Roman “Civil Republic” State Law – a “fixed body of statutes” designed to eliminate crime & secure private property rights

     This page is continued from Legal Precepts Adopted into U.S. Law from Europe:


Roman Law:

1. The legal system of the ancient Romans, forming the basis of the modern civil law. [1]

1. That law which comprehends the laws which prevailed among the Romans, without regard to the time of their origine.  The term is in a strict sense limited in its application to the laws of the Romans which prevailed until the compilation of the civil law under Justinian in 530 A.D.
     See Mackeldey’s Roman Law §§ 18, 20, 70. [2]

     Excerpt from Max Radin’s Handbook of Roman Law (1927):

     “The Roman law is the body of rules that governed the social relations of many peoples in Europe, Asia, & Africa for some period between the earliest prehistoric times & 1453 A.D., or even to the present time, & we might include America in the territory concerned… Yet the essential fact is that no present-day community…. consciously applies as binding upon its citizens the
rules of Roman law in their unmodified form.  That law is an historical fact. It would have only a tepid historical interest… if it were not for the circumstance that, before it became a purely historical fact, it was worked into the foundation & framework of what is called the civil law...” [4]

     Excerpt from Hans Julius Wolff’s Roman Law: An Historical Introduction (1951):

     “Roman law is not only the best-known, the most highly developed, & the most influential of all legal systems of the past; apart from English law, it is also the only one whose entire & unbroken history can be traced from early & primitive beginnings to a stage of elaborate perfection in the hands of skilled specialists.” [5]

n. (16c)

1. A system of government in which the people hold sovereign power and elect representatives who exercise that power.  It contrasts on the one hand with a pure democracy, in which the people or community as an organized whole wield the sovereign power of government, and on the other with the rule of one person (such as a king or dictator) or of an elite group (such as an oligarchy, aristocracy, or junta). — Abbr. Rep. — republican, adj. [1]

1. A country with a republican form of government. [2]

1. A form of government that derives all its powers from the people and is administered by elected representatives who hold their offices for a limited period of time.
     See governmental powers. [3]

republican form of government:

1. A government constructed on the principle that the supreme power resides in the body of the people. 
     See Chisholm v Georgia (US) 2 Dall 419, 457, 1 L Ed 440, 456.

A government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the people and which is administered by persons holding their offices for a limited period or during good behavior. 16 Am J2d Const L § 390.

Not to be confused with Republican Party.

Within the meaning of the provision of section 4 of article 4 of the United States Constitution that “the United States shall guarantee to every state in this Union a republican form of government,” the term signifies a government of a state of the Union which has been recognized by Congress as being a government republican in form. Pacific States Tel. Co. v Oregon, 223 US 118, 56 L Ed 377, 32 S Ct 224. [2]

     Excerpt from Robert A. Dahl’s A Preface to Democratic Theory (1956):

     “A republic is a government which

a.) derives all of the powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people and
b.) is administered by persons holding their office during 
pleasure, for a limited period, or during good behavior.” [6]

civil law:

1. One of the two prominent legal systems in the Western world, originally administered in the Roman Empire & still influential in continental Europe, Latin America, Scotland, and Louisiana, among other parts of the world; ROMAN LAW.   In reference to Romans, civil law denotes the whole body of Roman law, from whatever source derived.  But it is also used to denote that part of the Roman law peculiar to the Romans, as opposed to the common law of all peoples (jus gentium). — aka jus civile

2. The body of law imposed by the state, as opposed to moral law. 

3. The law of civil or private rights, as opposed to criminal law or administrative law. — Abbr. CL. [1]

     Excerpt from William Geldart’s Introduction to English Law (1984):

     “The difference between civil law… & criminal law turns on the difference between two different objects which the law seeks to pursue — redress or punishment. The object of civil law is the redress of wrongs by compelling compensation or restitution; the wrongdoer is not punished, he only suffers so much harm as is necessary to make good the wrong he has done.  The person who has suffered gets a definite benefit from the law, or at least he avoids a loss.  On the other hand, in the case of crimes, the main object of the law is to punish the wrongdoer; to give him & others a strong inducement not to commit the same or similar crimes, to reform him if possible, & perhaps to satisfy the public sense that wrongdoing ought to meet with retribution.” [7]

Origin of the Roman Civil Law:

     Draco (7th century BC) was the first recorded legislator of Athens in Ancient Greece.  He replaced the prevailing system of oral law & blood feud by a written code to
be enforced only by a court.

n. (17c)

1. Someone who makes laws within a given jurisdiction; a member of a legislative body. — aka lawmaker.  legislatorial, adj. [1]

     Draco was the first democratic legislator, inasmuch as he was requested by the Athenian citizens to be a lawgiver for the city-state, but the citizens were fully unaware that Draco would establish harsh laws— to which the term “draconian” would derive its name. [8]

     Solon, later within 7th century Rome, worked to reform the Draconian empire in order to give civilians power over their government.  As a legislator, he repealed all Draco’s laws except those relating to homicide; [7] he then inscribed new laws on large
wooden slabs or cylinders attached to a series of axles that stood upright publicly in the Prytaneion. [9]

     According to the Constitution of the Athenians, Solon legislated for all citizens to be admitted into the Ekklesia (an assembly or congregation— the church of Athens), [10] & for a court (the Heliaia) to be formed from all the citizens. [12]  The Heliaia appears to have been the Ekklesia, or some representative portion of it, sitting as a jury. [13]  By giving common people the power not only to elect officials but also to call them to account, Solon appears to have established the foundations of a true
republic. [14]  During his visit to Athens, Pausanias, the 2nd century AD geographer reported that the inscribed laws of Solon were still displayed by the Prytaneion. [15]

     Around 380 B.C., Plato wrote a famous Socratic dialogue called The Republic, also known as On Justice, which served to inspire the vision of a just republic to people around the world.  Here is the audiobook:

Republic vs. Democracy:

     Here is a brief video which explains why a republic, which contains a publicly-accessible “fixed body of laws” to which anyone can be held to account for, is thought to be superior to a “pure democracy,” which can be persuaded by media toward unjust ends, unbeknownst to the followers as has been done historically:


1. A law passed by a legislative body; specifically legislation enacted by any lawmaking
body, such as a legislature, administrative board, or municipal court.  The term act or legislation is interchangeable as a synonym. — Abbr. s.; stat. [1]

     Excerpt from William M. Lile et al., Brief Making & the Use of Law Books (1914):

     “[W]e are not justified in limiting the statutory law to those rules only which are promulgated by what we commonly call ‘legislatures’. Any positive enactment to which the state gives the force of a law is a ‘statute’, whether it has gone through the usual stages of legislative proceedings, or has been adopted in other modes of expressing the will of the people or other sovereign power of the state, in an absolute monarchy, an edict of the ruling sovereign is statutory law.  Constitutions, being direct legislation by the people,
must be included in the statutory law, & indeed they are examples of the highest form that the statute law can assume.  Generally speaking, treaties also are statutory law, because in this country, under the provisions of the united States Constitution, treaties have not the force of law until so declared by the representatives of the people. [16]

statutory law:

1. The body of law derived from statutes rather than from constitutions or judicial decisions. — aka statute lawlegislative lawordinary law. [1]

The “Democratic Republic”:

     Based upon the above definitions, here is a definition which perhaps more accurately describes what a “republican form of government” actually is:

     A system of government that is partially democratic in that every citizen may have a vote in order to elect officials,  each of whom represents a particular political party which promises to enact laws pursuant to their platform.  This ‘will of the people’ aspect of the republic is known as popular sovereignty, because the government is lodged with the traditional powers of ‘sovereign’ kings and lords (minus sovereign immunity, which does not exist in the United States).  A republic contrasts with a pure democracy in that legislators create a ‘fixed body of laws’ called statutes which are enforced via the Executive Branch through criminal proceedings (criminal law). These statutes, which must be written “pursuant to the constitution,” are designed to safeguard individuals from having their rights violated: legislators who enact illegal laws can be held accountable via the courts or administratively. The courts may also be accessed by citizens in order to prosecute officials who exceed their Constituiotnal Oath via violating the law including abusing their authority to violate peoples’ rights. [17]

The Antithesis of The Republic; The Empire:

     The opposite of a republican form of government is that of an empire, wherein a familial lineage maintains authoritarian control over its subjects, & one race or class is given dominion over other classes.  The founding of The U.S. was done in desperate attempt to escape such circumstance, while at the same time private merchants & empires sought to subvert the new government & claim it as their own.  Many people who were knowledgeable of history were skeptical of the democratic form of
government, in that a democracy because a nation could be persuaded to do unjust things, at which time an empire would have no trouble in conquering such a nation, as had happened historically time & time.


1. The jurisdiction of an emperor; the region over which an emperor’s dominion extends. [1]


1. The title of the sovereign ruler of an empire.

2. The chief of a confederation of states of which kings are members.  The rulers of the Roman world adopted the designation emperor after the fall of the republic. The title was later assumed by those — including Napoleon — who claimed to be their successors in the Holy Roman Empire.  The sovereigns of japan & Morocco are often called emperors, as were, in Western speech, the former sovereigns of Turkey and China.  The title denotes a power & dignity superior to that of a king.  It appears to be the appropriate style of the executive head of a federal government constructed on the monarchical principle & comprising several distinct kingdom or other quasi-sovereign states, as with the German empire from 1871 to 1918. [1]


1. The process of overthrowing, destroying, or corrupting <subversion of legal principles> <subversion of the government> [1]


Disclaimer: All material throughout this website is compiled in accordance with Fair Use.

[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations Third Edition by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.

[4]: Max Radin, Handbook of Roman Law 1 (1927)

[5]: Hans Julius Wolff, Roman Law: An Historical Introduction(1951)

[6]:  Robert A. Dahl, A Preface to Democratic Theory 10 (1956)

[7]: William Geldart, Introduction to English Law 146 (D.C.M. Yardley ed. 9th Ed. 1984)

[8]:  “Written in Human Blood: Draconian Laws and the Dawn of Democracy” by Theodoros II January 9,

[9]: Plutarch Solon 17 s:Lives (Dryden translation)/Solon#17

[10]: V. Ehrenberg, From Solon to Socrates: Greek History and Civilization, Routledge (1973) 71–72

[11]: Athenaion Politeia 7.3 s: Athenian Constitution#7

[12]: Aristotle Politics 1274a 3, 1274a 15

[13]:  Ostwald M. From Popular Sovereignty to the Sovereignty of the Law: Law, Society and Politics in Fifth
Century Athens (Berkeley 1986) 9–12, 35

[14]:  Hignett C. A History of the Athenian Constitution to the End of the Fifth Century B.C. (Oxford) University Press 1952) pages 117–118

[15]:  Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.18.3

[16]: William M. Lile et al., Brief Making & the Use of Law Books(Roger W. Cooley & Charles Lesley Ames eds., 3d ed. 1914)

[17]: Definition of “Democratic Republic” by Distance Everheart (Founder of Wild Willpower)


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