18 Apr 2022


United States In Light of ‘The Prince’

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The Prince is a book by the renowned Italian author Niccolò Machiavelli which was written back in 1513 but was only published about five years after the death of the author. The book was published in 1532 and was specially designed as a handbook for princes on how to acquire and retain power. The author also dedicated the book to Lorenzo Medici in a bid to gain favour in the eyes of the prince. 

The twenty-six chapter book puts into perspective various forms of leadership principalities that princes use to acquire and maintain the acquired power, (Machiavelli). The first form of acquiring of the power is the inheritance of power from a lineage of family rule. A prince was handed over power to rule the nation after the demise or incapacitation of the ruler at that time. The second form was of mixed principalities where existing territories gained traction by merging with other smaller territories. Strong territories used this form of leadership to expand their boundaries. The other form of acquiring power was through ones being supreme and bestowed to power owing to various efforts for instance by his people’s power, the extreme cruelty of through dubious criminal acts or even at times through civic elections. The last principality majorly majored on the Roman Catholic Church where the Pope was the supreme leader.

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Machiavelli in his argument displays a leader who conforms to the religious principals, and is of great power and cannot lose their seat in leadership whatever they do. These leaders might not defend the subjects, and despite this, they are not evicted from power. This notion happens to be Machiavelli’s definition of a safe and happy government. This, however, bringing into perspective this notion about the government in the United States may not be able to hold much water. America is a land that is majorly democratic and believes in the rule of law and is governed by the constitution 1 . 

The most important form of maintaining power according to Machiavelli is the use of efficient armies. These armies were categorised into four factions depending on its constituents. The first form of army involved the hiring of mercenaries to go and fight off competitors or the sitting ruler. This was, however, dangerous and undesirable as in most cases this method had little chances of success. The second method involved using of loaned military personnel from allied nations to come and fight for whoever wanted to clinch the helm of power. This was also unreliable as many rulers feared to make enmity between each other in case of failure in the attempt to overthrow the sitting government. The other method involved the use of native forces. This was an army constituted by the subjects within the nation hence was the most suitable as they were bound by loyalty to their princes. The last form of military combined both the effort of the native forces and mercenaries; however, this was not as efficient as the one with exclusively native soldiers. The American constitution also puts the ruler who is the President as the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. The troops, however, serve only in the interest and command of their nation. Also in the same way, whoever is constitutionally bestowed to power is unconditionally supported by the defence forces. The American army and seals employ the constitution of native personnel as citizens form the American army 2 .

The author also moulds the character to be emulated by any prince to maintain power. He suggests a mean, cruel leader who commands the subjects through fear being instilled in them. An ideal ruler must be cruel, stingy, a non-committed ruler who can disappoint the masses if whatever was promised does not work in his favour, encourage goodwill from his subjects, have wise advisors and engage in projects that boost and exalts them to be famous in the land. However, in the American context, the conduct of the president is drawn out in the Public Servants’ Act as he serves his constituents in the capacity of their ruler and he can only do so much in the jurisdiction of the law of the land. Also, the president to retain his power, he has to come up with satisfactory results to please the public since it is a democracy and one’s conduct can mean his success or failure in elections 3 .

There are two approaches to administering a realm. The principal includes a ruler and selected ministers. While the cabinet secretaries help oversee, everybody stays subservient to the sovereign. The second way includes a prince and nobles. Nobles are not delegated by the ruler, but rather they take advantage from their genealogy and have subjects of their own. Of both these situations, the sovereign is viewed as being considerably more grounded on the off chance that he utilises ruler since he is the main ruler in the nation.

Machiavelli also examines a regime that had a ruler assisted by ministers ruling various dockets in government. As a prince cannot control all the functions of government, he delegated duties to other members of the society to rule with him. This almost resembles the order of leadership in the American government. The president has cabinet secretaries who head various posts in government. Also with the provision of devolution of power, many small state governments run the main national government. However, according to the author, division of the main government into smaller regions in a way weaken the main governments as these small states might turn on the general rule of the land. He brings the picture into perspective by featuring the Turkish Sultan Kingdom which was divided into districts and rulers of these districts were appointed by the Prince, on the other hand, France had a prince whose right hand were noble rulers who were not under much influence of the Ruler. This meant the lords could turn against the prince at any given time 4 .

Machiavelli assembles his case through a blend of recorded cases and precise contention. The initial phase in his contention is to build up the terms and classifications that he will use to bode well out of a large number of various political circumstances that exist in an era. The obvious qualifications Machiavelli makes between various types of states—starting with territories and republics—are exceptionally compelling seeing that they empower him to present his thoughts unmistakably and briefly. Regardless of whether his classifications do equity to the intricacy of political history is an alternate question. Machiavelli makes an impression of unmistaken quality and common sense by introducing the world in straightforward, straight to the point characterised terms

In this way, the reason for government is not the benefit of the general population but rather the security of the state and the propagation of the setup ruler's control. Machiavelli does not fret about what goes ahead inside the state however what happens remotely. A fruitful ruler should dependably know about other forces that act externally and the danger of attack. An emphasis on power strategy and war-craft, to the detriment of local undertakings, is a particular component of Machiavelli's venture.

Therefore, to some extent, America and many states employ the art of leadership as portrayed by Machiavelli although in modern times they are enshrined in the constitution. Any leader will go through mountains and valleys to ensure they retain power but with the current constitution, the president is only allowed a maximum of two consecutive terms although many ensure the continuity of their regime by forming alliances through political parties. The difference with ‘The Prince’ is that now anybody can be at the helm of power without the necessity of having royal blood running through one’s veins and this is attributed to democracy.


Machiavelli, N. & Lotherington, J. (2017).  The Prince  (1st ed.). Laguna Hills: Race Point Publishing.

1 Machiavelli, Niccolo and John Lotherington. 2017.  The Prince . 1st ed. Laguna Hills: Race Point Publishing.

2   "Naturalization Through Military Service: Fact Sheet". 2017.  USCIS . https://www.uscis.gov/news/fact-sheets/naturalization-through-military-service-fact-sheet.

3 Stone, Geoffrey and William Marshal. 2017. "The Framers’ Constitution".  Democracy Journal . http://democracyjournal.org/magazine/21/the-framers-constitution/.

4 Machiavelli, Niccolo and John Lotherington. 2017.  The Prince . 1st ed. Laguna Hills: Race Point Publishing.

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