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Principles of Government
Guide: What Is Democracy?

These resources demonstrate what it means for a government to be democratic. Use these resources to explain to students what a democracy is and why the Framers wanted the United States to have a democratic government. Use the Export to My Lists button above to turn this into a research list for your students.

Theme Key Understandings

  • Societies need government to promote harmony, reduce conflict, and increase economic productivity
  • Governments come in many forms, including rule by one, rule by a few, and rule by many
  • Philosophical thought often influences a society's form of government
  • New political systems are shaped by emulating and opposing older systems of government
  • Founding documents are a result of compromise and the direct experiences of those drafting them
  • Democratic governments derive their power from the consent of the governed
  • Protection of individual rights and liberties is central to American democracy
  • Democratic governments strike a balance between majority rule and minority rights

Key Questions

  • Why were some of the classical societies drawn to democracy as a form of government?
  • How did the founders blend that democracy of the Greeks with the Roman Republic?


  1. Overview: What Is Democracy?
  2. Visuals: What Is Democracy? (Visual)
  3. Outline: Outline
  4. Transcript: Transcript
  5. Lesson: Introduction
  6. Lesson: 1-Pure Democracy
  7. Lesson: 2-Representative Democracy
  8. Lesson: 3-Consent of the Governed
  9. Lesson: Closing
  10. Glossary Terms: direct democracy
  11. Photos & Illustrations: Athenian democracy: men vote to ostracize citizen
  12. Reference Articles: Athenian Democracy
  13. Reference Articles: Consent of the Governed: U.S. Government
  14. Reference Articles: Representative Democracy
  15. Reference Articles: Democracy: United States
  16. Reference Articles: Declaration of Independence
  17. Political, Government & Court Documents: Tocqueville, Alexis de: Democracy in America (1835)
  18. Political, Government & Court Documents: Declaration of Independence (1776), excerpt
  19. Political, Government & Court Documents: U.S. Constitution (1787)

MLA Citation

"What Is Democracy?" History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2020, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Support/Content/2156119?cid=256. Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

Entry ID: 2156119

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