of innovative aspects. One of them is the
Constitutional Court. This is the only authority of jurisdiction that obeys only the
constitutional regulations. Another innovative aspect is represented by the People's
Advocate institution, which defends the civil rights and liberties. (Ionescu & Ionescu,
60)
The Judicial Power is exerted by judges who are politically independent and
obey the laws. They are appointed by the President, being irremovable and they can not
have other positions other than in university education institutions. The Executive Power
is represented by the government, which makes possible the realization of the internal
and external affairs policy of the country (article 101). This institution is made of the
prime minister who coordinates the activity of the ministers and of other Cabinet’s
members. This institution has the following attributes: to adopt decisions and
ordinances; the prime minister presents before Parliament reports and declarations
regarding the government’s policy, and the ministers have the obligation to answer to
the questions addressed by the deputies and the senators; to appoint a government’s
representative in each of the 41 counties, called “prefect”. (Chamber of Deputies, “The
Constitution…”)
On June 17, 1992 the electoral law was issued based on constitutional provisions.
This law created an electoral system of proportional type. Moreover, it was settled that if
a political party wanted to enter for the presidential election it needed at least 3 percent
of the votes. For the Presidential election the majority system is used, with two ballots.
(Scurtu, Curculescu, Dincă & Soare, 238)
In this respect, we can mention that on September, 1992 Ion Iliescu was elected
as the first President of the democratic regime in Romania, having 61, 4 percent from the
votes. After four years, the national vote went for his political opponent, Emil
Constantinescu, being elected as President from the second ballot. Using the democratic

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electorate system, the Romanian society reached a peaceful interchange of political


power. It proved that the Romanian society was maturing, being prepared to integrate
and exercise democracy. (Scurtu, Curculescu, Dincă & Soare, 239)
After December, 1989 the Romanian civil society was the witness of the
transition towards the market economy and democratic state. This complex process
presupposed the regaining of the fundamental principle of a free society: liberty, equality
and justice. At the moment, the Romanian society functions in a democratic regime,
based on the separation of powers, political pluralism, freedom of assembly, freedom to
travel etc. (article 1) (Chamber of Deputies, “The Constitution…”)
Article twenty from the Constitution stipulates that the rights and the liberties of
the Romanian citizens are interpreted and applied according to the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights. Moreover, this Constitution has a special part – Title II, chapter II;
that sets apart the fundamental rights, like the right to vote, to elect or to be elected etc.;
economic rights: the right to work, to get a fair wage etc.; social rights: the right to
strike, private property protection, minorities’ protection etc.; civil rights: the right to
life, the right to be fairly judged etc.; cultural rights: the right to education, to
information etc.
In the same respect, in 1993 Romania ratified the European Convention for the
protection of human rights. But, this was not enough to guarantee the fundamental rights
of the citizens. A frame strong enough was necessary to apply them properly. This is the
reason for the emergence of the civil society as a democratic instrument to balance the
relations between the State and its citizens. After the revolution of 1989, numerous civic
organizations and associations were created to defend the people’s rights and liberties.
The most important ones were: Pro Democracy Association, the Association of Former
Political Prisoners Victims of Communism, the Romanian Institute for Human Rights
etc. (Scurtu, Curculescu, Dincă & Soare, 244)

7. Personalities

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7.1 Mihail Kogălniceanu


(1817 - 1891)

Mihail Kogălniceanu was a lawyer, historian, publicist, politician and a cultural


pacemaker. He is the most outstanding Moldavian leader of his generation of supporters
of the 1848 Revolution. Mihail Kogălniceanu was one of the young boyars who studied
abroad, assimilating modern principles necessary to the creation of the modern
Romanian State. They interacted with European freemasons’ lodge, with radical and
even socialist political circles, with European political personalities, like: Jules Michelet,
Edgar Quinet etc. assuring them the right political formation in a democratic spirit. This
is the main reason for arguing that they had a major impact over the foundation of
Romanian modern society and the attainment of State’s independence. (“Mihail
Kogălniceanu”, Encyclopædia)
Due to the fact that his name is associated with the gypsies’ emancipation for
equal rights and responsibilities (1837 – he published a pioneering study on the gypsies,
entitled “Leipzig”, and the apportionment of land to Romanian peasants, Mihail
Kogălniceanu was one of the first political democratic leaders of that time. To his
democratic view contributed the fact that he studied in France and Berlin and traveled
extensively in Western Europe. It was in the “Athens of Germany” where he came in
contact with and was greatly influenced by Savigny, Humboldt, and Ranke, and finished
assimilating an enormous familiarity with contemporary historical, cultural, and social
science. As a consequence, his Moldavian temperament (oriented towards conservatism)
conjoined with his German intellectual formation (unlike the French model adopted by
the supporters of the 1848 Revolution, from Walachia) would differentiate him from
them to a great extent. In this respect, Kogălniceanu’s liberalism was a structural one,
and not a revolutionary one, denying the importance of any revolution act within the
democratic progress. He was one of the most important liberal supporters of national
liberty and independence. He considered that the nation’s freedom is reflected in the

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liberties of its people. According to him, the democratic liberties were possible only if
the destiny of the state was released from any foreign influence over its internal affairs.
Moreover, Kogălniceanu upheld that democracy could only develop within the frames of
a republic state. He became thus, the leader in the fight for unification of Moldavia and
Walachia, and he also distinguished himself as the advocate of popular rural reform and
the emancipation of the Gypsies. (Michelson, “Mihail…”)
So, an essential role in the abolition of slavery from Romania had the political
man, Mihail Kogălniceanu. In 1837 he published the first Romanian paper referring to
the minority group of gypsies, being entitled: “Schiţa asupra istoriei, obiceiurilor si
limbii tiganilor” (“An Outline of History, Customs and Language of the Gypsies”). This
identified with the European democratic direction, being translated into French at Berlin,
and three years later into German. In 1848, Mihail Kogălniceanu continued to sustain
this legislative initiative. He published the program of the Moldavian revolutionaries of
1848, having the tile: “Dorinţele Partidei Nationale in Moldova” (“The Wishes of the
National Party in Moldavia”) with reference to the abolition of slavery in the Romanian
society.
Kogălniceanu’s political work is essential for the historians to analyze the
political life of the Romanian society during the mid of 1800s. He published the first
editions of the Moldavian chroniclers and other books and articles, also founding a
series of periodicals: Aluata Romanească (1838), Foaie Sătească (1839), Dacia
Literară (1840), Arhiva Românească (1840), Calendarelor pentru Poporul Romînesc
(1842), and Propăşirea (1843). In 1840, he became the co-director (with Alecsandri and
C. Negruzzi) of the National Theater in Iaşi, while serving as Prince Sturdza's private
secretary. Three years later, he gave a celebrated inaugural lecture on national history at
the Academia Mihaileana in Iaşi, a lecture which greatly influenced Romanian students
in Paris and the 1848 generation with democratic ideals. On August, 1848, he published
a polemic manifesto, entitled “The Wishes of the National Party” (August 1848)
containing the goals of the 1848 Romanian revolution. It called for internal autonomy,
civil and political liberties, abolition of slavery and class privilege, and union of
Moldavia and Walachia. (Michelson, “Mihail…”)

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With the advent of the Romanian revolution from 1848, Kogălniceanu began to
be more and more involved in the Romanian nationalist politics. In this respect,
Kogălniceanu was appointed to various high levels governmental positions. After 1849,
he helped Alexandru I. Cuza to become the principal leader of the unionist movement,
seeking the creation of a Romanian national state through the unification of Moldavia
and Walachia. One of his great political successes was the campaign for elections to the
Divan ad hoc from 1859, directly led him to the outmaneuvering of the boyar opposition
and triumph for the national party. Between 1859 and 1865, Kogălniceanu was
numerous times prime minister and the supporter of Cuza's internal reforms, including
the secularization of the monasteries (1863) and the agrarian reform of 1864, and other
reformist measures. However, because of the disagreements with the prince and the
landed aristocracy, he resigned from his position of prime minister in February 1865.
Following Cuza's abdication in 1866, Kogălniceanu continued to be the leader of
pragmatic reform liberalism in Romania, having the position of a cabinet member, and
from 1876 to 1880 he held office as a foreign minister, representing Romania at the
Congress of Berlin in 1878. Due to his essential political work in the edification of the
modern Romanian State, he was elected to the Romanian Academy in 1868. (Michelson,
“Mihail…”)
Mihail Kogălniceanu is considered by Romanian historians an important
Romanian statesman and reformer, one of the founders of modern Romanian
historiography, who became the first prime minister of Romania and who brought a vast
contribution to the union of the Danubian principalities - Moldavia and Walachia, into
Romanian State. He believed in constitutional government, civil liberties, and other
liberal positions, but gave precedence to the nation over the individual, because of the
internal vulnerable context. For more than a half a century, before, during, and after
1848, he was a key element in the development of modern State of Romania.
(Michelson, “Mihail…”)

7.2 Alexander John Cuza

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(1820 – 1873)

By the mid 1800s the unification movement in the Principality of Moldavia and
Walachia took place. The movement produced local rebellions that were quickly
suppressed by the combined action of Ottoman and Russian military troops. The Treaty
of Paris (1856), which ended the Crimean War between the Ottoman Empire and Russia,
established Moldavia and Walachia as principalities that would continue to pay tribute to
the Ottoman Empire. Russia in turn, was obliged to return southern Bessarabia to
Moldavia. In 1857 the councils of Moldavia and Walachia voted for the union under the
name of Romania, with a hereditary prince, autonomy, and neutrality. (Nelson,
“Romania”)
The councils wanted a neutral political person to become the ruler of the United
Principalities, being chosen Alexandru John Cuza, who was one of the supporters of
1848 Revolution. He was double elected as a prince on January 5, 1859 in Iaşi and
January 24, 1859 in Bucharest. These moments represented the Unification of the
Romanian Principalities into Romania country under the leadership of Alexander John
Cuza. He was a political man inspired by liberal thoughts, who had an essential role in
initiating the process of Romanian national regeneration. All along his political career as
the head of the Romanian state, he proved a great moderation and impartiality. Due to
his social-political beliefs, he succeeded in maintaining the balance between the
conservative boyars and the radicalism of the liberals, who had a very large social
electorate. (Stan, 35)
Alexander John Cuza was the first official ruler of the Principality of Moldavia
and of Walachia. His political ability assured the transition from an absolutist political
regime to a democratic one, mainly characterized by the separation of powers. During
his term, the delimitation between the Executive and Legislative Powers was achieved.
Moreover, the responsibilities of the county administration and local tribunals were
settled for the first time. (23)
In the same time, the principle of immovability was introduced the Romanian
judicial system, accelerating the achievement of an independent and incorruptible

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magistracy. In what concerns the Court of Cassation, the right to be immune at any type
of accusation was granted. The reason for this decision was that this institution had the
jurisdiction right over all tribunals and court of appeal. (23)
Alexander John Cuza upheld the principle of democracy during all his term,
reminding the Minister of Justice, every time when it was necessary, to pay attention not
only to important ones, but to all cases of social injustice. He tried and succeeded to
impose the secularization of the monastery properties, causing in Moldavia serious
insurrections caused by the disgruntled ecclesiastic representatives. Because of this, the
Patriarchs of Orthodox Church interpreted in an erroneous way the modernization of the
calendar by substituting the Julian one with the Gregorian one, saying that Alexander
John Cuza had an inclination towards Catholicism. (23)
The conflict went from bad to worse, when adopting the autocephaly of
Romanian Orthodox Church in 1865, by the Legislative Assembly. As a consequence,
Romanian Church was no more restricted in its decisions by the Greek Church, and also
the Romanian political life from the phanariot influence. (24)
Alexander John Cuza is remembered in Romanian history as the political man
who laid the foundations of the Romanian centralized state, being inspired after the
Napoleon III politics. This complex process debuted with the formation of one
government of both the principalities on January 22, 1862. At the same time, a unique
judicial system and a unitary legislative system were created whose laws were enforced
by the county administrations and communes. (Scurtu, Curculescu, Dincă & Soare, 94)
After the establishment of the institutions and administrative attributions,
Alexander John Cuza was aware of the necessity to join centralism with local autonomy,
as a symbol of democratic society. Consequently, there was a partial decentralization,
exerted by the government through prefects. (Stan, 24)
Being a “victim” of his own reforms towards the end of his political career,
Alexander John Cuza became an isolated personality, ceasing all the contacts with the
political class. This situation was one generated both by objective and subjective
reasons. (35)

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He was a supporter of a new constitution capable enough to incorporate civil


rights and liberties, but allowing him to strengthen the authoritarianism of the executive
power. On May 2, 1864 Alexander John Cuza introduces his personal rule, determining
the sunset of his political career. Immediately after this coup d’état the negotiations
between liberals and conservators took place, giving birth to the “Monstrous Coalition”.
The aim of this coalition (one that proved its incompatibility even from the title’s
antinomy) was to give an alternative government, ruled by a foreign prince. So, the two
parties acted together and with the help of some of the military commanders forced
Alexander John Cuza to abdicate on the night of February 11/12, 1866, and later exiled
him to Vienna. (36)
To sum up, we can assign the merit of edification of the Romanian democratic
society to Alexander John Cuza. His name is related to the consolidation of the
Romania’s state autonomy correlated with the developed European countries. After his
abdication, there was a vacancy of the throne, which was filled on May 10 with the
arrival of Prince Karl von Hohenzollern Sigmaringen.

7.3 Ion I. C. Brătianu


(1864 - 1927)

He was one of those political persons who dominated with an iron hand the
political life of the Romanian society. Between 1909 and 1927, he was the political
leader of the National Liberal Party. His political career began when he was appointed as
the prime minister of Romania for six times (1909, 1910–1911, 1914–1918, 1918–1919,
1922–1926 and 1927) and became the chief spokesman for the ideal of Greater
Romania, materialized in the union of the Romania and Transylvania. (“Ionel Brătianu”,
Encyclopædia)
Ion I. C. Brătianu was one of the most complex and controversial political
personalities of Romanian history. He was a dominant political man, being argued by

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some as having a native vocation of being a leader. By profession an engineer, he was


raised to perform in politics, applying to some extent his knowledge from engineering
field in the political life.
Being talented with native qualities of a political person, Brătianu developed his
inclinations by assimilating the ideas from the great political personalities of Europe. He
was versed in modalities to solve out crisis situations, to determine the most sensible
decisions in critical moments. In this respect, he was a political man with liberal
conceptions regarding political ideologies. In a short period of time, he became the
leader of the Liberal Party, succeeding to coordinate the party’s actions towards the
realization of Greater Romania through territorial extension. His first and second
premierships lasted until 1911; he was subsequently recalled to office in 1914 as the
promoter of large-scale land reform to meet the land need of the peasantry. Through the
early stages of the First World War, he hoped to avoid conflict with Germany and
Austria-Hungary, but he eventually agreed to Romania’s siding with the Allies (August
1916) in return for promises of territory, notably Transylvania from Austria-Hungary.
After resigning the premiership in February 1918, he was again recalled the following
December.
Due to his political struggle, he can be considered as an insistent campaigner of
the Greater Romania at the postwar peace negotiations in Paris. On this occasion
Brătianu once more resigned from office in September 1919, because he did not accept a
compromise on disputed territory with former Yugoslavia and Allied interference in the
internal affairs of Romania. He was appointed again as prime minister from 1922 to
1926, being responsible for the adoption of a new constitution and the confirmation of
the national agrarian reform. Other measures that he took concerned the economic
modernization, especially achieved through industrialization and urbanization. (“Ionel
Brătianu”, Encyclopædia)
As we have seen, the internal context of Romania was a vulnerable one. But, in
that political turmoil, in which subjectivism was governing the official interests, Ion I.C.
Brătianu knew to detach and to rapport himself towards the present issues and future

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aspirations. In the Romania’s context, after the unification of the Principalities in 1859,
he was a promoter of the enforcement of the liberal structures in the Romanian society.
In what concerns his relationship with other political leaders of his time, he
adopted the democratic principle of dialogue. Many times, he asked them to leave aside
the insignificant disputes and to concentrate over the people’s interests. Only by doing
this, they would be capable to rise at the level of historic responsibility. According to his
view, the major obligation of a political man is to promote and defend the permanent
interests and dignity of his people. This is the reason why, Ion I. C. Brătianu addressed
to the parliamentarians by mentioning that Romanian people can proud itself with the
historic events it witnessed in its long history. At the same time, Brătianu suggested
them to prove modesty concerning their persons, but not with the people they
represented. These words are a genuine message that applied and still does at the
moment to all the Romanian political persons. (Scurtu, Stănescu-Stanciu, Scurtu,
“Istoria…”)

7.4 Nicolae Titulescu


(1882 – 1941)

He was an eminent Romanian politician and diplomat, having his studies made in
France, becoming afterwards, a law professor of common law at Iaşi and Bucharest
University. Due to his several works on law and finance and his extensive political
activity, he was elected as a member of the Romanian Academy; he was given the title
“doctor honoris causa” by the Universities from Athens and Bratislava, and he was
chosen as the president of the International Diplomatic Academy. (“Nicolae Titulescu”,
Compendium)
In 1912, Nicolae Titulescu entered in politics, being appointed as minister of
finance, only after five years, in 1917. After the First World War, he attended the Peace
Conference of Paris in 1920, from his quality of delegate of Romanian State, signing the

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Treaty of Trianon. In 1920, he was again appointed as finance minister, but his
unpopular fiscal reforms helped the overthrow the government to take place in
December 1921. From 1922 to 1926 and again from 1928 to 1932, he served as
Romanian minister plenipotentiary in London. As minister of Romanian foreign affairs
(1927-1928 and 1932-1936) he encouraged Romania’s accession to the French security
initiative, materialized into the creation of the Little Entente of Czechoslovakia,
Romania and Yugoslavia (an alliance formed in 1920 and 1921 with the purpose of
common defense against Hungarian irredentism and the prevention of a Habsburg
restoration). In 1934, he began a campaign for the creation of the Balkan Entente (1934),
determining countries like: Greece, Yugoslavia, and Turkey, to sign the treaty, and also
he pursued a policy of friendship with France and the U.S.S.R. Between 1920 and 1936,
Nicolae Titulescu was the Romanian delegate to the League of Nations. He was elected
as the president of this league for two terms; in 1930 and 1931; thus being, the only
candidates who held this position for so long. (“Nicolae Titulescu”, Encyclopædia)
The thinking and the measures taken by Nicolae Titulescu proved their efficiency
through their sensible and realistic perspective. He was a supporter of sovereignty and
equality among the states, in order to preserve the collective security and to prevent
military oppressions. In his article, entitled “Suveranitatea statelor”, he underlined the
fact that international cooperation cannot be achieved, but between equal and democratic
states. Titulescu concentrated his entire activity on major problems that concerned the
external affairs of Romania. After the instauration of the fascist regime in Germany, he
realized the imminent danger that it represented for the democracy of the European
States, and so, for Romania, too. In this respect, he made efforts towards the
achievement of the reinforcement concerning international relations. His policy aimed to
ignite the states’ interest for peace and European security. (“Nicolae Titulescu”,
Compendium)
Their interests being threatened by the Titulescu’s activity, the most reactionary
political circles from Romania, Germany, and Italy, exercised political pressures for his
removal from government. In this respect, Carol II released him from his position, that
of minister of foreign affairs on August 1936. Nicolae Titulescu left the country for

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Switzerland, and later for France, at Cannes, where he died (1941). Despite the fact, that
he was living abroad, he continued to uphold democratic principles, like the idea of
keeping peace between states. He used any opportunity he was given to share his ideas.
So, he lectured at the Diplomatic Academy of France, in the House of Commons, at
Oxford and Cambridge Universities etc. Due to his political effort, he was chosen as the
president of honor of the Romanian Committee of the Universal Reunion for Peace.
(“Nicolae Titulescu”, Encyclopædia)
Nicolae Titulescu was an important statesman for the Romanian State, as his
entire political career was dedicated to the promotion of the interests of his country, as
he held the official position of minister of foreign affairs. At the same time, he was one
of the leading advocates of European collective security. We can say that Nicolae
Titulescu was definitely the most conspicuous personality of the Romanian external
affairs of all times.

7.5 Constantin-Grigore Dumitrescu


(1928 – 2008)

Constantin-Grigore Dumitrescu was one of the Romanian freedom fighters, after


the fall of communist regime. He was known by the Romanian society as Ticu
Dumitrescu, the lawyer and the remarkable political man who brought his contribution
to the development of the Romanian democratic society after the events in 1989. He had
occupied the following positions after the end of Romanian communist regime:
Christian Democrat Senator in Romania’s Parliament, Chairman of the Association of
the Former Political Prisoners in Romania (AFDPR), and in the later part of his life, he
was an important member of the National Council for the Study of Securitate Archives
(until 2006). (Phillips, “A Romanian…”)
During the communist era, Constantin Dumitrescu was a Romanian dissident,
who spent many years in prison. In 1949, he was declared by the communist party as an

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“enemy of the Romanian State” and sentenced to 27 years in prison for his role as a
member of National Peasants’ Party, which opposed the Communist rule. He was held in
jail or under house arrest until 1964. Moreover, he was barred from legal practice after
his release and worked for many years in construction.
After twenty-four years of the Communist terror, Nicolae Ceauşescu was
deposed and executed in 1989. Soon after, Constantin Dumitrescu was elected to
Parliament as a Senator, retiring in 2000. He was a member of the Christian Democratic
Peasant’s Party until 1999 and activated as an independent politician until 2003, when
he returned to the party.
His two main projects, entitled Lustration Law and CNSAS Law. The aim of
these two projects was to find the truth of what had happened in 1989 and to make
public the secret files of the Securitate (the secret political police). Because of the
numerous difficulties, caused by some influential political persons, Dumitrescu’s laws
were never put into force, or the half-done application of them, made these laws to be
considered, even by their author, a partial failure. In this respect, the Lustration Law
proves its inefficiency at the present moment, as it lies somewhere in the drawers of
Deputies Chamber, because of the “economic’ and “political” interests of our political
class. Another disappointment of Ticu Dumitrescu was caused by the verdict of the
Constitutional Court that restricted much of the applicability of the CNSAS Law.
(Phillips, “A Romanian…”)
In his democratic approach to unveil the secrets of the Securitate, with
implication until the present moment, he admitted that this activity raised difficult issues
over who should have access to the information, just like other former Communist-bloc
countries. Former Communists who had been members of the Securitate wanted the
records to be kept closed further on. Others argued that citizens should be allowed to
open only their personal files. Another major problem was that some dossiers had been
tampered with; causing concern that opening them could lead to unfair accusations and
offense against innocent citizens.
During all his political activity, he publicly upheld that for the first seven years
after the fall of communist regime, former communists remained in power. Despite the

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fact that in 1996 he drafted a democratic legislation to open the files of the Securitate, he
could not exclude the “communist” political persons from the democratic government.
On December 5, 2000 at the age of 80, Constantin Dumitrescu died at Floreasca
Hospital after he had been released from a hospital two weeks before being treated for
liver disease. He is remembered by the Romanian civil society as the most powerful
voice against communism. (Phillips, “A Romanian…”)

8. My Romania

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Ruxandra Serban - student in the twelfth grade at “Saint Sava” High School from
Bucharest

Democracy has a serious problem concerning its perception by Romanian


society. First of all, a lot of people consider democracy as everything that happens in
politics, for example: political disputes, incompetence, governing problems etc.
Basically, the entire system is seen as misconceived. This is the direct consequence of
the fact that people are dissatisfied and they are likely to generalize everything, to
categorize it as nonfunctional. This generates, what is commonly known as the
“unconstructive critique”, generating social passivity: people do not go anymore to vote,
they abandon the problems of society; (even if you do not know) democracy is a
responsive system towards all the problems that each citizen has. I think that our society
has not reached yet that level of conscience about the advantages that democracy has.
Usually what we know, or heard about, is a very restrictive sense of democracy,
mainly the fact that one can choose the persons he/she likes by means of ballot. But,
there are more other rights and liberties that either we have not heard yet or we have just
disregarded. In this respect, I would like to mention few of them, like: the right to
petition, through which the citizen can interact with the authorities; freedom of speech
and expression that allows us to say in a formal way whether we agree or not with the
government’s policy; the right to strike, to demonstrate before the State’s institutions
etc. (Conferinţele Civice, “Despre buna…”)

Daniel Barbu - professor of Political Science at Bucharest University.

In the Romanian society, democracy is devoid of its content, as it does not have
anymore a rival regime. Before 1989, one could tell you easily what democracy is,
because there were two main regimes – the Soviet one, represented by the internment
camps and the democratic one, represented by the free world. It is good to keep in mind

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that democracy represents something that opposes totalitarianism and violation of the
fundamental human rights. Now, except the small Korean and Cuban islands, we can
admit that totalitarianism does not exist anymore. So, an intelligent campaign made by
the government and the civil society, can show the Romanian citizens the real benefits of
the democratic principles.
Democracy does have the quality to oppose other political regimes: to consider
that all people are naturally competent to understand and to take part in it. In order to
illustrate this better, I will give you two situations. First of them is represented by the
aristocracy. Here, one is not competent in a natural way, as he/she has to be born in a
family with an old tradition, having a superior financial position. In the same way it
happens with monarchy, where you have to be very educated in order to be in the service
of the king. What I can say is that in a real democracy, justice and equality is enough
knowledge for us to take part in the democratic society. (Conferinţele Civice, “Despre
buna…”)

Cristian Pirvulescu (President of the Pro Democraţia Association) - a Romanian political


analyst, activist, journalist, and essayist.

Romania is a very unstable country. It has changed the political regimes very
often. In our country there have not existed more than two stable political regimes since
1821, the year of Tudor Vladimirescu’s revolution, until nowadays. They were the
Constitutional monarchy (from 1867 until 1938) and the communist regime (from 1945
until 1989). After these two, there were only experiments after experiments.
If we take into account the constitutional and institutional visions, it results very
clearly from the first vision that it offered more chances than the second one. What it is
generally reproached to dictatorships is the fact that they do not offer equal advantages
to all the people, but some of them. As we all know, during communist era, only the
nomenclaturists and Securitatea agents were offered advantages.

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The question: “To what extent is democracy present in our society, if today we
are still governed by the nomenclaturists and Securitatea agents? The answer is simple:
not too much. To live in a real Romanian democratic society, all of us have to adhere to
a new state of mind, and not only at the political level. How can we expect Parliament
and other State’s institutions to be democratic if we do not encourage the democratic
values? If we choose to abandon the democratic principles even where we work, how
can we have a different democracy, from what we have now? (Conferinţele Civice,
“Democraţia este…”)

Iulian Leca – journalist at Ziare.com

I honestly can say that the Romanian people are still in the “childish” stage of
democracy. We have not even reached the “teenage” level, as the period we live in is
still characterized by interior major conflicts and tragedies as a consequence of the hasty
and maybe not sensible actions. If we are enough sincere with ourselves, we will come
to the conclusion that nothing that is in our society has to do with the real sense of
democracy. This state of things is at least at the level of the public opinion.
The state’s institutions are de jure, but they are not de facto. The State’s authority
is the mockery of anybody who considers to be enough powerful to do this, and the
services of public order and protection are allied with mafia clans, corruption and
intercession. All this has generalized at the level of the entire society. Everyone knows
it, but there’s no measure to change it.
In the United States of America there were periods in which the “fraternity”
between the police and the mafia clans was infinitely developed in opposition with what
we find out to be in Romania. The major difference is that in U.S. the fight against this
“fraternity” went on to the bitter end, regardless of the number and importance of the
official persons who had to be under arrest and eventually convicted.
Coming to Europe, each occidental democracy had its dark periods of time, alike the one
Romanian society is going through. But, the only difference is that “the justice act” was

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brought to an end, concretized in final convictions of the guilty persons from which
there was no appeal. In Romania’s case, everything is relative and contextual. Today
you are innocent, to be tomorrow found guilty, and the day after tomorrow to be
definitely released. Now you are nominated to an office, in order to be the day after
tomorrow interrogated for abuse of one day office.
In my view, what we need to learn is this: anything we begin, should be carried
to an end. We have to stop to take chaotic actions, measures, to stop leaving things “to
God to deal with”. We do have to learn that we have to see our actions and even an idea
through. (“Democratia in Romania…”, Ziare.com)

Conclusions

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In order to gain a complete understanding of democracy in the United States of


America and Romania in relation with human rights and liberties, a further study is
needed to be conducted, capable to examine all the aspects of the theme mentioned
above. This paper represents just the basis in decoding the background of American and
Romanian democratic societies. One can easily find numerous similarities and
differences, but what is worth to remember is the fact that both countries proved in their
histories that are able to open towards democratic principles: The Constitution of the
United States, the Bill of Rights, the Romanian constitutional attempts that culminated
with the first modern and democratic Constitution of 1866, and the Constitution of 1991,
respectively.
At the same time, this study can be considered as an invitation towards more
detailed papers capable to particularly analyze and discuss upon each of the chapters that
were presented within this research.
The first chapters, entitled “Live and Let Live” and “An Outline of Romanian
History”, depicted the beginnings of the American and Romanian nations until the major
political and military difficulties they encountered in becoming free states. In this
section, the focus was on the harsh conditions that the colonists and the later inhabitants
of the Romanian Principalities had to confront with, and especially on the foreign
influences that shaped the two nations.
The next chapter “The Emergence of the Colonial Government” mentioned
several measures and documents taken by the British Crown in order to enforce its
domination over the American colonies. But, the colonists united their forces in creating
and defending their own governments and legislations for enlarging the colonists’ rights
and freedoms. So, this period is characterized by military conflicts fueled by political
and economical interests. All these generated precedents and principles that are later to
be found part of the unwritten “constitution” of the Northern American colonists.
These vital rights conferred to colonies had a great influence over the political
decisions to come, because now they were capable to check and restrict the power of the
royal governor and also capable of initiating legislation. But often, things led to vigorous
confrontation between the governor’s interests and colonial assemblies.

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“Slavery in the United States” represents one of the darkest periods of American
history. Many of the American historians called the African American slaves as
unwilling immigrants, most of them (around 500.000 people, plus at least the same
number of African who died before reaching the American shores) being brought in the
17th and 19th century. This social category, rejected or wanted in some of the American
sates, represented the cause of the Civil War that ended with the devastation of the
Southern states and victory of the Union. Slavery was officially abolished in 1865.
The following chapters “Freedom of the American Press” and its Romanian
correspondent “Press in the Romanian Background” stand out through the decisive role
they had and have in the American and Romanian democratic society. For example, the
Constitution of America was not ratified by important states, like Virginia, unless an
extra document was added in order to state more accurately the individual freedoms,
especially the one concerning the freedom of expression by the press (later by media). In
Romania’s case, the press was under foreign political pressures even from its
beginnings.
One of the most important chapters of this paper is entitled “The History of the
U.S. Constitution” revealing the historical context in which the fundamental law of
America was drafted. What can be admired at this document is not the fact that it was
the most democratic constitution at that time or after several amendments were added;
its perfection resides from the simple aspect that it has continued longer than any other
written form of constitution up to the present day. It sought to fulfill the promises of the
Declaration of Independence (1776) based on the people’s will to be free and to develop
the talents given them by their Creator.
The next chapter that is simply entitled “American Suffrage” begins with the 18th
century and continues with the 19th century presenting the evolution of the right to vote.
On February 3, 1870 the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified allowing the citizens of the
United States to exercise their right to vote, excepting women (who were granted this
right only in 1920, with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment).
The chapter “Constitutional Attempts” that can be found in the second part of
this paper, briefly mentions and describes the former constitutional acts of the,

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eventually, democratic Romanian state. The most important ones are: The “Constituţia
Cărvunarilor” Petition, The Organic Regulations, The Paris Convention and the
Expanding Statute of the Paris Convention.
This chapter is followed by “The Early Signs of Romanian Democracy”. Here I
especially aimed at highlighting the process of modernization and democratization of the
Romanian society, through the double election in Walachia and Moldavia of the Prince
Alexander John Cuza. This period of time is marked by the introduction of political
pluralism (the emergence of liberalism and conservatism), of the electoral system,
separation of the powers etc. This chapter also comprises several analyses on the
Constitution of 1866, on the Constitution of Unification (1923), and a special passage
towards the monarchal authority (1938 – 1940) represented by King Carol II, entitled
“The Romanian Democracy in the Inter-War Context”. Then, the analysis goes further,
presenting the Constitution of 1938 and the Communist Constitutions.
The most significant chapter of the recent history of Romania is “The Romanian
Revolution of 1989”. It gives a short list of the causes and the consequences of the fall
of the totalitarian régime, represented by the unique party and the cult of personality,
and the instauration of the democratic structures and the integration in the international
Organizations.
The last chapter of both sections, “Personalities” is a particular one. It was
created in order to revive just some of the most important personalities belonging to both
the American and the Romanian political life, and not only. Important statesmen like:
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander John Cuza…; prime ministers:
Mihail Kogălniceanu…; or leaders of civil rights movement: Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Alice Malsenior Walker etc. are models for us due to their struggle in achieving equality
and justice among people, through the instauration and enforcement of a democratic
society.
In what concerns the last chapters, suggestively entitled “My America” and “My
Romania” these were dedicated to simple American and Romanian citizens coming from
different social positions. These were carefully chosen in order to provide an objective
point of view upon the issue of how democracy is perceived by ordinary people. The

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domains were randomly selected: the military domain, literature, non-political


organizations, high school, university etc.
As a conclusion I might say that the lesson of America is not always very well
understood, in the sense that many commentators refer to so many cases of
discrimination in American society (racism, misogynist views, etc.), or they refer to a
kind of dictatorship on the part of the administration and military (especially in the cases
of American involvement in the destines of other countries around the globe). All this
might be true. What I find most important to be understood from the American “lesson”
is that there the individual counts. No matter what we say, no matter how a man chooses
to live his life, his property, his intimacy, his right to self-determination, his right to
express his own feelings and thoughts count. The individual is taken into consideration.
At the same time, miraculously, no matter how many faults we might see at the
American way, no matter how deceiving the American Dream proved to be for many of
its inhabitants, on the 4th of July they celebrate their country, and their democracy.
We, Romanians, after the few attempts toward a democratic monarchic system
were plunged into communism, and neither of these two regimes favored the liberties of
the individual. The Romanian is used to be part of a mass, is used to be taken by
numbers, is used to not count. Here we may see that democracy is still not understood
enough. Neither the individuals, nor the leaders of the country consider that the
individual is the most important in the democratic process. Thus, property is not
respected, the individual’s right to self-determination and happiness is not respected, and
from here, the very concept of democracy is flawed. And, unfortunately, on the 1st of
December, we do not buy little flags and celebrate our country with parades and
fireworks, but are happy to have a day off to scrub our houses, or read, or do anything
else but rejoice in the gratitude of being citizens of Romania.

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