I hasten to point out that this was not a 'democracy' vs 'republic' issue, but about what would be the best use of class time, for the closing of a semester. I do not, in any way, think that those opposed to my view had any hidden agenda in their selections, and I'm confident that were only thinking about what would enable teachers to cover the most material best, in the little time available to them.
At any rate, at the close of the previous session I was asked to prepare a report on why republics should be considered in that time period, so that the work group could consider the matter better and decide at the next meeting.
The following is what I reported to our work group (and it is, BTW, very relevant to what is happening in our nation today), and I'll note how the vote turned out, at the close below:
I'll try to make three points about why both Republic and Oligarchy should be included:
The Italian City States have been, from their own time, up through ours, have been knowingly referred to as republics by everyone from Machiavelli (who we'll hear from below) to Sismondi, taking pride at their having overthrown external princely rule, and had become self governing. From "History of the Italian republics in the middle ages" by Sismondi, J.-C.-L. Simonde de (Jean-Charles-Léonard Simonde), 1773-1842:
- The Italian city states have always been referred to as Republics, while well aware that they were at one and the same time Oligarchies and Republics, terms which are not mutually exclusive
- Republic does not require public enfranchisement of voting, or even that votes be cast by individuals
- Choosing Oligarchy to the exclusion of Republic, means staying silent upon what might be the most important lesson students can learn about government from, and from this period almost more than any other in history
"The spirit of freedom had penetrated to the Papal See, and schism enabled the Romans to revolt and complete the municipal enfranchisement of Italy. From the Alps to the confines of the Northern Kingdom every little city rejoiced in its own republican government, and exhibited a narrow, and too often a selfish, local patriotism. "Having taken their government into their own hands, they experienced an explosion of wealth, prosperity and power, and yet soon succumbed and ceased being, in even their own eyes, self ruling. Why, is a question very much worth asking.