September 15, 2022

A Republic, Not A Monarchy

By Glenn

The death of Queen Elizabeth II reminds me how lucky we are as Americans. We don’t have a monarchy. We have a Republic.  The American Republic belongs to all the people, not a single person.

Our Republic, however, owes much to the history of the English monarchy.  American constitutional history often traces its origins back to 1215. In that year English nobles forced King John to sign the Magna Carta.

This “Great Charter” was the first explicit limitation on monarchical power.  After 1215 English monarchs had to respect the privileges of nobleman and churchman.  For example, if the king accused the nobleman or a churchman of a crime, then the king had to present evidence before a jury.  Eventually that jury system expanded to include all Englishmen.

Another key event happened in 1641 when Charles I tried to arrest Members of Parliament. Charles led armed guards into Parliament to make the arrests.  The MPs, however, had already left the building and Charles left London empty handed and humiliated.

Eight months later Charles raised an army and declared war on Parliament. The English Civil War ended seven years later.  Parliament won and tried Charles for treason.  He was found guilty and executed.

This execution was a revolutionary act.  Before this trial, kings considered the kingdom as a piece of personal property.  Kings could never betray themselves.  Now, kings had to answer to Parliament.

Over the next 200 years Parliament placed more and more restrictions on the monarchy.  English monarchs learned their lesson.  If they broke the law, they faced removal from the throne and a death penalty.

Charles II signed into law the “writ of habeas corpus,” agreeing to show physical evidence to criminal suspects.  William and Mary agreed to an Act of Religious Toleration and Bill of Rights.  William IV and Queen Victoria expanded voting in Parliamentary elections for more men.  George V expanded suffrage to include women.

Gradually, people took power from monarchs in Great Britain.  Elizabeth II reigned peacefully for 70 years.  She learned her history.  The will of the voters matters more than the will of the monarch.

Unfortunately, the majority of Republicans have forgotten these lessons.  They have pledge their allegiance to one person, not the people.  

On January 6, 2021 Donald Trump incited his armed followers to storm the United States Capitol to overturn our election.  Like Charles I, Donald failed.  Like Charles I, Donald continues to incite and encourage violence against the majority of citizens in the United States of American.

I have no doubt the people will prevail.  Votes matter more than violence.  History is on the side of the people, not tyrants.

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