Democracy


Andy Carroll
July 8th, 1996

I. Meaning of Democracy
II. Summary of Places and Dates
III. Features of Democracy
IV. Types of Democracy
V. Early Democracy
A. Athens
B. Rome
VI. Middle Ages and England
VII. The Renaissance
A. United States of America
B. France
VIII. Modern Times
IX. Important People


Demos Kratia, or democracy, as it is used today, means ? the people
rule.? A democracy is a form of government is run by the people of that country
through elections and representation. A democracy is really a form of a republic
known as a democratic republic. A republic is a government where officials,
elected by a small group of people, make the important decisions.
Democracy has been around for almost 2500 years since Athens, Greece
became the first democracy. The Romans also experimented with democracy, however
it was more a republic, and not a democracy. Around 1200 England laid the
groundwork to become a republic. Later, in the 1700's, United States of America,
became a democracy.
There are many features of democracy. Most of these features are the
same, but individual countries use varations of the main ideas. The main feature
of democracy, which determines a true democracy, is free, competitive elections.
Sometimes however, women or minorities don't have the right to vote. Some of
these other features, such as checks on power, help to limit the strength of any
one person or party. Other features like free elections, and majority/ minority
rule, help to make elections fair, since the judgment of many people is
generally better then the judgment of a few people. Political parties keep one
government, or idea of government form holding all power. These features let the
people to govern themselves without the country being torn apart.
There are two true types of democracies, direct democracies, and
representative democracies. In a direct democracy all the people meet to discuss
problems and creat laws. A direct decision consults all the people for the
decisions.. Since that is unpractical in todays world, a new form of democracy,
the representative democracy has arisen. This form of democracy has elected
representatives making most of the day to day decisions, while the main groups
of citizens consulted for only the most important decisions.
One of the earliest known democracies was in Athens, a city-state in
southern, ancient Greece. Around 620BC, Athens became the first true democracy.
In Athens the ruler Draco tried to make many reforms in the city state. Draco
organized laws by putting them in a written code, letting everyone know what the
laws were and how they applied to everyone. He also gave the people the right to
a trial. The next ruler Solon, the next Athenian ruler also helped Athens become
a democracy. He also wrote many reforms into the laws and gave all citizens the
right to vote, an important step in the origins of democracy. Some of his
reforms created problems for other people, who wanted to become citizens. In
500BC, Athens looked like a modern democracy. The main lawmaking body was known
as the assembly, and all free male citizens could be in the assembly. The
assembly met about forty times a year to discuss and vote on the issues. The
council of 500, which was made of volunteers from all ten districts, helped
sort out the assembly's business. An even smaller council, a counsel of fifty
men, made the daily decisions of the city-state. The largest problem of Athens
democracy were that only a few of the people could become citizens, therefore
limiting the power to a small group. This problem caused many slaves, and other
non-landowners to be disappointed. Athens, no matter what the problems, was the
first true democracy.
Rome, around 500 BC, became a republic. A republic is not a democracy,
but is very similar to a democracy. In this republic, the elected officials only
represented a small fraction of the people. Some of the ideas Rome used, mainly
the practice of elected officials helped to shape the ideas of a representative
democracy.
In Rome, the wealthy people, the patricians, had much more power then
the poorer people, the plebeians. Despite the fact that the plebeians had very
little power, the fact that they had any power at all was a step foreword for
democracy. As a part of Romes government, there was a senate and two assemblies.
The senate, made up of senators, proposed laws and ratified treaties. The
Assembly of Centuries directed military members, and the Assembly of Tribes
represented all of the people. In theory the assembly would be made up of both
plebeians and patricians. However it was proved that the patricians were very
adept at controlling the plebeians and thus held all the