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Democracy in America

In Two Volumes

Alexis de Tocqueville

Publication Year: 2012

Published by: Liberty Fund

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi


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pp. ix-xiv

Translator’s Note

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pp. xxi-xxv

Key Terms

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pp. xxvi-xxvii

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pp. xxviii-xliii

“In this regard, you will pardon me, I hope, if I express a regret that I believe is general. You have pushed too far a scruple, otherwise very laudable, of not wanting to publish anything that had not absolutely received the final touch of the author. I know well the conscientiousness that caused our friend to present the expression of his thought to the public only after he ...

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Editor’s Introduction

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pp. xlvii-cxlix

“I have spoken and dreamed a great deal about what I have seen; I believe that if I had the leisure after my return, I would be able to write something passable on the United States. To embrace the whole in its entirety would be foolishness. I am incapable of aiming at a universal exactitude; I have not seen enough for that; but I already know, I think, much more than we ...

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Foreword to This Edition

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pp. cli-clix

Tocqueville is a classic, an author who meets Sainte-Beuve’s definition of a classic, by providing “a conversation for every instance, a friendship that does not fail and will never desert you, and that offers that familiar sensation of serenity and amenity which reconciles us, as we frequently need, with other men and ourselves.”1 As befits his status as a classic author, hundreds ...

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Volume 1

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pp. 1-2

In 1831, Messrs. Beaumont and Tocqueville received a mission from the French government for the purpose of going to the United States to study the penitentiary system there. They remained nearly one year in the United States. After returning in 1832, they published a work entitled: Of the Penitentiary System in the United States and Its Application to France. Since then, this work has been translated in its entirety ...

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Part I

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pp. 3-32

The work that you are about to read is not a travelogue,b . I do not want him to be concerned with me. You will also not find in this book a complete summary of all the institutions of the United States; but I flatter myself that, in it, the public will find some new documentation and, from it, will gain useful knowledge about a subject that is ...

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Chapter 1. Exterior Configuration of North America

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pp. 33-44

North America, in its exterior configuration, presents general features that are easy to distinguish at first glance. A kind of methodical order presided over the separation of land and waterways, mountains and valleys. A simple and majestic arrangement is revealed even in the midst of the confusion of objects and among the ...

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Chapter 2. Of the Point of Departure and Its Importance for the Future of the Anglo-Americansa

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pp. 45-73

A man is newly born; his first years pass obscurely amid the pleasures or occupations of childhood. He grows up; manhood begins; finally the doors of the world open to receive him; he enters into contact with his fellow men. Then, for the first time, you study him and think that the seeds of the vices and virtues of his mature years can be seen developing ...

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Chapter 3. Social State of the Anglo-Americans

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pp. 74-90

I will speak so frequently about the social state of the Anglo-Americans that, first and foremost, I need to say what I mean by the words social state. In my view, the social state is the material and intellectual condition in which a people finds itself in a given period. The social state is ordinarily the result of a fact, sometimes ...

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Chapter 4. Of the Principle of the Sovereignty of the People in America

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pp. 91-97

When you want to talk about the political laws of the United States, you must always begin with the dogma of the sovereignty of the people. The principle of the sovereignty of the people, which is more or less always found at the base of nearly all human institutions, ordinarily remains there as if buried. It is ...

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Chapter 5. Necessity of Studying What Happens in the Individual States before Speaking about the Government of the Union

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pp. 98-166

The following chapter is intended to examine what form government founded on the principle of sovereignty of the people takes in America, what its means of action, difficulties, advantages and dangers are.b A first difficulty arises: the United States has a complex constitution.You notice two distinct societies there, bound together and, if I can explain it ...

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Chapter 6.a Of the Judicial Power in the United States and Its Action on Political Societyb

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pp. 167-178

This chapter and the following one are not found in the copy read by friends and family, which suggests that they were included belatedly in the project. From the beginning of the voyage, Tocqueville, as a lawyer, showed a lively interest inhowthe American judicial power functioned. Notebook F of his travel notes is devoted exclusively to civil and criminal law in America (YTC, BIIa, and Voyage, OC, V, 1, pp. 296–335); and in ...

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Chapter 7. Of Political Jurisdiction in the United StatesTN4

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pp. 179-185

I understand by political jurisdiction the decision delivered by a political body temporarily vested with the right to judge. In absolute governments, it is useless to give judgments extraordinary forms. The prince, in whose name the accused is prosecuted, is master of the courts as of everything else, and he has no need to seek a guarantee ...

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Chapter 8. Of the Federal Constitution

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pp. 186-267

Until now I have considered each state as forming a complete whole, and I have shown the different mechanisms that the people put in motion there, as well as the means of action that they use. But all these states that I have envisaged as independent are, in certain cases, forced to obey a supreme authority, which is that of the Union. The time has come to examine the ...

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Part II

Until now, I have examined the institutions, I have surveyed the written laws, I have depicted the current forms of political society in the United States. But above all institutions and beyond all forms resides a sovereignpower, that of the people, which destroys or modifies institutions and forms as it ...

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Chapter 1. How It Can Be Strictly Said That in the United States It Is the People Who Govern

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p. 278-278

In America, the people name the one who makes the law and the one who executes it; the people themselves form the jury that punishes infractions of the law. Institutions are democratic not only in their principle, but in all their developments as well; thus the people name their representatives directly and generally choose them every year, in order to keep them more ...

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Chapter 2. Of Parties in the United States

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pp. 279-288

First I must establish a great division among parties. There are countries so vast that the different populations living there, though united under the same sovereignty, have contradictory interests that give rise to a permanent opposition among them. Then, the various portions of the same people do not form parties strictly speaking, but distinct ...

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Chapter 3. Of Freedom of the Press in the United States

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pp. 289-301

Freedom of the press not only makes its power felt over political opinions, but also over all of the opinions of men. It modifies not only laws, but also mores. In another part of this work, I will seek to determine the degree of influence that freedom of the press has exercised over civil society in the United States; I will try to discern the direction it has given to ideas, the ...

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Chapter 4. Of Political Association in the United States

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pp. 302-312

Of all the countries in the world, America has taken greatest advantage of association and has applied this powerful means of actiona to the greatest variety of objectives. Apart from permanent associations created by the law, known as towns, cities and counties, a multitude of others owe their birth and development ...

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Chapter 5. Of the Government of Democracy in America

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pp. 313-374

I know that I am walking here on fiery ground. Each of the words of this chapter must in some respects offend the different parties dividing my country. I will, nonetheless, express my whole thought. In Europe, we have difficulty judging the true character and permanent instincts of democracy, because in Europe there is a struggle between two ...

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Chapter 6a. What Are the Real Advantages That American Society Gains from the Government of Democracy?

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pp. 375-401

...[Before beginning this chapter I feel the need to explain myself. I do notWhen I speak generally about the advantages of {that a country can gainfrom} the government of democracy, I am not talking only about the gov-ernment that democracy has provided for itself in America, but about allEvery time that the government of a people is the sincere and permanent...

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Chapter 7. Of the Omnipotence of the Majority in the United States and Its Effectsa

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pp. 402-426

Before beginning the notes on this chapter, I want to make two general reflections: 1. Isn’t there a kind of contradiction between this chapter and the last paragraph of page 3 of the second volume, where the author expresses himself this way: “In the United States, as in all countries where the people rule, the majority governs in the name of the people. This majority is composed principally of a mass of men who, ...

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Chapter 8. Of What Tempers Tyranny of the Majority in the United States

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pp. 427-450

Previously I distinguished two types of centralization; one, I called governmental, and the other administrative.a Only the first exists in America; the second is almost unknown there. If the power that directs American societies found these two means of government at its disposal, and combined, with the right to command ...

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Chapter 9. Of the Principal Causes That Tend to Maintain the Democratic Republic in the United Statesa

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pp. 451-514

The democratic republicb survives in the United States. The principal goal of this book has been to make the causes of this phenomenon understood. The flow of my subject carried me, despite myself, close to several of these causes that I pointed out only from afar in passing. I could not deal with others. And those that I was allowed to expand upon have been left ...

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Chapter 10. Some Considerations on the Present State and Probable Future of the Three Races That Inhabit the Territory of the United States

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pp. 515-648

The principal task that I had set for myself has now been fulfilled; I have succeeded, at least as much as I could, in showing what the laws of the American democracy were; I have made its mores known. I could stop here, but the reader would perhaps find that I have not satisfied his expectation. You encounter in America something more than an immense and ...

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pp. 649-657

Here I am approaching the end. Until now, while speaking of the future destiny of the United States, I forced myself to divide my subject into various parts in order to study each one of them with more care. Now I would like to bring all of them together in a single point of view. What I will say will be less detailed, but more sure. I will see each object ...


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pp. 658-687

Title Page, Copyright, Volume II

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p. i-i


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pp. ix-xx

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Volume 2

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pp. xxi-689

To explain in the foreword. My principal subject is not America, but the influence of democracy on America. As a result, the only one of the four causes set forth above that I must dwell upon seriously and at length is the democratic. Perhaps not because it is the principal one (what I believe, moreover), but because it is the one that is most important for me to show. I must speak about ...

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pp. 690-695

The Americans have a democratic social state that has naturally suggested to them certain laws and certain political mores.c In civil society as in political society, these two points of departure explain nearly everything. And I must come back to that in a general way, either at the beginning ...

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First Part

The rough drafts indicate that in the beginning the first chapter included a large portion of the ideas that now constitute the following chapters: the taste for general ideas, general ideas in politics and certain considerations from chapter V on religion. Chapters VI and VII are not in the summary of chapters copied in notebook CVf, which suggests that they were included when the work of writing was already well ...

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Chapter 1a

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pp. 697-710

In the beginning, the organization of the first chapters probably must have appeared as follows: (1) A long chapter on philosophical method, including a certain number of ideas that were later moved or that formed independent chapters, like the one on pantheism, which now bears number 7. (2) The origin of beliefs among democratic peoples. (3) A chapter on religion. (4) The influence of philosophical method on the relations of ...

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Chapter 2a. Of the Principal Source of Beliefs among Democratic Peoplesb

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pp. 711-725

1.Without dogmatic beliefs there are no common ideas and consequently no common action; so they are necessary to society. 2. The individual can have neither the time nor the strength of mind necessary to develop opinions that are his own on all matters. If he undertook it, he would never have anything except vague and incomplete notions. So dogmatic beliefs are necessary ...

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Chapter 3.a Why the Americans Show More Aptitude and Taste for General Ideas Than Their Fathers the English

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pp. 726-736

God does not consider the human species in general. He sees at a single glance and separately all the beings who make up humanity, and he notices each of them with the similarities that bring each closer to the others and the differences that isolate each. So God does not need general ideas; that is to say he never feels the ...

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Chapter 4.aWhy the Americans Have Never Been as Passionate as the French about General Ideas in Political Matters

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pp. 737-741

I showed in the preceding chapter that equality of conditions suggestedto the human mind the taste for general ideas. I do not want to abandonthis subject without pointing out here in passing how the great liberty thatthe Americans enjoy prevents them from giving themselves blindly to thisI said before that the Americans showed a less intense taste than the...

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Chapter 5.a How, in the United States, Religion Knows How to Make Use of Democratic Instincts

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pp. 742-753

I established in one of the preceding chapters that men cannot do without dogmatic beliefs, and that it was even much to be desired that they had such beliefs. I add here that, among all dogmatic beliefs, the most desirable seem to me to be dogmatic beliefs in the matter of religion; that very clearly follows, even if you want to pay attention only to the interests of this world ...

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Chapter 6a Of the Progress of Catholicism in the United States

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pp. 754-756

America is the most democratic country on earth, and at the same time the country where, according to trustworthy reports,b the Catholic religion is Two things must be clearly distinguished. Equality disposes men to want to judge by themselves; but, from another side, it gives them the taste and the idea of a single social power, simple and the same for all. So men who ...

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Chapter 7. What Makes the Minds of Democratic Peoples Incline toward Pantheism

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pp. 757-758

I will show later how the predominant taste of democratic peoples for verygeneral ideas is found again in politics; but now I want to point out itsIt cannot be denied that pantheism has made great progress in our time.The writings of a portion of Europe clearly carry its mark. The Germansintroduce it into philosophy, and the French into literature. Among the...

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Chapter 8.a How Equality Suggests to the Americans the Idea of the Indefinite Perfectibility of Man

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pp. 759-762

Equality suggests several ideas to the human mind that would not have occurred to it otherwise, and it modifies nearly all those that the mind already had. I take for example the idea of human perfectibility, because it is one of the principal ones that intelligence can conceive and because it ...

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Chapter 9.a How the Example of the Americans Does Not Prove That a Democratic People Cannot Have Aptitude and Taste for the Sciences,Literature, and the Artsb

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pp. 763-774

It must be recognized that, among the civilized people of today, there are few among whom the advanced sciences have made less progress than in the United States, and who have provided fewer great artists, illustrious poets and celebrated writers.c Some Europeans, struck by this spectacle, have considered it as a natural ...

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Chapter 10.a Why the Americans Are More Attached to the Application of the Sciences Than to the Theoryb

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pp. 775-787

If the democratic social state and democratic institutions do not stop the development of the human mind, it is at least incontestable that they lead it in one direction rather than another. Their efforts, limited in this way, are still very great, and you will pardon me, I hope, for stopping a moment to contemplate ...

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Chapter 11.a In What Spirit the Americans Cultivate the Artsb

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pp. 788-795

I believe it would be wasting my time and that of my readers, if I applied myself to showing how the general mediocrity of fortune, the lack of superfluity, the universal desire for well-being and the constant efforts made by each person to gain well-being for himself, make the taste for the useful ...

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Chapter 12a Why the Americans Erect Such Small and Such Large Monuments at the Same Time

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pp. 796-799

I have just said that, in democratic centuries, the monumentsof arttendedto become more numerous and smaller. I hasten to point out theexceptionAmong democratic peoples, individuals are very weak; but the State,which represents them all and holds them all in its hand, is very strong.bNowhere do citizens appear smaller than in a democratic nation.Nowhere...

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Chapter 13.a Literary Physiognomy of Democratic Centuries

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pp. 800-812

When you enter the shop of a bookstore in the United States, and when you go over the American books that fill their shelves, the number of works appears very large, while that of known authors seems in contrast very small.b

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Chapter 14a Of the Literary Industry

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pp. 813-814

Democracy not only makes the taste for letters penetrate the industrial classes, it introduces the industrial spirit into literature. [In aristocratic centuries you often take literature as a career, and in the others as a trade.] In aristocracies, readers are particular and few; in democracies, it is less difficult to please them, and their number is prodigious. As a result, among ...

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Chapter 15a Why the Study of Greek and Latin Literature Is Particularly Useful in Democratic Societies

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pp. 815-817

What was called the people in the most democratic republics of antiquity hardly resembled what we call the people. In Athens, all citizens took part in public affairs; but there were only twenty thousand citizens out of more than three hundred fifty thousand inhabitants; all the others were slaves and fulfilled most of the functions that today belong to the people and even ...

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Chapter 16.a How American Democracy Has Modified the English Languageb

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pp. 818-829

If what I have said previously concerning letters in general has been well understood by the reader, he will easily imagine what type of influence the democratic social state and democratic institutions can exerciseonlanguage itself, which is the first instrument of thought. ...

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Chapter 17.

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pp. 830-842

On a page bearing the title of poetry in america, you read this first beginning of the chapter: “I often wondered while traveling across the United States if, amid this people exclusively preoccupied by the material cares of life [v: commercial enterprises], among so many mercantile speculations, a single poetic idea would be found, and I believed I recognized several of them that appeared to me eminently to have this character.” ...

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Chapter 18.a Why American Writers and Orators Are Often Bombasticb

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pp. 843-844

I have often noticed that the Americans, who generally treat matters witha clear and spare language devoid of all ornamentation,andwhoseextremesimplicity is often common, fall readily into bombast as soon as they wantto take up poetic style. They then appear pompouswithoutletupfromoneend of the speech to the other; and seeing them lavish images at every turn...

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Chapter 19.a Some Observations on the Theater of Democratic Peoplesb

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pp. 845-852

When the revolution that changed the social and political state of an aristocratic people begins to make itself felt in literature, it is generally in the theater that it is first produced, and it is there that it always remains visible. The spectator of a dramatic work is in a way taken unprepared by the impression that is suggested ...

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Chapter 20.a Of Some Tendencies Particular to Historians in Democratic Centuriesb

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pp. 853-860

Historians who write in aristocratic centuries ordinarily make all events depend on the particular will and the mood of certain men, and they readily link the most important revolutions to the slightest accidents. They wisely make the smallest causes stand out, and often they do not see the greatest ones. Historians who live in democratic centuries show completely opposite ...

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Chapter 21.a Of Parliamentary Eloquence in the United Statesb

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pp. 861-870

On the first page of a draft of the chapter: “This chapter is an attempt. It probably must be deleted” (Rubish, 1). Tocqueville adds in another place: “I believe that nothing must be said about this subject. Since eloquence of the pulpit, which is the most conventional, is modified by democracy, the mind is sufficiently struck by the power of the latter on all types of eloquence” (Rubish, 1). ...

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Second Part: Influence of Democracy on the Sentiments of the Americansa

After making known each flaw or each quality inherent in democracy, try to point out with as much precision as possible the means that can be taken to attenuate the first and to develop the second. Example. Men in democracies are naturally led to concentrate on their interests. To draw them away from their interests as much as ...

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Chapter 1.a Why Democratic Peoples Show a More Ardent and More Enduring Love for Equality Than for Libertyb

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pp. 872-880

The first and most intense of the passions given birth by equality of conditions, I do not need to say, is the love of this very equality. So no one will be surprised that I talk about it before all the others. Everyone has noted that in our time, and especially in France, this passion for equality has a greater place in the human heart every day. It has ...

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Chapter 2.a Of Individualism in Democratic Countries

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pp. 881-884

I have shown how, in centuries of equality, each man looked for his beliefs within himself; I want to show how, in these same centuries, he turns all his sentiments toward himself alone. Individualismb is a recent expression given birth by a new idea. Our fathers knew only egoism. ...

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Chapter 3. How Individualism Is Greater at the End of a Democratic Revolution than at Another Timea

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pp. 885-886

It is above all at the moment when a democratic society finally takes formon the debris of an aristocracy, that this isolation of men from each other,they are filled daily with men who, having reached independence onlyyes-terday, are intoxicated with their new power; these men conceive a pre-sumptuous confidence in their strength, and not imagining that fromthen...

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Chapter 4.a How the Americans Combat Individualism with Free Institutionsb

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pp. 887-894

Despotism, which, by its nature, is fearful, sees in the isolation of men the most certain guarantee of its own duration, and it ordinarily puts all its efforts into isolating them. There is no vice of the human heart that pleases it as much as egoism: a despot easily pardons the governed for not loving him, provided that they do not love each other.c He does not ask them to ...

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Chapter 5.a Of the Use That Americans Make of Association in Civil Lifeb

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pp. 895-904

I do not want to talk about those political associations by the aid of which men seek to defend themselves against the despotic action of a majority or against the encroachments of royal power. I have already treated this subject elsewhere. It is clear that, if each citizen, as he becomes individually weaker and therefore more incapable of preserving his liberty by himself alone, ...

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Chapter 6.a Of the Relation between Associations and Newspapersb

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pp. 905-910

When men are no longer bound together in a solid and permanent way, you cannot get a large number to act in common, unless by persuading each one whose help is needed that his particular interest obliges him to unite his efforts voluntarily with the efforts of all the others. That can usually and conveniently be done only with the aid of a ...

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Chapter 7.a Relations between Civil Associations and Political Associationsb

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pp. 911-917

There is only one nationc on earth where the unlimited liberty of associating for political ends is used daily. This same nation is the only one in the world where the citizens have imagined making continual use of the right of association in civil life and have succeeded in gaining in this way all the good things civilization can ...

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Chapter 8.a How the Americans Combat Individualism by the Doctrine of Interest Well Understood

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pp. 918-925

I showed in a preceding chapter how equality of conditions developed among all men the taste for well-being, and directed their minds toward the search for what is useful. Elsewhere, while talking about individualism, I have just shownhowthis same equality of conditions broke the artificial bonds that united citizens in aristocratic societies, and ...

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Chapter 9.a How the Americans Apply the Doctrine of Interest Well Understood in the Matter of Religion

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pp. 926-929

If the doctrine of interest well understood had only this world in view, it would be far from enough; for a great number of sacrifices can find their reward only in the other; and whatever intellectual effort you make to feel the usefulness of virtue, it will always be difficult to make a man live well ...

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Chapter 10.aOf the Taste for Material Well-Being in America

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pp. 930-934

In America, the passion for material well-being is not always exclusive, but it is general; if everyone does not experience it in the same way, everyone feels it. The concern to satisfy the slightest needs of the body and to provide for the smallest conveniences of life preoccupies minds universally. Something similar is seen more and more in ...

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Chapter 11.a Of the Particular Effects Produced by the Love of Material Enjoyments in Democratic Centuriesb

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pp. 935-938

You could believe, from what precedes, that the love of material enjoyments must constantly lead the Americans toward disorder in morals, disturb families and in the end compromise the fate of society itself. But this is not so; the passion for material enjoyments produces within democracies other effects than among aristocratic ....

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Chapter 12.a Why Certain Americans Exhibit So Excited a Spiritualismb

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pp. 939-941

Although the desire to acquire the goods of this world is the dominant passion of the Americans, there are moments of respite when their soul seems suddenly to break the material bonds that hold it and to escape impetuously toward heaven.c In all of the states of the Union, but principally in the half-populated regions of the West, you sometimes ...

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Chapter 13.aWhy the Americans Appear So Restless Amid Their Well-Being

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pp. 942-947

You still sometimes find, in certain remote districts of the OldWorld, small populations that have been as if forgotten amid the universal tumult and that have remained unchanged when everything around themmoved.Most of these peoples are very ignorant and very wretched; they are not involved in governmental affairs and often governments oppress them. But ...

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Chapter 14.a How the Taste for Material Enjoyments Is United, among the Americans, with the Love of Liberty and Concern for Public Affairs

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pp. 948-953

When a democratic Stateb turns to absolute monarchy, the activity that was brought previously to public and private affairs comes suddenly to be concentrated on the latter, and a great material prosperity results for some time; but soon the movement slows and the development of production ...

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Chapter 15.a How from Time to Time Religious Beliefs Divert the Soul of the Americans toward Non-Material Enjoymentsb

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pp. 954-962

In the United States, when the seventh day of each week arrives, commercial and industrial life seems suspended; all noise ceases. A profound rest, or rather a kind of solemn recollection follows; the soul, finally, regains self-possession and contemplates itself. During this day, the places consecrated to commerce and industry are ...

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Chapter 16.a How the Excessive Love of Well-Being Can Harm Well-Beingb

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pp. 963-964

There is more of a connection than you think between the perfection ofthe soul and the improvement of the goods of the body; man can leavethese two things distinct and alternately envisage each one of them; but hecannot separate them entirely without finally losing sight of both of them.Animals have the same senses that we have and more or less the same...

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Chapter 17.a How, in Times of Equality and Doubt,It Is Important to Push Back the Goal of Human Actionsb

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pp. 965-968

In centuries of faith, the final aim of life is placed after life. So men of those times, naturally and so to speak without wanting to, become accustomed to contemplating over a long period of years an unchanging goal toward which they march constantly, and they learn, by taking imperceptible steps forward, to repress a thousand small passing desires, ...

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Chapter 18a Why, among the Americans, All Honest Professions Are Considered Honorable

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pp. 969-971

Among democratic peoples, where there is no hereditary wealth, each man works in order to live, or has worked, or is born from people who have worked. So the idea of work, as the necessary, natural and honest condition of humanity, presents itself on all sides to the human mind. Not only is work not held in dishonor among these peoples, it is ...

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Chapter 19.a What Makes Nearly All Americans Tend toward Industrial Professions

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pp. 972-979

I do not know if, of all the useful arts, agriculture is not the one that im-proves most slowly among democratic nations. Often you would even saythat it is stationary, because several of the other useful arts seem to raceOn the contrary, nearly all the tastes and habits that arise from equalityI picture an active, enlightened, free man, comfortably well-off, full of...

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Chapter 20.aHow Aristocracy Could Emerge from Industry

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pp. 980-985

I showed how democracy favored the development of industry and immeasurably multiplied the number of industrialists; we are going to see in what roundabout way industry in turn could well lead men toward aristocracy. It has been recognized that when a worker is occupied every day only with the same detail, the general production of the ...

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Third Parta Influence of Democracy on Mores Properly So Called

After doing a book that pointed out the influence exercised by equality of conditions on ideas, customs and mores, another one would have to be done that showed the influence exercised by ideas, customs and mores on equality of conditions. For these two things have a reciprocal action on each other. And to take just one example, the comparatively democratic social state of European peoples in the XVIth century ...

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Chapter 1.a How Mores Become Milder as Conditions Become Equal

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pp. 987-994

We have noticed for several centuries that conditions are becoming equal, and we have found at the same time that mores are becoming milder.b Are these two things only contemporaneous, or does some secret link exist between them, so that the one cannot go ahead without making the other ...

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Chapter 2.a How Democracy Makes the Habitual Relations of the Americans Simpler and Easierb

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pp. 995-999

Democracy does not bind men closely together, but it makes their habitual relationships easier. Two Englishmen meet by chance at the far ends of the earth; they are surrounded by strangers whose language and mores they hardly ...

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Chapter 3.a Why the Americans Have So Little Susceptibility in Their Country and Show Such Susceptibility in Oursb

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pp. 1000-1004

The Americans have a vindictive temperament like all solemn and serious-minded peoples. They almost never forget an insult; but it is not easy to insult them, and their resentment is as slow to flare up as to go out.In aristocratic societies, where a small number of individuals directs everything, the external relationships of men with each other are subject to...

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Chapter 4.a Consequences of the Three Preceding Chapters

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pp. 1005-1006

When men feel a natural pity for each other’s misfortunes, when easy and frequent relationships draw them closer each day without any susceptibility dividing them, it is easy to understand that they will, as needed, mutually lend each other their aid. Whenan American asks for the help of his fellows, it is very rare for the latter to refuse it to him, and I have often observed ...

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Chapter 5.a How Democracy Modifies the Relationships of Servant and Master

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pp. 1007-1019

An American,b who had traveled for a long time in Europe, said to me one day: The English treat their servants with a haughtiness and with absolute manners that surprise us; but, on the other hand, the French sometimes use a familiarity with theirs, or reveal in their regard a courtesy that we ...

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Chapter 6.a How Democratic Institutions and Mores Tend to Raise the Cost and Shorten the Length of Leases

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pp. 1020-1024

What I said about servants and masters applies to a certain point to landowners and tenant farmers. The subject merits, however, to be considered separately. In America, there are, so to speak, no tenant farmers; every man owns the field that he ...

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Chapter 7.a Influence of Democracy on Salaries

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pp. 1025-1030

Most of the remarks that I made previously, when talking about servants and masters, can be applied to masters and workers.b As [<{conditions become equal}; as ranks blend and>] the rules of social hierarchy are less observed, while the great descend, the small rise and poverty as well as wealth ceases to be hereditary, you see the distance that ...

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Chapter 8.a Influence of Democracy on the Familyb

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pp. 1031-1040

I have just examined how, among democratic peoples, and in particular among the Americans, equality of conditions modifies the relationships of citizens with each other. Among nearly all the Protestant nations, young girls are infinitely more in control of their actions than among Catholic peoples. This independence is ...

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Chapter 9.a Education of Young Girls in the United States9

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pp. 1041-1047

There have never been free societies without morals, and as I said in the first part of this work, it is the woman who molds the morals. So everything that influences the condition of women, their habits and their opinions, has a great political interest in my view.c

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Chapter 10.a How the Young Girl Is Found Again in the Features of the Wife

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pp. 1048-1051

In America, the independence of the woman becomes irretrievably lost amid the bonds of marriage. If the young girl is less restrained there than anywhere else, the wife submits to the most strict obligations. The one makes the paternal home a place of liberty and pleasure, the other lives in the house of her husband as ...

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Chapter 11.a How Equality of Conditions Contributes to Maintaining Good Morals in America

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pp. 1052-1061

There are philosophers and historians who have said, or implied, that women were more or less severe in their morals depending on whether they lived farther from or closer to the equator. That is getting out of the matter cheaply, and in this case, a globe and a compass would suffice to resolve in an instant one of the most difficult problems that ...

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Chapter 12.a How the Americans Understand the Equality of Man and of Woman

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pp. 1062-1067

I showed how democracy destroyed or modified the various inequalities given birth by society; but is that all, and does democracy not succeed finally in acting on this great inequality of man and woman, which has seemed, until today, to have its eternal foundation in nature? I think that the social movement that brings closer to the same level the ...

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Chapter 13.a How Equality Divides the Americans Naturally into a Multitude of Small Particular Societiesb

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pp. 1068-1070

You would be led to believe that the ultimate consequence and necessary effect of democratic institutions is to mix citizens in private life as well as in public life, and to force them all to lead a common existence to mingle them constantly in the same pleasures and in the same affairs. Some of the legislators of antiquity had tried it and the Convention ...

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Chapter 14.a Some Reflections on American Manners

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pp. 1071-1079

There is nothing, at first view, that seems less important than the external form of human actions, and there is nothing to which men attach more value; they become accustomed to everything, except living in a society that does not have their manners. So the influence that the social and political state exercises on manners is worth the ...

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Chapter 15.a Of the Gravity of Americans and Why It Does Not Prevent Them from Often Doing Thoughtless Thingsa

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pp. 1080-1084

The men who live in democratic countries do not value those sorts of unsophisticated, turbulent and crude diversions to which the people devote themselves in aristocracies; they find them childish or insipid. They show scarcely more taste for the intellectual and refined amusements of the aristocratic classes; they must have something productive and substantial in ...

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Chapter 16.a Why the National Vanity of the Americans Is More Anxious and More Quarrelsome Than That of the Englishb

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pp. 1085-1088

All free peoples take pride in themselves, but national pride does not appear among all in the same manner. The Americans, in their relationships with foreigners, seem impatient with the least censure and insatiable for praise. The slightest praise pleases them, and the greatest rarely is enough to satisfy them; they badger you ...

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Chapter 17.a How the Appearance of Society in the United States Is at the Very Same Time Agitated and Monotonous

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pp. 1089-1092

It seems that nothing is more appropriate for exciting and feeding curiosity than the appearance of the United States. Fortunes, ideas, laws vary constantly there. You would say that immobile nature itself is mobile, so much is it transformed every day under the hand of man. In the long run, however, the sight of so agitated a ...

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Chapter 18.a Of Honor in the United States and in Democratic Societies

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pp. 1093-1115

It seems that nothing is more appropriate for exciting and feeding curiosity than the appearance of the United States. Fortunes, ideas, laws vary constantly there. You would say that immobile nature itself is mobile, so much is it transformed every day under the hand of man. In the long run, however, the sight of so agitated a ...

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chapter 19.a Why in the United States You Find So Many Ambitious Men and So Few Great Ambitionsb

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pp. 1116-1128

The first thing that strikes you in the United States is the innumerable multitude of those who seek to leave their original condition; and the second is the small number of great ambitions which stand out among this universal movement of ambition.c There are no Americans who do not ...

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Chapter 20.a Of Positions Becoming an Industry among Certain Democratic Nations

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pp. 1129-1132

In the United States, as soon as a citizen has some enlightenment and some resources, he seeks to enrich himself in commerce and industry, or he buys a field covered with forest and becomes a pioneer. All that he asks of the State is not to come to disturb him in his labors and to ensure the ...

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Chapter 21.a Why Great Revolutions Will Become Rarea

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pp. 1133-1152

A people who has lived for centuries under the regime of castes and classes arrives at a democratic social state only through a long succession of more or less painful transformations, with the aid of violent efforts, and after numerous vicissitudes during which goods, opinions and power rapidly ...

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Chapter 22.a Why Democratic Peoples Naturally Desire Peace and Democratic Armies Naturally Desire War

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pp. 1153-1164

The same interests, the same fears, the same passions that divert democratic peoples from revolutions distance them from war; the military spirit and the revolutionary spirit grow weaker at the same time and for the same reasons.b ...

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Chapter 23.a Which Class, in Democratic Armies,Is the Most Warlike and the Most Revolutionary

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pp. 1165-1169

It is the essence of a democratic army to be very numerous, relative to the people who furnish it; I will talk about the reasons further along. On the other hand, the men who live in democratic times scarcely ever choose the military career. So democratic peoples are soon led to renounce voluntary recruitment ...

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Chapter 24.a What Makes Democratic Armies Weaker Than Other Armies While Beginning a Military Campaign and More Formidable When the War Is Prolongedb

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pp. 1170-1175

Every army that begins a military campaign after a long peace risks being defeated; every army that has waged war for a long time has great chances to win: this truth is particularly applicable to democratic armies. In aristocracies, the military life, being a privileged career, is honored even in times of peace. Men who have great talents, great ...

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Chapter 25.a Of Discipline in Democratic Armies

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pp. 1176-1177

It is a very widespread opinion, above all among aristocratic peoples, that the great social equality that reigns within democracies makes the soldier independent of the officer in the long run and thus destroys the bond of discipline. It is an error. There are, in fact, two types of discipline that must not be ...

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Chapter 26.a Some Considerations on War in Democratic Societies

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pp. 1178-1186

When the principle of equality develops not only in one nation, but at the same time among several neighboring nations, as is seen today in Europe, the men who inhabit these various countries, despite the disparity of languages, customs and laws, are nevertheless similar on this point that they equally fear war and conceive the same love for peace.1 In vain does ...

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Fourth Part

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pp. 1187-1190

This is found in a jacket placed with the rubish of the chapter on material well-being (chapter 10 of the second part). The jacket bears this commentary: “How equality of ranks suggests to men the taste for liberty and for equality. Why democratic peoples love equality better than liberty. ...

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Chapter 1. Equality Naturally Gives Men the Taste for Free Institutions

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pp. 1191-1193

Equality, which makes men independent of each other, makes them contract the habit and the taste to follow only their will in their personal actions. This complete independence, which they enjoy continually vis-a`-vis their equals and in the practice of private life, disposes them to consider all authority with a discontented eye, and soon suggests to them the idea and the ...

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Chapter 2.a That the Ideas of Democratic Peoples in Matters of Government Naturally Favor the Concentration of Powersb

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pp. 1194-1199

The idea of secondary powers, placed between the sovereign and the subjects, presented itself naturally to the imagination of aristocratic peoples, because these powers included within them individuals or families that birth, enlightenment, wealth kept unrivaled and that seemed destined to command. This same idea is naturally absent from the minds of men in ...

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Chapter 3. That the Sentiments of Democratic Peoples Are in Agreement with Their Ideas for Bringing Them to Concentrate Powera

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pp. 1200-1205

If, in centuries of equality, men easily perceive the idea of a great central power, you cannot doubt, on the other hand, that their habits and their sentiments dispose them to recognize such a power and to lend it support.b The demonstration of this can be done in a few words, since most of the reasons have already been given elsewhere. Men who inhabit democratic countries, having neither superiors, nor ...

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Chapter 4

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pp. 1206-1220

If all democratic peoples are carried instinctively toward centralization of powers, they are led there in an unequal manner. It depends on particular circumstances that can develop or limit the natural effects of the social state. These circumstances are in very great number; I will only speak about a ...

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Chapter 5. That among the European Nations of Today the Sovereign Power Increases Although Sovereigns Are Less Stablea

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pp. 1221-1244

If you come to reflect on what precedes, you will be surprised and frightened to see how, in Europe, everything seems to contribute to increasing indefinitely the prerogatives of the central power and each day to make individual existence weaker, more subordinate and more precarious. The democratic nations of Europe have all the general and permanent ...

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Chapter 6. What Type of Despotism Democratic Nations Have to Feara

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pp. 1245-1261

I had noticed during my stay in the United States that a democratic social state similar to that of the Americans could offer singular opportunities for the establishment of despotism,b and I had seen on my return to Europe how most of our princes had already made use of the ideas, sentiments and ...

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Chapter 7.a Continuation of the Preceding Chapters

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pp. 1262-1277

I believe that it is easier to establish an absolute and despotic government among a [democratic] people where conditions are equal than among another, and I think that, if such a government were once established among such a people, not only would it oppress men, but in the long run it would rob from each of them some of the principal ...

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Chapter 8.a General View of the Subject

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pp. 1278-1285

Before leaving forever the course that I have just covered, I would like to be able to encompass with a last look all the various features that mark the face of the new world, and finally to judge the general influence that equality must exercise on the fate of men; but the difficulty of such an enterprise stops me; in the presence of such a great matter, I feel my sight fail and my ...


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pp. 1286-1294

Appendix 1

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pp. 1295-1302

Appendix 2

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pp. 1303-1359

Appendix 3

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pp. 1360-1364

Appendix 4

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pp. 1365-1367

Appendix 5

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pp. 1368-1372

Appendix 6

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pp. 1373-1376

Works Used by Tocqueville

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pp. 1377-1395


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pp. 1396-1430


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pp. 1431-1502

Acknowledgments, Production Notes

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pp. 1505-1506

E-ISBN-13: 9781614878834
E-ISBN-10: 1614878838
Print-ISBN-13: 9780865978409

Page Count: 1688
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: New Edition

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • United States -- Politics and government.
  • United States -- Social conditions -- To 1865.
  • Democracy -- United States.
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