Defining a Constitutional Republic

Called Unto Liberty, 19th Century Sermons, John Taylor

The government of the United States is what is called a republic. In a form of government of this kind the foundation of all law, power and authority is the voice or will of the people; that is the genius of the government. It is based upon a written constitution granting unto the legislature power to do thus and so, and to go no further; and while they who make and administer the laws confine them selves within the limits of that constitution, their acts are what is called constitutional. When they go beyond that, their acts are called unconstitutional, that is, they deprive the people of certain rights guaranteed to them by the written compact that they have entered into . . . .

If we—the people in this Territory, or in other Territories or in the States—confer certain powers on the General Government, we no longer retain them, they are ceded away by us to others. If we give to our legislators certain authority, they hold that authority, and it is for us to submit to the laws which may be enacted by them. This is what is called republicanism, and it is also in agreement with the theory of a limited monarchy. Whenever people give up certain rights they ought to honor the parties into whose hands they place them.

Source: John Taylor, 1872, Journal of Discourses, Volume 15, p. 212. John Taylor (November 1, 1808 – July 25, 1887) was the third president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1880 to 1887.

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