The idea that government needs to rest on the consent of the governed and work in the interest of the public at large. To some people in the 1770s, it invoked a way of thinking about leaders as autonomous, virtuous, public-minded citizens who placed civic values above private interest. For others, it suggested direct democracy, with nothing standing in the way of the will of the people. For all, it meant government that promoted the people’s welfare. The Anti-Federalists feared a national government led by distant, self-interested leaders who needed to be held in check. In the 1790s, these two conceptions of republicanism and of leadership would be tested in real life. And to a degree, these competing visions of leadership, diversity, democracy, and corruption still animate American public life today.