Front Page Titles (by Subject) Republicanism vs. Liberal Individualism - Literature of Liberty, October/December 1979, vol. 2, No. 4
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Republicanism vs. Liberal Individualism - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, October/December 1979, vol. 2, No. 4 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Republicanism vs. Liberal Individualism
“Republicanism Reconsidered: Some Thoughts on the Foundation and Preservation of the American Republic.” The Review of Politics 41(January 1979):61–95.
Contemporary scholars are beginning to see in the political thought of John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison a concerted effort to harmonize liberal democracy with republican political theory. That is, the founding fathers devised a system to join the republican ideals of “civic virtue” and of direct, political participation to the practical need for a representative government and the liberal ideal of economic individualism.
In this mixing of the liberal and the republican traditions, however, the founders lost sight of what it takes socially and politically to promote and sustain civic virtue and a sense of community. Their failure to address this matter weakened the republican tradition and progressively emphasized liberal democracy. The author argues that a representative system not rooted in an activist, virtuous citizenry fails to cultivate a sense of fellow-feeling among citizens who come to ignore concern for problems beyond their own. This type of mutual human concern is what is meant by civic virtue. In the absence of such civic concern, the citizens' government responds only to the narrow interest of individuals and not the broader interests of the community. In the American context, such a government may give itself over to economic liberalism or social liberalism, but it has thereby been transplanted from its republican roots.
Did the founders mean to create a republic? Yes and no. Yes, they saw their art of constitution making as being well within a republican tradition stretching from republican Rome to their own era. Yes, they sought to protect the element of civic virtue and responsibility necessary to republicanism and protect the citizens from governors corrupted by fame and ambition. But no, the founders discouraged the activist citizenry in the structure of government they chose. And no, even so ardent a republican as Jefferson could never clearly state whether the people should lead in governance or merely defend their rights and privileges. Of course, the first policy embraces republicanism; the second policy cultivates liberal democracy.
Some bibliographical items relevant to the issues of republicanism and individualism in the American political experience and history include: Louis Hartz, The Liberal Tradition in America (1955); J.G.A. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment (1975); Robert Horwitz (ed.), Moral Foundations of the American Republic (1977); H. Trevor Colbourn, The Lamp of Experience: Whig History and the Intellectual Origins of the American Revolution (1965); Gerald Stourzh, Alexander Hamilton and the Idea of Republican Government (1970; Zera Fink, The Classical Republicans (1945); David L. Jacobson (ed.), The English Libertarian Heritage: From the Writings of John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon in the Independent Whig and Cato's Letters (1965); and Caroline Robbins, The Eighteenth Century Common-wealthman (1959).