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Motivated by an interest in contemporary debates over global governance, this essay examines competing visions of accountability expressed in the U.S. ratification debates. Whereas the Federalists believed accountability and good governance would be best realized if citizens are kept at a distance from government, the Anti-Federalists believed republican accountability depends upon the active participation of diverse citizens, a type of participation that is undermined when government grows distant. These different perspectives challenge conventional oppositions between concentrated power and democratic legitimacy and between popular participation and effective government. They also illustrate how republican forms of accountability can serve conflicting agendas. Drawing from these debates can help clarify challenges faced today by those seeking to create global governance institutions that are both effective and legitimate.