The Evolution of Democracy: How America Has Changed Greece's Greatest Achievement

Essay by teejay89College, Undergraduate July 2007

download word file, 3 pages 4.0

Downloaded 22 times

Throughout the history of the world, most governments have been ruled through royalty, theocratic leaders, or oligarchs. However, in ancient Greece, many of the subdivided city states developed what they called demokratia, a system of voting controlled by the people of the city (Cartledge 1). The most famous of these democracies was, of course, Athens. Of course, the modern system of democracies can compare to the set up of Greece's democracies, but on a worldwide scale, with America holding the symbolic torch of modern democracies, with quasi-democratic countries bringing up the rear. Though the concept of democracy has remained largely the same since its inception, American democracy is much differently set up and used than Greek, or particularly Athenian, democracy. Nevertheless, without Athenian democracy, there would have been little basis for the Montesquieu-esque system adapted by America's Founding Fathers (Barr, Rankin, and Baird).

Though both democracies came about from times of turmoil, Athenian democracy underwent a much more tumultuous time during and after its establishment.

American democracy began quickly and efficiently, having had time to decide how to run the country. Within four years of the establishment of an actual government, a president had been elected, judges were being appointed, a constitution had been set up, and the Congress were setting in as legislators. Despite the set back of the rejection of the Articles of Confederacy in the 1790's, American democracy has undergone only one major coup towards its power in the Union, the bloody years of the Civil War. Athens, however, had bigger problems within its structure. After its acceptance in 508/7 B.C., Athenian democracy held strong until the 460s, when Ephialtes and Pericles created a more radical system that enabled mostly the poorest citizens to maintain strong political say in Athens (Cartledge 2). This created many enemies...