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Over 2,000 years ago the Republic of Rome would implement a government that would come to influence the creation of the United States in 3 major ways. Some historians and political philosophers have even positioned the U.S as inheriting Rome’s power and influence.
There are 3 major influences of Republican Rome on the government of the United States of America. First, Republic Rome had a body of legislators that created laws also called the Senate. Second, during the Republic armies were under the command of the Senate and people of Rome. Third, the Late Roman Republic had a system of checks and balances between their two branches of Government
Each of these influences had a profound effect upon the founding fathers of the United States when they were creating the U.S government. Most of the founding fathers were well versed in the Latin texts of Cicero and Seneca for example.
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Without further ado, here are the 3 influences of Republican Rome on the U.S government.
Republican Rome Had A Body Of Legislators That Created Laws Also Called The Senate
One of the main influences of Republican Rome on the U.S government is the body of legislation that both governments share.
Both the Roman Republic and the U.S government have a Senate. This Senate serves to create and propose laws to the people of their nation.
The Senate of the Roman Republic would propose several hundred laws over the course of its Republican history. These proposals were not laws, rather they were called senatus consuitum or ‘advice from the Roman Senate.’
This advice would be read out in the Roman Forum where it could be heard by the Roman people. Anybody who was a Roman citizen could vote so long as they voted within their proper assembly.
Each Roman was grouped according to their status and location. As such the Roman people would be broken up into 3 assemblies; the Curiae, the Centuries, and the Tribes. These assemblies would vote upon laws to be passed.
Today in the modern United States there exists a similar legislative process. The U.S has the Senate and Congress. The Senate and Congress have the power to veto and create laws much like the government of the Roman Republic.
As such one of the primary influences of Republican Rome on the U.S Government was is the legislative bodies that exist in both governments.
In Republican Rome The Armies Were Under The Command Of The People and Senate of Rome
Another major influence of Republican Rome on the U.S government was the loyalty of the military to the people and Senate.
Up until the Marian Reforms of the late Roman Republic the military of the Roman Republic was subservient to the government of Rome. This prevented any ambitious general or politician from seizing power and attempting to take power by force.
Further, it allowed the military to become a tool of the government. Soldiers during peacetime would help to enforce laws or patrol the countryside.
This is why the banners carried by the Roman Legions held the acronym of SPQR. This stood for Senātus Populusque Rōmānus or “by the power of the Senate and People of Rome.”
Further, the government of the Roman Republic held the power to declare war and field an army.
Today the United States Government copies this power dynamic from the Roman Republic. The U.S military is controlled by the government of the United States and operates as an extension of the U.S government while being loyal to the people and government of the U.S.
For some people this might seem like a common occurrence of nations to have a military loyal to the government. However for much of history this was not true. During the middle ages armies were loyal to monarchs or even powerful knights.
As such one of the main influences of Republican Rome on the U.S government was the establishment of loyalty of the military to the government and people.
The Roman Republic Had A Series Of Checks And Balances Between There Two Branches Of Government
One of the main influences of Republican Rome on the U.S Government was the series of checks and balances Republican Rome had within its government.
Many people are not aware of how much power the Roman people had over their government. Most people assume that since the Romans existed over 2,000 years ago they were despotic.
Under the Roman Empire this was true as there was a dictator and Emperor. However for much of the history of the Republic there was an office of the tribune of the plebs.
In many regards the most powerful man in Rome during the Roman Republic was not the leader elected from among the Roman Senate. It was the Roman plebeian who held the office of tribunus plebis.
The Roman tribune was elected from among his peers, other plebeians, to serve one year. Every year another tribune would be elected to serve and had several powers.
The tribune of the plebs could call general assembly, propose legislation, intervene in Senatorial discussions, and most importantly they could veto legislation if the plebeians didn’t agree with it.
In theory the people of Republican Rome had the ultimate say in what laws or regulations were passed.
Today, this influence is seen in the series of checks and balances present in the U.S government. Ultimately the power of the U.S government comes from the people who in theory can veto any law they do not like and introduce their own.
As such one of the major influences of Republican Rome on the U.S government is the system of checks and balances that existed during the Roman Republic.
There you have it; an entire article going over the 3 influences of Republican Rome on the U.S government.
My entire masters thesis was done surrounding the identity and composition of the people of Rome, the populus Romanus. To this day we know very little about their power or if the Roman Republic was a democracy or an oligarchical Republic. Any prospective graduate students will find substantial material to pursue a graduate degree surrounding this.
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