Beacon Lights of History, Volume 03

Beacon Lights of History, Volume 03
Ancient Achievements

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Beacon Lights of History, Volume 03 by John Lord

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1902

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Beacon Lights of History, Volume 03
Ancient Achievements

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Book Excerpt

for the cognizance of all matters before they were submitted to the higher court. Although the poorest and most numerous class were not eligible for office, they had the right of suffrage, and could vote for the principal officers. It would at first seem that the legislation of Solon gave especial privileges to the rich, but it is generally understood that he was the founder of the democracy of Athens. He gave the Athenians, not the best possible code, but the best they were capable of receiving. He intended to give to the people as much power as was strictly needed, and no more; but in a free State the people continually encroach on the privileges of the rich, and thus gradually the chief power falls into their hands.

Whatever the power which Solon gave to the people, and however great their subsequent encroachments, it cannot be doubted that he was the first to lay the foundations of constitutional government,--that is, one in which the people took part in legislation and in the election of rulers. The

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