The Rotten Republic

November 1, 1866


Many Radical newspapers expressed outrage after the Dispatch used the phrase "Rotten Republic." The Dispatch responds by saying, essentially, they don't care and go even further by saying the government of today should not even be considered a republic.


The "Rotten Republic."--We have been taken to task by certain of our Radical exchanges for the use of the above phrase as descriptive of the pretence of free government which prevails in this country. Of course it is a subject of sincere regret that we are unable to satisfy every one of the propriety of this language; but failing this, it is some consolation to know that we are satisfied ourselves. In all candor, we consider this as rotten a republic as that hideous travesty of free government which for five centuries illustrated the deepest depths of tyranny under the name of the Republic of Venice. You may call the thing a democracy--by many degrees the worst form of government ever devised--but it is a mere confusion of words to call it a republic. This is susceptible of easy demonstration, and we defy any who complain of it to us to give a definition of a republican form of government which will at the same time bear criticism and describe with any accuracy the existing political management of the United States.--Petersburg Index. Let us say what we will, somebody "goes one better," in the Ohio editor's phrase. Out friend of the Index has exhausted the subject.
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Nat Berry




“The Rotten Republic,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed February 1, 2023,