yalandarose

August 2, 2011

History Influenced by the Ancient

Filed under: America — Tags: , , — yalandarose @ 2:27 pm

Chances are most Americans are at least remotely familiar with the role Confederate states played in US history. However, many of those same Americans may not be aware of how large an impact an ancient Turkish confederacy played in influencing The Constitution.

The latter alliance known as the Lycian Confederacy was a form of government unique in an era of barbarians.  Unlike Greece, continuously embroiled in civil wars, the peace-loving Lycians were one of the few non-Greek nations that could not be described as barbaric.  Lycia was located in what is today Turkey, and its government remained strong despite many attempts to overthrow it by foreign countries.  The Lycian Confederacy is the earliest democracy discovered by archaeologists and has been studied throughout the centuries by ancient scholars and explorers.

Elected officials were a distinctive feature of the Lycian government. How the country’s independent city-states were represented in the larger federal government was cited throughout the Federalist Papers justifying the need for a similar type of government in its appeal for a ratification of the Constitution.  Published in 1787 and 1788, the Federalist Papers was a series of 85 essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay.

Hamilton detailed in his essay Federalist No. 9 how Lycia’s 23 republics were represented in the larger City Council by a number of votes based on the size of that republic. In consecutive 1-2-3 fashion, the smallest republic was represented by 1 vote, the mid-sized represented by 2, and the largest was represented by 3, with a maximum representation of 3 votes by a republic to the Council.

It may be more than a coincidence that the number of times that the Lycian Confederation was mentioned in the Federalist Papers is the same as how many times it influenced the US Constitution. The three significant impressions the Lycian Confederation had on the Constitution were: illustrating how the strength of the federal government is dependent on the proportionate size of the local governments, showing the feasibility of a representative form of popular government, and providing evidence of a nation composed of leaders running a strong federal government with authority to make laws that were enforceable to the common people.

Hamilton described this once unique form of government in his essay Federalist No.9 by quoting philosopher Montesquieu, ‘Were I to give a model of an excellent Confederate Republic, it would be that of Lycia.

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