Democratic Republican


The Democratic Republican Party was the creation of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison to oppose the federalist party. The key factor in this form of governing is: “Republicanism may be distinguished from other forms of democracy as it asserts that people have unalienable rights that cannot be voted away by a majority of voters.” (Wikepedia page for Republicanism in the United States) Jefferson expressed this ideal in two quotes which seem contradictory. “absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the MAJORITY.” ( And also, “though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate would be oppression.” ( These ideals were heavily reliant on a way of life that was most common and the time, Farming.

Jefferson in fact was fearful of the result of a more urban society. After seeing the ways of people in the cities of Europe he believed that farming was essential and that there was enough land for all to prosper. His belief in and practice of farming was a way of life for many of the founding fathers which makes the reading of “Barn Raising” by Daniel Kemmis so fitting.

Kemmis in his writing reflects on his childhood living and learning on a farm. Kemmis refers to the lessons learned in ways of working together and coming together politically to accomplish things that would benefit the community as a whole. A need for things to be accomplished outweighed the negative feelings people had for each other and the essential character trait became whether or not a person would show up to help.

Along with this idea of community and people working together the community was only possible if the people were strong and independent enough to get what they had to accomplish done and put forth effort for the whole. “Avoiding people you did not like was not an option. Everyone was needed by everyone else in one capacity or another.”(Barn Raising page 121) The essence of community that was learned in the farming way of life was important for people to learn the ways of cooperation and Democracy. Have we lost that knowledge in the great migration of people from country to city living which is the modern was of the greater majority of the world? Do we learn these lessons today?


In the article by “John Taylor Gatto” link above the answer in modern day is not that these issues were the result of cities but the result of children being raised separate from society. The learning done on a farm is the lessons of adulthood while working alongside adults. This is done in cities and in modern society, but not as often as it could. People must be taught the value of working together and to figure out what they can bring to the table for the greater good. The challenge we face in a democracy is to assure that we are all strong individuals willing to work together to accomplish great things. If we do we might call ourselves Democratic Republicans.barns_864Phoenix_Sky_Harbor_Rio_Salado 040

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6 Responses to

  1. zschilling says:

    Its not wonder why Jefferson was fearful of a more modern society. The values and work ethics one builds when faced with adversity and struggle is of most importance as children merge into adulthood. In today’s society everything is becoming more autonomous. New technology and inventions make our lives easier and lessen the struggles that were once faced in previous times. I like the link you have Incorporated into your post. “The Natural Child Project”. The author highlights the short comings in today’s education system as it relates to our youths upbringing. A interesting excerpt from “The Natural Child Project” was the fact that suicide rates are much higher among the rich than the poor. I think this due to the silver platter many may have been given. Even though many of these teens have more than others they cant handle school, stress, work or adversity in general as well as the poor do. This is due to the fact that they were never “taught” or better yet put into a position where they needed to fight their way out of. I think we have indeed lost the lessons and knowledge in the migration to country living to city living. However, with the modernization of technology i think that was inevitable. I don’t believe however that the migration is an excuse for why children today lack those core values and work ethic we once had. We can still instill these lessons and work ethics into our youth today. But major changes may be necessary.

    • Julio Partida says:

      I mean as much as I can agree with your position, I also feel that we are not actively equipped with the necessities to handle all of these new technologies in which we are dealing with. For the longest time children weren’t met with these expectations and technology has been only recently been gaining as much traction as it has been over the last 200 odd years. it was only a matter of time until the frustration of the lack of true connection becomes too much to handle.

  2. I thought it was appropriate of you to evoke Thomas Jefferson in your post, he above all is perhaps the most influential thinkers to have shaped the political thought of the United States. In my view, Thomas Jefferson was alike his dear friend Thomas Paine, in that he really embodies both strains of American political thought. Both the liberal and civic republican approach to democracy. Jefferson is responsible for authoring the declaration of independence, a manifesto of liberalism, in which he posits that unalienable rights are bestowed to each individual, and government arose from the people- and is not a gift provided to them. However he was writing in response to an oppressive foreign government that was not representative of the people it governed and did not allow them to participate in a meaningful way in the decisions and policies that affected their lives (a republican ethic). He was very much concerned about an overreaching federal government, for he placed a lot of pressure on his ally James Madison to include a bill of rights in the constitution, thus providing a written guarantee of rights to the individual that could not be taken away.
    You are correct in referencing his affirmation for unalienable rights as motivation for his founding of the democratic Republican Party. The formation of the party was in large his response to the infringement of these rights by President John Adams, with his passing of the sedition, alien, and naturalization acts. Jefferson opposed these laws because they provided the federal government with the power to prosecute individuals for “libelous speech” that was critical of the government and its representatives. Jefferson regarded this as a flat out negation of the first amendment, and a breech on liberal values. He also appealed to the liberal tradition when criticizing organized religion and rigid dogma. That being said, he is one of the few people to have a democratic tradition named after him (Jeffersonian democracy) and he would have been opposed to the excessive individualism found in the writings of Rand, with her excessive individualism and an extreme emphasis on individual rights and pleasures, which has led to “citizens” becoming selfish and egocentric

  3. alxtower says:

    You make a very good point with the article by John Taylor Gatto about how children are raised away from society. While children don’t need to be raised on farms to learn cooperation, it’s clear that they no longer see the value they can bring to a community. In “Barn Raising” Daniel Kemmis not only interacts with the other children in their community, but sees and understands why the families are working together. He also sees his mother working with their neighbor despite her distaste for his behavior. However, children today are taught that if they don’t agree or like someone, they don’t have to interact with them. While the community in “Barn Raising” was able to use the need to work together to survive as common ground, there is very little effort to find that common ground. As was mentioned in the other comment, while the modernization of technology is inevitable, we can still teach these lessons to our children, and actually use technology to do it. Technology allows us to easily connect with people not only in our community, but around the world. Using technology, we can have an open line of communication that allows us to keep searching for the middle ground that is needed in a successful society. Great post and awesome outside material!

  4. jfavila says:

    Very good post! Despite Jefferson’s fear of modern society I do believe that we need to keep moving forward. I feel like Paine’s ideas of how we can not return to the natural state are somewhat relevant. Just as we cannot go back to the natural state to go back to the state where most families were farmers would be too much of a setback. Technology and development into cities allowed our populations to grow further and at this point we cannot undo it. Technology is a double-edged sword, while it may separate us I feel if we utilized it correctly I believe people could still cooperate with each other. Social networking sites are an example of this. I think we just need to teach people not to be afraid to cooperate with each other and search for some common ground.

  5. christiesm says:

    Very interesting post. I really liked when you talked about the contradictions of Thomas Jefferson about the republican party, I never observed that before.
    I also really liked that fact you explain that the problem is not about being raised in a city or a farm, but the way people are taught when they are children. We really need to learn how to work together and understand the common good, but I think the modern society are forgetting about it and thinking more about themselves and maybe afraid to trust people.

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