Founders of our constitutional republic studied Julius Caesar’s books, “The Gallic Wars” and “The Civil Wars,” to learn why ancient Rome’s republic failed, descending into civil war and becoming an imperial dictatorship.
Intriguingly, missing from Caesar’s books — written by one of world history’s greatest generals and statesmen — are their first and last pages that, like books today, would be the introduction and summation, saving for first and last those thoughts most profound.
While stoking my fireplace with old papers from the attic, our dog Teeny retrieved from the pile this forgotten scroll, which I purchased from an antiquarian in Petrizzi long ago, and have pried from Teeny’s furry jaws to share with readers of ANP:
“I, Julius Caesar, last night had a dream.
“I dreamed far across the sea, in the distant future, there would be a New World.
“I dreamed men of that New World, centuries from now, would look back to learn lessons from our successes and our mistakes so they could better govern themselves.
“Something called a ‘President’ would lead them in war and peace. Not an emperor or a king, the president’s powers would be limited by laws.
“The president would be elected to represent all the people by something called an ‘Electoral College.’ So even farmers, miners, cattle drovers and others living and working in often sparsely-populated provinces, doing jobs necessary to build and feed and sustain the great cities, would not become slaves to the urban masses.
“This thing called an Electoral College would make the president beholden even to the farmers and laborers living in remote provinces, doing hard jobs necessary for the cities to exist.
“The Electoral College is a safeguard against mob rule by the urban poor, and a safeguard against aristocratic rule by the urban rich.
“Whether urban rich or poor, the cities cannot feed or clothe or house themselves without products supplied to the populous cities by provinces that are far less populated, but indispensable to urban life.
“The Electoral College prevents dictatorship of the cities over the farmers, miners, cattle drovers and others who feed and sustain the cities, by giving them greater representation than their numbers.
“The beguiling principle, ‘One man, One vote,’ is unfair for electing a president who must represent all the people, when ‘One man, One vote’ means slavery for the provinces to the whims of the cities.
“I dreamed there was something called a ‘Congress’ that made the laws. And in this New World of the future, the laws must be obeyed by everyone, even the president.
“Senators and representatives in the Congress are popularly elected according to the principle ‘One man, One vote.’ But every province, no matter how small or sparsely populated, has two senators, as a safeguard against mob rule by a combination of the few, most populous provinces.
“So in the Senate, the interests of all the provinces are represented equally.
“But the Senate is balanced by a House, where representatives are popularly elected, and provinces with bigger populations get more representatives.
“So in the House, the popular will prevails.
“I dreamed there was something called a ‘Supreme Court’ to make sure laws passed by Congress and actions by the president are consistent with something called ‘the Constitution,’ designed to protect the rights of the people and delimit the powers of the state.
“Thus, in my dream, the government of this New World comprises the best of all the systems of government developed by Rome and Greece and the most brilliant philosophers of our time, the best of monarchy, and of our Roman republic and the Greek democracy, and of new systems we have not conceived — all ingeniously designed to check and balance each other.
“It is a machine designed to thwart tyranny of the elites and tyranny of the mob, and to give a voice to everyone.”
“A president! An Electoral College! A Congress! A Supreme Court! What great ideas!
“If we had these things in Rome, maybe we wouldn’t have mob rule. Maybe I wouldn’t have to fight this civil war.
“But my dream became a nightmare.
“The New World degenerated into bitter partisanship, quarreling and violence. Reason and probity were shouted down. Even academies rejected logic, tolerance and free exchange of ideas.
“In my nightmare, even the best-designed government could not save the nation from chaos when too many among the elites and among the people lacked virtue.
“And waiting to pounce on the New World like ravenous lions were tyrannies — barbarians worse than the Gauls and Parthians — eager to destroy and enslave free peoples.
“The lions leapt clawing, and I awoke with a cry.
“Was my nightmare really about today, and not the future? I cross the Rubicon tomorrow and into civil war.
“The Parthians are already attacking in the east.
“My friend and legate, Aulus Hirtius, tells me to stop dreaming or I will end up with a knife in my back.
“Must the world always be ruled by the sword? Does no one learn from history?”
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