When the Framers gathered in Philadelphia, in the words of Lincoln Steffens, they “not only did not, but did not want to, establish a democratic government.”
In 1989, an Oregon Supreme Court Justice put it this way:
“(The Federalists) stood for government by accountable representatives, government with the consent of the governed, not by the governed. ‘Republican’ and ‘democratic’ were not synonyms.”
Such was to be expected, given America’s Architects’ reliance on the political philosophy of John Locke and his notion that, in both appointment and appropriation, the successful government needs protection from the governed.
As Locke saw it, those lacking actual participation in choosing their governors found ample protection in virtual representation, and, citizens who do not topple the government or leave the country had consented to follow all laws.
In America, application of Locke’s theories produced a federal government that barely deserved the label “popular.”
a) The various state legislatures selected the federal senate;
b) The Electoral College decided who would be President; and,
c) These two institutions, insulated from the people as it were, decided who would sit on the federal bench.
Only members of the House of Representatives – 1/6 of the federal government – held their seats due to popular appointment.
The federal government concerned itself with creating and protecting the national economy, leaving the niceties of democracy – who got to vote, what those votes meant, etc. – to the many states.
Granted, most, if not all, states initially reserved the right to vote to white, male landowners.
These same states, however, steadily liberalized their election laws. By the late
1800s, nearly every state operated under a constitution approved by referendum and every one of the forty-five (45) states elected its governor at the polls.
In 1874, America’s Supreme Tribunal refused to use the relatively-recently approved 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection to void a clause of the Missouri Constitution denying women the right to vote.
In 1898, the nation’s High Court, with minimal authority to support the position, declared that corporations were persons within the meaning of the 14th Amendment’s guarantees of equal protection, and, voided a Nebraska law limiting railroad rates.