Some people prefer to say the U.S.A. is a republic. They are correct. According to James McHenry, one of Maryland’s delegates to the Constitutional Convention, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “What have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.“
In the late 1700s, when the U.S. Constitution was written, a republic was thought of as a system in which the government of the country is considered a “public matter.” This idea stands in contrast to the many absolute (or near absolute) monarchs of their day who saw countries as their private concern or property.
Excerpted from America: Democracy or Republic?
Image: Mercy Otis Warren. J.S. Copley. Not who B. Franklin spoke to, but an important historical figure on her own.
 From The American Historical Review, vol. 11, 1906, and the anecdote on p. 618 as recorded in https://www.bartleby.com/73/1593.html