Historian William Henry Chamberlain [1897-1969] would add that the twin evils of limitless bureaucracy and extortionate taxation took hold of the empire and rendered as its product a soft and idle citizenry [much like modern America]. He writes:
“The Roman populace was no longer in a mood to fight for its constitutional liberties; it was lulled to sleep by the time-honored method: panem et circenses [bread and games; sustenance and entertainment provided by government to appease public discontent]. So long as it received free food at public expense, and elaborate games and spectacles, it ceased to concern itself with public affairs.
“Private initiative disappeared; more and more the all-powerful imperial government was expected to look after everyone and attend to everything … The Roman populace was no longer in a mood to fight for its constitutional liberties.
“But Rome's fall came about not so much from any overwhelming pressure from without as from weaknesses and dry rot within, which finally made the decayed empire easy prey for the onrushing barbarians of the North.
“One may be sure that the Founding Fathers of the American Republic, if they were alive today, would be quick to note with alarm certain parallels between American and later Roman developments, notably the willingness to sell out individual rights and freedom and local autonomy for a mess of centralized statist pottage.
“For most of the Founding Fathers were among the most learned men of their time. The Federalist Papers and the preserved letters of Jefferson and John Adams, Franklin and Madison are full of references to the events and developments of classical times and to the lessons which should be drawn from these happenings of the past. Perhaps the most impressive of these lessons is the fatal folly of letting all power become concentrated in a single state authority.”
Canadian classical scholar W.G. Hardy [1895-1979] commented that political freedom in the Roman Empire was tossed away in the interests of peace, security and materialism. “There was the canker of slavery and the equally dangerous practice of keeping a segment of the population permanently on the dole.”