Skip to comments.The Guarantee of a Republican Form of Government – Notes from the Convention of 1787
Posted on 01/28/2009 11:08:26 AM PST by Loud Mime
We have only one guarantee in our Constitution, found in Article IV Section 4, which reads:
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.
How did this come about?
Here are the notes from the Constitutional Convention concerning this matter:
Resol. 16.  That a Republican Constitution & its existing laws ought to be guarantied to each State by the U. States. 
Mr. Govr MORRIS thought the Resol: very objectionable. He should be very unwilling that such laws as exist in R. Island should be guarantied.
Mr. WILSON. The object is merely to secure the States agst dangerous commotions, insurrections and rebellions.
Col. MASON. If the Genl Govt should have no right to suppress rebellions agst particular States, it will be in a bad situation indeed. As Rebellions agst itself originate in & agst individual States, it must remain a passive Spectator of its own subversion.
Mr. RANDOLPH. The Resoln has 2. objects. 1. to secure Republican Government. 2. to suppress domestic commotions. He urged the necessity of both these provisions.
Mr. MADISON moved to substitute that the Constitutional authority of the States shall be guarantied to them respectively agst domestic as well as foreign violence.
Docr McCLURG seconded the motion.
Mr. HOUSTON was afraid of perpetuating the existing Constitutions of the States. That of Georgia was a very bad one, and he hoped would be revised & amended. It may also be difficult for the Genl Govt to decide between contending parties each of which claim the sanction of the Constitution.
Mr. L. MARTIN was for leaving the States to suppress Rebellions themselves.
Mr. GHORUM thought it strange that a Rebellion should be known to exist in the Empire, and the Genl Govt shd be restrained from interposing to subdue it. At this rate an enterprising Citizen might erect the standard of Monarchy in a particular State, might gather together partizans from all quarters, might extend his views from State to State, and threaten to establish a tyranny over the whole & the Genl Govt be compelled to remain an inactive witness of its own destruction. With regard to different parties in a State; as long as they confine their disputes to words, they will be harmless to the Genl Govt & to each other. If they appeal to the sword, it will then be necessary for the Genl Govt, however difficult it may be to decide on the merits of their contest, to interpose & put an end to it.
Mr. CARROL. Some such provision is essential. Every State ought to wish for it. It has been doubted whether it is a casus federis at present. And no room ought to be left for such a doubt hereafter.
Mr. RANDOLPH moved to add as  amendt to the motion; and that no State be at liberty to form any other than a Republican Govt
Mr. MADISON seconded the motion
Mr. RUTLIDGE thought it unnecessary to insert any guarantee. No doubt could be entertained but that Congs had the authority if they had the means to co-operate with any State in subduing a rebellion. It was & would be involved in the nature of the thing.
Mr. WILSON moved as a better expression of the idea, that a Republican form of Governmt shall be guarantied to each State & that each State shall be protected agst foreign & domestic violence.
This seeming to be well received, Mr. MADISON & Mr. RANDOLPH withdrew their propositions & on the Question for agreeing to Mr. Wilsons motion, it passed nem. con.
The republican government guarantee is the way the Federal gov’t has been able to insert itself into matters of state and local corruption. It’s why we see Fitzgerald going after Blago.
I appreciate your posts. Thanks.
One does not need arms to conduct a revolution...
People would read that, they’d go into a fit that ‘republican’ is capitalized. They fought for and established a republic, that is known among anybody that understands American history. I just think that capitalization should be carefully done so as not to make Liberal heads explode.
Republic form of government = republican
Republican = right-leaning political party
We were doomed to fail soon after Lincoln was assissinated.
Prior to that event, people used to say, “the United Staes are...”
After that event, people began to say, “the United States is...”
That’s the point when the States lost their power to the Federal government.
The only thing left is socialism or revolution!
"Of course, having a republican form of government doesnt mean that only republicans should hold office any more than a democracy would demand that only democrats should hold office; the guarantee refers to a type of national government."
Thanks for the ping.
We did need the new Constitution.
Have you read “The Summer of 1787?”
Those are the bare bones and I will have to get back into Washington Irving's Life of Washington, Vol IV. to firm up the details and time frame.
The Republican Form of Government Clause might be a proper Constitutional basis for going after local corruption, but in fact Congress has not passed any laws relying on that clause. The prosecution of Blago, and similar cases, are based on the mail fraud statute.
"The Whiskey Rebellion was an insurrection in 1794 by settlers in the Monongahela Valley in western Pennsylvania who fought against a federal tax on liquor and distilled drinks.
The ineffective government of the United States under the Articles of Confederation was replaced by a stronger federal government under the United States Constitution in 1788. This new government inherited a huge debt from the American Revolutionary War. One of the steps taken to pay down the debt was a tax imposed in 1791 on distilled spirits.
Large producers were assessed a tax of six cents a gallon. However, smaller producers, most of whom were farmers in the more remote western areas, were taxed at a higher rate of nine cents a gallon. These Western settlers were short of cash to begin with, and lacked any practical means to get their grain to market other than fermenting and distilling it into relatively portable distilled spirits. From Pennsylvania to Georgia, the western counties engaged in a campaign of harassment of the federal tax collectors. In the summer of 1794, George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, remembering Shays' Rebellion from just eight years before, decided to make Pennsylvania a testing ground for federal authority. Washington ordered federal marshals to serve court orders requiring the tax protesters to appear in federal district court in Philadelphia.
By August of 1794, the protests became dangerously close to outright rebellion and on August 7 several thousand armed settlers gathered near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Washington then invoked the Militia Law of 1792 to summon the militias of several states. A force of 13,000 men was organized, roughly the size of the entire army in the Revolutionary War. Under the personal command of Washington, Hamilton, and Revolutionary War hero Henry "Lighthorse Harry" LeeHenry Lee III ( January 29, 1756 March 25, 1818), American general, called Light Horse Harry was born near Dumfries, Virginia. His father was first cousin to Richard Henry Lee. With a view to a legal career he graduated ( 1773) at Princeton, but soon afte the army marched to Western Pennsylvania and quickly suppressed the revolt. Two leaders of the revolt were convicted of treason, but pardoned by Washington.
This response marked the first time under the new Constitution that the federal government had used strong military force to exert authority over the nation's citizens. It also was the only time that a sitting President would personally command the military in the field.
The whiskey tax was repealed in 1802, never having been collected with much success.
No. It looks good though.
I must disagree.
The form described and designed by the Founders was one that gave the States separation from many Federal actions. The 17th Amendment changed the forces and the interest in that matter, allowing government influence to grow.
In the old style, the feds would not get involved, or would have had a reason to do anything. The new senator would have been left to the Legislature.
There were still lots of Tories who had stayed instead of populating Canada.
...and the Southern States were worried of slave rebellions.
Nice link. Thanks.
Whoops! Forgot that.
Of course one of the key points in our history when it should have been necessary was "adoption" of the 16th.
You have expressed an extremely valid point most citizens do not understand.
As to where the nation strayed from a Republican form of government, I believe the answer is the Fourteenth Amendment. This single amendment essentially rewrote the Constitution. Supreme Court decisions based upon this amendment, particularly the "Incorporation Doctrine" adopted by the Taft Supreme Court in the mid-nineteen twenties, stripped states of the guarantee of a Republican form of government.
OK, you have me studying the 14th Amendment now. Several years ago some attorney claimed that it was changed from its original; he provided some records on the matter which I will have to find.
I see we are fellow Californians; what’s happening to our state???