Hamilton on Democracy
The Founders knew that simple democracies implode. Emotional mobs and bare majorities hold too much sway in such governments.
By Tara Ross – June 21, 2023
On this day in 1788, Alexander Hamilton spoke in favor of the (then) newly proposed U.S. Constitution. The Founders were not trying to create a *pure* democracy, although that fact is too often forgotten today.
Why? Because the Founders knew that simple democracies implode. Emotional mobs and bare majorities hold too much sway in such governments.
The Constitution that Hamilton was defending achieves something better: It blends the best aspects of democracy with republicanism (deliberation and compromise) and federalism (state-by-state action). This blend allows us to be self-governing, even as our liberty is protected.
Hamilton’s full quote is here:
“It has been observed, by an honorable gentleman, that a pure democracy, if it were practicable, would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position in politics is more false than this. The ancient democracies, in which the people themselves deliberated, never possessed one feature of good government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure, deformity.”