Our Roman Fathers

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I wrote this 250 word audition piece for a client and thought it topical, worth remembering, given the times.

Our Romanesque Fathers

The American Founders, well-versed in history, embraced ancient Rome, even taking Roman pen names like Washington’s Cincinnatus and Jefferson’s Cato. America’s symbol, the eagle, and the Capitol’s architecture are likewise borrowed from Rome. However, the Founders’ greatest influences are the lessons learned from the Roman Empire’s founding and demise. The U.S. Constitution was written with an eye toward both.

To Protect Against Tyranny

Like America, Rome emerged as a city state from war and tyranny. Its mythological creation from feuding Romulus and Remus, characterizes its founding, one geographically destined to emerge as powerful but warring with its strategic placement near seafaring passageways. The Punic War expansion both forged and destroyed the Empire.

Looking to Rome, the Founders inscribed Roman virtues–liberty and freedom–into America’s constitution, but wisely included safeguards to protect against a government subject to human weaknesses, like intoxicating power and greed. The U.S. Constitution conceived a Roman inspired tri-part government, a combined democracy, monarchy and aristocracy. Divided power among its branches ensured against tyranny, of which Rome served as warning.

For Survival of a Nation

The Founders learned from Rome’s eroding largesse and excess to foster, preserve and protect their budding nation. They knew Imperialist Rome’s downfall lay in its expansion wars, leaving unemployment, migration, venality, religious intolerance–and ultimately, tyranny.

The American constitution, both reactionary and visionary, founded a nation upon ideals–which defines its exceptionalism–not merely on geography, ethnicity and history. Rome served as its map, just as the U.S. Constitution mapped the American nation forward.