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This book an EXACT reproduction of the original book published before 1923. This IS NOT an OCR'd book with strange characters, introduced typographical errors, and jumbled words. This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide. We appreciate your understanding of the imperfections in the preservation process, and hope you enjoy this valuable book.

Out of Alexis de Toqueville's travels through the U.S. in the 1830's came an insightful study of a young democracy and its institutions.

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Editorial Reviews

<:st> Political philosophers Mansfield (government, Harvard U.) and Winthrop (constitutional government, Harvard U.) present a new translation<-->only the third since the original two-volume work was published in 1835 and 1840<-->aiming to restore the nuances of Tocqueville's language. Tocqueville himself was not satisfied with the 19th-century translation; the other, prepared in the late 1960s (Harper & Row), is cited in This translation is based on a recent critical French edition (Editions Gallimard, 1992). Mansfield and Winthrop provide a substantial introduction placing the work and its author in historical and philosophical context, as well as annotations elucidating references that are no longer familiar to readers. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Caleb Crain
Thanks to [Tocqueville's] prescience, a new edition of ''Democracy in America'' is always timely.
New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780865978409
  • Publisher: Liberty Fund, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/3/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition, English Edition
  • Pages: 1688
  • Sales rank: 606,783
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 3.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) was born in Verneuil, France. A historian and political scientist, he came to the United States in 1831 to report on the prison system. His experiences would later become the basis for his classic study Democracy in America.

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Read an Excerpt

Democracy in America

By Alexis de Tocqueville

University of Chicago Press

Copyright © 2003

University of Chicago
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-226-80536-0

Chapter One

On the Use That the Americans Make of
Association in Civil Life

I do not wish to speak of those political associations with 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 consequently more incapable in isolation
of preserving his freedom, does not learn the art of uniting with those
like him to defend it, tyranny will necessarily grow with equality.

Here it is a question only of the associations that are formed in civil
life and which have an object that is in no way political.

The political associations that exist in the United States form only a
detail in the midst of the immense picture that the sum of associations
presents there.

Americans of all ages, all conditions, all minds constantly unite. Not
only do they have commercial and industrial associations in which all take
part, but they also have a thousand other kinds: religious, moral, grave,
futile, very general and very particular, immense and very small;
Americansuse associations to give fetes, to found seminaries, to build
inns, to raise churches, to distribute books, to send missionaries to the
antipodes; in this manner they create hospitals, prisons, schools.
Finally, if it is a question of bringing to light a truth or developing a
sentiment with the support of a great example, they associate. Everywhere
that, at the head of a new undertaking, you see the government in France
and a great lord in England, count on it that you will perceive an
association in the United States.

In America I encountered sorts of associations of which, I confess, I had
no idea, and I often admired the infinite art with which the inhabitants
of the United States managed to fix a common goal to the efforts of many
men and to get them to advance to it freely.

I have since traveled through England, from which the Americans took some
of their laws and many of their usages, and it appeared to me that there
they were very far from making as constant and as skilled a use of

It often happens that the English execute very great things in isolation,
whereas there is scarcely an undertaking so small that Americans do not
unite for it. It is evident that the former consider association as a
powerful means of action; but the latter seem to see in it the sole means
they have of acting.

Thus the most democratic country on earth is found to be, above all, the
one where men in our day have most perfected the art of pursuing the
object of their common desires in common and have applied this new science
to the most objects. Does this result from an accident or could it be that
there in fact exists a necessary relation between associations and

Aristocratic societies always include within them, in the midst of a
multitude of individuals who can do nothing by themselves, a few very
powerful and very wealthy citizens; each of these can execute great
undertakings by himself.

In aristocratic societies men have no need to unite to act because they
are kept very much together.

Each wealthy and powerful citizen in them forms as it were the head of a
permanent and obligatory association that is composed of all those he
holds in dependence to him, whom he makes cooperate in the execution of
his designs.

In democratic peoples, on the contrary, all citizens are independent and
weak; they can do almost nothing by themselves, and none of them can
oblige those like themselves to lend them their cooperation. They
therefore all fall into impotence if they do not learn to aid each other

If men who live in democratic countries had neither the right nor the
taste to unite in political goals, their independence would run great
risks, but they could preserve their wealth and their enlightenment for a
long time; whereas if they did not acquire the practice of associating
with each other in ordinary life, civilization itself would be in peril. A
people among whom particular persons lost the power of doing great things
in isolation, without acquiring the ability to produce them in common,
would soon return to barbarism.

Unhappily, the same social state that renders associations so necessary to
democratic peoples renders them more difficult for them than for all

When several members of an aristocracy want to associate with each other
they easily succeed in doing so. As each of them brings great force to
society, the number of members can be very few, and, when the members are
few in number, it is very easy for them to know each other, to understand
each other, and to establish fixed rules.

The same facility is not found in democratic nations, where it is always
necessary that those associating be very numerous in order that the
association have some power.

I know that there are many of my contemporaries whom this does not
embarrass. They judge that as citizens become weaker and more incapable,
it is necessary to render the government more skillful and more active in
order that society be able to execute what individuals can no longer do.
They believe they have answered everything in saying that. But I think
they are mistaken.

A government could take the place of some of the greatest American
associations, and within the Union several particular states already have
attempted it. But what political power would ever be in a state to suffice
for the innumerable multitude of small undertakings that American citizens
execute every day with the aid of an association?

It is easy to foresee that the time is approaching when a man by himself
alone will be less and less in a state to produce the things that are the
most common and the most necessary to his life. The task of the social
power will therefore constantly increase, and its very efforts will make
it vaster each day. The more it puts itself in place of associations, the
more particular persons, losing the idea of associating with each other,
will need it to come to their aid: these are causes and effects that
generate each other without rest. Will the public administration in the
end direct all the industries for which an isolated citizen cannot
suffice? and if there finally comes a moment when, as a consequence of the
extreme division of landed property, the land is partitioned infinitely,
so that it can no longer be cultivated except by associations of laborers,
will the head of the government have to leave the helm of state to come
hold the plow?

The morality and intelligence of a democratic people would risk no fewer
dangers than its business and its industry if the government came to take
the place of associations everywhere.

Sentiments and ideas renew themselves, the heart is enlarged, and the
human mind is developed only by the reciprocal action of men upon one

I have shown that this action is almost nonexistent in a democratic
country. It is therefore necessary to create it artificially there. And
this is what associations alone can do.

When the members of an aristocracy adopt a new idea or conceive a novel
sentiment, they place it in a way next to themselves on the great stage
they are on, and in thus exposing it to the view of the crowd, they easily
introduce it into the minds or hearts of all those who surround them.

In democratic countries, only the social power is naturally in a state to
act like this, but it is easy to see that its action is always
insufficient and often dangerous.

A government can no more suffice on its own to maintain and renew the
circulation of sentiments and ideas in a great people than to conduct all
its industrial undertakings. As soon as it tries to leave the political
sphere to project itself on this new track, it will exercise an
insupportable tyranny even without wishing to; for a government knows only
how to dictate precise rules; it imposes the sentiments and the ideas that
it favors, and it is always hard to distinguish its counsels from its

This will be still worse if it believes itself really interested in having
nothing stir. It will then hold itself motionless and let itself be numbed
by a voluntary somnolence.

It is therefore necessary that it not act alone.

In democratic peoples, associations must take the place of the powerful
particular persons whom equality of conditions has made disappear.

As soon as several of the inhabitants of the United States have conceived
a sentiment or an idea that they want to produce in the world, they seek
each other out; and when they have found each other, they unite. From then
on, they are no longer isolated men, but a power one sees from afar, whose
actions serve as an example; a power that speaks, and to which one

The first time I heard it said in the United States that a hundred
thousand men publicly engaged not to make use of strong liquors, the thing
appeared to me more amusing than serious, and at first I did not see well
why such temperate citizens were not content to drink water within their

In the end I understood that those hundred thousand Americans, frightened
by the progress that drunkenness was making around them, wanted to provide
their patronage to sobriety. They had acted precisely like a great lord
who would dress himself very plainly in order to inspire the scorn of
luxury in simple citizens. It is to be believed that if those hundred
thousand men had lived in France, each of them would have addressed
himself individually to the government, begging it to oversee the cabarets
all over the realm.

There is nothing, according to me, that deserves more to attract our
regard than the intellectual and moral associations of America. We easily
perceive the political and industrial associations of the Americans, but
the others escape us; and if we discover them, we understand them badly
because we have almost never seen anything analogous. One ought however to
recognize that they are as necessary as the first to the American people,
and perhaps more so.

In democratic countries the science of association is the mother science;
the progress of all the others depends on the progress of that one.

Among the laws that rule human societies there is one that seems more
precise and clearer than all the others. In order that men remain
civilized or become so, the art of associating must be developed and
perfected among them in the same ratio as equality of conditions


Excerpted from Democracy in America
by Alexis de Tocqueville
Copyright © 2003
by University of Chicago.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Translator’s Note xxi Key Terms xxvi Foreword xxviii List of Illustrations xlv Editor’s Introduction xlvii

Volume 1
Introduction 3
Part I Chapter 1: Exterior Configuration of North America 33
Chapter 2: Of the Point of Departure and Its Importance for the Future of the Anglo-Americans 45
Reasons for Some Singularities That the Laws and Customs of the Anglo-Americans Present 71
Chapter 3: Social State of the Anglo-Americans 74
That the Salient Point of the Social State of the Anglo-Americans Is to Be Essentially Democratic 75
Political Consequences of the Social State of the Anglo-Americans 89
Chapter 4: Of the Principle of the Sovereignty of the People in America 91
Chapter 5: Necessity of Studying What Happens in the Individual States before Speaking about the Government of the Union 98
Of the Town System in America 99
Town District 103
Town Powers in New England 104
Of Town Life 108
Of Town Spirit in New England 110
Of the County in New England 114
Of Administration in New England 115
General Ideas on Administration in the United States 129
Of the State 135
Legislative Power of the State 136
Of the Executive Power of the State 139
Of the Political Effects of Administrative Decentralization in the United States 142
Chapter 6: Of the Judicial Power in the United States and Its Action on Political Society 167
Other Powers Granted to American Judges 176
Chapter 7: Of Political Jurisdiction in the United States 179
Chapter 8: Of the Federal Constitution 186
Historical Background of the Federal Constitution 186
Summary Picture of the Federal Constitution 191
Attributions of the Federal Government 193
Federal Powers 195
Legislative Powers 196
[Difference between the Constitution of the Senate and That of the House of Representatives]
Another Difference between the Senate and the House of Representatives 200
Of Executive Power 201
How the Position of the President of the United States Differs from That of a Constitutional King in France 204
Accidental Causes That Can Increase the Influence of the Executive Power 209
Why the President of the United States, to Lead Public Affairs,
Does Not Need to Have a Majority in the Chambers 210
Of the Election of the President 211
Mode of Election 218
Election Crisis 222
Of the Re-election of the President 225
Of the Federal Courts 229
Way of Determining the Jurisdiction of the Federal Courts 234
Different Cases of Jurisdiction 236
The Federal Courts’Way of Proceeding 241
Elevated Rank That the Supreme Court Occupies among the Great Powers of the State 244
How the Federal Constitution Is Superior to the State Constitutions 246
What Distinguishes the Federal Constitution of the United States of America from All Other Federal Constitutions 251
Of the Advantages of the Federal System in General, and of Its Special Utility for America 255
What Keeps the Federal System from Being within the Reach of All Peoples; And What Has Allowed the Anglo-Americans to Adopt It 263

Volume II Part II Chapter 1: How It Can Be Strictly Said That in the United States It Is the People Who Govern 278
Chapter 2: Of Parties in the United States 279
Of the Remnants of the Aristocratic Party in the United States 287
Chapter 3: Of Freedom of the Press in the United States 289
That the Opinions Established under the Dominion of Freedom of the Press in the United States Are Often More Tenacious than Those That Are Found Elsewhere under the Dominion of Censorship 298
Chapter 4: Of Political Association in the United States 302
Different Ways in Which the Right of Association Is Understood in Europe and in the United States, and the Different Use That Is Made of That Right 309
Chapter 5: Of the Government of Democracy in America 313
Of Universal Suffrage 313
Of the Choices of the People and of the Instincts of American Democracy in Its Choices 314
Of the Causes That Can Partially Correct These Democratic Instincts 318
Influence That American Democracy Has Exercised on Electoral Laws 322
Of Public Officials under the Dominion of American Democracy 324
Of the Arbitrariness of Magistrates under the Dominion of American Democracy 327
Administrative Instability in the United States 331
Of Public Expenses under the Dominion of American Democracy 333
Of the Instincts of American Democracy in Determining the Salary of Officials 340
Difficulty of Discerning the Causes That Lead the American Government to Economy 343
[Influence of the Government of Democracy on the Tax Base and on the Use of the Tax Revenues] 345
[Influence of Democratic Government on the Use of Tax Revenues] 346
Can the Public Expenditures of the United States Be Compared with Those of France 349
Of the Corruption and Vices of Those Who Govern in Democracy;
Of the Effects on Public Morality That Result from That Corruption and Those Vices 356
Of What Efforts Democracy Is Capable 360
Of the Power That American Democracy Generally Exercises over Itself 364
Of the Manner in Which American Democracy Conducts the Foreign Affairs of the State 366
Chapter 6: What Are the Real Advantages That American Society Gains from the Government of Democracy? 375
Of the General Tendency of Laws under the Dominion of American Democracy, and Of the Instinct of Those Who Apply Them 377
Of Public Spirit in the United States 384
Of the Idea of Rights in the United States 389
Of the Respect for the Law in the United States 393
Activity That Reigns in All Parts of the Political Body in the United States; Influence That It Exercises on Society 395
Chapter 7: Of the Omnipotence of the Majority in the United States and Its Effects 402
How the Omnipotence of the Majority in America Increases the Legislative and Administrative Instability That Is Natural to Democracies 407
Tyranny of the Majority 410
Effects of the Omnipotence of the Majority on the Arbitrariness of American Public Officials 415
Of the Power Exercised by the Majority in America over Thought 416
Effect of Tyranny of the Majority on the National Character of the Americans; Of the Courtier Spirit in the United States 420
That the Greatest Danger to the American Republics Comes from the Omnipotence of the Majority 424
Chapter 8: Of What Tempers Tyranny of the Majority in the United States 427
Absence of Administrative Centralization 427
Of the Spirit of the Jurist in the United States, and How It Serves as Counterweight to Democracy 430
Of the Jury in the United States Considered as a Political Institution 442
Chapter 9: Of the Principal Causes That Tend to Maintain the Democratic Republic in the United States 451
Of the Accidental or Providential Causes That Contribute to Maintaining the Democratic Republic in the United States 452
Of the Influence of Laws on Maintaining the Democratic Republic in the United States 465
Of the Influence of Mores on Maintaining the Democratic Republic in the United States 466
Of Religion Considered as a Political Institution, How It Serves Powerfully to Maintain the Democratic Republic among the Americans 467
Indirect Influence Exercised by Religious Beliefs on Political Society in the United States 472
Of the Principal Causes That Make Religion Powerful in America 478
How the Enlightenment, Habits, and Practical Experience of the Americans Contribute to the Success of Democratic Institutions 488
That Laws Serve More to Maintain the Democratic Republic in the United States than Physical Causes, and Mores More than Laws 494
Would Laws and Mores Be Sufficient to Maintain Democratic Institutions Elsewhere than in America? 500
Importance of What Precedes in Relation to Europe 505
Chapter 10: Some Considerations on the Present State and Probable Future of the Three Races That Inhabit the Territory of the United States 515
Present State and Probable Future of the Indian Tribes That Inhabit the Territory Possessed by the Union 522
Position That the Black Race Occupies in the United States; Dangers to Which Its Presence Exposes the Whites 548
What Are the Chances for the American Union to Last? What Dangers Threaten It? 582
Of Republican Institutions in the United States, What Are Their Chances of Lasting? 627
Some Considerations on the Causes of the Commercial Greatness of the United States 637
Conclusion 649
Notes 658
Volume III Part I: Influence of Democracy on the Intellectual Movement in the United States Chapter 1: Of the Philosophical Method of the Americans 697
Chapter 2: Of the Principal Source of Beliefs among Democratic Peoples 711
Chapter 3: Why the Americans Show More Aptitude and Taste for General Ideas than Their Fathers the English 726
Chapter 4: Why the Americans Have Never Been as Passionate as the French about General Ideas in Political Matters 737
Chapter 5: How, in the United States, Religion Knows How to Make Use of Democratic Instincts 742
Chapter 6: Of the Progress of Catholicism in the United States 754
Chapter 7: What Makes the Minds of Democratic Peoples Incline toward Pantheism 757
Chapter 8: How Equality Suggests to the Americans the Idea of the Indefinite Perfectibility of Man 759
Chapter 9: How the Example of the Americans Does Not Prove That a Democratic People Cannot Have Aptitude and Taste for the Sciences, Literature, and the Arts 763
Chapter 10: Why the Americans Are More Attached to the Application of the Sciences than to the Theory 775
Chapter 11: In What Spirit the Americans Cultivate the Arts 788
Chapter 12: Why Americans Erect Such Small and Such Large Monuments at the Same Time 796
Chapter 13: Literary Physiognomy of Democratic Centuries 800
Chapter 14: Of the Literary Industry 813
Chapter 15: Why the Study of Greek and Latin Literature Is Particularly Useful in Democratic Societies 815
Chapter 16: How American Democracy Has Modified the English Language 818
Chapter 17: Of Some Sources of Poetry among Democratic Nations 830
Chapter 18: Why American Writers and Orators Are Often Bombastic 843
Chapter 19: Some Observations on the Theater of Democratic Peoples 845
Chapter 20: Of Some Tendencies Particular to Historians in Democratic Centuries 853
Chapter 21: Of Parliamentary Eloquence in the United States 861
Part II: Influence of Democracy on the Sentiments of the Americans Chapter 1: Why Democratic Peoples Show a More Ardent and More Enduring Love for Equality than for Liberty 872
Chapter 2: Of Individualism in Democratic Countries 881
Chapter 3: How Individualism Is Greater at the End of a Democratic Revolution than at Another Time 885
Chapter 4: How the Americans Combat Individualism with Free Institutions 887
Chapter 5: Of the Use That Americans Make of Association in Civil Life 895
Chapter 6: Of the Relation between Associations and Newspapers 905
Chapter 7: Relations between Civil Associations and Political Associations 911
Chapter 8: How the Americans Combat Individualism by the Doctrine of Interest Well Understood 918
Chapter 9: How the Americans Apply the Doctrine of Interest Well Understood in the Matter of Religion 926
Chapter 10: Of the Taste for MaterialWell-Being in America 930
Chapter 11: Of the Particular Effects Produced by the Love of Material Enjoyments in Democratic Centuries 935
Chapter 12: Why Certain Americans Exhibit So Excited a Spiritualism 939
Chapter 13: Why the Americans Appear So Restless Amid Their Well-Being 942
Chapter 14: How the Taste for Material Enjoyment Is United,
among the Americans, with the Love of Liberty and Concern for Public Affairs 948
Chapter 15: How from Time to Time Religious Beliefs Divert the Soul of the Americans toward Non-material Enjoyments 954
Chapter 16: How the Excessive Love of Well-Being Can Harm Well-Being 963
Chapter 17: How, in Times of Equality and Doubt, It Is Important to Push Back the Goal of Human Actions 965
Chapter 18: Why, among the Americans, All Honest Professions Are Considered Honorable 969
Chapter 19: What Makes Nearly All Americans Tend toward Industrial Professions 972
Chapter 20: How Aristocracy Could Emerge from Industry 980
Volume IV Part III: Influence of Democracy on Mores Properly So Called Chapter 1: How Mores Become Milder as Conditions Become Equal 987
Chapter 2: How Democracy Makes the Habitual Relations of the Americans Simpler and Easier 995
Chapter 3: Why the Americans Have So Little Susceptibility in Their Country and Show Such Susceptibility in Ours 1000
Chapter 4: Consequences of the Three Preceding Chapters 1005
Chapter 5: How Democracy Modifies the Relationships of Servant and Master 1007
Chapter 6: How Democratic Institutions and Mores Tend to Raise the Cost and Shorten the Length of Leases 1020
Chapter 7: Influence of Democracy on Salaries 1025
Chapter 8: Influence of Democracy on the Family 1031
Chapter 9: Education of Young Girls in the United States 1041
Chapter 10: How the Young Girl Is Found Again in the Features of the Wife 1048
Chapter 11: How Equality of Conditions Contributes to Maintaining Good Morals in America 1052
Chapter 12: How the Americans Understand the Equality of Man and of Woman 1062
Chapter 13: How Equality Divides the Americans Naturally into a Multitude of Small Particular Societies 1068
Chapter 14: Some Reflections on American Manners 1071
Chapter 15: Of the Gravity of Americans and Why It Does Not Prevent Them from Often Doing Thoughtless Things 1080
Chapter 16: Why the National Vanity of the Americans Is More Anxious and More Quarrelsome than That of the English 1085
Chapter 17: How the Appearance of Society in the United States Is at the Very Same Time Agitated and Monotonous 1089
Chapter 18: Of Honor in the United States and in Democratic Societies 1093
Chapter 19: Why in the United States You Find So Many Ambitious Men and So Few Great Ambitions 1116
Chapter 20: Of Positions Becoming an Industry among Certain Democratic Nations 1129
Chapter 21: Why Great RevolutionsWill Become Rare 1133
Chapter 22: Why Democratic Peoples Naturally Desire Peace and Democratic Armies Natually Desire War 1153
Chapter 23: Which Class, in Democratic Armies, Is the Most Warlike and the Most Revolutionary 1165
Chapter 24: What Makes Democratic Armies Weaker than Other Armies while Beginning a Military Campaign and More Formidable When the War Is Prolonged 1170
Chapter 25: Of Discipline in Democratic Armies 1176
Chapter 26: Some Considerations on War in Democratic Societies 1178
Part IV: Of the Influence That Democratic Ideas and Sentiments Exercise on Political Society Chapter 1: Equality Naturally Gives Men the Taste for Free Institutions 1191
Chapter 2: That the Ideas of Democratic Peoples in Matters of Government Naturally Favor the Concentration of Powers 1194
Chapter 3: That the Sentiments of Democratic Peoples Are in Agreement with Their Ideas for Bringing Them to Concentrate Power 1200
Chapter 4: Of Some Particular and Accidental Causes That End Up Leading a Democratic People to Centralize Power or That Turn Them Away from Doing So 1206
Chapter 5: That among the European Nations of Today the Sovereign Power Increases although Sovereigns Are Less Stable 1221
Chapter 6: What Type of Despotism Democratic Nations Have to Fear 1245
Chapter 7: Continuation of the Preceding Chapters 1262
Chapter 8: General View of the Subject 1278
Notes 1286
Appendixes 1295
appendix 1: Journey to Lake Oneida 1295
appendix 2: A Fortnight in the Wilderness 1303
appendix 3: Sects in America 1360
appendix 4: Political Activity in America 1365
appendix 5: Letter of Alexis de Tocqueville to Charles Stoffels 1368
appendix 6: Foreword to the Twelfth Edition 1373
Works Used by Tocqueville 1376
Bibliography 1396
Index 1499

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2003

    Astute observer of America

    De Tocqueville was simply of one of the great social scientists writing about America and Democracy. From reading the book I deduced that De Tocqueville was a social scientist before Marx! He compares European culture and government with the fledgling culture and democracy he observes in America. He is very much impressed with what he sees taking place in America in the 1830's and hopes it will spread to Europe. He at first believed that America's prosperity was simply due to geography and their distance from powerful neighbors, he abandons this idea after his visit to America. He comes to realize that the West is not being peopled 'by new European immigrants to America, but by Americans who he believes have no adversity to taking risks'. De Tocqueville comes to see that Americans are the most broadly educated and politically advanced people in the world and one of the reasons for the success of our form of government. He also foretells America's industrial preeminence and strength through the unfettered spread of ideas and human industry. De Tocqueville also saw the insidious damage that the institution of slavery was causing the country and predicted some 30 years before the Civil War that slavery would probable cause the states to fragment from the union. He also the emergence of stronger states rights over the power of the federal government. He held fast to his belief that the greatest danger to democracy was the trend toward the concentration of power by the federal government. He predicted wrongly that the union would probably break up into 2 or 3 countries because of regional interests and differences. This idea is the only one about America that he gets wrong. Despite some of his misgivings, De Tocqueville, saw that democracy is an 'inescapable development' of the modern world. The arguments in the 'Federalist Papers' were greater than most people realized. He saw a social revolution coming that continues throughout the world today. De Tocqueville realizes at the very beginning of the 'industrial revolution' how industry, centralization and democracy strengthened each other and moved forward together. I am convinced that De Tocqueville is still the preeminent observer of America but is also the father of social science. A must read for anyone interested in American history, political philosophy or the social sciences.

    10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2003


    As a Junior in High School I can't begin to tell you how boring and difficult to read is this book. Could'nt Mr.Heffner have found a more to the point approach for those of us who HAVE to read this book?

    3 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2003

    Awesome! Insightful! Prophetic!

    This abridged version of the classic was so good that I got the full version which is over twice as long. However, this version does present the ideas well. The translation uses a bit outdated English but the positive side of that is that it reminds you when it was written, i.e. about 1840. It not only predicts current day problems but seems to point to the coming Civil War, the Mexican War and the trouble between labor and big business. Actually so many of the warnings have come to pass that I found myself wondering if we still have a republic.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2008

    Fantastic detail, interesting opinions and predictions, BUT A MISERABLE READ

    Alexis De Tocqueville paints an amazingly detailed and accurate picture of the early stages of America's political,social, and economic status. HOWEVER, as this is an ABRIDGED version, I'm sure that this version could've been much much much much more Ad Hoc. As a junior in high school reading this for the summer, I can tell you that this book is a horrifyingly boring read, not just because of its length and difficulty, but because its seemingly irrelevant detail which is given. If you're a history buff, you will MAYBE love this book. In my honest opinion, this book is best read in excerpts.

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2003


    One important thing to note is that America is not supposed to be a Democracy. America is a Republic. The founders were very specific when they spoke of the two. They were very weary of a Democracy (or mobocracy). The book isn't a bad read if you can get past that fact.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2001

    Tocqueville: Human Nature in American Democracy

    Toqueville's work unquestionably will last for as long as human nature remains the same. Certainly, it is diverting to read accounts about the topography and anachronistically idiosyncratic habits of the inhabitants of America over a century ago; the fundamental value of his work, however, lies in his understanding of human nature that does not change throughout time. More than most (if not all) writers on the American polity, he perceives how certain tendencies of human nature are revealed in the particular society founded upon practical wisdom, personal responsibility, self-reliance, and faith. Many of his disquisitions on these tendencies that could be accentuated in American democracy are now more thought-provoking than ever. One prominent example is his intuitive grasp of a challenge to Americans. He shows famously how they are practical and intent upon getting things done by combining in 'societies.' A problem could occur if ever the citizens in general become selfish and much less self-reliant: 'individualism' could arise. He articulates a bleak portrait of a society in which none care to take personal responsibility, but are willing to sacrifice freedom for temporary security. This is disquieting for modern society, and it would be well were more people to read his work and learn from it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2012

    This one won't open on my Nook Color.

    When I try to open the book, I get an error dialog that says, "Sorry, cannot open this book." Well, I'm sorry, but I can't recommend what I can't read. I highly recommend "Democracy in America", just not this particular version of the book.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2012

    This one won't open on my Nook Color.

    When I try to open the book, I get an error dialog that says, "Sorry, cannot open this book." Well, I'm sorry, but I can't recommend what I can't read. I highly recommend "Democracy in America", just not this particular version of the book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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