Democracy in America: In Two Volumes

Democracy in America: In Two Volumes

by Alexis de Tocqueville, Eduardo Nolla

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In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville and Gustave de Beaumont spent nine months in the U.S. studying American prisons on behalf of the French government. They investigated not just the prison system but indeed every aspect of American public and private life—the political, economic, religious, cultural, and above all the social life of the young nation. From Tocqueville’s copious notes came Democracy in America.

This English-only edition of Democracy in America features Eduardo Nolla’s incisive notes to James Schleifer’s English translation of the French text, with extensive reference to early outlines, drafts, manuscript variants, marginalia, unpublished fragments, and other materials: “This new Democracy is not only the one that Tocqueville presented to the reader of 1835, then to the reader of 1840. . . the reader will see how Tocqueville proceeded with the elaboration of the main ideas of this book.”

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–1859) was a French writer and politician.

Eduardo Nolla is a Professor at the Universidad San Pablo-CEU, Madrid.

James T. Schleifer is emeritus Dean of the Library and Professor of History at the College of New Rochelle and has been a visiting lecturer at Yale University.

Please note: This title is available as an ebook for purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781614872429
Publisher: Liberty Fund Inc.
Publication date: 02/03/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 1688
File size: 2 MB
Age Range: 18 Years

About 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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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 Naturally 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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Democracy in America 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Russell_Kirk More than 1 year ago
Interesting and well written of a perspective on the U.S. in the 19th century; de Tocqueville examines our form of democracy, political associations and the races at that time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
mentormom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Written over 150 years ago, Democracy In America is even more important and compelling today than it was then. This past fall, I had the opportunity to teach a Government class for my college. My class studied the second volume of this invaluable classic. It was such a pleasure to study it through a mentor's eyes. It truly came alive for me in a way that it never had before as I prepared to teach it.Despite his young age, Tocqueville was a master at understanding human nature. Volume II is filled with both compliments for American culture and cautionary advice for us as citizens. It's amazing how accurate his predictions and warnings were. We are falling into the very snares and excesses about which he cautioned. I wish that all Americans would take the time to read this insightful volume. If we would simply heed Tocqueville's admonitions, we would be well on our way to rebuilding our great American culture and securing our liberty. ¿When the taste for physical gratifications among them has grown more rapidly than their education . . . the time will come when men are carried away and lose all self-restraint . . . . It is not necessary to do violence to such a people in order to strip them of the rights they enjoy; they themselves willingly loosen their hold. . . . they neglect their chief business which is to remain their own masters.¿ ~Alexis de Tocqueville
Carolfoasia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Loved this! It was so interesting to read an outsiders perspective of America in between the American Revolution and Civil War.
Whiskey3pa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the most important things ever written about the US. Really thoughtful and insightful.
callmemiss on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Still the most acute analysis of what makes Americans special.
mramos on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a classic treatise by a French aristocrat who comprehensively examines the underpinnings of American democatic institutions. Including the rights and powers provided by the Consitution, forms of governments, and concepts of freedom and equality. In this book he also analyzes the influence of democratic values on intellectual movements, customs and political society. This treatise was originally written in 1835.
Smiley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What Tocqueville has to say about the American character is still mostly true, but his observations of our political institutions have been supplanted by the welfare state and our role in world empire. Our loss I think. He is almost silent on state institutions, but has some valid, if now sadly historical, observations on local government.
heidilove on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the most important political works of its time, Democracy In America is still referred to today.
Hawkeye51 More than 1 year ago
De Toqueville's observations detailing just who the Americans are, remains valid to this day. His writings do not confirm the pretentious belief in American Exceptionalism rather, they expose the subtle differences in how we view individualism and the State and the belief system in continental Europe.
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