That form of government in which the sovereign power resides in and is exercised by the whole body of free citizens; as distinguished from a monarchy, aristocracy, or oligarchy. According to the theory of a pure democracy, every citizen should participate directly in the business of governing, and the legislative assembly should comprise the whole people. But the ultimate lodgement of the sovereignty being the distinguishing feature, the introduction of the representative system does not remove a government from this type. However, a government of the latter kind is sometimes specifically described as a “representative democracy.”
A commonwealth; a form of government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the general body of citizens, and in which the executive power is lodged in officers chosen by and representing the people, and holding office for a limited period, or at most during good behavior or at the pleasure of the people, and in which the legislative power may be (and in modern republics is) intrusted to a representative assembly. See Federalist, No. 39; Republic of Mexico v. De Arangoiz, 5 Duer (N. Y.) 636; State v. Harris, 2 Bailey (S. C.) 599. In a wider sense, the state, the common wealth, the whole organized political community, without reference to the form of government; as in the maxim interest reipulliear ut sit finis litium. Co. Litt. 303.
Author of AMERICA: The Grand Illusion
a quintet of books covering an 800 year history of America