Democracy, as it is used today, means “ the people rule.” A democracy is a form of government ruled by the people of the country through elections and representation. A democracy is really a form of republic known as a democratic republic. A republic is a government where officials elected by a small group of people that 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. During the first decades of our premature nations’ existence, it is hard to imagine that the United States would evolve to become such a great democracy.
A democracy others would prefer to believe with hypocrite reasoning. When the U.S. first won its independence it was a united group of people left to defend for themselves. This group was to become a nation and creating it involved more than winning independence from Great Britain. In 1783, the U.S. was a country forming in its premature stages. By 1787, this baby begins to develop, to become a nation. By 1787, people perceived that their constitution represented what the people desired the U.S. to be; well at least the Federalists presumed this. The Anti-Federalists watched for signs that threatened their republican principals for which they so recently had fought the American Revolution. After winning the war the unity and optimism among Americans did not translate easily or smoothly into the creation of a strong central government.
The Federalists and Anti-Feds were very opposed to each other’s views. By the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, a deep political division had occurred amongst the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. Anti-Federalists were mostly from the South, and were labeled Jeffersonian. Their label came from the fact that they defended slavery and third President, Thomas Jefferson, was known for owning herds of black slaves. Southerners held agreed with many of Jefferson’s views. The Anti-Feds and Republicans believed in strict interpretation of the constitution, peaceful foreign relations, and a reduction of the role of the federal government in the lives of average citizens. They were opposed to a strong central government and felt states should hold the power to govern. The Federalists believed that the constitution should be loosely interpreted and that America should follow the spirit of it to make laws and judgments.
Federalists wanted to organize the states so a strong federal power could govern over them in order to keep enough power for the economy, war and ruling. Many were opposed to this form of government because it so closely mimicked that of Great Britain. Between these two diverse groups, their followers split the nation. The United States was geographically split North from South. The North was home of manufacturers and industry. Farming was not the North’s economic base as was manufacturing. Crops would not grow year around due to freezing weather; therefore slaves were of no need during off-seasons in farming. Here, it was not economically safe or resourceful to own slaves, because of the fact that they were expensive to acquire and maintain. Since slaves were mostly used in manual labor, their use in the North was almost nonexistent.
Blacks were not used in factories for fear of them gaining knowledge and accessing power. In the South, large plantations and small farm owners used slaves for their manual labor of the fields and common household work. Not every household in the South owned a slave, as many people may believe. Only the wealthy could afford slaves. These slaves abducted from Africa were characterized and treated equivalent to animals by their owners. Since slaves were owned, they were property, and they were treated however their holders felt fit. This was a great threat to democracy because it went against what democracy supposedly stood for. Slavery, at the time, was disregarded in the constitution and therefore it can be concluded that the government ignored it.
There were greater threats to democracy during the first decades of U.S. independence that are far more important to the significance of the period. Americans held an optimistic view of the nation’s manifest destiny. The benefits and pitfalls that go hand-in-hand with a democratic society call for a fluid and amendable constitution. Nevertheless, the strengths outweigh the weaknesses as evidenced by the overall equitable conditions amidst the citizens, and the equal opportunities available to all.