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AMERICAN INSTITUTIONS AND THEIR INFLUENCE 1 government, and of their complicated machinery, so new, so striking, and so just, as to excite the admiration and even the wonder of our countrymen. It was universally admitted to be the best, if not the ﬁrst systematic and philosophic view of the great principles of our constitutions which has been presented to the world. As a treatise upon the spirit of our governments, it was full and ﬁnished, and was deemed worthy of being introduced as a text-book in some of our Seminaries of Learning. The publication of the ﬁrst volume alone would therefore seem to be suﬃcient to accomplish in the main the objects of the publishers above stated. And upon a careful re-examination of the second volume, this impression is conﬁrmed. It is entirely independent of the ﬁrst volume, and is in no way essential to a full understanding of the principles and views contained in that volume. It discusses the eﬀects of the democratic principle upon the tastes, feelings, habits, and manners of the Americans; and although deeply interesting and valuable, yet the observations of the author on these subjects are better calculated for foreign countries than for our own citizens. As he wrote for Europe they were necessary to his plan. They follow naturally and properly the profound views which had already been presented, and which they carry out and illustrate. But they furnish no new developments of those views, nor any facts that would be new to us. The publishers were therefore advised that the printing of the ﬁrst volume complete and entire, was the only mode of attaining the object they had in view. They have accordingly determined to adopt that course, intending, if the public sentiment should require it, hereafter to print the second volume in the same style, so that both may be had at the same moderate price. A few notes, in addition to those contained in the former editions, have been made by the American editor, which upon a reperusal of the volume seemed useful if not necessary: and some statistical results of the census of 1840 have been added, in connection with similar results given by the author from returns previous to that year. PREFACE TO THE AMERICAN EDITION. The following work of M. DE TOCQUEVILLE has attracted great attention throughout Europe, where it is universally regarded as a sound, philosophical, impartial, and remarkably clear and distinct view of our political institutions, and of our manners, opinions, and habits, as inﬂuencing or inﬂuenced by those institutions. Writers, reviewers, and statesmen of all parties, have united in the highest commendations of its ability and integrity. The people, described by a work of such a character, 2 should not be the only one in Christendom unacquainted with its contents. At least, so thought many of our most distinguished men, who have urged the publishers of this edition to reprint the work, and present it to the American public. They have done so in the hope of promoting among their countrymen a more thorough knowledge of their frames of government, and a more just appreciation of the great principles on which they are founded. But it seemed to them that a reprint in America of the views of an author so well entitled to regard and conﬁdence, without any correction of the few errors or mistakes that might be found, would be in eﬀect to give authenticity to the whole work, and that foreign readers, especially, would consider silence, under such circumstances, as strong evidence of the accuracy of its statements. The preface to the English edition, too, was not adapted to this country, having been written, as it would seem, in reference to the political questions which agitate Great Britain. The publishers, therefore, applied to the writer of this, to furnish them with a short preface, and such notes upon the text as might appear necessary to correct any erroneous impressions. Having had the honor of a personal acquaintance with M. DE TOCQUEVILLE while he was in this country; having discussed with him many of the topics treated of in this book; having entered deeply into the feelings and sentiments which guided and impelled him in his task, and having formed a high admiration of his character and of this production, the writer felt under some obligation to aid in procuring for one whom he ventures to call his friend, a hearing from those who were the subjects of his observations. These circumstances furnish to his own mind an apology for undertaking what no one seemed willing to attempt, notwithstanding his want of practice in literary composition, and notwithstanding the impediments of professional avocations, constantly recurring, and interrupting that strict and continued examination of the work, which became necessary, as well to detect any errors of the author, as any misunderstanding or misrepresentation of his meaning by his translator. If the same circumstances will atone in the least for the imperfections of what the editor has contributed to this edition, and will serve to mitigate the severity of judgment upon those contributions, it is all he can hope or ask. The NOTES are conﬁned, with very few exceptions, to the correction of what appeared to be misapprehensions of the author in regard to some matters of fact, or some principles of law, and to explaining his meaning where the translator had misconceived it. For the latter purpose the original was consulted; and it aﬀords great pleasure to bear witness to the general ﬁdelity with which Mr. REEVE has transferred the author’s ideas from French into English. He has not been a literal translator, and this has been the cause of the very few errors which have been 3 discovered: but he has been more and better: he has caught the spirit of M. DE TOCQUEVILLE, has understood the sentiment he meant to express, and has clothed it in the language which M. DE TOCQUEVILLE would have himself used, had he possessed equal facility in writing the English language. Being conﬁned to the objects before mentioned, the reader will not ﬁnd any comments on the theoretical views of our author. He has discussed many subjects on which very diﬀerent opinions are entertained in the United States; but with an ability, a candor, and an evident devotion to the cause of truth, which will commend his views to those who most radically dissent from them. Indeed, readers of the most discordant opinions will ﬁnd that he frequently agrees with both sides, and as frequently diﬀers from them. As an instance, his remarks on slavery will not be found to coincide throughout with the opinions either of abolitionists or of slaveholders: but they will be found to present a masterly view of a most perplexing and interesting subject, which seems to cover the whole ground, and to lead to the melancholy conclusion of the utter impotency of human eﬀort to eradicate this acknowledged evil. But on this, and on the various topics of the deepest interest which are discussed in this work, it was thought that the American readers would be fully competent to form their own opinions, and to detect any errors of the author, if such there are, without any attempt of the present editor to enlighten them. At all events, it is to be hoped that the citizens of the United States will patiently read, and candidly consider, the views of this accomplished foreigner, however hostile they may be to their own preconceived opinions or prejudices. He says: ”There are certain truths which Americans can only learn from strangers, or from experience.” Let us, then, at least listen to one who admires us and our institutions, and whose complaints, when he makes any, are, that we have not perfected our own glorious plans, and that there are some things yet to be amended. We shall thus furnish a practical proof, that public opinion in this country is not so intolerant as the author may be understood to represent it. However mistaken he may be, his manly appeal to our understandings and to our consciences, should at least be heard. ”If ever,” he says, ”these lines are read in America, I am well assured of two things: in the ﬁrst place, that all who peruse them will raise their voice to condemn me; and, in the second place, that very many of them will acquit me at the bottom of their consciences.” He is writing on that very sore subject, the tyranny of public opinion in the United States. Fully to comprehend the scope of the present work, the author’s motive and object in preparing it should be distinctly kept in view. He has written, not for America, but for France. ”It was not, then, merely to satisfy a legitimate curiosity,” he says, ”that I have examined America: my wish has been to ﬁnd 4 instruction, by which we might ourselves proﬁt.”–”I sought the image of democracy itself, with its inclinations, its character, its prejudices, and its passions, in order to learn what we have to hope or fear from its progress.” He thinks that the principle of democracy has sprung into new life throughout Europe, and particularly in France, and that it is advancing: with a ﬁrm and steady march to the control of all civilized governments. In his own country, he had seen a recent attempt to repress its energies within due bounds, and to prevent the consequences of its excesses. And it seems to be a main object with him, to ascertain whether these bounds can be relied upon; whether the dikes and embankments of human contrivance can keep within any appointed channel this mighty and majestic stream. Giving the fullest conﬁdence to his declaration, that his book ”is written to favor no particular views and with no design of serving or attacking any party,” it is yet evident that his mind has been very open to receive impressions unfavorable to the admission into France of the unbounded and unlimited democracy which reigns in these United States. A knowledge of this inclination of his mind will necessarily induce some caution in his readers, while perusing those parts of the work which treat of the eﬀects of our democracy upon the stability of our government and its administration. While the views of the author, respecting the application of the democratic principle, in the extent that it exists with us, to the institutions of France, or to any of the European nations, are of the utmost importance to the people and statesmen of those countries, they are scarcely less entitled to the attention of Americans. He has exhibited, with admirable skill, the causes and circumstances which prepared our forefathers, gradually, for the enjoyment of free institutions, and which enable them to sustain, without abusing, the utmost liberty that was ever enjoyed by any people. In tracing these causes, in examining how far they continue to inﬂuence our conduct, manners, and opinions, and in searching for the means of preventing their decay or destruction, the intelligent American reader will ﬁnd no better guide than M. DE TOCQUEVILLE. Fresh from the scenes of the ”three days” revolution in France, the author came among us to observe, carefully and critically, the operation of the new principle on which the happiness of his country, and, as he seems to believe, the destinies of the civilized world, depend. Filled with the love of liberty, but remembering the atrocities which, in its name, had been committed under former dynasties at home, he sought to discover the means by which it was regulated in America, and reconciled with social order. By his laborious investigations, and minute observations of the history of the settlement of the country, and of its progress through the colonial state to independence, he found the object of his inquiry in the manners, habits, and opinions, of a 5 people who had been gradually prepared, by a long course of peculiar circumstances, and by their local position, for self-government; and he has explained, with a pencil of light, the mystery that has baﬄed Europeans and perplexed Americans. He exhibits us, in our present condition, a new, and to Europeans, a strange people. His views of our political institutions are more general, comprehensive, and philosophic than have been presented by any writer, domestic or foreign. He has traced them from their source, democracy–the power of the people–and has steadily pursued this foundation-principle in all its forms and modiﬁcations: in the frame of our governments, in their administration by the diﬀerent executives, in our legislation, in the arrangement of our judiciary, in our manners, in religion, in the freedom and licentiousness of the press, in the inﬂuence of public opinion, and in various subtle recesses, where its existence was scarcely suspected. In all these, he analyzes and dissects the tendencies of democracy; heartily applauds where he can, and faithfully and independently gives warning of dangers that he foresees. No one can read the result of his observations without better and clearer perceptions of the structure of our governments, of the great pillars on which they rest, and of the dangers to which they are exposed: nor without a more profound and more intelligent admiration of the harmony and beauty of their formation, and of the safeguards provided for preserving and transmitting them to a distant posterity. The more that general and indeﬁnite notions of our own liberty, greatness, happiness, &c., are made to give place to precise and accurate knowledge of the true merits of our institutions, the peculiar objects they are calculated to attain or promote, and the means provided for that purpose, the better will every citizen be enabled to discharge his great political duty of guarding those means against the approach of corruption, and of sustaining them against the violence of party commotions. No foreigner has ever exhibited such a deep, clear, and correct insight of the machinery of our complicated systems of federal and state governments. The most intelligent Europeans are confounded with our imperium in imperio ; and their constant wonder is, that these systems are not continually jostling each other. M. DE TOCQUEVILLE has clearly perceived, and traced correctly and distinctly, the orbits in which they move, and has described, or rather deﬁned, our federal government, with an accurate precision, unsurpassed even by an American pen. There is no citizen of this country who will not derive instruction from our author’s account of our national government, or, at least, who will not ﬁnd his own ideas systematised, and rendered more ﬁxed and precise, by the perusal of that account. Among other subjects discussed by the author, that of the political inﬂuence of the institution of trial by jury, 6 is one of the most curious and interesting. He has certainly presented it in a light entirely new, and as important as it is new. It may be that he has exaggerated its inﬂuence as ”a gratuitous public school;” but if he has, the error will be readily forgiven. His views of religion, as connected with patriotism, in other words, with the democratic principle, which he steadily keeps in view, are conceived in the noblest spirit of philanthropy, and cannot fail to conﬁrm the principles already so thoroughly and universally entertained by the American people. And no one can read his observations on the union of ”church and state,” without a feeling of deep gratitude to the founders of our government, for saving us from such a proliﬁc source of evil. These allusions to topics that have interested the writer, are not intended as an enumeration of the various subjects which will arrest the attention of the American reader. They have been mentioned rather with a view of exciting an appetite for the whole feast, than as exhibiting the choice dainties which cover the board. It remains only to observe, that in this edition the constitutions of the United States and of the state of New York, which had been published at large in the original and in the English edition, have been omitted, as they are documents to which every American reader has access. The map which the author annexed to his work, and which has been hitherto omitted, is now for the ﬁrst time inserted in the American edition, to which has been added the census of 1840. TABLE OF CONTENTS. PREFACE BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR. Introduction. CHAPTER I. Exterior form of North America. CHAPTER II. Origin of the Anglo-Americans, and its Importance in Relation to their future Condition. Reasons of certain Anomalies which the Laws and Customs of the 7 Anglo-Americans present. CHAPTER III. Social Condition of the Anglo-Americans. The striking Characteristic of the social Condition of the Anglo-Americans is its essential Democracy. Political Consequences of the social Condition of the Anglo-Americans. CHAPTER IV. The Principle of the Sovereignty of the People in America. CHAPTER V. Necessity of examining the Condition of the States before that of the Union at large. The American System of Townships and municipal Bodies. Limits of the Townships. Authorities of the Township in New England. Existence of the Township. Public Spirit of the Townships of New England. The Counties of New England. Administration in New England. General Remarks on the Administration of the United States. Of the State. Legislative Power of the State. The executive Power of the State. Political Eﬀects of the System of local Administration in the United States. CHAPTER VI. Judicial Power in the United States, and its Inﬂuence on Political Society. Other Powers granted to the American Judges. CHAPTER VII. Political Jurisdiction in the United States. CHAPTER VIII. The federal Constitution. History of the federal Constitution. Summary of the federal Constitution. Prerogative of the federal Government. Federal Powers. Legislative Powers. A farther Diﬀerence between the Senate and the House of Representatives. The executive Power. Diﬀerences between the Position of the President of the United States and that of a constitutional King of France. 8 Accidental Causes which may increase the Inﬂuence of the executive Government. Why the President of the United States does not require the Majority of the two Houses in Order to carry on the Government. Election of the President. Mode of Election. Crisis of the Election. Re-Election of the President. Federal Courts. Means of determining the Jurisdiction of the federal Courts. Diﬀerent Cases of Jurisdiction. Procedure of the federal Courts. High Rank of the supreme Courts among the great Powers of the State. In what Respects the federal Constitution is superior to that of the States. Characteristics which distinguish the federal Constitution of the United States of America from all other federal Constitutions. Advantages of the federal System in General, and its special Utility in America. Why the federal System is not adapted to all Peoples, and how the Anglo-Americans were enabled to adopt it. CHAPTER IX. Why the People may strictly be said to govern in the United States. CHAPTER X. Parties in the United States. Remains of the aristocratic Party in the United States CHAPTER XI. Liberty of the Press in the United States. CHAPTER XII. Political Associations in the United States. CHAPTER XIII. Government of the Democracy in America. Universal Suﬀrage. Choice of the People, and instinctive Preferences of the American Democracy. 9 Causes which may partly correct the Tendencies of the Democracy. Inﬂuence which the American Democracy has exercised on the Laws relating to Elections. Public Oﬃcers under the control of the Democracy in America. Arbitrary Power of Magistrates under the Rule of the American Democracy. Instability of the Administration in the United States. Charges levied by the State under the rule of the American Democracy. Tendencies of the American Democracy as regards the Salaries of public Oﬃcers. Diﬃculties of distinguishing the Causes which contribute to the Economy of the American Government. Whether the Expenditure of the United States can be compared to that of France. Corruption and vices of the Rulers in a Democracy, and consequent Eﬀects upon public Morality. Eﬀorts of which a Democracy is capable. Self-control of the American Democracy. Conduct of foreign Aﬀairs, by the American Democracy. CHAPTER XIV. What the real Advantages are which American Society derives from the Government of the Democracy. General Tendency of the Laws under the Rule of the American Democracy, and Habits of those who apply them. Public Spirit in the United States. Notion of Rights in the United States. Respect for the Law in the United States. Activity which pervades all the Branches of the Body politic in the United States; Inﬂuence which it exercises upon Society. CHAPTER XV. Unlimited Power of the Majority in the United States, and its Consequences. How the unlimited Power of the Majority increases in America, the Instability of Legislation inherent in Democracy. Tyranny of the Majority. Eﬀects of the unlimited Power of the Majority upon the arbitrary Authority of the American public Oﬃcers. Power exercised by the Majority in America upon public Opinion. Eﬀects of the Tyranny of the Majority upon the national Character of the Americans. The greatest Dangers of the American Republics proceed from the unlimited Power of the Majority. 10 CHAPTER XVI. Causes which Mitigate the Tyranny of the Majority in the United States. Absence of central Administration. The Profession of the Law in the United States serves to Counterpoise the Democracy. Trial by Jury in the United States considered as a political Institution. CHAPTER XVII. Principal Causes which tend to maintain the democratic Republic in the United States. Accidental or providential Causes which contribute to the Maintenance of the democratic Republic in the United States. Inﬂuence of the Laws upon the Maintenance of the democratic Republic in the United States. Inﬂuence of Manners upon the Maintenance of the democratic Republic in the United States. Religion considered as a political Institution, which powerfully Contributes to the Maintenance of the democratic Republic among the Americans. Indirect Inﬂuence of religious Opinions upon political Society in the United States. Principal Causes which render Religion powerful in America. How the Instruction, the Habits, and the practical Experience of the Americans, promote the Success of their democratic Institutions. The Laws contribute more to the Maintenance of the democratic Republic in the United States than the physical Circumstances of the Country, and the Manners more than the Laws. Whether Laws and Manners are suﬃcient to maintain democratic Institutions in other Countries beside America. Importance of what precedes with respect to the State of Europe. CHAPTER XVIII. The present and probable future Condition of the three Races which Inhabit the Territory of the United States. The present and probable future Condition of the Indian Tribes which Inhabit the Territory possessed by the Union. Situation of the black Population in the United States, and Dangers with which its Presence threatens the Whites. What are the Chances in favor of the Duration of the American Union, and what Dangers threaten it. Of the republican Institutions of the United States, and what their Chances of Duration are. Reﬂections on the Causes of the commercial Prosperity of the United States. 11 Conclusion. Appendix INTRODUCTION. Among the novel objects that attracted my attention during my stay in the United States, nothing struck me more forcibly than the general equality of conditions. I readily discovered the prodigious inﬂuence which this primary fact exercises on the whole course of society, by giving a certain direction to public opinion, and a certain tenor to the laws; by imparting new maxims to the governing powers, and peculiar habits to the governed. I speedily perceived that the inﬂuence of this fact extends far beyond the political character and the laws of the country, and that it has no less empire over civil society than over the government; it creates opinions, engenders sentiments, the ordinary practices of life, and modiﬁes whatever it does not produce. The more I advanced in the study of American society, the more I perceived that the equality of conditions is the fundamental fact from which all others seem to be derived, and the central point at which all my observations constantly terminated. I then turned my thoughts to our own hemisphere, where I imagined that I discerned something analogous to the spectacle which the New World presented to me. I observed that the equality of conditions is daily advancing towards those extreme limits which it seems to have reached in the United States; and that the democracy which governs the American communities, appears to be rapidly rising into power in Europe. I hence conceived the idea of the book which is now before the reader. It is evident to all alike that a great democratic revolution is going on among us; but there are two opinions as to its nature and consequences. To some it appears to be a novel accident, which as such may still be checked; to others it seems irresistible, because it is the most uniform, the most ancient, and the most permanent tendency which is to be found in history. Let us recollect the situation of France seven hundred years ago, when the territory was divided among a small number of families, who were the owners of the soil and the rulers of the inhabitants; the ﬁght of governing descended with the family 12 inheritance from generation to generation; force was the only means by which man could act on man; and landed property was the sole source of power. Soon, however, the political power of the clergy was founded, and began to exert itself; the clergy opened its ranks to all classes, to the poor and the rich, the villain and the lord; equality penetrated into the government through the church, and the being who, as a serf, must have vegetated in perpetual bondage, took his place as a priest in the midst of nobles, and not unfrequently above the heads of kings. The diﬀerent relations of men became more complicated and more numerous, as society gradually became more stable and more civilized. Thence the want of civil laws was felt; and the order of legal functionaries soon rose from the obscurity of the tribunals and their dusty chambers, to appear at the court of the monarch, by the side of the feudal barons in their ermine and their mail. While the kings were ruining themselves by their great enterprises, and the nobles exhausting their resources by private wars, the lower orders were enriching themselves by commerce. The inﬂuence of money began to be perceptible in state aﬀairs. The transactions of business opened a new road to power, and the ﬁnancier rose to a station of political inﬂuence in which he was at once ﬂattered and despised. Gradually the spread of mental acquirements, and the increasing taste for literature and art, opened chances of success to talent; science became the means of government, intelligence led to social power, and the man of letters took a part in the aﬀairs of the state. The value attached to the privileges of birth, decreased in the exact proportion in which new paths were struck out to advancement. In the eleventh century nobility was beyond all price; in the thirteenth it might be purchased; it was conferred for the ﬁrst time in 1270; and equality was thus introduced into the government by the aristocracy itself. In the course of these seven hundred years, it sometimes happened that, in order to resist the authority of the crown, or to diminish the power of their rivals, the nobles granted a certain share of political rights to the people. Or, more frequently the king permitted the lower orders to enjoy a degree of power, with the intention of repressing the aristocracy. In France the kings have always been the most active and the most constant of levellers. When they were strong and ambitious, they 13 spared no pains to raise the people to the level of the nobles; when they were temperate or weak, they allowed the people to rise above themselves. Some assisted the democracy by their talents, others by their vices. Louis XI. and Louis XIV. reduced every rank beneath the throne to the same subjection; Louis XV. descended, himself and all his court, into the dust. As soon as land was held on any other than a feudal tenure, and personal property began in its turn to confer inﬂuence and power, every improvement which was introduced in commerce or manufacture, was a fresh element of the equality of conditions. Henceforward every new discovery, every new want which it engendered, and every new desire which craved satisfaction, was a step toward the universal level. The taste for luxury, the love of war, the sway of fashion, the most superﬁcial, as well as the deepest passions of the human heart, co-operated to enrich the poor and to empoverish the rich. From the time when the exercise of the intellect became the source of strength and of wealth, it is impossible not to consider every addition to science, every fresh truth, and every new idea, as a germe of power placed within the reach of the people. Poetry, eloquence, and memory, the grace of wit, the glow of imagination, the depth of thought, and all the gifts which are bestowed by Providence with an equal hand, turned to the advantage of the democracy; and even when they were in the possession of its adversaries, they still served its cause by throwing into relief the natural greatness of man; its conquests spread, therefore, with those of civilisation and knowledge; and literature became an arsenal, where the poorest and weakest could always ﬁnd weapons to their hand. In perusing the pages of our history, we shall scarcely meet with a single great event, in the lapse of seven hundred years, which has not turned to the advantage of equality. The crusades and the wars of the English decimated the nobles, and divided their possessions; the erection of communes introduced an element of democratic liberty into the bosom of feudal monarchy; the invention of ﬁrearms equalized the villain and the noble on the ﬁeld of battle; printing opened the same resources to the minds of all classes; the post was organized so as to bring the same information to the door of the poor man’s cottage and to the gate of the palace; and protestantism proclaimed that all men are alike able to ﬁnd the road to heaven. The discovery of America oﬀered a thousand new paths to fortune, and placed riches and power within the reach of the adventurous and the obscure. If we examine what has happened in France at intervals of ﬁfty 14 years, beginning with the eleventh century, we shall invariably perceive that a twofold revolution has taken place in the state of society. The noble has gone down on the social ladder, and the roturier has gone up; the one descends as the other rises. Every half-century brings them nearer to each other, and they will very shortly meet. Nor is this phenomenon at all peculiar to France. Whithersoever we turn our eyes, we shall discover the same continual revolution throughout the whole of Christendom. The various occurrences of national existence have everywhere turned to the advantage of democracy; all men have aided it by their exertions; those who have intentionally labored in its cause, and those who have served it unwittingly–those who have fought for it, and those who have declared themselves its opponents–have all been driven along in the same track, have all labored to one end, some ignorantly, and some unwillingly; all have been blind instruments in the hands of God. The gradual development of the equality of conditions is, therefore, a providential fact, and it possesses all the characteristics of a divine decree: it is universal, it is durable, it constantly eludes all human interference, and all events as well as all men contribute to its progress. Would it, then, be wise to imagine that a social impulse which dates from so far back, can be checked by the eﬀorts of a generation? Is it credible that the democracy which has annihilated the feudal system, and vanquished kings, will respect the citizen and the capitalist? Will it stop now that it has grown so strong and its adversaries so weak? None can say which way we are going, for all terms of comparison are wanting: the equality of conditions is more complete in the Christian, countries of the present day, than it has been at any time, or in any part of the world; so that the extent of what already exists prevents us from foreseeing what may be yet to come. The whole book which is here oﬀered to the public, has been written under the impression of a kind of religious dread, produced in the author’s mind by the contemplation of so irresistible a revolution, which has advanced for centuries in spite of such amazing obstacles, and which is still proceeding in the midst of the ruins it has made. It is not necessary that God himself should speak in order to disclose to us the unquestionable signs of his will; we can discern them in the habitual course of nature, and in the 15 invariable tendency of events; I know, without a special revelation, that the planets move in the orbits traced by the Creator’s ﬁngers. If the men of our time were led by attentive observation and by sincere reﬂection, to acknowledge that the gradual and progressive development of social equality is at once the past and future of their history, this solitary truth would confer the sacred character of a divine decree upon the change. To attempt to check democracy would be in that case to resist the will of God; and the nations would then be constrained to make the best of the social lot awarded to them by Providence. The Christian nations of our age seem to me to present a most alarming spectacle; the impulse which is bearing them along is so strong that it cannot be stopped, but it is not yet so rapid that it cannot be guided: their fate is in their hands; yet a little while and it may be so no longer. The ﬁrst duty which is at this time imposed upon those who direct our aﬀairs is to educate the democracy; to warm its faith, if that be possible; to purify its morals; to direct its energies; to substitute a knowledge of business for its inexperience, and an acquaintance with its true interests for its blind propensities; to adapt its government to time and place, and to modify it in compliance with the occurrences and the actors of the age. A new science of politics is indispensable to a new world. This, however, is what we think of least; launched in the middle of a rapid stream, we obstinately ﬁx our eyes on the ruins which may still be descried upon the shore we have left, while the current sweeps us along, and drives us backward toward the gulf. In no country in Europe has the great social revolution which I have been describing, made such rapid progress as in France; but it has always been borne on by chance. The heads of the state have never had any forethought for its exigencies, and its victories have been obtained without their consent or without their knowledge. The most powerful, the most intelligent, and the most moral classes of the nation have never attempted to connect themselves with it in order to guide it. The people have consequently been abandoned to its wild propensities, and it has grown up like those outcasts who receive their education in the public streets, and who are unacquainted with aught but the vices and wretchedness of society. The existence of a democracy was seemingly unknown, when, on a sudden, it took possession of the supreme power. Everything was then submitted to its caprices; it was worshipped as the idol of strength; until, when it was 16 enfeebled by its own excesses, the legislator conceived the rash project of annihilating its power, instead of instructing it and correcting its vices; no attempt was made to ﬁt it to govern, but all were bent on excluding it from the government. The consequence of this has been that the democratic revolution has been eﬀected only in the material parts of society, without that concomitant change in laws, ideas, customs, and mariners, which was necessary to render such a revolution beneﬁcial. We have gotten a democracy, but without the conditions which lessen its vices, and render its natural advantages more prominent; and although we already perceive the evils it brings, we are ignorant of the beneﬁts it may confer. While the power of the crown, supported by the aristocracy, peaceably governed the nations of Europe, society possessed, in the midst of its wretchedness, several diﬀerent advantages which can now scarcely be appreciated or conceived. The power of a part of his subjects was an insurmountable barrier to the tyranny of the prince; and the monarch who felt the almost divine character which he enjoyed in the eyes of the multitude, derived a motive for the just use of his power from the respect which he inspired. High as they were placed above the people, the nobles could not but take that calm and benevolent interest in its fate which the shepherd feels toward his ﬂock; and without acknowledging the poor as their equals, they watched over the destiny of those whose welfare Providence had intrusted to their care. The people, never having conceived the idea of a social condition diﬀerent from its own, and entertaining no expectation of ever ranking with its chiefs, received beneﬁts from them without discussing their rights. It grew attached to them when they were clement and just, but it submitted without resistance or servility to their exactions, as to the inevitable visitations of the arm of God. Custom, and the manners of the time, had moreover created a species of law in the midst of violence, and established certain limits to oppression. As the noble never suspected that any one would attempt to deprive him of the privileges which he believed to be legitimate, and as the serf looked upon his own inferiority as a consequence of the immutable order of nature, it is easy to imagine that a mutual exchange of good-will took place between two classes so diﬀerently gifted by fate. Inequality and wretchedness were then to be found in society; but the souls of neither rank of men were degraded. 17 Men are not corrupted by the exercise of power or debased by the habit of obedience; but by the exercise of power which they believe to be illegal, and by obedience to a rule which they consider to be usurped and oppressive. On one side were wealth, strength, and leisure, accompanied by the reﬁnement of luxury, the elegance of taste, the pleasures of wit, and the religion of art. On the other were labor, and a rude ignorance; but in the midst of this coarse and ignorant multitude, it was not uncommon to meet with energetic passions, generous sentiments, profound religious convictions, and independent virtues. The body of a state thus organized, might boast of its stability, its power, and above all, of its glory. But the scene is now changed, and gradually the two ranks mingle; the divisions which once severed mankind, are lowered; property is divided, power is held in common, the light of intelligence spreads, and the capacities of all classes are equally cultivated; the state becomes democratic, and the empire of democracy is slowly and peaceably introduced into the institutions and manners of the nation. I can conceive a society in which all men would profess an equal attachment and respect for the laws of which they are the common authors; in which the authority of the state would be respected as necessary, though not as divine; and the loyalty of the subject to the chief magistrate would not be a passion, but a quiet and rational persuasion. Every individual being in the possession of rights which he is sure to retain, a kind of manly reliance and reciprocal courtesy would arise between all classes, alike removed from pride and meanness. The people, well acquainted with its true interests, would allow, that in order to proﬁt by the advantages of society, it is necessary to satisfy its demands. In this state of things, the voluntary association of the citizens might supply the individual exertions of the nobles, and the community would be alike protected from anarchy and from oppression. I admit that in a democratic state thus constituted, society will not be stationary; but the impulses of the social body may be regulated and directed forward; if there be less splendor than in the halls of an aristocracy, the contrast of misery will be less frequent also; the pleasures of enjoyment may be less excessive, but those of comfort will be more general; the sciences may be less perfectly cultivated, but ignorance will be less common; the impetuosity of the feelings will be repressed, and the habits of the nation softened; there will be more vices and fewer crimes. 18 In the absence of enthusiasm and of an ardent faith, great sacriﬁces may be obtained from the members of a commonwealth by an appeal to their understandings and their experience: each individual will feel the same necessity for uniting with his fellow-citizens to protect his own weakness; and as he knows that if they are to assist he must co-operate, he will readily perceive that his personal interest is identiﬁed with the interest of the community. The nation, taken as a whole, will be less brilliant, less glorious, and perhaps less strong; but the majority of the citizens will enjoy a greater degree of prosperity, and the people will remain quiet, not because it despairs of melioration, but because it is conscious of the advantages of its condition. If all the consequences of this state of things were not good or useful, society would at least have appropriated all such as were useful and good; and having once and for ever renounced the social advantages of aristocracy, mankind would enter into possession of all the beneﬁts which democracy can aﬀord. But here it may be asked what we have adopted in the place of those institutions, those ideas, and those customs of our forefathers which we have abandoned. The spell of royalty is broken, but it has not been succeeded by the majesty of the laws; the people have learned to despise all authority. But fear now extorts a larger tribute of obedience than that which was formerly paid by reverence and by love. I perceive that we have destroyed those independent beings which were able to cope with tyranny single-handed; but it is the government that has inherited the privileges of which families, corporations, and individuals, have been deprived; the weakness of the whole community has, therefore, succeeded to that inﬂuence of a small body of citizens, which, if it was sometimes oppressive, was often conservative. The division of property has lessened the distance which separated the rich from the poor; but it would seem that the nearer they draw to each other, the greater is their mutual hatred, and the more vehement the envy and the dread with which they resist each other’s claims to power; the notion of right is alike insensible to both classes, and force aﬀords to both the only argument for the present, and the only guarantee for the future. The poor man retains the prejudices of his forefathers without their faith, and their ignorance without their virtues; he has 19 adopted the doctrine of self-interest as the rule of his actions, without understanding the science which controls it, and his egotism is no less blind than his devotedness was formerly. If society is tranquil, it is not because it relies upon its strength and its well-being, but because it knows its weakness and its inﬁrmities; a single eﬀort may cost it its life; everybody, feels the evil, but no one has courage or energy enough to seek the cure; the desires, the regret, the sorrows, and the joys of the time, produce nothing that is visible or permanent, like the passions of old men which terminate in impotence. We have, then, abandoned whatever advantages the old state of things aﬀorded, without receiving any compensation from our present condition; having destroyed an aristocracy, we seem inclined to survey its ruins with complacency, and to ﬁx our abode in the midst of them. The phenomena which the intellectual world presents, are not less deplorable. The democracy of France, checked in its course or abandoned to its lawless passions, has overthrown whatever crossed its path, and has shaken all that it has not destroyed. Its control over society has not been gradually introduced, or peaceably established, but it has constantly advanced in the midst of disorder, and the agitation of a conﬂict. In the heat of the struggle each partisan is hurried beyond the limits of his opinions by the opinions and the excesses of his opponents, until he loses sight of the end of his exertions, and holds a language which disguises his real sentiments or secret instincts. Hence arises the strange confusion which we are beholding. I cannot recall to my mind a passage in history more worthy of sorrow and of pity than the scenes which are happening under our eyes; it is as if the natural bond which unites the opinions of man to his tastes, and his actions to his principles, was now broken; the sympathy which has always been acknowledged between the feelings and the ideas of mankind, appears to be dissolved, and all the laws of moral analogy to be abolished. Zealous Christians may be found among us, whose minds are nurtured in the love and knowledge of a future life, and who readily espouse the cause of human liberty, as the source of all moral greatness. Christianity, which has declared that all men are equal in the sight of God, will not refuse to acknowledge that all citizens are equal in the eye of the law. But, by a singular concourse of events, religion is entangled in those institutions which democracy assails, and it is not unfrequently brought to reject the equality it loves, and to curse that cause of liberty as a foe, which it might hallow by its alliance. 20 By the side of these religious men I discern others whose looks are turned to the earth more than to heaven; they are the partisans of liberty, not only as the source of the noblest virtues, but more especially as the root of all solid advantages; and they sincerely desire to extend its sway, and to impart its blessings to mankind. It is natural that they should hasten to invoke the assistance of religion, for they must know that liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith; but they have seen religion in the ranks of their adversaries, and they inquire no farther; some of them attack it openly, and the remainder are afraid to defend it. In former ages slavery has been advocated by the venal and slavish-minded, while the independent and the warm-hearted were struggling without hope to save the liberties of mankind. But men of high and generous characters are now to be met with, whose opinions are at variance with their inclinations, and who praise that servility which they have themselves never known. Others, on the contrary, speak in the name of liberty as if they were able to feel its sanctity and its majesty, and loudly claim for humanity those rights which they have always disowned. There are virtuous and peaceful individuals whose pure morality, quiet habits, aﬄuence, and talents, ﬁt them to be the leaders of the surrounding population; their love of their country is sincere, and they are prepared to make the greatest sacriﬁces to its welfare, but they confound the abuses of civilisation with its beneﬁts, and the idea of evil is inseparable in their minds from that of novelty. Not far from this class is another party, whose object is to materialise mankind, to hit upon what is expedient without heeding what is just; to acquire knowledge without faith, and prosperity apart from virtue; assuming the title of the champions of modern civilisation, and placing themselves in a station which they usurp with insolence, and from which they are driven by their own unworthiness. Where are we then? The religionists are the enemies of liberty, and the friends of liberty attack religion; the high-minded and the noble advocate subjection, and the meanest and most servile minds preach independence; honest and enlightened citizens are opposed to all progress, while men without patriotism and without principles, are the apostles of civilisation and of intelligence. Has such been the fate of the centuries which have preceded our own? and has man always inhabited a world, like the present, 21 where nothing is linked together, where virtue is without genius, and genius without honor; where the love of order is confounded with a taste for oppression, and the holy rites of freedom with a contempt of law; where the light thrown by conscience on human actions is dim, and where nothing seems to be any longer forbidden or allowed, honorable or shameful, false or true? I cannot, however, believe that the Creator made man to leave him in an endless struggle with the intellectual miseries which surround us: God destines a calmer and a more certain future to the communities of Europe; I am unacquainted with his designs, but I shall not cease to believe in them because I cannot fathom them, and I had rather mistrust my own capacity than his justice. There is a country in the world where the great revolution which I am speaking of seems nearly to have reached its natural limits; it has been eﬀected with ease and simplicity, say rather that this country has attained the consequences of the democratic revolution which we are undergoing, without having experienced the revolution itself. The emigrants who ﬁxed themselves on the shores of America in the beginning of the seventeenth century, severed the democratic principle from all the principles which repressed it in the old communities of Europe, and transplanted it unalloyed to the New World. It has there been allowed to spread in perfect freedom, and to put forth its consequences in the laws by inﬂuencing the manners of the country. It appears to me beyond a doubt, that sooner or later we shall arrive, like the Americans, at an almost complete equality of conditions. But I do not conclude from this, that we shall ever be necessarily led to draw the same political consequences which the Americans have derived from a similar social organization. I am far from supposing that they have chosen the only form of government which a democracy may adopt; but the identity of the eﬃcient cause of laws and manners in the two countries is suﬃcient to account for the immense interest we have in becoming acquainted with its eﬀects in each of them. It is not, then, merely to satisfy a legitimate curiosity that I have examined America; my wish has been to ﬁnd instruction by which we may ourselves proﬁt. Whoever should imagine that I have intended to write a panegyric would be strangely mistaken, and on reading this book, he will perceive that such was not my design: nor has it been my object to advocate any form of government in particular, for I am of opinion that absolute excellence is rarely to be found in any legislation; I have not even aﬀected to discuss whether the social revolution, which I believe to be irresistible, is advantageous or prejudicial to 22 mankind; I have acknowledged this revolution as a fact already accomplished or on the eve of its accomplishment; and I have selected the nation, from among those which have undergone it, in which its development has been the most peaceful and the most complete, in order to discern its natural consequences, and, if it be possible, to distinguish the means by which it may be rendered proﬁtable. I confess that in America I saw more than America; I sought the image of democracy itself, with its inclinations, its character, its prejudices, and its passions, in order to learn what we have to fear or to hope from its progress. In the ﬁrst part of this work I have attempted to show the tendency given to the laws by the democracy of America, which is abandoned almost without restraint to its instinctive propensities; and to exhibit the course it prescribes to the government, and the inﬂuence it exercises on aﬀairs. I have sought to discover the evils and the advantages which it produces. I have examined the precautions used by the Americans to direct it, as well as those which they have not adopted, and I have undertaken to point out the causes which enable it to govern society. It was my intention to depict, in a second part, the inﬂuence which the equality of conditions and the rule of democracy exercise on the civil society, the habits, the ideas, and the manners of the Americans; I begin, however, to feel less ardor for the accomplishment of this project, since the excellent work of my friend and travelling companion M. de Beaumont has been given to the world.[Footnote: This work is entitled, Marie, ou l’Esclavage aux Etats-Unis. ] I do not know whether I have succeeded in making known what I saw in America, but I am certain that such has been my sincere desire, and that I have never, knowingly, moulded facts to ideas, instead of ideas to facts. Whenever a point could be established by the aid of written documents, I have had recourse to the original text, and to the most authentic and approved works.[Footnote: Legislative and administrative documents have been furnished me with a degree of politeness which I shall always remember with gratitude. Among the American functionaries who thus favored my inquiries I am proud to name Mr. Edward Livingston, then Secretary of State and late American minister at Paris. During my stay at the session of Congress, Mr. Livingston was kind enough to furnish me with the greater part of the documents I possess relative to the federal government. Mr. Livingston is one of those rare individuals whom one loves, respects, and 23 admires, from their writings, and to whom one is happy to incur the debt of gratitude on further acquaintance. ] I have cited my authorities in the notes, and any one may refer to them. Whenever an opinion, a political custom, or a remark on the manners of the country was concerned, I endeavored to consult the most enlightened men I met with. If the point in question was important or doubtful, I was not satisﬁed with one testimony, but I formed my opinion on the evidence of several witnesses. Here the reader must necessarily believe me upon my word. I could frequently have quoted names which are either known to him, or which deserve to be so, in proof of what I advance; but I have carefully abstained from this practice. A stranger frequently hears important truths at the ﬁreside of his host, which the latter would perhaps conceal even from the ear of friendship; he consoles himself with his guest, for the silence to which he is restricted, and the shortness of the traveller’s stay takes away all fear of his indiscretion. I carefully noted every conversation of this nature as soon as it occurred, but these notes will never leave my writing-case; I had rather injure the success of my statements than add my name to the list of those strangers who repay the generous hospitality they have received by subsequent chagrin and annoyance. I am aware that, notwithstanding my care, nothing will be easier than to criticise this book, if any one ever chooses to criticise it. Those readers who may examine it closely will discover the fundamental idea which connects the several parts together. But the diversity of the subjects I have had to treat is exceedingly great, and it will not be diﬃcult to oppose an isolated fact to the body of facts which I quote, or an isolated idea to the body of ideas I put forth. I hope to be read in the spirit which has guided my labors, and that my book may be judged by the general impression it leaves, as I have formed my own judgment not on any single reason, but upon the mass of evidence. It must not be forgotten that the author who wishes to be understood is obliged to push all his ideas to their utmost theoretical consequences, and often to the verge of what is false or impracticable; for if it be necessary sometimes to quit the rules of logic in active life, such is not the case in discourse, and a man ﬁnds that almost as many diﬃculties spring from inconsistency of language, as usually arise from consistency of conduct. I conclude by pointing out myself what many readers will consider the principal defect of the work. This book is written to favor no particular views, and in composing it I have entertained no 24 design of serving or attacking any party: I have undertaken not to see diﬀerently, but to look farther than parties, and while they are busied for the morrow, I have turned my thoughts to the future. AMERICAN INSTITUTIONS. CHAPTER I. EXTERIOR FORM OF NORTH AMERICA. North America divided into two vast regions, one inclining toward the Pole, the other toward the Equator.–Valley of the Mississippi.–Traces of the Revolutions of the Globe.–Shore of the Atlantic Ocean, where the English Colonies were founded.–Diﬀerence in the Appearance of North and of South America at the Time of their Discovery.–Forests of North America.–Prairies.–Wandering Tribes of Natives.–Their outward Appearance, Manners, and Language.–Traces of an Unknown People. North America presents in its external form certain general features, which it is easy to discriminate at the ﬁrst glance. A sort of methodical order seems to have regulated the separation of land and water, mountains and valleys. A simple but grand arrangement is discoverable amid the confusion of objects and the prodigious variety of scenes. This continent is divided, almost equally, into two vast regions, one of which is bounded, on the north by the arctic pole, and by the two great oceans on the east and west. It stretches toward the south, forming a triangle, whose irregular sides meet at length below the great lakes of Canada. The second region begins where the other terminates, and includes all the remainder of the continent. The one slopes gently toward the pole, the other toward the equator. The territory comprehended in the ﬁrst regions descends toward the north with so imperceptible a slope that it may almost be said to form a level plain. Within the bounds of this immense tract of country there are neither high mountains nor deep valleys. Streams meander through it irregularly; great rivers mix their currents, separate and meet again, disperse and form vast marshes, losing all trace of their channels in the labyrinth 25 of waters they have themselves created; and thus, at length, after innumerable windings, fall into the polar seas. The great lakes which bound this ﬁrst region are not walled in, like most of those in the Old World, between hills and rocks. Their banks are ﬂat, and rise but a few feet above the level of their waters; each of them thus forming a vast bowl ﬁlled to the brim. The slightest change in the structure of the globe would cause their waters to rush either toward the pole or to the tropical sea. The second region is more varied on its surface, and better suited for the habitation of man. Two long chains of mountains divide it from one extreme to the other; the Allegany ridge takes the form of the shores of the Atlantic ocean; the other is parallel with the Paciﬁc. The space which lies between these two chains of mountains contains 1,341,649 square miles.[Footnote: Darby’s ”View of the United States.” ] Its surface is therefore about six times as great as that of France. This vast territory, however, forms a single valley, one side of which descends gradually from the rounded summits of the Alleganies, while the other rises in an uninterrupted course toward the tops of the Rocky mountains. At the bottom of the valley ﬂows an immense river, into which the various streams issuing from the mountains fall from all parts. In memory of their native land, the French formerly called this the river St. Louis. The Indians, in their pompous language, have named it the Father of Waters, or the Mississippi. The Mississippi takes its source above the limit of the two great regions of which I have spoken, not far from the highest point of the table-land where they unite. Near the same spot rises another river,[Footnote: Mackenzie’s river. ] which empties itself into the polar seas. The course of the Mississippi is at ﬁrst devious: it winds several times toward the north, whence it rose; and, at length, after having been delayed in lakes and marshes, it ﬂows slowly onward to the south. Sometimes quietly gliding along the argillaceous bed which nature has assigned to it; sometimes swollen by storms, the Mississippi 26 waters 2,500 miles in its course.[Footnote: Warden’s ”Description of the United States.” ] At the distance of 1,364 miles from its mouth this river attains an average depth of ﬁfteen feet; and it is navigated by vessels of 300 tons burden for a course of nearly 500 miles. Fifty-seven large navigable rivers contribute to swell the waters of the Mississippi; among others the Missouri, which traverses a space of 2,500 miles; the Arkansas of 1,300 miles; the Red river 1,000 miles; four whose course is from 800 to 1000 miles in length, viz., the Illinois, the St. Peter’s, the St. Francis, and the Moingona; besides a countless number of rivulets which unite from all parts their tributary streams. The valley which is watered by the Mississippi seems formed to be the bed of this mighty river, which like a god of antiquity dispenses both good and evil in its course. On the shores of the stream nature displays an inexhaustible fertility; in proportion as you recede from its banks, the powers of vegetation languish, the soil becomes poor, and the plants that survive have a sickly growth. Nowhere have the great convulsions of the globe left more evident traces than in the valley of the Mississippi: the whole aspect of the country shows the powerful eﬀects of water, both by its fertility and by its barrenness. The waters of the primeval ocean accumulated enormous beds of vegetable mould in the valley, which they levelled as they retired. Upon the right shore of the river are seen immense plains, as smooth as if the husbandman had passed over them with his roller. As you approach the mountains, the soil becomes more aim more unequal and sterile; the ground is, as it were, pierced in a thousand places by primitive rocks, which appear like the bones of a skeleton whose ﬂesh is partly consumed. The surface of the earth is covered with a granitic sand, and huge irregular masses of stone, among which a few plants force their growth, and give the appearance of a green ﬁeld covered with the ruins of a vast ediﬁce. These stones and thi
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