POLYAS Election Glossary

We provide explanations and background information on elections, voting rights and digital democracy


Republicanism is the overarching political philosophy in the United States. It opposes aristocracy, monarchy and corruption, placing greater emphasis on individual rights, liberty, property rights and investing sovereignty in “the people” as a whole.

Historical Roots

Based on Ancient Greek, Roman and Renaissance thought, the ideals of republicanism were the driving force behind the American Revolution. Throughout the 18th century in America, Britain was being viewed increasingly as a threat to American liberties and property rights. This growing sentiment culminated in the rejection of the authority of the King and Parliament of Britain to tax and impose legislation on Americans without them being represented in government. The anti-British mood was best summed up by the slogan “no taxation without representation”.

Post-Revolution United States

After the revolutionary war, the United States of America was founded and its constitution, based on the principles of republicanism, came into force in 1789. The US Constitution’s preamble provides a neat summary of the concept of republicanism in the US:

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

The Republic Party of the United States, one of the two major political parties operating today, takes its name from the philosophy of republicanism.

See also: Constitution, Republican Party, Bill of Rights

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