restricted access Chapter 9. Of the Principal Causes That Tend to Maintain the Democratic Republic in the United Statesa
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451 s4s4s4s4s4 c h a p t e r 9 Of the Principal Causes That Tend to Maintain the Democratic Republic in the United Statesa 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 behind as if buried under details. So I thought that before going further and speaking about the future, I had to gather together in a narrow scope all the reasons that explain the present. In this type of summary I will be brief, for I will take care to recall only very summarily to the reader what he already knows, and among the facts that I have not yet had the occasion to put forth, I will choose only the principal ones. I thought that all the causes that tend to maintain the democratic republicc in the United States could be reduced to three:d a. At first this chapter was the last in the book; the tenth was added later. Melvin Richter (“The Uses of Theory: Tocqueville’s Adaptation of Montesquieu,” in Essays in Theory and History, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1970,pp. 74–102) compares the method of Tocqueville in this chapter with that followed by Montesquieu in Esprit des lois. b. In the manuscript: “A large democratic republic . . .” c. The manuscript says: “. . . the large democratic republic . . .” d. ⫽Of the three causes the least influential is that of laws and it is, so to speak, the only one that depends on man. Peoples cannot change their position and the first 452 of the principal causes The particular and accidental situation in which Providence placed the Americans forms the first; The second results from laws; The third follows from habits and mores. Of the Accidental or Providential Causes That Contribute to Maintaining the Democratic Republic in the United Statese The Union does not have neighbors.—No large capital.—The Americans have had the good fortune of birth in their favor.— America is an empty country.—How this circumstance serves powerfully to maintain the democratic republic.—Manner in which the wilderness of America is populated.—Eagerness of the Anglo-Americans to take possession of the empty wilderness areas of the New World.—Influence of material well-being on the political opinions of the Americans. conditions of their existence. A nation can in the long run modify its habits and its mores, but a generation cannot succeed in doing so. It can only change the laws. [In the margin: But what can the best laws do without circumstances and mores?] Now, of the three causes that we are speaking about, the least influential is precisely that which results from laws. So not only does man not exercise power around himself, but he possesses so to speak none over himself and remains almostcompletelyastranger to his own fate⫽ (YTC, CVh, 4, p. 19). e. At first this part was entitled: What Tends {to Moderate the Omnipotence of the Majority in America} to Make the Democratic Republic Practicable in America. The first sentences of the initial draft show that this part was a continuation of thatonthetyranny of the majority: “⫽The causes that tend to moderate the omnipotence of the majority in the United States and to make the democratic republic practicable arise from the particular circumstances in which the country is or was, from laws and from mores.⫽” A note in the margin specifies: “⫽To put immediately after the omnipotence of the majority what serves more particularly as a counterweight to it and then what in general favors the republic, for the omnipotence of the majority, which is the greatest obstacle to maintaining republics, is not the only one.⫽” of the principal causes 453 There are a thousand circumstancesf independent of the will of men that make it easy to have the democratic republic in the United States. Some are known, others are easy to make known: I will limit myself to explaining the principal ones. The Americans do not have neighbors,g consequently no great wars, financial crisis, ravages, nor conquest to fear; they need neither heavy taxes nor a numerous army, nor great generals; they have almost nothing to fear from a plague more terrible for republics than all the others...


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