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Almost two centuries after he traveled around the United States studying its people and government, the French writer Alexis de Tocqueville remains one of the most influential of all commentators on American politics. And because Tocqueville often related the strengths of the U. But was Tocqueville as sanguine about American democracy as the popular image of his work suggests? In his view, Tocqueville, while indeed recognizing real strengths in American society, had grave worries about the materialism, individualism and anti-intellectualism in American culture.

Tocqueville was born into an aristocratic French family in , at a time of democratic upheaval and a changing world order; his parents had nearly been guillotined during the French Revolution. In , Tocqueville and his friend Gustave de Beaumont commenced a nine-month trip around the United States, ostensibly to study its prison system for the French government. Democracy in America resulted from this trip. As Kaledin readily acknowledges, Tocqueville was highly impressed with Americans and their expectations of equality and participation in politics.

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But those favorable reactions were intertwined with constant concerns. Gargan, Edward T.

Gerhard, D. Green, S. Woodbridge, CA: Research Publications, 19th-century legal treatises; Hancock, Ralph C. Hansen, Klaus J.

Educating Democracy: Alexis de Tocqueville and Leadership in America

Hebert, Louie Joseph, Jr. Hochberg, Leonard J. Jones, H. Kammen, Michael G. Kennedy, David M.

Democracy In America by Alexis de Tocqueville

Europe and America in the modern age, to the present; pt. Further bibliographic information not currently available. Paging not available. Ketcham, R.


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Koritansky, John C. English translation: Democracy against Aristocracy. Kramer, Michael P. Online edition prepared Maletz, Donald J. Mancini, Matthew J. Mansfield, Harvey C.

How To Read de Tocqueville's 'Democracy In America' (John Wilsey - Acton Institute)

Marshall, Lynn L. Matthews, Richard K. McDonagh, Eileen L. Monroe, H. Naegele, Kaspar D. Laboratory of Social Relations. Comparative Study of Values.

Working papers, 1. Noboloff, Nicholas R. One sound cassette. Thus America can devote to general learning only the early years of life. At fifteen, they begin a career; their education ends most often when ours begins. If education is pursued beyond that point, it is directed only towards specialist subjects with a profitable return in mind. Science is studied as if it were a job and only those branches are taken up which have a recognized and immediate usefulness.

A man wishes to perpetuate and immortalize himself.

They do not attend to the things said to them, because they are always fully engrossed with the things they are doing. For indeed few men are idle in democratic nations; life is passed in the midst of noise and excitement, and men are so engaged in acting that little remains to them for thinking. I would especially remark that they are not only employed, but that they are passionately devoted to their employments. They are always in action, and each of their actions absorbs their faculties: the zeal which they display in business puts out the enthusiasm they might otherwise entertain for idea.

One thing is certain, and that is that a condition of semi-madness is not unbecoming at such times, and often even leads to success. From that, the obligation that the parties find in their daily polemics to borrow ideas and language from the judicial system. Since most public men are or have formerly been jurists, they make the habits and the turn of ideas that belong to jurists pass into the handling of public affairs.

The jury ends up by familiarizing all classes with them. Thus, judicial language becomes, in a way, the common language; so the spirit of the jurist, born inside the schools and courtrooms, spreads little by little beyond their confines; it infiltrates all of society, so to speak; it descends to the lowest ranks, and the entire people finishes by acquiring a part of the habits and tastes of the magistrate.

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To his vehemence they secretly oppose their inertia, to his revolutionary tendencies their conservative interests, their homely tastes to his adventurous passions, their good sense to the flights of his genius, to his poetry their prose. With immense exertion he raises them for an instant, but they speedily escape from him and fall back, as it were, by their own weight. He strains himself to rouse the indifferent and distracted multitude and finds at last that he is reduced to impotence, not because he is conquered, but because he is alone. This world here belongs to us, they tell themselves every day: the Indian race is destined for final destruction which one cannot prevent and which it is not desirable to delay.

Heaven has not made them to become civilized; it is necessary that they die.

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Besides I do not want to get mixed up in it. I will not do anything against them: I will limit myself to providing everything that will hasten their ruin. In time I will have their lands and will be innocent of their death. Satisfied with his reasoning, the American goes to church where he hears the minister of the gospel repeat every day that all men are brothers, and that the Eternal Being who has made them all in like image, has given them all the duty to help one another.