Great land reformer!

For this blog I was looking for “Gracchi “land reform” “United States” and I was curious how Gracchi could be related to the US or vice versa?

In the article “The Antebellum American Textbook Authors’ Populist History of Roman Land Reform and the Gracchi Brothers”, author  McInnis, Edward points out how American books showed Tiberius Gracchus in different lights depending on a period of time. While during 18-19th centuries our country had slavery and Gracchi was a reformer who supposed to stop a free labor in Rome: “After 1830, these textbooks featured modified and abridged versions of the Gracchi episode for nineteenth-century readers, which cast Tiberius and Caius Gracchus in a favorable light…the Gracchi brothers as concerned with the rise of wealthy slaveholding patricians throughout Rome and the decline of small freeholders. Authors describe the Gracchi as individuals who wanted to provide land to poor Romans and support Rome’s “middle class” even though the patricians opposed this idea. They never characterize the Gracchi as demagogues.”


The audience for this article are American people, historians and of course, classics students in Brooklyn college)))

Correct MLA citation: 

Mcinnis, Edward. “The Antebellum American Textbook Authors Populist History of Roman Land Reform and the Gracchi Brothers.” Journal of Educational Media, Memory, and Society, vol. 7, no. 1, Jan. 2015.

Authors wanted to alert readers to threats to republicanism such as inequality and slavery, even if their history divided Americans.They reinforced the nineteenth-century idea of a republic founded on a middle class rather than the eighteenth-century idea of a republic reliant on elite citizens.

If to compare this article to the reading to fragments on Tiberius Gracchus, we can see that there are some similarities. At first, people thought about Gracchi as a good reformer: “The people showed favor to him {Gracchus}, not only when he took up the office, but when he was a candidate, and even before then. Upon his return from Sardinia, the people went out to meet him, and his landing from the boat was greeted with blessings and applause.  [25] Gracchus in his speeches to the people urged them to overthrow the aristocracy and establish a democratic government; and after winning the favor of all classes, he had them not only as supporters but even as instigators of his bold objectives. For every citizen, lured by the hope that the proposed laws would be in his own interests, was ready to risk any danger to ensure that they were adopted.”

But later everything changed when he started to lose supporters. People realize that he is a demagogue and half of the tribes turned against him: “Gracchus gave the lower classes power over the nobles, and by breaking the harmony that existed previously between the Senate and the equities, he made the populace a serious rival to both those classes. By setting all the classes at variance, he built up personal power for himself;” And in the article, it says: “TheUnited States president John Adams, for example, regarded Tiberius and Caius Gracchus as demagogues seeking to stir up the Roman masses in a bid to increase their own power in republican Rome.” which shows how American president as many other people were against Gracchi reforms and his ideas



One thought on “Great land reformer!

  1. This was a very interesting read, as it’s always interesting to learn about how times change the way we perceive things. Whereas before the Gracchi’s were seen a favorable light, later on, they were described as “demagogues” for stirring problems between the economic classes, and you elaborated this point really well with your quotes. Great job!


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