Following the speech by P. Sulpicius Rufus, I oppose his idea of advocating for the distribution of the new citizens evenly among the thirty-five tribes that already exist for voting. On the contrary, I recommend the establishment of only eight new tribes that should be distributed evenly across the newly enfranchised zones. This will form the basis on which the new citizens will participate in general elections in Rome. This means that the current citizens will continue to vote in the thirty-five old centuries in which they are already enrolled, while the new ones will vote in the eight new tribes. Who knew that the new citizens, after being given citizenship in Rome, could organize revolts and end up killing our King?
Elections in the Roman Republic were an essential aspect of governance, whereby only Roman citizens were allowed to participate in the electoral process. Even though the Italian allies were given Roman citizenship based on Lex Julia, the law did not specify how the supporters were included in the political system of Rome. Rome’s allies were initially rebelling and giving them full rights, and they could gainsay in the parliament and take charge over different territories. Therefore, they could not take part in the political arena in the Roman Empire because they comprised the defeated individuals in the waged war between the Latins and other natives of Italy.
Furthermore, according to the legislation in Rome, an individual could acquire citizenship by birth. After the expansion of control by the Roman empire in Italy, those individuals who occupied the communities with Latin liberties and those in urban centers ran their local affairs independently, enjoying the rights granted to them by the government. The legislation means that even though the Italian allies were granted citizenship, they could not enjoy all the rights and freedoms of ordinary natives.
After the Italian partners obtained the voting rights, the threshold to vote was only associated with the richness one had because the assemblies already arranged the qualification merits in Rome. Therefore, it would be unfair to treat allies as ordinary citizens by enjoying the same rights, including voting, since the foreigners did not receive citizenship through birth. It is neither good to share birthright with a foreigner nor a good idea to adopt my people. Let us think of it in all dimensions, realize the truth, and avoid committing the same mistake as the King.
In addition, the Latin individuals who acquired full citizenship became residents in Rome and the franchise. According to the treaty signed by both parties, those who occupied the land generally did not enjoy the same freedoms as the ordinary natives. Yet, they were expected to participate in the military and were subjected to tax based on the treaty’s terms. The allies could be submissive to the nation’s governance that granted them nationality even though they were foreigners. Instead, most of them objected to paying taxes and serving in the Roman military without being given the rights of ordinary citizens. If they could have been confined to the eight tribes, wars could not emerge because it could be easy to control them.
It is worth noting from the announcements made by Rufus, that the Roman Empire unanimously decided to allow all unoccupied Italians to become Romans. Caeser worsened the situation by launching new territories and granting homage to the people from Gaul. Dear ladies and gentlemen, it is challenging to fight against individuals who have the same rights as you. The allies engaged in constant rebellions, and it was hard for the government to control them. Even though Rome defeated other cities, obtained countless prisoners, and converted them into bondservants who worked in towns and farms, the bondservant’s rebellion could have been contained by not giving the aliens citizenship.
Moreover, one of the citizenship provisions in the Roman Empire was that women should enjoy a limited form of liberation and could not become civil servants or participate in elections. At the same time, the women enjoyed the freedom to trade, personal property rights, and obtain a divorce, even though their civil rights changed with time. According to the fundamental principles in Rome, the men who were freed from slavery could not directly acquire citizenship and had limited privileges like vying for top positions in governance.
Their children could now obtain automatic citizenship by birth in Rome. Therefore, allowing these men and women to participate in the thirty-five geographical voting units would be a gross violation of the constitution. If the slaves were considered property and did not have legal personhood, how could they participate in governance matters and take part in the political environment? This is a question to meditate on as a wake call and shun the recommendations made by Rufus in his speech.
The interests of the aristocrats, centered in the domestic political climate of municipalities, often outshined the concerns of the diverse and alienated poor. At the same time, in some instances, those in power could pre-elect candidates for office. The contestants initially refrained from public speaking, even though they compensated for the wasted time through persuasion and issuing bribes later. In Rome’s general elections, the residents would vote for all public servants annually. Since the voting process was centered on wealth classes, allowing the new citizens to vote in the thirty-five units could be insignificant. In addition, those in power, in most cases, could pre-elect their candidates of choice. These acts are against human rights and democracy.
Voting was structured to be in descending order based on wealth and status. The juniors could cast their ballots first, after which their outcomes are announced before the vote of other centuries. The first-class and the equities were merged for ninety-eight ballots, and if they were in one accord, an aspirant would be announced as officially elected. Voting would be carried out among low-income individuals when a candidate is not gotten from the other group.
There is no mention of the allies in this structure. I am afraid I disagree with Rufus because it is evident that the votes from the stated geographical voting units would be announced first. Suppose the partners in the remaining eight zones vote or fail to vote. In that case, this could not affect the overall outcome, and also, by stating that, Rufus went against the stipulated structure provided for in the constitution.
The Romans decreed various legislations by which the individuals and cities who surrendered were awarded citizenship. Granting citizenship to those people who remained loyal did not mean that they were to enjoy the freedoms fully. They believed that they should receive fair treatment as Roman citizens, given that they had established linguistic and cultural associations with the Roman civilization. My good friends, what did they do in return? They engaged in a devastating war for the influence and status that came with it and the right to vote in Roman elections and pass laws. This could be avoided by treating them as foreigners and specifying their privileges and limits according to the law.
The Roman Empire was forced to adjust some of its legislation to accommodate foreigners. Imagine hosting foreigners, and eventually, you start negotiating with them. The rebellious allies planned a formal separation from Rome and reorganized the peninsula as its independent federation, having its capital. The Italian soldiers were battle-hardened, the majority of them serving in the Roman armies, and as a result, they were able to field one hundred and twenty thousand men. The Roman initiative focused on surviving the initial onslaught while simultaneously attempting to entice the Italians, who refrain from defection and then meet the threat of the revolts with troops. Fellow citizens, the rebellion causes an alarm for the safety of natives in their own country, and that is what I am against at all times.
The conquered colonies would be permitted to maintain the other territories to adhere to the treaty’s policies, averting any war outbreak against the allies. In addition, the duties of the supporters were to participate in the armed forces, and when needed, several well-furnished soldiers up to a given time of one year. Regardless of the heavy army obligations and lack of independence, the administration provided significant benefits for the socii. Most importantly, they were set free from their neighbors’ continual aggressive threats in the chaotic centuries. Similarly, the Roman partnership protected the peninsula from foreign aggression.
Conclusively, all allies remained fully independent with their administration, legislation, language, and currency. Practically, there were no revolts from new citizens, presumably because they equally benefited from the large amounts of warfare booty. I finish by stating that, while granting citizenship to the allies had been enough to authorize in practice, determining exactly how to enroll them in the Roman state was somewhat more contentious. The sources are not entirely clear, but it seems that the plan was to establish voting districts specifically for the citizens who would then be outvoted by the thirty-five tribes of the old citizens.