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Government & Democracy: Ancient and Modern

Give examples of the ways that ancient governments (Athens, Rome, Sparta, Persia, and other ancient societies) differ from modern American democracy.

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I will cover Athens, Republican Rome, and Carthage: Athens because it was the first democracy, Republican Rome because, despite its flaws, it was largely the model the founders used when writing the constitution, and Carthage, because it was not a democracy at all but an oligarchy somewhat along the Spartan model.

Athens is traditionally known as the first democracy. Whether that is true or not, it is certainly the earliest that we have any detailed records of:
- Was a direct democracy, meaning that leaders were directly elected by the popular vote of citizens and significant laws were voted on by the citizens. (Think New England town government and popular referendums for everything)
- American government is a representative democracy where the people elect representatives who then vote on most proposed laws
- Only citizens had the vote but there was a property qualification to be a citizen. In general, only landowners who were rich enough to equip themselves with the Hoplite panoply were citizens. Women, children, the poor, and slaves did not have the vote and were not citizens.
- America has universal suffrage now meaning that anybody citizen above the age of 18 can vote regardless of social station or wealth. That was not always so, initially only males could vote but women got the vote in 1920 with the 19th Amendment and freed slaves got the vote during reconstruction with the passage of the 14th Amendment to the constitution.
- There was a legal process to banish ...

Solution Summary

A comparison and contrast of three ancient governments with modern American governmental structure and practice.