Influence of Ancient Greece on American Founding Fathers

The Greek Reporter article, “Influence of Ancient Greece on American Founding Fathers,” written by Maria Rybachuk, touches upon Ancient Greece’s weight on a national and state level of the United States government and national beliefs and practices that shape the country today. The founding fathers “learned many of the fundamental principles of freedom, democracy, and individual rights from the thinkers of Ancient Greece.” and this was clearly shown after the United States gained independence from Great Britain in 1776 and the birth of a new nation was in the making. After becoming an independent nation, the American founding fathers were unsure of the type of government they wanted to create, let alone how they would like the country to be run. The founding fathers decided to turn the past and settled on making a democracy based on Ancient Greece’s “democratic model of self-government.” With 13 colonies, or 13 states to control, the founding fathers were once again unsure of what to do and decided to consult the past political history of Ancient Greece. Rooted in the influence of the ancient Greek polis, or city-states, the founding fathers settled their bewilderment by creating local governments among the states and labeling the national government as the ‘higher’ government or ‘higher’ authority. Lastly, the American voting system was inspired by practices in ancient Athens, where only certain citizens were allowed to vote. This was shown in the United States when the only citizens able to vote were white and male at the beginning of the nation’s founding. Besides Ancient Greece’s influence on the United States national and state levels and the voting system, the Greek philosopher Aristotle helped shape America’s beliefs and practices, which are still firmly rooted and important today. The article mentioned two examples of Aristotle’s beneficial effect on America today. The first example is based on Aristotle’s belief called the rule of law, which highlights that no one is above the law, and everyone is held the same and equally accountable. The United States centers around the rule of law and makes decisions based on it. The second thing Aristotle influenced is the idea of having a constitution and documenting it because, in Ancient Greece, Aristotle documented the Greek constitution on scrolls of papyrus. This practice was translated into the founding fathers’ thoughts to create a document listing standard behaviors, rules, consequences for lawbreakers, and ways to receive justice. 

As a United States citizen and aspiring political or government figure, it is interesting to see the potent influence of Ancient Greece, specifically the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. This article shows us that we can not only learn from the past but also use history as guidance or a beacon of light in the dark and that history provides a strong foundation for later ideas used in generations to come – perhaps the birth of a new nation. While this article went into depth, it leaves me wondering if Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome influenced any other world governments and, if so, in what ways.

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