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Title: Democracy in America — Volume 2
Author: Tocqueville, Alexis de, 1805-1859
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Democracy in America — Volume 2" ***

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By Alexis De Tocqueville

Translated by Henry Reeve

Book Two: Influence Of Democracy On Progress Of Opinion In
the United States.

De Tocqueville's Preface To The Second Part

The Americans live in a democratic state of society, which has naturally
suggested to them certain laws and a certain political character. This
same state of society has, moreover, engendered amongst them a
multitude of feelings and opinions which were unknown amongst the elder
aristocratic communities of Europe: it has destroyed or modified all the
relations which before existed, and established others of a novel kind.
The--aspect of civil society has been no less affected by these changes
than that of the political world. The former subject has been treated
of in the work on the Democracy of America, which I published five years
ago; to examine the latter is the object of the present book; but these
two parts complete each other, and form one and the same work.

I must at once warn the reader against an error which would be extremely
prejudicial to me. When he finds that I attribute so many different
consequences to the principle of equality, he may thence infer that I
consider that principle to be the sole cause of all that takes place in
the present age: but this would be to impute to me a very narrow view. A
multitude of opinions, feelings, and propensities are now in existence,
which owe their origin to circumstances unconnected with or even
contrary to the principle of equality. Thus if I were to select the
United States as an example, I could easily prove that the nature of the
country, the origin of its inhabitants, the religion of its founders,
their acquired knowledge, and their former habits, have exercised, and
still exercise, independently of democracy, a vast influence upon the
thoughts and feelings of that people. Different causes, but no less
distinct from the circumstance of the equality of conditions, might be
traced in Europe, and would explain a great portion of the occurrences
taking place amongst us.

I acknowledge the existence of all these different causes, and their
power, but my subject does not lead me to treat of them. I have not
undertaken to unfold the reason of all our inclinations and all our
notions: my only object is to show in what respects the principle of
equality has modified both the former and the latter.

Some readers may perhaps be astonished that--firmly persuaded as I
am that the democratic revolution which we are witnessing is an
irresistible fact against which it would be neither desirable nor wise
to struggle--I should often have had occasion in this book to address
language of such severity to those democratic communities which this
revolution has brought into being. My answer is simply, that it is
because I am not an adversary of democracy, that I have sought to speak
of democracy in all sincerity.

Men will not accept truth at the hands of their enemies, and truth is
seldom offered to them by their friends: for this reason I have spoken
it. I was persuaded that many would take upon themselves to announce the
new blessings which the principle of equality promises to mankind, but
that few would dare to point out from afar the dangers with which
it threatens them. To those perils therefore I have turned my chief
attention, and believing that I had discovered them clearly, I have not
had the cowardice to leave them untold.

I trust that my readers will find in this Second Part that impartiality
which seems to have been remarked in the former work. Placed as I am in
the midst of the conflicting opinions between which we are divided,
I have endeavored to suppress within me for a time the favorable
sympathies or the adverse emotions with which each of them inspires
me. If those who read this book can find a single sentence intended to
flatter any of the great parties which have agitated my country, or any
of those petty factions which now harass and weaken it, let such readers
raise their voices to accuse me.

The subject I have sought to embrace is immense, for it includes the
greater part of the feelings and opinions to which the new state of
society has given birth. Such a subject is doubtless above my strength,
and in treating it I have not succeeded in satisfying myself. But, if
I have not been able to reach the goal which I had in view, my readers
will at least do me the justice to acknowledge that I have conceived and
followed up my undertaking in a spirit not unworthy of success.

A. De T.

March, 1840

Section I: Influence of Democracy on the Action of Intellect in The
United States.

Chapter I: Philosophical Method Among the Americans

I think that in no country in the civilized world is less attention
paid to philosophy than in the United States. The Americans have no
philosophical school of their own; and they care but little for all
the schools into which Europe is divided, the very names of which are
scarcely known to them. Nevertheless it is easy to perceive that almost
all the inhabitants of the United States conduct their understanding in
the same manner, and govern it by the same rules; that is to say,
that without ever having taken the trouble to define the rules of a
philosophical method, they are in possession of one, common to the whole
people. To evade the bondage of system and habit, of family maxims,
class opinions, and, in some degree, of national prejudices; to accept
tradition only as a means of information, and existing facts only as a
lesson used in doing otherwise, and doing better; to seek the reason
of things for one's self, and in one's self alone; to tend to results
without being bound to means, and to aim at the substance through the
form;--such are the principal characteristics of what I shall call the
philosophical method of the Americans. But if I go further, and if I
seek amongst these characteristics that which predominates over and
includes almost all the rest, I discover that in most of the operations
of the mind, each American appeals to the individual exercise of his own
understanding alone. America is therefore one of the countries in the
world where philosophy is least studied, and where the precepts of
Descartes are best applied. Nor is this surprising. The Americans do not
read the works of Descartes, because their social condition deters them
from speculative studies; but they follow his maxims because this very
social condition naturally disposes their understanding to adopt them.
In the midst of the continual movement which agitates a democratic
community, the tie which unites one generation to another is relaxed
or broken; every man readily loses the trace of the ideas of his
forefathers or takes no care about them. Nor can men living in this
state of society derive their belief from the opinions of the class to
which they belong, for, so to speak, there are no longer any classes, or
those which still exist are composed of such mobile elements, that
their body can never exercise a real control over its members. As to the
influence which the intelligence of one man has on that of another, it
must necessarily be very limited in a country where the citizens, placed
on the footing of a general similitude, are all closely seen by each
other; and where, as no signs of incontestable greatness or superiority
are perceived in any one of them, they are constantly brought back to
their own reason as the most obvious and proximate source of truth. It
is not only confidence in this or that man which is then destroyed, but
the taste for trusting the ipse dixit of any man whatsoever. Everyone
shuts himself up in his own breast, and affects from that point to judge
the world.

The practice which obtains amongst the Americans of fixing the standard
of their judgment in themselves alone, leads them to other habits of
mind. As they perceive that they succeed in resolving without assistance
all the little difficulties which their practical life presents, they
readily conclude that everything in the world may be explained, and that
nothing in it transcends the limits of the understanding. Thus they fall
to denying what they cannot comprehend; which leaves them but little
faith for whatever is extraordinary, and an almost insurmountable
distaste for whatever is supernatural. As it is on their own testimony
that they are accustomed to rely, they like to discern the object which
engages their attention with extreme clearness; they therefore strip off
as much as possible all that covers it, they rid themselves of whatever
separates them from it, they remove whatever conceals it from sight,
in order to view it more closely and in the broad light of day. This
disposition of the mind soon leads them to contemn forms, which they
regard as useless and inconvenient veils placed between them and the

The Americans then have not required to extract their philosophical
method from books; they have found it in themselves. The same thing may
be remarked in what has taken place in Europe. This same method has
only been established and made popular in Europe in proportion as the
condition of society has become more equal, and men have grown more like
each other. Let us consider for a moment the connection of the periods
in which this change may be traced. In the sixteenth century the
Reformers subjected some of the dogmas of the ancient faith to the
scrutiny of private judgment; but they still withheld from it the
judgment of all the rest. In the seventeenth century, Bacon in the
natural sciences, and Descartes in the study of philosophy in the strict
sense of the term, abolished recognized formulas, destroyed the
empire of tradition, and overthrew the authority of the schools. The
philosophers of the eighteenth century, generalizing at length the same
principle, undertook to submit to the private judgment of each man all
the objects of his belief.

Who does not perceive that Luther, Descartes, and Voltaire employed
the same method, and that they differed only in the greater or less use
which they professed should be made of it? Why did the Reformers confine
themselves so closely within the circle of religious ideas? Why did
Descartes, choosing only to apply his method to certain matters, though
he had made it fit to be applied to all, declare that men might judge
for themselves in matters philosophical but not in matters political?
How happened it that in the eighteenth century those general
applications were all at once drawn from this same method, which
Descartes and his predecessors had either not perceived or had rejected?
To what, lastly, is the fact to be attributed, that at this period
the method we are speaking of suddenly emerged from the schools, to
penetrate into society and become the common standard of intelligence;
and that, after it had become popular among the French, it has been
ostensibly adopted or secretly followed by all the nations of Europe?

The philosophical method here designated may have been engendered in
the sixteenth century--it may have been more accurately defined and more
extensively applied in the seventeenth; but neither in the one nor in
the other could it be commonly adopted. Political laws, the condition
of society, and the habits of mind which are derived from these causes,
were as yet opposed to it. It was discovered at a time when men were
beginning to equalize and assimilate their conditions. It could only be
generally followed in ages when those conditions had at length become
nearly equal, and men nearly alike.

The philosophical method of the eighteenth century is then not only
French, but it is democratic; and this explains why it was so readily
admitted throughout Europe, where it has contributed so powerfully to
change the face of society. It is not because the French have changed
their former opinions, and altered their former manners, that they have
convulsed the world; but because they were the first to generalize and
bring to light a philosophical method, by the assistance of which it
became easy to attack all that was old, and to open a path to all that
was new.

If it be asked why, at the present day, this same method is more
rigorously followed and more frequently applied by the French than by
the Americans, although the principle of equality be no less complete,
and of more ancient date, amongst the latter people, the fact may be
attributed to two circumstances, which it is essential to have clearly
understood in the first instance. It must never be forgotten that
religion gave birth to Anglo-American society. In the United States
religion is therefore commingled with all the habits of the nation and
all the feelings of patriotism; whence it derives a peculiar force.
To this powerful reason another of no less intensity may be added: in
American religion has, as it were, laid down its own limits. Religious
institutions have remained wholly distinct from political institutions,
so that former laws have been easily changed whilst former belief has
remained unshaken. Christianity has therefore retained a strong hold on
the public mind in America; and, I would more particularly remark, that
its sway is not only that of a philosophical doctrine which has been
adopted upon inquiry, but of a religion which is believed without
discussion. In the United States Christian sects are infinitely
diversified and perpetually modified; but Christianity itself is a fact
so irresistibly established, that no one undertakes either to attack or
to defend it. The Americans, having admitted the principal doctrines of
the Christian religion without inquiry, are obliged to accept in like
manner a great number of moral truths originating in it and connected
with it. Hence the activity of individual analysis is restrained within
narrow limits, and many of the most important of human opinions are
removed from the range of its influence.

The second circumstance to which I have alluded is the following: the
social condition and the constitution of the Americans are democratic,
but they have not had a democratic revolution. They arrived upon the
soil they occupy in nearly the condition in which we see them at the
present day; and this is of very considerable importance.

There are no revolutions which do not shake existing belief, enervate
authority, and throw doubts over commonly received ideas. The effect of
all revolutions is therefore, more or less, to surrender men to their
own guidance, and to open to the mind of every man a void and almost
unlimited range of speculation. When equality of conditions succeeds
a protracted conflict between the different classes of which the elder
society was composed, envy, hatred, and uncharitableness, pride, and
exaggerated self-confidence are apt to seize upon the human heart,
and plant their sway there for a time. This, independently of equality
itself, tends powerfully to divide men--to lead them to mistrust the
judgment of others, and to seek the light of truth nowhere but in their
own understandings. Everyone then attempts to be his own sufficient
guide, and makes it his boast to form his own opinions on all subjects.
Men are no longer bound together by ideas, but by interests; and it
would seem as if human opinions were reduced to a sort of intellectual
dust, scattered on every side, unable to collect, unable to cohere.

Thus, that independence of mind which equality supposes to exist, is
never so great, nor ever appears so excessive, as at the time when
equality is beginning to establish itself, and in the course of that
painful labor by which it is established. That sort of intellectual
freedom which equality may give ought, therefore, to be very carefully
distinguished from the anarchy which revolution brings. Each of these
two things must be severally considered, in order not to conceive
exaggerated hopes or fears of the future.

I believe that the men who will live under the new forms of society will
make frequent use of their private judgment; but I am far from thinking
that they will often abuse it. This is attributable to a cause of more
general application to all democratic countries, and which, in the
long run, must needs restrain in them the independence of individual
speculation within fixed, and sometimes narrow, limits. I shall proceed
to point out this cause in the next chapter.

Chapter II: Of The Principal Source Of Belief Among Democratic Nations

At different periods dogmatical belief is more or less abundant. It
arises in different ways, and it may change its object or its form; but
under no circumstances will dogmatical belief cease to exist, or, in
other words, men will never cease to entertain some implicit opinions
without trying them by actual discussion. If everyone undertook to form
his own opinions and to seek for truth by isolated paths struck out by
himself alone, it is not to be supposed that any considerable number of
men would ever unite in any common belief. But obviously without such
common belief no society can prosper--say rather no society can subsist;
for without ideas held in common, there is no common action, and without
common action, there may still be men, but there is no social body. In
order that society should exist, and, a fortiori, that a society should
prosper, it is required that all the minds of the citizens should be
rallied and held together by certain predominant ideas; and this cannot
be the case, unless each of them sometimes draws his opinions from the
common source, and consents to accept certain matters of belief at the
hands of the community.

If I now consider man in his isolated capacity, I find that dogmatical
belief is not less indispensable to him in order to live alone, than it
is to enable him to co-operate with his fellow-creatures. If man were
forced to demonstrate to himself all the truths of which he makes
daily use, his task would never end. He would exhaust his strength
in preparatory exercises, without advancing beyond them. As, from the
shortness of his life, he has not the time, nor, from the limits of his
intelligence, the capacity, to accomplish this, he is reduced to take
upon trust a number of facts and opinions which he has not had either
the time or the power to verify himself, but which men of greater
ability have sought out, or which the world adopts. On this groundwork
he raises for himself the structure of his own thoughts; nor is he led
to proceed in this manner by choice so much as he is constrained by the
inflexible law of his condition. There is no philosopher of such great
parts in the world, but that he believes a million of things on the
faith of other people, and supposes a great many more truths than he
demonstrates. This is not only necessary but desirable. A man who should
undertake to inquire into everything for himself, could devote to each
thing but little time and attention. His task would keep his mind in
perpetual unrest, which would prevent him from penetrating to the depth
of any truth, or of grappling his mind indissolubly to any conviction.
His intellect would be at once independent and powerless. He must
therefore make his choice from amongst the various objects of human
belief, and he must adopt many opinions without discussion, in order
to search the better into that smaller number which he sets apart for
investigation. It is true that whoever receives an opinion on the word
of another, does so far enslave his mind; but it is a salutary servitude
which allows him to make a good use of freedom.

A principle of authority must then always occur, under all
circumstances, in some part or other of the moral and intellectual
world. Its place is variable, but a place it necessarily has. The
independence of individual minds may be greater, or it may be less:
unbounded it cannot be. Thus the question is, not to know whether any
intellectual authority exists in the ages of democracy, but simply where
it resides and by what standard it is to be measured.

I have shown in the preceding chapter how the equality of conditions
leads men to entertain a sort of instinctive incredulity of the
supernatural, and a very lofty and often exaggerated opinion of the
human understanding. The men who live at a period of social equality are
not therefore easily led to place that intellectual authority to which
they bow either beyond or above humanity. They commonly seek for the
sources of truth in themselves, or in those who are like themselves.
This would be enough to prove that at such periods no new religion could
be established, and that all schemes for such a purpose would be not
only impious but absurd and irrational. It may be foreseen that a
democratic people will not easily give credence to divine missions; that
they will turn modern prophets to a ready jest; and they that will seek
to discover the chief arbiter of their belief within, and not beyond,
the limits of their kind.

When the ranks of society are unequal, and men unlike each other in
condition, there are some individuals invested with all the power of
superior intelligence, learning, and enlightenment, whilst the multitude
is sunk in ignorance and prejudice. Men living at these aristocratic
periods are therefore naturally induced to shape their opinions by the
superior standard of a person or a class of persons, whilst they are
averse to recognize the infallibility of the mass of the people.

The contrary takes place in ages of equality. The nearer the citizens
are drawn to the common level of an equal and similar condition, the
less prone does each man become to place implicit faith in a certain man
or a certain class of men. But his readiness to believe the multitude
increases, and opinion is more than ever mistress of the world. Not only
is common opinion the only guide which private judgment retains amongst
a democratic people, but amongst such a people it possesses a power
infinitely beyond what it has elsewhere. At periods of equality men have
no faith in one another, by reason of their common resemblance; but this
very resemblance gives them almost unbounded confidence in the judgment
of the public; for it would not seem probable, as they are all endowed
with equal means of judging, but that the greater truth should go with
the greater number.

When the inhabitant of a democratic country compares himself
individually with all those about him, he feels with pride that he is
the equal of any one of them; but when he comes to survey the totality
of his fellows, and to place himself in contrast to so huge a body,
he is instantly overwhelmed by the sense of his own insignificance and
weakness. The same equality which renders him independent of each of his
fellow-citizens taken severally, exposes him alone and unprotected to
the influence of the greater number. The public has therefore among a
democratic people a singular power, of which aristocratic nations could
never so much as conceive an idea; for it does not persuade to certain
opinions, but it enforces them, and infuses them into the faculties by a
sort of enormous pressure of the minds of all upon the reason of each.

In the United States the majority undertakes to supply a multitude of
ready-made opinions for the use of individuals, who are thus relieved
from the necessity of forming opinions of their own. Everybody there
adopts great numbers of theories, on philosophy, morals, and politics,
without inquiry, upon public trust; and if we look to it very narrowly,
it will be perceived that religion herself holds her sway there, much
less as a doctrine of revelation than as a commonly received opinion.
The fact that the political laws of the Americans are such that the
majority rules the community with sovereign sway, materially increases
the power which that majority naturally exercises over the mind. For
nothing is more customary in man than to recognize superior wisdom in
the person of his oppressor. This political omnipotence of the majority
in the United States doubtless augments the influence which public
opinion would obtain without it over the mind of each member of the
community; but the foundations of that influence do not rest upon it.
They must be sought for in the principle of equality itself, not in the
more or less popular institutions which men living under that condition
may give themselves. The intellectual dominion of the greater number
would probably be less absolute amongst a democratic people governed
by a king than in the sphere of a pure democracy, but it will always be
extremely absolute; and by whatever political laws men are governed in
the ages of equality, it may be foreseen that faith in public
opinion will become a species of religion there, and the majority its
ministering prophet.

Thus intellectual authority will be different, but it will not be
diminished; and far from thinking that it will disappear, I augur that
it may readily acquire too much preponderance, and confine the action
of private judgment within narrower limits than are suited either to
the greatness or the happiness of the human race. In the principle of
equality I very clearly discern two tendencies; the one leading the mind
of every man to untried thoughts, the other inclined to prohibit him
from thinking at all. And I perceive how, under the dominion of certain
laws, democracy would extinguish that liberty of the mind to which a
democratic social condition is favorable; so that, after having broken
all the bondage once imposed on it by ranks or by men, the human mind
would be closely fettered to the general will of the greatest number.

If the absolute power of the majority were to be substituted by
democratic nations, for all the different powers which checked or
retarded overmuch the energy of individual minds, the evil would
only have changed its symptoms. Men would not have found the means of
independent life; they would simply have invented (no easy task) a new
dress for servitude. There is--and I cannot repeat it too often--there
is in this matter for profound reflection for those who look on freedom
as a holy thing, and who hate not only the despot, but despotism. For
myself, when I feel the hand of power lie heavy on my brow, I care but
little to know who oppresses me; and I am not the more disposed to pass
beneath the yoke, because it is held out to me by the arms of a million
of men.

Chapter III: Why The Americans Display More Readiness And More Taste For
General Ideas Than Their Forefathers, The English.

The Deity does not regard the human race collectively. He surveys at one
glance and severally all the beings of whom mankind is composed, and he
discerns in each man the resemblances which assimilate him to all his
fellows, and the differences which distinguish him from them. God,
therefore, stands in no need of general ideas; that is to say, he is
never sensible of the necessity of collecting a considerable number
of analogous objects under the same form for greater convenience in
thinking. Such is, however, not the case with man. If the human mind
were to attempt to examine and pass a judgment on all the individual
cases before it, the immensity of detail would soon lead it astray
and bewilder its discernment: in this strait, man has recourse to
an imperfect but necessary expedient, which at once assists and
demonstrates his weakness. Having superficially considered a certain
number of objects, and remarked their resemblance, he assigns to them a
common name, sets them apart, and proceeds onwards.

General ideas are no proof of the strength, but rather of the
insufficiency of the human intellect; for there are in nature no
beings exactly alike, no things precisely identical, nor any rules
indiscriminately and alike applicable to several objects at once. The
chief merit of general ideas is, that they enable the human mind to
pass a rapid judgment on a great many objects at once; but, on the other
hand, the notions they convey are never otherwise than incomplete, and
they always cause the mind to lose as much in accuracy as it gains
in comprehensiveness. As social bodies advance in civilization, they
acquire the knowledge of new facts, and they daily lay hold almost
unconsciously of some particular truths. The more truths of this kind a
man apprehends, the more general ideas is he naturally led to conceive.
A multitude of particular facts cannot be seen separately, without at
last discovering the common tie which connects them. Several individuals
lead to the perception of the species; several species to that of the
genus. Hence the habit and the taste for general ideas will always
be greatest amongst a people of ancient cultivation and extensive

But there are other reasons which impel men to generalize their ideas,
or which restrain them from it.

The Americans are much more addicted to the use of general ideas than
the English, and entertain a much greater relish for them: this appears
very singular at first sight, when it is remembered that the two nations
have the same origin, that they lived for centuries under the same laws,
and that they still incessantly interchange their opinions and their
manners. This contrast becomes much more striking still, if we fix our
eyes on our own part of the world, and compare together the two most
enlightened nations which inhabit it. It would seem as if the mind of
the English could only tear itself reluctantly and painfully away from
the observation of particular facts, to rise from them to their causes;
and that it only generalizes in spite of itself. Amongst the French, on
the contrary, the taste for general ideas would seem to have grown to
so ardent a passion, that it must be satisfied on every occasion. I am
informed, every morning when I wake, that some general and eternal law
has just been discovered, which I never heard mentioned before. There is
not a mediocre scribbler who does not try his hand at discovering truths
applicable to a great kingdom, and who is very ill pleased with himself
if he does not succeed in compressing the human race into the compass
of an article. So great a dissimilarity between two very enlightened
nations surprises me. If I again turn my attention to England, and
observe the events which have occurred there in the last half-century,
I think I may affirm that a taste for general ideas increases in that
country in proportion as its ancient constitution is weakened.

The state of civilization is therefore insufficient by itself to explain
what suggests to the human mind the love of general ideas, or diverts it
from them. When the conditions of men are very unequal, and inequality
itself is the permanent state of society, individual men gradually
become so dissimilar that each class assumes the aspect of a distinct
race: only one of these classes is ever in view at the same instant; and
losing sight of that general tie which binds them all within the vast
bosom of mankind, the observation invariably rests not on man, but on
certain men. Those who live in this aristocratic state of society never,
therefore, conceive very general ideas respecting themselves, and that
is enough to imbue them with an habitual distrust of such ideas, and
an instinctive aversion of them. He, on the contrary, who inhabits a
democratic country, sees around him, one very hand, men differing but
little from each other; he cannot turn his mind to any one portion of
mankind, without expanding and dilating his thought till it embrace the
whole. All the truths which are applicable to himself, appear to him
equally and similarly applicable to each of his fellow-citizens and
fellow-men. Having contracted the habit of generalizing his ideas in
the study which engages him most, and interests him more than others,
he transfers the same habit to all his pursuits; and thus it is that
the craving to discover general laws in everything, to include a great
number of objects under the same formula, and to explain a mass of facts
by a single cause, becomes an ardent, and sometimes an undiscerning,
passion in the human mind.

Nothing shows the truth of this proposition more clearly than the
opinions of the ancients respecting their slaves. The most profound and
capacious minds of Rome and Greece were never able to reach the idea, at
once so general and so simple, of the common likeness of men, and of the
common birthright of each to freedom: they strove to prove that slavery
was in the order of nature, and that it would always exist. Nay, more,
everything shows that those of the ancients who had passed from the
servile to the free condition, many of whom have left us excellent
writings, did themselves regard servitude in no other light.

All the great writers of antiquity belonged to the aristocracy
of masters, or at least they saw that aristocracy established and
uncontested before their eyes. Their mind, after it had expanded itself
in several directions, was barred from further progress in this one; and
the advent of Jesus Christ upon earth was required to teach that all the
members of the human race are by nature equal and alike.

In the ages of equality all men are independent of each other, isolated
and weak. The movements of the multitude are not permanently guided
by the will of any individuals; at such times humanity seems always to
advance of itself. In order, therefore, to explain what is passing in
the world, man is driven to seek for some great causes, which, acting
in the same manner on all our fellow-creatures, thus impel them all
involuntarily to pursue the same track. This again naturally leads the
human mind to conceive general ideas, and superinduces a taste for them.

I have already shown in what way the equality of conditions leads every
man to investigate truths for himself. It may readily be perceived that
a method of this kind must insensibly beget a tendency to general ideas
in the human mind. When I repudiate the traditions of rank, profession,
and birth; when I escape from the authority of example, to seek out, by
the single effort of my reason, the path to be followed, I am inclined
to derive the motives of my opinions from human nature itself; which
leads me necessarily, and almost unconsciously, to adopt a great number
of very general notions.

All that I have here said explains the reasons for which the English
display much less readiness and taste or the generalization of ideas
than their American progeny, and still less again than their French
neighbors; and likewise the reason for which the English of the present
day display more of these qualities than their forefathers did. The
English have long been a very enlightened and a very aristocratic
nation; their enlightened condition urged them constantly to generalize,
and their aristocratic habits confined them to particularize. Hence
arose that philosophy, at once bold and timid, broad and narrow,
which has hitherto prevailed in England, and which still obstructs and
stagnates in so many minds in that country.

Independently of the causes I have pointed out in what goes before,
others may be discerned less apparent, but no less efficacious, which
engender amongst almost every democratic people a taste, and frequently
a passion, for general ideas. An accurate distinction must be taken
between ideas of this kind. Some are the result of slow, minute, and
conscientious labor of the mind, and these extend the sphere of human
knowledge; others spring up at once from the first rapid exercise of the
wits, and beget none but very superficial and very uncertain notions.
Men who live in ages of equality have a great deal of curiosity and very
little leisure; their life is so practical, so confused, so excited, so
active, that but little time remains to them for thought. Such men are
prone to general ideas because they spare them the trouble of studying
particulars; they contain, if I may so speak, a great deal in a little
compass, and give, in a little time, a great return. If then, upon a
brief and inattentive investigation, a common relation is thought to be
detected between certain obtects, inquiry is not pushed any further; and
without examining in detail how far these different objects differ or
agree, they are hastily arranged under one formulary, in order to pass
to another subject.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of a democratic period is the
taste all men have at such ties for easy success and present enjoyment.
This occurs in the pursuits of the intellect as well as in all others.
Most of those who live at a time of equality are full of an ambition at
once aspiring and relaxed: they would fain succeed brilliantly and at
once, but they would be dispensed from great efforts to obtain success.
These conflicting tendencies lead straight to the research of general
ideas, by aid of which they flatter themselves that they can figure very
importantly at a small expense, and draw the attention of the public
with very little trouble. And I know not whether they be wrong in
thinking thus. For their readers are as much averse to investigating
anything to the bottom as they can be themselves; and what is generally
sought in the productions of the mind is easy pleasure and information
without labor.

If aristocratic nations do not make sufficient use of general ideas,
and frequently treat them with inconsiderate disdain, it is true, on
the other hand, that a democratic people is ever ready to carry ideas of
this kind to excess, and to espouse the with injudicious warmth.

Chapter IV: Why The Americans Have Never Been So Eager As The French For
General Ideas In Political Matters

I observed in the last chapter, that the Americans show a less decided
taste for general ideas than the French; this is more especially true in
political matters. Although the Americans infuse into their legislation
infinitely more general ideas than the English, and although they pay
much more attention than the latter people to the adjustment of the
practice of affairs to theory, no political bodies in the United
States have ever shown so warm an attachment to general ideas as the
Constituent Assembly and the Convention in France. At no time has the
American people laid hold on ideas of this kind with the passionate
energy of the French people in the eighteenth century, or displayed the
same blind confidence in the value and absolute truth of any theory.
This difference between the Americans and the French originates in
several causes, but principally in the following one. The Americans form
a democratic people, which has always itself directed public affairs.
The French are a democratic people, who, for a long time, could only
speculate on the best manner of conducting them. The social condition of
France led that people to conceive very general ideas on the subject
of government, whilst its political constitution prevented it from
correcting those ideas by experiment, and from gradually detecting their
insufficiency; whereas in America the two things constantly balance and
correct each other.

It may seem, at first sight, that this is very much opposed to what I
have said before, that democratic nations derive their love of theory
from the excitement of their active life. A more attentive examination
will show that there is nothing contradictory in the proposition. Men
living in democratic countries eagerly lay hold of general ideas because
they have but little leisure, and because these ideas spare them the
trouble of studying particulars. This is true; but it is only to be
understood to apply to those matters which are not the necessary and
habitual subjects of their thoughts. Mercantile men will take up very
eagerly, and without any very close scrutiny, all the general ideas on
philosophy, politics, science, or the arts, which may be presented to
them; but for such as relate to commerce, they will not receive them
without inquiry, or adopt them without reserve. The same thing applies
to statesmen with regard to general ideas in politics. If, then, there
be a subject upon which a democratic people is peculiarly liable to
abandon itself, blindly and extravagantly, to general ideas, the best
corrective that can be used will be to make that subject a part of
the daily practical occupation of that people. The people will then be
compelled to enter upon its details, and the details will teach them the
weak points of the theory. This remedy may frequently be a painful one,
but its effect is certain.

Thus it happens, that the democratic institutions which compel every
citizen to take a practical part in the government, moderate that
excessive taste for general theories in politics which the principle of
equality suggests.

Chapter V: Of The Manner In Which Religion In The United States Avails
Itself Of Democratic Tendencies

I have laid it down in a preceding chapter that men cannot do without
dogmatical belief; and even that it is very much to be desired that such
belief should exist amongst them. I now add, that of all the kinds of
dogmatical belief the most desirable appears to me to be dogmatical
belief in matters of religion; and this is a very clear inference, even
from no higher consideration than the interests of this world. There is
hardly any human action, however particular a character be assigned
to it, which does not originate in some very general idea men have
conceived of the Deity, of his relation to mankind, of the nature of
their own souls, and of their duties to their fellow-creatures. Nor can
anything prevent these ideas from being the common spring from which
everything else emanates. Men are therefore immeasurably interested in
acquiring fixed ideas of God, of the soul, and of their common duties
to their Creator and to their fellow-men; for doubt on these first
principles would abandon all their actions to the impulse of chance,
and would condemn them to live, to a certain extent, powerless and

This is then the subject on which it is most important for each of us to
entertain fixed ideas; and unhappily it is also the subject on which
it is most difficult for each of us, left to himself, to settle his
opinions by the sole force of his reason. None but minds singularly free
from the ordinary anxieties of life--minds at once penetrating, subtle,
and trained by thinking--can even with the assistance of much time and
care, sound the depth of these most necessary truths. And, indeed, we
see that these philosophers are themselves almost always enshrouded in
uncertainties; that at every step the natural light which illuminates
their path grows dimmer and less secure; and that, in spite of all their
efforts, they have as yet only discovered a small number of conflicting
notions, on which the mind of man has been tossed about for thousands of
years, without either laying a firmer grasp on truth, or finding novelty
even in its errors. Studies of this nature are far above the average
capacity of men; and even if the majority of mankind were capable of
such pursuits, it is evident that leisure to cultivate them would still
be wanting. Fixed ideas of God and human nature are indispensable to the
daily practice of men's lives; but the practice of their lives prevents
them from acquiring such ideas.

The difficulty appears to me to be without a parallel. Amongst the
sciences there are some which are useful to the mass of mankind, and
which are within its reach; others can only be approached by the few,
and are not cultivated by the many, who require nothing beyond their
more remote applications: but the daily practice of the science I speak
of is indispensable to all, although the study of it is inaccessible to
the far greater number.

General ideas respecting God and human nature are therefore the ideas
above all others which it is most suitable to withdraw from the habitual
action of private judgment, and in which there is most to gain and least
to lose by recognizing a principle of authority. The first object and
one of the principal advantages of religions, is to furnish to each of
these fundamental questions a solution which is at once clear, precise,
intelligible to the mass of mankind, and lasting. There are religions
which are very false and very absurd; but it may be affirmed, that any
religion which remains within the circle I have just traced, without
aspiring to go beyond it (as many religions have attempted to do, for
the purpose of enclosing on every side the free progress of the human
mind), imposes a salutary restraint on the intellect; and it must be
admitted that, if it do not save men in another world, such religion is
at least very conducive to their happiness and their greatness in this.
This is more especially true of men living in free countries. When
the religion of a people is destroyed, doubt gets hold of the highest
portions of the intellect, and half paralyzes all the rest of its
powers. Every man accustoms himself to entertain none but confused
and changing notions on the subjects most interesting to his
fellow-creatures and himself. His opinions are ill-defended and easily
abandoned: and, despairing of ever resolving by himself the hardest
problems of the destiny of man, he ignobly submits to think no more
about them. Such a condition cannot but enervate the soul, relax the
springs of the will, and prepare a people for servitude. Nor does it
only happen, in such a case, that they allow their freedom to be wrested
from them; they frequently themselves surrender it. When there is no
longer any principle of authority in religion any more than in
politics, men are speedily frightened at the aspect of this unbounded
independence. The constant agitation of all surrounding things alarms
and exhausts them. As everything is at sea in the sphere of the
intellect, they determine at least that the mechanism of society should
be firm and fixed; and as they cannot resume their ancient belief, they
assume a master.

For my own part, I doubt whether man can ever support at the same time
complete religious independence and entire public freedom. And I am
inclined to think, that if faith be wanting in him, he must serve; and
if he be free, he must believe.

Perhaps, however, this great utility of religions is still more obvious
amongst nations where equality of conditions prevails than amongst
others. It must be acknowledged that equality, which brings great
benefits into the world, nevertheless suggests to men (as will be shown
hereafter) some very dangerous propensities. It tends to isolate them
from each other, to concentrate every man's attention upon himself; and
it lays open the soul to an inordinate love of material gratification.
The greatest advantage of religion is to inspire diametrically contrary
principles. There is no religion which does not place the object of
man's desires above and beyond the treasures of earth, and which does
not naturally raise his soul to regions far above those of the senses.
Nor is there any which does not impose on man some sort of duties to
his kind, and thus draws him at times from the contemplation of himself.
This occurs in religions the most false and dangerous. Religious nations
are therefore naturally strong on the very point on which democratic
nations are weak; which shows of what importance it is for men to
preserve their religion as their conditions become more equal.

I have neither the right nor the intention of examining the supernatural
means which God employs to infuse religious belief into the heart of
man. I am at this moment considering religions in a purely human point
of view: my object is to inquire by what means they may most easily
retain their sway in the democratic ages upon which we are entering. It
has been shown that, at times of general cultivation and equality,
the human mind does not consent to adopt dogmatical opinions without
reluctance, and feels their necessity acutely in spiritual matters only.
This proves, in the first place, that at such times religions ought,
more cautiously than at any other, to confine themselves within their
own precincts; for in seeking to extend their power beyond religious
matters, they incur a risk of not being believed at all. The circle
within which they seek to bound the human intellect ought therefore to
be carefully traced, and beyond its verge the mind should be left in
entire freedom to its own guidance. Mahommed professed to derive from
Heaven, and he has inserted in the Koran, not only a body of religious
doctrines, but political maxims, civil and criminal laws, and theories
of science. The gospel, on the contrary, only speaks of the general
relations of men to God and to each other--beyond which it inculcates
and imposes no point of faith. This alone, besides a thousand other
reasons, would suffice to prove that the former of these religions will
never long predominate in a cultivated and democratic age, whilst the
latter is destined to retain its sway at these as at all other periods.

But in continuation of this branch of the subject, I find that in
order for religions to maintain their authority, humanly speaking, in
democratic ages, they must not only confine themselves strictly within
the circle of spiritual matters: their power also depends very much
on the nature of the belief they inculcate, on the external forms they
assume, and on the obligations they impose. The preceding observation,
that equality leads men to very general and very extensive notions, is
principally to be understood as applied to the question of religion. Men
living in a similar and equal condition in the world readily conceive
the idea of the one God, governing every man by the same laws, and
granting to every man future happiness on the same conditions. The idea
of the unity of mankind constantly leads them back to the idea of the
unity of the Creator; whilst, on the contrary, in a state of society
where men are broken up into very unequal ranks, they are apt to devise
as many deities as there are nations, castes, classes, or families, and
to trace a thousand private roads to heaven.

It cannot be denied that Christianity itself has felt, to a certain
extent, the influence which social and political conditions exercise
on religious opinions. At the epoch at which the Christian religion
appeared upon earth, Providence, by whom the world was doubtless
prepared for its coming, had gathered a large portion of the human race,
like an immense flock, under the sceptre of the Caesars. The men of whom
this multitude was composed were distinguished by numerous differences;
but they had thus much in common, that they all obeyed the same laws,
and that every subject was so weak and insignificant in relation to the
imperial potentate, that all appeared equal when their condition
was contrasted with his. This novel and peculiar state of mankind
necessarily predisposed men to listen to the general truths which
Christianity teaches, and may serve to explain the facility and rapidity
with which they then penetrated into the human mind. The counterpart of
this state of things was exhibited after the destruction of the
empire. The Roman world being then as it were shattered into a thousand
fragments, each nation resumed its pristine individuality. An infinite
scale of ranks very soon grew up in the bosom of these nations; the
different races were more sharply defined, and each nation was divided
by castes into several peoples. In the midst of this common effort,
which seemed to be urging human society to the greatest conceivable
amount of voluntary subdivision, Christianity did not lose sight of
the leading general ideas which it had brought into the world. But it
appeared, nevertheless, to lend itself, as much as was possible, to
those new tendencies to which the fractional distribution of mankind
had given birth. Men continued to worship an only God, the Creator and
Preserver of all things; but every people, every city, and, so to speak,
every man, thought to obtain some distinct privilege, and win the favor
of an especial patron at the foot of the Throne of Grace. Unable
to subdivide the Deity, they multiplied and improperly enhanced the
importance of the divine agents. The homage due to saints and angels
became an almost idolatrous worship amongst the majority of the
Christian world; and apprehensions might be entertained for a moment
lest the religion of Christ should retrograde towards the superstitions
which it had subdued. It seems evident, that the more the barriers are
removed which separate nation from nation amongst mankind, and citizen
from citizen amongst a people, the stronger is the bent of the human
mind, as if by its own impulse, towards the idea of an only and
all-powerful Being, dispensing equal laws in the same manner to every
man. In democratic ages, then, it is more particularly important not
to allow the homage paid to secondary agents to be confounded with the
worship due to the Creator alone.

Another truth is no less clear--that religions ought to assume fewer
external observances in democratic periods than at any others. In
speaking of philosophical method among the Americans, I have shown that
nothing is more repugnant to the human mind in an age of equality than
the idea of subjection to forms. Men living at such times are impatient
of figures; to their eyes symbols appear to be the puerile artifice
which is used to conceal or to set off truths, which should more
naturally be bared to the light of open day: they are unmoved by
ceremonial observances, and they are predisposed to attach a secondary
importance to the details of public worship. Those whose care it is to
regulate the external forms of religion in a democratic age should pay
a close attention to these natural propensities of the human mind, in
order not unnecessarily to run counter to them. I firmly believe in the
necessity of forms, which fix the human mind in the contemplation of
abstract truths, and stimulate its ardor in the pursuit of them, whilst
they invigorate its powers of retaining them steadfastly. Nor do I
suppose that it is possible to maintain a religion without external
observances; but, on the other hand, I am persuaded that, in the ages
upon which we are entering, it would be peculiarly dangerous to multiply
them beyond measure; and that they ought rather to be limited to as much
as is absolutely necessary to perpetuate the doctrine itself, which is
the substance of religions of which the ritual is only the form. *a
A religion which should become more minute, more peremptory, and more
surcharged with small observances at a time in which men are becoming
more equal, would soon find itself reduced to a band of fanatical
zealots in the midst of an infidel people.

[Footnote a: In all religions there are some ceremonies which are
inherent in the substance of the faith itself, and in these nothing
should, on any account, be changed. This is especially the case with
Roman Catholicism, in which the doctrine and the form are frequently so
closely united as to form one point of belief.]

I anticipate the objection, that as all religions have general and
eternal truths for their object, they cannot thus shape themselves
to the shifting spirit of every age without forfeiting their claim
to certainty in the eyes of mankind. To this I reply again, that the
principal opinions which constitute belief, and which theologians
call articles of faith, must be very carefully distinguished from the
accessories connected with them. Religions are obliged to hold fast to
the former, whatever be the peculiar spirit of the age; but they should
take good care not to bind themselves in the same manner to the
latter at a time when everything is in transition, and when the mind,
accustomed to the moving pageant of human affairs, reluctantly endures
the attempt to fix it to any given point. The fixity of external and
secondary things can only afford a chance of duration when civil society
is itself fixed; under any other circumstances I hold it to be perilous.

We shall have occasion to see that, of all the passions which originate
in, or are fostered by, equality, there is one which it renders
peculiarly intense, and which it infuses at the same time into the heart
of every man: I mean the love of well-being. The taste for well-being
is the prominent and indelible feature of democratic ages. It may be
believed that a religion which should undertake to destroy so deep
seated a passion, would meet its own destruction thence in the end; and
if it attempted to wean men entirely from the contemplation of the good
things of this world, in order to devote their faculties exclusively to
the thought of another, it may be foreseen that the soul would at length
escape from its grasp, to plunge into the exclusive enjoyment of present
and material pleasures. The chief concern of religions is to purify,
to regulate, and to restrain the excessive and exclusive taste for
well-being which men feel at periods of equality; but they would err in
attempting to control it completely or to eradicate it. They will not
succeed in curing men of the love of riches: but they may still persuade
men to enrich themselves by none but honest means.

This brings me to a final consideration, which comprises, as it were,
all the others. The more the conditions of men are equalized and
assimilated to each other, the more important is it for religions,
whilst they carefully abstain from the daily turmoil of secular affairs,
not needlessly to run counter to the ideas which generally prevail, and
the permanent interests which exist in the mass of the people. For as
public opinion grows to be more and more evidently the first and most
irresistible of existing powers, the religious principle has no external
support strong enough to enable it long to resist its attacks. This
is not less true of a democratic people, ruled by a despot, than in a
republic. In ages of equality, kings may often command obedience,
but the majority always commands belief: to the majority, therefore,
deference is to be paid in whatsoever is not contrary to the faith.

I showed in my former volumes how the American clergy stand aloof from
secular affairs. This is the most obvious, but it is not the only,
example of their self-restraint. In America religion is a distinct
sphere, in which the priest is sovereign, but out of which he takes
care never to go. Within its limits he is the master of the mind;
beyond them, he leaves men to themselves, and surrenders them to the
independence and instability which belong to their nature and their
age. I have seen no country in which Christianity is clothed with fewer
forms, figures, and observances than in the United States; or where
it presents more distinct, more simple, or more general notions to the
mind. Although the Christians of America are divided into a multitude of
sects, they all look upon their religion in the same light. This applies
to Roman Catholicism as well as to the other forms of belief. There
are no Romish priests who show less taste for the minute individual
observances for extraordinary or peculiar means of salvation, or who
cling more to the spirit, and less to the letter of the law, than the
Roman Catholic priests of the United States. Nowhere is that doctrine of
the Church, which prohibits the worship reserved to God alone from
being offered to the saints, more clearly inculcated or more generally
followed. Yet the Roman Catholics of America are very submissive and
very sincere.

Another remark is applicable to the clergy of every communion. The
American ministers of the gospel do not attempt to draw or to fix all
the thoughts of man upon the life to come; they are willing to surrender
a portion of his heart to the cares of the present; seeming to consider
the goods of this world as important, although as secondary, objects.
If they take no part themselves in productive labor, they are at least
interested in its progression, and ready to applaud its results; and
whilst they never cease to point to the other world as the great object
of the hopes and fears of the believer, they do not forbid him honestly
to court prosperity in this. Far from attempting to show that these
things are distinct and contrary to one another, they study rather to
find out on what point they are most nearly and closely connected.

All the American clergy know and respect the intellectual supremacy
exercised by the majority; they never sustain any but necessary
conflicts with it. They take no share in the altercations of parties,
but they readily adopt the general opinions of their country and their
age; and they allow themselves to be borne away without opposition in
the current of feeling and opinion by which everything around them is
carried along. They endeavor to amend their contemporaries, but they do
not quit fellowship with them. Public opinion is therefore never hostile
to them; it rather supports and protects them; and their belief owes its
authority at the same time to the strength which is its own, and to that
which they borrow from the opinions of the majority. Thus it is that, by
respecting all democratic tendencies not absolutely contrary to herself,
and by making use of several of them for her own purposes, religion
sustains an advantageous struggle with that spirit of individual
independence which is her most dangerous antagonist.

Chapter VI: Of The Progress Of Roman Catholicism In The United States

America is the most democratic country in the world, and it is at the
same time (according to reports worthy of belief) the country in which
the Roman Catholic religion makes most progress. At first sight this is
surprising. Two things must here be accurately distinguished: equality
inclines men to wish to form their own opinions; but, on the other hand,
it imbues them with the taste and the idea of unity, simplicity,
and impartiality in the power which governs society. Men living in
democratic ages are therefore very prone to shake off all religious
authority; but if they consent to subject themselves to any authority
of this kind, they choose at least that it should be single and uniform.
Religious powers not radiating from a common centre are naturally
repugnant to their minds; and they almost as readily conceive that there
should be no religion, as that there should be several. At the present
time, more than in any preceding one, Roman Catholics are seen to lapse
into infidelity, and Protestants to be converted to Roman Catholicism.
If the Roman Catholic faith be considered within the pale of the church,
it would seem to be losing ground; without that pale, to be gaining it.
Nor is this circumstance difficult of explanation. The men of our
days are naturally disposed to believe; but, as soon as they have any
religion, they immediately find in themselves a latent propensity which
urges them unconsciously towards Catholicism. Many of the doctrines and
the practices of the Romish Church astonish them; but they feel a secret
admiration for its discipline, and its great unity attracts them.
If Catholicism could at length withdraw itself from the political
animosities to which it has given rise, I have hardly any doubt but that
the same spirit of the age, which appears to be so opposed to it, would
become so favorable as to admit of its great and sudden advancement.
One of the most ordinary weaknesses of the human intellect is to seek to
reconcile contrary principles, and to purchase peace at the expense
of logic. Thus there have ever been, and will ever be, men who, after
having submitted some portion of their religious belief to the principle
of authority, will seek to exempt several other parts of their faith
from its influence, and to keep their minds floating at random between
liberty and obedience. But I am inclined to believe that the number of
these thinkers will be less in democratic than in other ages; and that
our posterity will tend more and more to a single division into two
parts--some relinquishing Christianity entirely, and others returning to
the bosom of the Church of Rome.

Chapter VII: Of The Cause Of A Leaning To Pantheism Amongst Democratic

I shall take occasion hereafter to show under what form the
preponderating taste of a democratic people for very general ideas
manifests itself in politics; but I would point out, at the present
stage of my work, its principal effect on philosophy. It cannot be
denied that pantheism has made great progress in our age. The writings
of a part of Europe bear visible marks of it: the Germans introduce it
into philosophy, and the French into literature. Most of the works of
imagination published in France contain some opinions or some tinge
caught from pantheistical doctrines, or they disclose some tendency to
such doctrines in their authors. This appears to me not only to proceed
from an accidental, but from a permanent cause.

When the conditions of society are becoming more equal, and each
individual man becomes more like all the rest, more weak and more
insignificant, a habit grows up of ceasing to notice the citizens to
consider only the people, and of overlooking individuals to think only
of their kind. At such times the human mind seeks to embrace a multitude
of different objects at once; and it constantly strives to succeed in
connecting a variety of consequences with a single cause. The idea
of unity so possesses itself of man, and is sought for by him so
universally, that if he thinks he has found it, he readily yields
himself up to repose in that belief. Nor does he content himself with
the discovery that nothing is in the world but a creation and a Creator;
still embarrassed by this primary division of things, he seeks to expand
and to simplify his conception by including God and the universe in one
great whole. If there be a philosophical system which teaches that all
things material and immaterial, visible and invisible, which the world
contains, are only to be considered as the several parts of an immense
Being, which alone remains unchanged amidst the continual change and
ceaseless transformation of all that constitutes it, we may readily
infer that such a system, although it destroy the individuality of
man--nay, rather because it destroys that individuality--will have
secret charms for men living in democracies. All their habits of
thought prepare them to conceive it, and predispose them to adopt it.
It naturally attracts and fixes their imagination; it fosters the pride,
whilst it soothes the indolence, of their minds. Amongst the different
systems by whose aid philosophy endeavors to explain the universe, I
believe pantheism to be one of those most fitted to seduce the human
mind in democratic ages. Against it all who abide in their attachment to
the true greatness of man should struggle and combine.

Chapter VIII: The Principle Of Equality Suggests To The Americans The
Idea Of The Indefinite Perfectibility Of Man

Equality suggests to the human mind several ideas which would not have
originated from any other source, and it modifies almost all those
previously entertained. I take as an example the idea of human
perfectibility, because it is one of the principal notions that the
intellect can conceive, and because it constitutes of itself a great
philosophical theory, which is every instant to be traced by its
consequences in the practice of human affairs. Although man has many
points of resemblance with the brute creation, one characteristic is
peculiar to himself--he improves: they are incapable of improvement.
Mankind could not fail to discover this difference from its earliest
period. The idea of perfectibility is therefore as old as the world;
equality did not give birth to it, although it has imparted to it a
novel character.

When the citizens of a community are classed according to their rank,
their profession, or their birth, and when all men are constrained to
follow the career which happens to open before them, everyone thinks
that the utmost limits of human power are to be discerned in proximity
to himself, and none seeks any longer to resist the inevitable law of
his destiny. Not indeed that an aristocratic people absolutely contests
man's faculty of self-improvement, but they do not hold it to be
indefinite; amelioration they conceive, but not change: they imagine
that the future condition of society may be better, but not essentially
different; and whilst they admit that mankind has made vast strides
in improvement, and may still have some to make, they assign to it
beforehand certain impassable limits. Thus they do not presume that they
have arrived at the supreme good or at absolute truth (what people
or what man was ever wild enough to imagine it?) but they cherish a
persuasion that they have pretty nearly reached that degree of greatness
and knowledge which our imperfect nature admits of; and as nothing
moves about them they are willing to fancy that everything is in its fit
place. Then it is that the legislator affects to lay down eternal laws;
that kings and nations will raise none but imperishable monuments; and
that the present generation undertakes to spare generations to come the
care of regulating their destinies.

In proportion as castes disappear and the classes of society
approximate--as manners, customs, and laws vary, from the tumultuous
intercourse of men--as new facts arise--as new truths are brought
to light--as ancient opinions are dissipated, and others take their
place--the image of an ideal perfection, forever on the wing, presents
itself to the human mind. Continual changes are then every instant
occurring under the observation of every man: the position of some
is rendered worse; and he learns but too well, that no people and
no individual, how enlightened soever they may be, can lay claim to
infallibility;--the condition of others is improved; whence he infers
that man is endowed with an indefinite faculty of improvement. His
reverses teach him that none may hope to have discovered absolute
good--his success stimulates him to the never-ending pursuit of
it. Thus, forever seeking--forever falling, to rise again--often
disappointed, but not discouraged--he tends unceasingly towards that
unmeasured greatness so indistinctly visible at the end of the long
track which humanity has yet to tread. It can hardly be believed
how many facts naturally flow from the philosophical theory of the
indefinite perfectibility of man, or how strong an influence it
exercises even on men who, living entirely for the purposes of action
and not of thought, seem to conform their actions to it, without knowing
anything about it. I accost an American sailor, and I inquire why the
ships of his country are built so as to last but for a short time;
he answers without hesitation that the art of navigation is every day
making such rapid progress, that the finest vessel would become almost
useless if it lasted beyond a certain number of years. In these words,
which fell accidentally and on a particular subject from a man of rude
attainments, I recognize the general and systematic idea upon which a
great people directs all its concerns.

Aristocratic nations are naturally too apt to narrow the scope of human
perfectibility; democratic nations to expand it beyond compass.

Chapter IX: The Example Of The Americans Does Not Prove That A
Democratic People Can Have No Aptitude And No Taste For Science,
Literature, Or Art

It must be acknowledged that amongst few of the civilized nations of
our time have the higher sciences made less progress than in the United
States; and in few have great artists, fine poets, or celebrated writers
been more rare. Many Europeans, struck by this fact, have looked upon it
as a natural and inevitable result of equality; and they have supposed
that if a democratic state of society and democratic institutions were
ever to prevail over the whole earth, the human mind would gradually
find its beacon-lights grow dim, and men would relapse into a period of
darkness. To reason thus is, I think, to confound several ideas which
it is important to divide and to examine separately: it is to mingle,
unintentionally, what is democratic with what is only American.

The religion professed by the first emigrants, and bequeathed by them
to their descendants, simple in its form of worship, austere and
almost harsh in its principles, and hostile to external symbols and to
ceremonial pomp, is naturally unfavorable to the fine arts, and only
yields a reluctant sufferance to the pleasures of literature. The
Americans are a very old and a very enlightened people, who have fallen
upon a new and unbounded country, where they may extend themselves at
pleasure, and which they may fertilize without difficulty. This state
of things is without a parallel in the history of the world. In America,
then, every one finds facilities, unknown elsewhere, for making or
increasing his fortune. The spirit of gain is always on the stretch, and
the human mind, constantly diverted from the pleasures of imagination
and the labors of the intellect, is there swayed by no impulse but the
pursuit of wealth. Not only are manufacturing and commercial classes to
be found in the United States, as they are in all other countries; but
what never occurred elsewhere, the whole community is simultaneously
engaged in productive industry and commerce. I am convinced that, if
the Americans had been alone in the world, with the freedom and the
knowledge acquired by their forefathers, and the passions which are
their own, they would not have been slow to discover that progress
cannot long be made in the application of the sciences without
cultivating the theory of them; that all the arts are perfected by one
another: and, however absorbed they might have been by the pursuit
of the principal object of their desires, they would speedily have
admitted, that it is necessary to turn aside from it occasionally, in
order the better to attain it in the end.

The taste for the pleasures of the mind is moreover so natural to the
heart of civilized man, that amongst the polite nations, which are least
disposed to give themselves up to these pursuits, a certain number of
citizens are always to be found who take part in them. This intellectual
craving, when once felt, would very soon have been satisfied. But at the
very time when the Americans were naturally inclined to require nothing
of science but its special applications to the useful arts and the means
of rendering life comfortable, learned and literary Europe was engaged
in exploring the common sources of truth, and in improving at the same
time all that can minister to the pleasures or satisfy the wants of man.
At the head of the enlightened nations of the Old World the inhabitants
of the United States more particularly distinguished one, to which they
were closely united by a common origin and by kindred habits. Amongst
this people they found distinguished men of science, artists of skill,
writers of eminence, and they were enabled to enjoy the treasures of the
intellect without requiring to labor in amassing them. I cannot consent
to separate America from Europe, in spite of the ocean which intervenes.
I consider the people of the United States as that portion of the
English people which is commissioned to explore the wilds of the New
World; whilst the rest of the nation, enjoying more leisure and less
harassed by the drudgery of life, may devote its energies to thought,
and enlarge in all directions the empire of the mind. The position of
the Americans is therefore quite exceptional, and it may be believed
that no democratic people will ever be placed in a similar one. Their
strictly Puritanical origin--their exclusively commercial habits--even
the country they inhabit, which seems to divert their minds from the
pursuit of science, literature, and the arts--the proximity of Europe,
which allows them to neglect these pursuits without relapsing into
barbarism--a thousand special causes, of which I have only been able to
point out the most important--have singularly concurred to fix the mind
of the American upon purely practical objects. His passions, his wants,
his education, and everything about him seem to unite in drawing the
native of the United States earthward: his religion alone bids him turn,
from time to time, a transient and distracted glance to heaven. Let us
cease then to view all democratic nations under the mask of the American
people, and let us attempt to survey them at length with their own
proper features.

It is possible to conceive a people not subdivided into any castes or
scale of ranks; in which the law, recognizing no privileges, should
divide inherited property into equal shares; but which, at the same
time, should be without knowledge and without freedom. Nor is this an
empty hypothesis: a despot may find that it is his interest to render
his subjects equal and to leave them ignorant, in order more easily to
keep them slaves. Not only would a democratic people of this kind show
neither aptitude nor taste for science, literature, or art, but it would
probably never arrive at the possession of them. The law of descent
would of itself provide for the destruction of fortunes at each
succeeding generation; and new fortunes would be acquired by none. The
poor man, without either knowledge or freedom, would not so much as
conceive the idea of raising himself to wealth; and the rich man
would allow himself to be degraded to poverty, without a notion of
self-defence. Between these two members of the community complete and
invincible equality would soon be established.

No one would then have time or taste to devote himself to the pursuits
or pleasures of the intellect; but all men would remain paralyzed by
a state of common ignorance and equal servitude. When I conceive a
democratic society of this kind, I fancy myself in one of those low,
close, and gloomy abodes, where the light which breaks in from without
soon faints and fades away. A sudden heaviness overpowers me, and I
grope through the surrounding darkness, to find the aperture which will
restore me to daylight and the air.

But all this is not applicable to men already enlightened who retain
their freedom, after having abolished from amongst them those peculiar
and hereditary rights which perpetuated the tenure of property in the
hands of certain individuals or certain bodies. When men living in a
democratic state of society are enlightened, they readily discover that
they are confined and fixed within no limits which constrain them to
take up with their present fortune. They all therefore conceive the idea
of increasing it; if they are free, they all attempt it, but all do
not succeed in the same manner. The legislature, it is true, no
longer grants privileges, but they are bestowed by nature. As natural
inequality is very great, fortunes become unequal as soon as every man
exerts all his faculties to get rich. The law of descent prevents the
establishment of wealthy families; but it does not prevent the existence
of wealthy individuals. It constantly brings back the members of the
community to a common level, from which they as constantly escape:
and the inequality of fortunes augments in proportion as knowledge is
diffused and liberty increased.

A sect which arose in our time, and was celebrated for its talents and
its extravagance, proposed to concentrate all property into the hands of
a central power, whose function it should afterwards be to parcel it
out to individuals, according to their capacity. This would have been a
method of escaping from that complete and eternal equality which seems
to threaten democratic society. But it would be a simpler and less
dangerous remedy to grant no privilege to any, giving to all equal
cultivation and equal independence, and leaving everyone to determine
his own position. Natural inequality will very soon make way for itself,
and wealth will spontaneously pass into the hands of the most capable.

Free and democratic communities, then, will always contain a
considerable number of people enjoying opulence or competency. The
wealthy will not be so closely linked to each other as the members of
the former aristocratic class of society: their propensities will be
different, and they will scarcely ever enjoy leisure as secure or as
complete: but they will be far more numerous than those who belonged to
that class of society could ever be. These persons will not be strictly
confined to the cares of practical life, and they will still be able,
though in different degrees, to indulge in the pursuits and pleasures of
the intellect. In those pleasures they will indulge; for if it be true
that the human mind leans on one side to the narrow, the practical,
and the useful, it naturally rises on the other to the infinite, the
spiritual, and the beautiful. Physical wants confine it to the earth;
but, as soon as the tie is loosened, it will unbend itself again.

Not only will the number of those who can take an interest in the
productions of the mind be enlarged, but the taste for intellectual
enjoyment will descend, step by step, even to those who, in aristocratic
societies, seem to have neither time nor ability to in indulge in them.
When hereditary wealth, the privileges of rank, and the prerogatives of
birth have ceased to be, and when every man derives his strength from
himself alone, it becomes evident that the chief cause of disparity
between the fortunes of men is the mind. Whatever tends to invigorate,
to extend, or to adorn the mind, instantly rises to great value. The
utility of knowledge becomes singularly conspicuous even to the eyes of
the multitude: those who have no taste for its charms set store upon its
results, and make some efforts to acquire it. In free and enlightened
democratic ages, there is nothing to separate men from each other or
to retain them in their peculiar sphere; they rise or sink with extreme
rapidity. All classes live in perpetual intercourse from their great
proximity to each other. They communicate and intermingle every
day--they imitate and envy one other: this suggests to the people many
ideas, notions, and desires which it would never have entertained if the
distinctions of rank had been fixed and society at rest. In such
nations the servant never considers himself as an entire stranger to
the pleasures and toils of his master, nor the poor man to those of the
rich; the rural population assimilates itself to that of the towns, and
the provinces to the capital. No one easily allows himself to be reduced
to the mere material cares of life; and the humblest artisan casts
at times an eager and a furtive glance into the higher regions of the
intellect. People do not read with the same notions or in the same
manner as they do in an aristocratic community; but the circle of
readers is unceasingly expanded, till it includes all the citizens.

As soon as the multitude begins to take an interest in the labors of the
mind, it finds out that to excel in some of them is a powerful method of
acquiring fame, power, or wealth. The restless ambition which equality
begets instantly takes this direction as it does all others. The number
of those who cultivate science, letters, and the arts, becomes immense.
The intellectual world starts into prodigious activity: everyone
endeavors to open for himself a path there, and to draw the eyes of the
public after him. Something analogous occurs to what happens in society
in the United States, politically considered. What is done is often
imperfect, but the attempts are innumerable; and, although the results
of individual effort are commonly very small, the total amount is always
very large.

It is therefore not true to assert that men living in democratic ages
are naturally indifferent to science, literature, and the arts: only it
must be acknowledged that they cultivate them after their own
fashion, and bring to the task their own peculiar qualifications and

Chapter X: Why The Americans Are More Addicted To Practical Than To
Theoretical Science

If a democratic state of society and democratic institutions do not
stop the career of the human mind, they incontestably guide it in one
direction in preference to another. Their effects, thus circumscribed,
are still exceedingly great; and I trust I may be pardoned if I pause
for a moment to survey them. We had occasion, in speaking of the
philosophical method of the American people, to make several remarks
which must here be turned to account.

Equality begets in man the desire of judging of everything for himself:
it gives him, in all things, a taste for the tangible and the real,
a contempt for tradition and for forms. These general tendencies are
principally discernible in the peculiar subject of this chapter. Those
who cultivate the sciences amongst a democratic people are always afraid
of losing their way in visionary speculation. They mistrust systems;
they adhere closely to facts and the study of facts with their own
senses. As they do not easily defer to the mere name of any fellow-man,
they are never inclined to rest upon any man's authority; but, on the
contrary, they are unremitting in their efforts to point out the weaker
points of their neighbors' opinions. Scientific precedents have very
little weight with them; they are never long detained by the subtilty
of the schools, nor ready to accept big words for sterling coin; they
penetrate, as far as they can, into the principal parts of the subject
which engages them, and they expound them in the vernacular tongue.
Scientific pursuits then follow a freer and a safer course, but a less
lofty one.

The mind may, as it appears to me, divide science into three parts. The
first comprises the most theoretical principles, and those more abstract
notions whose application is either unknown or very remote. The second
is composed of those general truths which still belong to pure theory,
but lead, nevertheless, by a straight and short road to practical
results. Methods of application and means of execution make up the
third. Each of these different portions of science may be separately
cultivated, although reason and experience show that none of them can
prosper long, if it be absolutely cut off from the two others.

In America the purely practical part of science is admirably understood,
and careful attention is paid to the theoretical portion which is
immediately requisite to application. On this head the Americans always
display a clear, free, original, and inventive power of mind. But
hardly anyone in the United States devotes himself to the essentially
theoretical and abstract portion of human knowledge. In this respect
the Americans carry to excess a tendency which is, I think, discernible,
though in a less degree, amongst all democratic nations.

Nothing is more necessary to the culture of the higher sciences, or of
the more elevated departments of science, than meditation; and nothing
is less suited to meditation than the structure of democratic society.
We do not find there, as amongst an aristocratic people, one class which
clings to a state of repose because it is well off; and another which
does not venture to stir because it despairs of improving its condition.
Everyone is actively in motion: some in quest of power, others of
gain. In the midst of this universal tumult--this incessant conflict of
jarring interests--this continual stride of men after fortune--where is
that calm to be found which is necessary for the deeper combinations
of the intellect? How can the mind dwell upon any single point, when
everything whirls around it, and man himself is swept and beaten onwards
by the heady current which rolls all things in its course? But the
permanent agitation which subsists in the bosom of a peaceable and
established democracy, must be distinguished from the tumultuous and
revolutionary movements which almost always attend the birth and growth
of democratic society. When a violent revolution occurs amongst a highly
civilized people, it cannot fail to give a sudden impulse to their
feelings and their opinions. This is more particularly true of
democratic revolutions, which stir up all the classes of which a people
is composed, and beget, at the same time, inordinate ambition in the
breast of every member of the community. The French made most surprising
advances in the exact sciences at the very time at which they were
finishing the destruction of the remains of their former feudal society;
yet this sudden fecundity is not to be attributed to democracy, but to
the unexampled revolution which attended its growth. What happened at
that period was a special incident, and it would be unwise to regard
it as the test of a general principle. Great revolutions are not
more common amongst democratic nations than amongst others: I am even
inclined to believe that they are less so. But there prevails amongst
those populations a small distressing motion--a sort of incessant
jostling of men--which annoys and disturbs the mind, without exciting
or elevating it. Men who live in democratic communities not only seldom
indulge in meditation, but they naturally entertain very little esteem
for it. A democratic state of society and democratic institutions plunge
the greater part of men in constant active life; and the habits of
mind which are suited to an active life, are not always suited to a
contemplative one. The man of action is frequently obliged to content
himself with the best he can get, because he would never accomplish
his purpose if he chose to carry every detail to perfection. He has
perpetually occasion to rely on ideas which he has not had leisure
to search to the bottom; for he is much more frequently aided by the
opportunity of an idea than by its strict accuracy; and, in the long
run, he risks less in making use of some false principles, than in
spending his time in establishing all his principles on the basis of
truth. The world is not led by long or learned demonstrations; a rapid
glance at particular incidents, the daily study of the fleeting passions
of the multitude, the accidents of the time, and the art of turning them
to account, decide all its affairs.

In the ages in which active life is the condition of almost everyone,
men are therefore generally led to attach an excessive value to the
rapid bursts and superficial conceptions of the intellect; and, on
the other hand, to depreciate below their true standard its slower and
deeper labors. This opinion of the public influences the judgment of the
men who cultivate the sciences; they are persuaded that they may succeed
in those pursuits without meditation, or deterred from such pursuits as
demand it.

There are several methods of studying the sciences. Amongst a multitude
of men you will find a selfish, mercantile, and trading taste for
the discoveries of the mind, which must not be confounded with that
disinterested passion which is kindled in the heart of the few. A desire
to utilize knowledge is one thing; the pure desire to know is another.
I do not doubt that in a few minds and far between, an ardent,
inexhaustible love of truth springs up, self-supported, and living in
ceaseless fruition without ever attaining the satisfaction which it
seeks. This ardent love it is--this proud, disinterested love of what is
true--which raises men to the abstract sources of truth, to draw their
mother-knowledge thence. If Pascal had had nothing in view but some
large gain, or even if he had been stimulated by the love of fame alone,
I cannot conceive that he would ever have been able to rally all the
powers of his mind, as he did, for the better discovery of the most
hidden things of the Creator. When I see him, as it were, tear his soul
from the midst of all the cares of life to devote it wholly to these
researches, and, prematurely snapping the links which bind the frame to
life, die of old age before forty, I stand amazed, and I perceive that
no ordinary cause is at work to produce efforts so extra-ordinary.

The future will prove whether these passions, at once so rare and so
productive, come into being and into growth as easily in the midst of
democratic as in aristocratic communities. For myself, I confess that
I am slow to believe it. In aristocratic society, the class which gives
the tone to opinion, and has the supreme guidance of affairs, being
permanently and hereditarily placed above the multitude, naturally
conceives a lofty idea of itself and of man. It loves to invent for
him noble pleasures, to carve out splendid objects for his ambition.
Aristocracies often commit very tyrannical and very inhuman actions;
but they rarely entertain grovelling thoughts; and they show a kind of
haughty contempt of little pleasures, even whilst they indulge in
them. The effect is greatly to raise the general pitch of society. In
aristocratic ages vast ideas are commonly entertained of the dignity,
the power, and the greatness of man. These opinions exert their
influence on those who cultivate the sciences, as well as on the rest
of the community. They facilitate the natural impulse of the mind to the
highest regions of thought, and they naturally prepare it to conceive
a sublime--nay, almost a divine--love of truth. Men of science at such
periods are consequently carried away by theory; and it even happens
that they frequently conceive an inconsiderate contempt for the
practical part of learning. "Archimedes," says Plutarch, "was of so
lofty a spirit, that he never condescended to write any treatise on the
manner of constructing all these engines of offence and defence. And as
he held this science of inventing and putting together engines, and all
arts generally speaking which tended to any useful end in practice, to
be vile, low, and mercenary, he spent his talents and his studious hours
in writing of those things only whose beauty and subtilty had in them
no admixture of necessity." Such is the aristocratic aim of science; in
democratic nations it cannot be the same.

The greater part of the men who constitute these nations are extremely
eager in the pursuit of actual and physical gratification. As they are
always dissatisfied with the position which they occupy, and are always
free to leave it, they think of nothing but the means of changing their
fortune, or of increasing it. To minds thus predisposed, every new
method which leads by a shorter road to wealth, every machine which
spares labor, every instrument which diminishes the cost of production,
every discovery which facilitates pleasures or augments them, seems to
be the grandest effort of the human intellect. It is chiefly from
these motives that a democratic people addicts itself to scientific
pursuits--that it understands, and that it respects them. In
aristocratic ages, science is more particularly called upon to furnish
gratification to the mind; in democracies, to the body. You may be sure
that the more a nation is democratic, enlightened, and free, the greater
will be the number of these interested promoters of scientific genius,
and the more will discoveries immediately applicable to productive
industry confer gain, fame, and even power on their authors. For in
democracies the working class takes a part in public affairs; and public
honors, as well as pecuniary remuneration, may be awarded to those who
deserve them. In a community thus organized it may easily be conceived
that the human mind may be led insensibly to the neglect of theory; and
that it is urged, on the contrary, with unparalleled vehemence to the
applications of science, or at least to that portion of theoretical
science which is necessary to those who make such applications. In vain
will some innate propensity raise the mind towards the loftier spheres
of the intellect; interest draws it down to the middle zone. There it
may develop all its energy and restless activity, there it may engender
all its wonders. These very Americans, who have not discovered one of
the general laws of mechanics, have introduced into navigation an engine
which changes the aspect of the world.

Assuredly I do not content that the democratic nations of our time are
destined to witness the extinction of the transcendent luminaries of
man's intelligence, nor even that no new lights will ever start into
existence. At the age at which the world has now arrived, and amongst so
many cultivated nations, perpetually excited by the fever of productive
industry, the bonds which connect the different parts of science
together cannot fail to strike the observation; and the taste for
practical science itself, if it be enlightened, ought to lead men not to
neglect theory. In the midst of such numberless attempted applications
of so many experiments, repeated every day, it is almost impossible that
general laws should not frequently be brought to light; so that great
discoveries would be frequent, though great inventors be rare. I
believe, moreover, in the high calling of scientific minds. If the
democratic principle does not, on the one hand, induce men to cultivate
science for its own sake, on the other it enormously increases the
number of those who do cultivate it. Nor is it credible that, from
amongst so great a multitude no speculative genius should from time to
time arise, inflamed by the love of truth alone. Such a one, we may be
sure, would dive into the deepest mysteries of nature, whatever be
the spirit of his country or his age. He requires no assistance in his
course--enough that he be not checked in it.

All that I mean to say is this:--permanent inequality of conditions
leads men to confine themselves to the arrogant and sterile research
of abstract truths; whilst the social condition and the institutions
of democracy prepare them to seek the immediate and useful practical
results of the sciences. This tendency is natural and inevitable: it is
curious to be acquainted with it, and it may be necessary to point
it out. If those who are called upon to guide the nations of our time
clearly discerned from afar off these new tendencies, which will soon
be irresistible, they would understand that, possessing education
and freedom, men living in democratic ages cannot fail to improve the
industrial part of science; and that henceforward all the efforts of
the constituted authorities ought to be directed to support the highest
branches of learning, and to foster the nobler passion for science
itself. In the present age the human mind must be coerced into
theoretical studies; it runs of its own accord to practical
applications; and, instead of perpetually referring it to the minute
examination of secondary effects, it is well to divert it from them
sometimes, in order to raise it up to the contemplation of primary
causes. Because the civilization of ancient Rome perished in consequence
of the invasion of the barbarians, we are perhaps too apt to think that
civilization cannot perish in any other manner. If the light by which we
are guided is ever extinguished, it will dwindle by degrees, and expire
of itself. By dint of close adherence to mere applications, principles
would be lost sight of; and when the principles were wholly forgotten,
the methods derived from them would be ill-pursued. New methods could
no longer be invented, and men would continue to apply, without
intelligence, and without art, scientific processes no longer

When Europeans first arrived in China, three hundred years ago,
they found that almost all the arts had reached a certain degree of
perfection there; and they were surprised that a people which had
attained this point should not have gone beyond it. At a later period
they discovered some traces of the higher branches of science which were
lost. The nation was absorbed in productive industry: the greater part
of its scientific processes had been preserved, but science itself no
longer existed there. This served to explain the strangely motionless
state in which they found the minds of this people. The Chinese, in
following the track of their forefathers, had forgotten the reasons by
which the latter had been guided. They still used the formula, without
asking for its meaning: they retained the instrument, but they no longer
possessed the art of altering or renewing it. The Chinese, then, had
lost the power of change; for them to improve was impossible. They
were compelled, at all times and in all points, to imitate their
predecessors, lest they should stray into utter darkness, by deviating
for an instant from the path already laid down for them. The source of
human knowledge was all but dry; and though the stream still ran on, it
could neither swell its waters nor alter its channel. Notwithstanding
this, China had subsisted peaceably for centuries. The invaders who had
conquered the country assumed the manners of the inhabitants, and
order prevailed there. A sort of physical prosperity was everywhere
discernible: revolutions were rare, and war was, so to speak, unknown.

It is then a fallacy to flatter ourselves with the reflection that the
barbarians are still far from us; for if there be some nations which
allow civilization to be torn from their grasp, there are others who
trample it themselves under their feet.

Chapter XI: Of The Spirit In Which The Americans Cultivate The Arts

It would be to waste the time of my readers and my own if I strove
to demonstrate how the general mediocrity of fortunes, the absence of
superfluous wealth, the universal desire of comfort, and the constant
efforts by which everyone attempts to procure it, make the taste for the
useful predominate over the love of the beautiful in the heart of man.
Democratic nations, amongst which all these things exist, will therefore
cultivate the arts which serve to render life easy, in preference to
those whose object is to adorn it. They will habitually prefer the
useful to the beautiful, and they will require that the beautiful should
be useful. But I propose to go further; and after having pointed out
this first feature, to sketch several others.

It commonly happens that in the ages of privilege the practice of
almost all the arts becomes a privilege; and that every profession is
a separate walk, upon which it is not allowable for everyone to enter.
Even when productive industry is free, the fixed character which
belongs to aristocratic nations gradually segregates all the persons who
practise the same art, till they form a distinct class, always composed
of the same families, whose members are all known to each other, and
amongst whom a public opinion of their own and a species of corporate
pride soon spring up. In a class or guild of this kind, each artisan has
not only his fortune to make, but his reputation to preserve. He is not
exclusively swayed by his own interest, or even by that of his customer,
but by that of the body to which he belongs; and the interest of that
body is, that each artisan should produce the best possible workmanship.
In aristocratic ages, the object of the arts is therefore to manufacture
as well as possible--not with the greatest despatch, or at the lowest

When, on the contrary, every profession is open to all--when a multitude
of persons are constantly embracing and abandoning it--and when its
several members are strangers to each other, indifferent, and from their
numbers hardly seen amongst themselves; the social tie is destroyed,
and each workman, standing alone, endeavors simply to gain the greatest
possible quantity of money at the least possible cost. The will of the
customer is then his only limit. But at the same time a corresponding
revolution takes place in the customer also. In countries in which
riches as well as power are concentrated and retained in the hands of
the few, the use of the greater part of this world's goods belongs to a
small number of individuals, who are always the same. Necessity, public
opinion, or moderate desires exclude all others from the enjoyment
of them. As this aristocratic class remains fixed at the pinnacle of
greatness on which it stands, without diminution or increase, it is
always acted upon by the same wants and affected by them in the same
manner. The men of whom it is composed naturally derive from their
superior and hereditary position a taste for what is extremely well made
and lasting. This affects the general way of thinking of the nation in
relation to the arts. It often occurs, among such a people, that even
the peasant will rather go without the object he covets, than procure it
in a state of imperfection. In aristocracies, then, the handicraftsmen
work for only a limited number of very fastidious customers: the
profit they hope to make depends principally on the perfection of their

Such is no longer the case when, all privileges being abolished, ranks
are intermingled, and men are forever rising or sinking upon the ladder
of society. Amongst a democratic people a number of citizens always
exist whose patrimony is divided and decreasing. They have contracted,
under more prosperous circumstances, certain wants, which remain after
the means of satisfying such wants are gone; and they are anxiously
looking out for some surreptitious method of providing for them. On the
other hand, there are always in democracies a large number of men whose
fortune is upon the increase, but whose desires grow much faster than
their fortunes: and who gloat upon the gifts of wealth in anticipation,
long before they have means to command them. Such men eager to find some
short cut to these gratifications, already almost within their reach.
From the combination of these causes the result is, that in democracies
there are always a multitude of individuals whose wants are above their
means, and who are very willing to take up with imperfect satisfaction
rather than abandon the object of their desires.

The artisan readily understands these passions, for he himself partakes
in them: in an aristocracy he would seek to sell his workmanship at a
high price to the few; he now conceives that the more expeditious way of
getting rich is to sell them at a low price to all. But there are only
two ways of lowering the price of commodities. The first is to discover
some better, shorter, and more ingenious method of producing them: the
second is to manufacture a larger quantity of goods, nearly similar,
but of less value. Amongst a democratic population, all the intellectual
faculties of the workman are directed to these two objects: he strives
to invent methods which may enable him not only to work better, but
quicker and cheaper; or, if he cannot succeed in that, to diminish the
intrinsic qualities of the thing he makes, without rendering it wholly
unfit for the use for which it is intended. When none but the wealthy
had watches, they were almost all very good ones: few are now made which
are worth much, but everybody has one in his pocket. Thus the democratic
principle not only tends to direct the human mind to the useful arts,
but it induces the artisan to produce with greater rapidity a quantity
of imperfect commodities, and the consumer to content himself with these

Not that in democracies the arts are incapable of producing very
commendable works, if such be required. This may occasionally be the
case, if customers appear who are ready to pay for time and trouble.
In this rivalry of every kind of industry--in the midst of this immense
competition and these countless experiments, some excellent workmen are
formed who reach the utmost limits of their craft. But they have rarely
an opportunity of displaying what they can do; they are scrupulously
sparing of their powers; they remain in a state of accomplished
mediocrity, which condemns itself, and, though it be very well able
to shoot beyond the mark before it, aims only at what it hits. In
aristocracies, on the contrary, workmen always do all they can; and
when they stop, it is because they have reached the limit of their

When I arrive in a country where I find some of the finest productions
of the arts, I learn from this fact nothing of the social condition or
of the political constitution of the country. But if I perceive that
the productions of the arts are generally of an inferior quality, very
abundant and very cheap, I am convinced that, amongst the people where
this occurs, privilege is on the decline, and that ranks are beginning
to intermingle, and will soon be confounded together.

The handicraftsmen of democratic ages endeavor not only to bring their
useful productions within the reach of the whole community, but they
strive to give to all their commodities attractive qualities which they
do not in reality possess. In the confusion of all ranks everyone hopes
to appear what he is not, and makes great exertions to succeed in this
object. This sentiment indeed, which is but too natural to the heart of
man, does not originate in the democratic principle; but that principle
applies it to material objects. To mimic virtue is of every age; but the
hypocrisy of luxury belongs more particularly to the ages of democracy.

To satisfy these new cravings of human vanity the arts have recourse to
every species of imposture: and these devices sometimes go so far as to
defeat their own purpose. Imitation diamonds are now made which may be
easily mistaken for real ones; as soon as the art of fabricating false
diamonds shall have reached so high a degree of perfection that they
cannot be distinguished from real ones, it is probable that both one and
the other will be abandoned, and become mere pebbles again.

This leads me to speak of those arts which are called the fine arts, by
way of distinction. I do not believe that it is a necessary effect of a
democratic social condition and of democratic institutions to diminish
the number of men who cultivate the fine arts; but these causes exert
a very powerful influence on the manner in which these arts are
cultivated. Many of those who had already contracted a taste for the
fine arts are impoverished: on the other hand, many of those who are not
yet rich begin to conceive that taste, at least by imitation; and the
number of consumers increases, but opulent and fastidious consumers
become more scarce. Something analogous to what I have already
pointed out in the useful arts then takes place in the fine arts;
the productions of artists are more numerous, but the merit of each
production is diminished. No longer able to soar to what is great, they
cultivate what is pretty and elegant; and appearance is more attended
to than reality. In aristocracies a few great pictures are produced;
in democratic countries, a vast number of insignificant ones. In the
former, statues are raised of bronze; in the latter, they are modelled
in plaster.

When I arrived for the first time at New York, by that part of the
Atlantic Ocean which is called the Narrows, I was surprised to perceive
along the shore, at some distance from the city, a considerable number
of little palaces of white marble, several of which were built after the
models of ancient architecture. When I went the next day to inspect more
closely the building which had particularly attracted my notice, I found
that its walls were of whitewashed brick, and its columns of painted
wood. All the edifices which I had admired the night before were of the
same kind.

The social condition and the institutions of democracy impart, moreover,
certain peculiar tendencies to all the imitative arts, which it is easy
to point out. They frequently withdraw them from the delineation of the
soul to fix them exclusively on that of the body: and they substitute
the representation of motion and sensation for that of sentiment and
thought: in a word, they put the real in the place of the ideal. I doubt
whether Raphael studied the minutest intricacies of the mechanism of the
human body as thoroughly as the draughtsmen of our own time. He did not
attach the same importance to rigorous accuracy on this point as they
do, because he aspired to surpass nature. He sought to make of man
something which should be superior to man, and to embellish beauty's
self. David and his scholars were, on the contrary, as good anatomists
as they were good painters. They wonderfully depicted the models which
they had before their eyes, but they rarely imagined anything beyond
them: they followed nature with fidelity: whilst Raphael sought for
something better than nature. They have left us an exact portraiture
of man; but he discloses in his works a glimpse of the Divinity. This
remark as to the manner of treating a subject is no less applicable to
the choice of it. The painters of the Middle Ages generally sought far
above themselves, and away from their own time, for mighty subjects,
which left to their imagination an unbounded range. Our painters
frequently employ their talents in the exact imitation of the details
of private life, which they have always before their eyes; and they are
forever copying trivial objects, the originals of which are only too
abundant in nature.

Chapter XII: Why The Americans Raise Some Monuments So Insignificant,
And Others So Important

I have just observed, that in democratic ages monuments of the arts tend
to become more numerous and less important. I now hasten to point out
the exception to this rule. In a democratic community individuals are
very powerless; but the State which represents them all, and contains
them all in its grasp, is very powerful. Nowhere do citizens appear so
insignificant as in a democratic nation; nowhere does the nation itself
appear greater, or does the mind more easily take in a wide general
survey of it. In democratic communities the imagination is compressed
when men consider themselves; it expands indefinitely when they think
of the State. Hence it is that the same men who live on a small scale in
narrow dwellings, frequently aspire to gigantic splendor in the erection
of their public monuments.

The Americans traced out the circuit of an immense city on the site
which they intended to make their capital, but which, up to the present
time, is hardly more densely peopled than Pontoise, though, according
to them, it will one day contain a million of inhabitants. They have
already rooted up trees for ten miles round, lest they should interfere
with the future citizens of this imaginary metropolis. They have erected
a magnificent palace for Congress in the centre of the city, and have
given it the pompous name of the Capitol. The several States of the
Union are every day planning and erecting for themselves prodigious
undertakings, which would astonish the engineers of the great European
nations. Thus democracy not only leads men to a vast number of
inconsiderable productions; it also leads them to raise some monuments
on the largest scale: but between these two extremes there is a blank.
A few scattered remains of enormous buildings can therefore teach us
nothing of the social condition and the institutions of the people by
whom they were raised. I may add, though the remark leads me to step
out of my subject, that they do not make us better acquainted with its
greatness, its civilization, and its real prosperity. Whensoever a power
of any kind shall be able to make a whole people co-operate in a single
undertaking, that power, with a little knowledge and a great deal of
time, will succeed in obtaining something enormous from the co-operation
of efforts so multiplied. But this does not lead to the conclusion that
the people was very happy, very enlightened, or even very strong.

The Spaniards found the City of Mexico full of magnificent temples
and vast palaces; but that did not prevent Cortes from conquering the
Mexican Empire with 600 foot soldiers and sixteen horses. If the Romans
had been better acquainted with the laws of hydraulics, they would not
have constructed all the aqueducts which surround the ruins of their
cities--they would have made a better use of their power and their
wealth. If they had invented the steam-engine, perhaps they would not
have extended to the extremities of their empire those long artificial
roads which are called Roman roads. These things are at once the
splendid memorials of their ignorance and of their greatness. A people
which should leave no other vestige of its track than a few leaden pipes
in the earth and a few iron rods upon its surface, might have been more
the master of nature than the Romans.

Chapter XIII: Literary Characteristics Of Democratic Ages

When a traveller goes into a bookseller's shop in the United States,
and examines the American books upon the shelves, the number of works
appears extremely great; whilst that of known authors appears, on the
contrary, to be extremely small. He will first meet with a number
of elementary treatises, destined to teach the rudiments of human
knowledge. Most of these books are written in Europe; the Americans
reprint them, adapting them to their own country. Next comes an enormous
quantity of religious works, Bibles, sermons, edifying anecdotes,
controversial divinity, and reports of charitable societies; lastly,
appears the long catalogue of political pamphlets. In America, parties
do not write books to combat each others' opinions, but pamphlets which
are circulated for a day with incredible rapidity, and then expire. In
the midst of all these obscure productions of the human brain are to be
found the more remarkable works of that small number of authors, whose
names are, or ought to be, known to Europeans.

Although America is perhaps in our days the civilized country in
which literature is least attended to, a large number of persons are
nevertheless to be found there who take an interest in the productions
of the mind, and who make them, if not the study of their lives, at
least the charm of their leisure hours. But England supplies these
readers with the larger portion of the books which they require. Almost
all important English books are republished in the United States. The
literary genius of Great Britain still darts its rays into the recesses
of the forests of the New World. There is hardly a pioneer's hut which
does not contain a few odd volumes of Shakespeare. I remember that I
read the feudal play of Henry V for the first time in a loghouse.

Not only do the Americans constantly draw upon the treasures of English
literature, but it may be said with truth that they find the literature
of England growing on their own soil. The larger part of that small
number of men in the United States who are engaged in the composition of
literary works are English in substance, and still more so in form.
Thus they transport into the midst of democracy the ideas and literary
fashions which are current amongst the aristocratic nation they have
taken for their model. They paint with colors borrowed from foreign
manners; and as they hardly ever represent the country they were born
in as it really is, they are seldom popular there. The citizens of the
United States are themselves so convinced that it is not for them that
books are published, that before they can make up their minds upon the
merit of one of their authors, they generally wait till his fame has
been ratified in England, just as in pictures the author of an original
is held to be entitled to judge of the merit of a copy. The inhabitants
of the United States have then at present, properly speaking, no
literature. The only authors whom I acknowledge as American are the
journalists. They indeed are not great writers, but they speak the
language of their countrymen, and make themselves heard by them. Other
authors are aliens; they are to the Americans what the imitators of the
Greeks and Romans were to us at the revival of learning--an object of
curiosity, not of general sympathy. They amuse the mind, but they do not
act upon the manners of the people.

I have already said that this state of things is very far from
originating in democracy alone, and that the causes of it must be sought
for in several peculiar circumstances independent of the democratic
principle. If the Americans, retaining the same laws and social
condition, had had a different origin, and had been transported
into another country, I do not question that they would have had
a literature. Even as they now are, I am convinced that they will
ultimately have one; but its character will be different from that which
marks the American literary productions of our time, and that character
will be peculiarly its own. Nor is it impossible to trace this character

I suppose an aristocratic people amongst whom letters are cultivated;
the labors of the mind, as well as the affairs of state, are conducted
by a ruling class in society. The literary as well as the political
career is almost entirely confined to this class, or to those nearest
to it in rank. These premises suffice to give me a key to all the rest.
When a small number of the same men are engaged at the same time upon
the same objects, they easily concert with one another, and agree upon
certain leading rules which are to govern them each and all. If the
object which attracts the attention of these men is literature, the
productions of the mind will soon be subjected by them to precise
canons, from which it will no longer be allowable to depart. If these
men occupy a hereditary position in the country, they will be naturally
inclined, not only to adopt a certain number of fixed rules for
themselves, but to follow those which their forefathers laid down for
their own guidance; their code will be at once strict and traditional.
As they are not necessarily engrossed by the cares of daily life--as
they have never been so, any more than their fathers were before
them--they have learned to take an interest, for several generations
back, in the labors of the mind. They have learned to understand
literature as an art, to love it in the end for its own sake, and to
feel a scholar-like satisfaction in seeing men conform to its rules. Nor
is this all: the men of whom I speak began and will end their lives in
easy or in affluent circumstances; hence they have naturally conceived
a taste for choice gratifications, and a love of refined and delicate
pleasures. Nay more, a kind of indolence of mind and heart, which they
frequently contract in the midst of this long and peaceful enjoyment
of so much welfare, leads them to put aside, even from their pleasures,
whatever might be too startling or too acute. They had rather be amused
than intensely excited; they wish to be interested, but not to be
carried away.

Now let us fancy a great number of literary performances executed by the
men, or for the men, whom I have just described, and we shall readily
conceive a style of literature in which everything will be regular and
prearranged. The slightest work will be carefully touched in its least
details; art and labor will be conspicuous in everything; each kind of
writing will have rules of its own, from which it will not be allowed to
swerve, and which distinguish it from all others. Style will be thought
of almost as much importance as thought; and the form will be no less
considered than the matter: the diction will be polished, measured,
and uniform. The tone of the mind will be always dignified, seldom very
animated; and writers will care more to perfect what they produce than
to multiply their productions. It will sometimes happen that the members
of the literary class, always living amongst themselves and writing for
themselves alone, will lose sight of the rest of the world, which will
infect them with a false and labored style; they will lay down minute
literary rules for their exclusive use, which will insensibly lead them
to deviate from common-sense, and finally to transgress the bounds of
nature. By dint of striving after a mode of parlance different from
the vulgar, they will arrive at a sort of aristocratic jargon, which is
hardly less remote from pure language than is the coarse dialect of the
people. Such are the natural perils of literature amongst aristocracies.
Every aristocracy which keeps itself entirely aloof from the people
becomes impotent--a fact which is as true in literature as it is in
politics. *a

[Footnote a: All this is especially true of the aristocratic countries
which have been long and peacefully subject to a monarchical government.
When liberty prevails in an aristocracy, the higher ranks are constantly
obliged to make use of the lower classes; and when they use, they
approach them. This frequently introduces something of a democratic
spirit into an aristocratic community. There springs up, moreover, in a
privileged body, governing with energy and an habitually bold policy, a
taste for stir and excitement which must infallibly affect all literary

Let us now turn the picture and consider the other side of it; let us
transport ourselves into the midst of a democracy, not unprepared by
ancient traditions and present culture to partake in the pleasures of
the mind. Ranks are there intermingled and confounded; knowledge and
power are both infinitely subdivided, and, if I may use the expression,
scattered on every side. Here then is a motley multitude, whose
intellectual wants are to be supplied. These new votaries of the
pleasures of the mind have not all received the same education; they
do not possess the same degree of culture as their fathers, nor any
resemblance to them--nay, they perpetually differ from themselves,
for they live in a state of incessant change of place, feelings,
and fortunes. The mind of each member of the community is therefore
unattached to that of his fellow-citizens by tradition or by common
habits; and they have never had the power, the inclination, nor the
time to concert together. It is, however, from the bosom of this
heterogeneous and agitated mass that authors spring; and from the same
source their profits and their fame are distributed. I can without
difficulty understand that, under these circumstances, I must expect
to meet in the literature of such a people with but few of those strict
conventional rules which are admitted by readers and by writers in
aristocratic ages. If it should happen that the men of some one period
were agreed upon any such rules, that would prove nothing for the
following period; for amongst democratic nations each new generation is
a new people. Amongst such nations, then, literature will not easily
be subjected to strict rules, and it is impossible that any such rules
should ever be permanent.

In democracies it is by no means the case that all the men who cultivate
literature have received a literary education; and most of those who
have some tinge of belles-lettres are either engaged in politics, or in
a profession which only allows them to taste occasionally and by stealth
the pleasures of the mind. These pleasures, therefore, do not constitute
the principal charm of their lives; but they are considered as a
transient and necessary recreation amidst the serious labors of life.
Such man can never acquire a sufficiently intimate knowledge of the art
of literature to appreciate its more delicate beauties; and the minor
shades of expression must escape them. As the time they can devote to
letters is very short, they seek to make the best use of the whole of
it. They prefer books which may be easily procured, quickly read, and
which require no learned researches to be understood. They ask for
beauties, self-proffered and easily enjoyed; above all, they must have
what is unexpected and new. Accustomed to the struggle, the crosses, and
the monotony of practical life, they require rapid emotions, startling
passages--truths or errors brilliant enough to rouse them up, and to
plunge them at once, as if by violence, into the midst of a subject.

Why should I say more? or who does not understand what is about to
follow, before I have expressed it? Taken as a whole, literature
in democratic ages can never present, as it does in the periods of
aristocracy, an aspect of order, regularity, science, and art; its form
will, on the contrary, ordinarily be slighted, sometimes despised. Style
will frequently be fantastic, incorrect, overburdened, and loose--almost
always vehement and bold. Authors will aim at rapidity of execution,
more than at perfection of detail. Small productions will be more
common than bulky books; there will be more wit than erudition, more
imagination than profundity; and literary performances will bear marks
of an untutored and rude vigor of thought--frequently of great variety
and singular fecundity. The object of authors will be to astonish rather
than to please, and to stir the passions more than to charm the taste.
Here and there, indeed, writers will doubtless occur who will choose
a different track, and who will, if they are gifted with superior
abilities, succeed in finding readers, in spite of their defects or
their better qualities; but these exceptions will be rare, and even
the authors who shall so depart from the received practice in the main
subject of their works, will always relapse into it in some lesser

I have just depicted two extreme conditions: the transition by which a
nation passes from the former to the latter is not sudden but gradual,
and marked with shades of very various intensity. In the passage which
conducts a lettered people from the one to the other, there is almost
always a moment at which the literary genius of democratic nations has
its confluence with that of aristocracies, and both seek to establish
their joint sway over the human mind. Such epochs are transient, but
very brilliant: they are fertile without exuberance, and animated
without confusion. The French literature of the eighteenth century may
serve as an example.

I should say more than I mean if I were to assert that the literature of
a nation is always subordinate to its social condition and its political
constitution. I am aware that, independently of these causes, there
are several others which confer certain characteristics on literary
productions; but these appear to me to be the chief. The relations which
exist between the social and political condition of a people and the
genius of its authors are always very numerous: whoever knows the one is
never completely ignorant of the other.

Chapter XIV: The Trade Of Literature

Democracy not only infuses a taste for letters among the trading
classes, but introduces a trading spirit into literature. In
aristocracies, readers are fastidious and few in number; in democracies,
they are far more numerous and far less difficult to please. The
consequence is, that among aristocratic nations, no one can hope to
succeed without immense exertions, and that these exertions may bestow
a great deal of fame, but can never earn much money; whilst among
democratic nations, a writer may flatter himself that he will obtain at
a cheap rate a meagre reputation and a large fortune. For this
purpose he need not be admired; it is enough that he is liked. The
ever-increasing crowd of readers, and their continual craving for
something new, insure the sale of books which nobody much esteems.

In democratic periods the public frequently treat authors as kings do
their courtiers; they enrich, and they despise them. What more is needed
by the venal souls which are born in courts, or which are worthy to live
there? Democratic literature is always infested with a tribe of writers
who look upon letters as a mere trade: and for some few great authors
who adorn it you may reckon thousands of idea-mongers.

Chapter XV: The Study Of Greek And Latin Literature Peculiarly Useful In
Democratic Communities

What was called the People in the most democratic republics of
antiquity, was very unlike what we designate by that term. In Athens,
all the citizens took part in public affairs; but there were only 20,000
citizens to more than 350,000 inhabitants. All the rest were slaves, and
discharged the greater part of those duties which belong at the present
day to the lower or even to the middle classes. Athens, then, with her
universal suffrage, was after all merely an aristocratic republic in
which all the nobles had an equal right to the government. The struggle
between the patricians and plebeians of Rome must be considered in
the same light: it was simply an intestine feud between the elder and
younger branches of the same family. All the citizens belonged, in fact,
to the aristocracy, and partook of its character.

It is moreover to be remarked, that amongst the ancients books were
always scarce and dear; and that very great difficulties impeded their
publication and circulation. These circumstances concentrated literary
tastes and habits amongst a small number of men, who formed a small
literary aristocracy out of the choicer spirits of the great political
aristocracy. Accordingly nothing goes to prove that literature was ever
treated as a trade amongst the Greeks and Romans.

These peoples, which not only constituted aristocracies, but very
polished and free nations, of course imparted to their literary
productions the defects and the merits which characterize the literature
of aristocratic ages. And indeed a very superficial survey of the
literary remains of the ancients will suffice to convince us, that if
those writers were sometimes deficient in variety, or fertility in their
subjects, or in boldness, vivacity, or power of generalization in
their thoughts, they always displayed exquisite care and skill in their
details. Nothing in their works seems to be done hastily or at random:
every line is written for the eye of the connoisseur, and is shaped
after some conception of ideal beauty. No literature places those fine
qualities, in which the writers of democracies are naturally deficient,
in bolder relief than that of the ancients; no literature, therefore,
ought to be more studied in democratic ages. This study is better suited
than any other to combat the literary defects inherent in those ages; as
for their more praiseworthy literary qualities, they will spring up of
their own accord, without its being necessary to learn to acquire them.

It is important that this point should be clearly understood. A
particular study may be useful to the literature of a people, without
being appropriate to its social and political wants. If men were to
persist in teaching nothing but the literature of the dead languages in
a community where everyone is habitually led to make vehement exertions
to augment or to maintain his fortune, the result would be a very
polished, but a very dangerous, race of citizens. For as their social
and political condition would give them every day a sense of wants which
their education would never teach them to supply, they would perturb the
State, in the name of the Greeks and Romans, instead of enriching it by
their productive industry.

It is evident that in democratic communities the interest of
individuals, as well as the security of the commonwealth, demands that
the education of the greater number should be scientific, commercial,
and industrial, rather than literary. Greek and Latin should not be
taught in all schools; but it is important that those who by their
natural disposition or their fortune are destined to cultivate letters
or prepared to relish them, should find schools where a complete
knowledge of ancient literature may be acquired, and where the true
scholar may be formed. A few excellent universities would do more
towards the attainment of this object than a vast number of bad grammar
schools, where superfluous matters, badly learned, stand in the way of
sound instruction in necessary studies.

All who aspire to literary excellence in democratic nations, ought
frequently to refresh themselves at the springs of ancient literature:
there is no more wholesome course for the mind. Not that I hold the
literary productions of the ancients to be irreproachable; but I
think that they have some especial merits, admirably calculated to
counterbalance our peculiar defects. They are a prop on the side on
which we are in most danger of falling.

Chapter XVI: The Effect Of Democracy On Language

If the reader has rightly understood what I have already said on
the subject of literature in general, he will have no difficulty in
comprehending that species of influence which a democratic social
condition and democratic institutions may exercise over language itself,
which is the chief instrument of thought.

American authors may truly be said to live more in England than in their
own country; since they constantly study the English writers, and take
them every day for their models. But such is not the case with the bulk
of the population, which is more immediately subjected to the peculiar
causes acting upon the United States. It is not then to the written, but
to the spoken language that attention must be paid, if we would detect
the modifications which the idiom of an aristocratic people may undergo
when it becomes the language of a democracy.

Englishmen of education, and more competent judges than I can be myself
of the nicer shades of expression, have frequently assured me that
the language of the educated classes in the United States is notably
different from that of the educated classes in Great Britain. They
complain not only that the Americans have brought into use a number of
new words--the difference and the distance between the two countries
might suffice to explain that much--but that these new words are more
especially taken from the jargon of parties, the mechanical arts, or the
language of trade. They assert, in addition to this, that old English
words are often used by the Americans in new acceptations; and lastly,
that the inhabitants of the United States frequently intermingle their
phraseology in the strangest manner, and sometimes place words together
which are always kept apart in the language of the mother-country. These
remarks, which were made to me at various times by persons who appeared
to be worthy of credit, led me to reflect upon the subject; and my
reflections brought me, by theoretical reasoning, to the same point at
which my informants had arrived by practical observation.

In aristocracies, language must naturally partake of that state of
repose in which everything remains. Few new words are coined, because
few new things are made; and even if new things were made, they would
be designated by known words, whose meaning has been determined by
tradition. If it happens that the human mind bestirs itself at length,
or is roused by light breaking in from without, the novel expressions
which are introduced are characterized by a degree of learning,
intelligence, and philosophy, which shows that they do not originate
in a democracy. After the fall of Constantinople had turned the tide of
science and literature towards the west, the French language was almost
immediately invaded by a multitude of new words, which had all Greek
or Latin roots. An erudite neologism then sprang up in France which was
confined to the educated classes, and which produced no sensible effect,
or at least a very gradual one, upon the people. All the nations of
Europe successively exhibited the same change. Milton alone introduced
more than six hundred words into the English language, almost all
derived from the Latin, the Greek, or the Hebrew. The constant agitation
which prevails in a democratic community tends unceasingly, on the
contrary, to change the character of the language, as it does the aspect
of affairs. In the midst of this general stir and competition of minds,
a great number of new ideas are formed, old ideas are lost, or reappear,
or are subdivided into an infinite variety of minor shades. The
consequence is, that many words must fall into desuetude, and others
must be brought into use.

Democratic nations love change for its own sake; and this is seen in
their language as much as in their politics. Even when they do not
need to change words, they sometimes feel a wish to transform them. The
genius of a democratic people is not only shown by the great number of
words they bring into use, but also by the nature of the ideas these new
words represent. Amongst such a people the majority lays down the law
in language as well as in everything else; its prevailing spirit is as
manifest in that as in other respects. But the majority is more engaged
in business than in study--in political and commercial interests than in
philosophical speculation or literary pursuits. Most of the words coined
or adopted for its use will therefore bear the mark of these habits;
they will mainly serve to express the wants of business, the passions of
party, or the details of the public administration. In these departments
the language will constantly spread, whilst on the other hand it will
gradually lose ground in metaphysics and theology.

As to the source from which democratic nations are wont to derive their
new expressions, and the manner in which they go to work to coin them,
both may easily be described. Men living in democratic countries know
but little of the language which was spoken at Athens and at Rome,
and they do not care to dive into the lore of antiquity to find the
expression they happen to want. If they have sometimes recourse to
learned etymologies, vanity will induce them to search at the roots of
the dead languages; but erudition does not naturally furnish them with
its resources. The most ignorant, it sometimes happens, will use them
most. The eminently democratic desire to get above their own sphere will
often lead them to seek to dignify a vulgar profession by a Greek or
Latin name. The lower the calling is, and the more remote from learning,
the more pompous and erudite is its appellation. Thus the French
rope-dancers have transformed themselves into acrobates and funambules.

In the absence of knowledge of the dead languages, democratic
nations are apt to borrow words from living tongues; for their mutual
intercourse becomes perpetual, and the inhabitants of different
countries imitate each other the more readily as they grow more like
each other every day.

But it is principally upon their own languages that democratic nations
attempt to perpetrate innovations. From time to time they resume
forgotten expressions in their vocabulary, which they restore to use; or
they borrow from some particular class of the community a term peculiar
to it, which they introduce with a figurative meaning into the language
of daily life. Many expressions which originally belonged to the
technical language of a profession or a party, are thus drawn into
general circulation.

The most common expedient employed by democratic nations to make an
innovation in language consists in giving some unwonted meaning to
an expression already in use. This method is very simple, prompt, and
convenient; no learning is required to use it aright, and ignorance
itself rather facilitates the practice; but that practice is most
dangerous to the language. When a democratic people doubles the meaning
of a word in this way, they sometimes render the signification which it
retains as ambiguous as that which it acquires. An author begins by a
slight deflection of a known expression from its primitive meaning, and
he adapts it, thus modified, as well as he can to his subject. A second
writer twists the sense of the expression in another way; a third takes
possession of it for another purpose; and as there is no common appeal
to the sentence of a permanent tribunal which may definitely settle the
signification of the word, it remains in an ambiguous condition. The
consequence is that writers hardly ever appear to dwell upon a single
thought, but they always seem to point their aim at a knot of ideas,
leaving the reader to judge which of them has been hit. This is a
deplorable consequence of democracy. I had rather that the language
should be made hideous with words imported from the Chinese, the
Tartars, or the Hurons, than that the meaning of a word in our own
language should become indeterminate. Harmony and uniformity are
only secondary beauties in composition; many of these things are
conventional, and, strictly speaking, it is possible to forego them; but
without clear phraseology there is no good language.

The principle of equality necessarily introduces several other changes
into language. In aristocratic ages, when each nation tends to stand
aloof from all others and likes to have distinct characteristics of its
own, it often happens that several peoples which have a common origin
become nevertheless estranged from each other, so that, without ceasing
to understand the same language, they no longer all speak it in the same
manner. In these ages each nation is divided into a certain number of
classes, which see but little of each other, and do not intermingle.
Each of these classes contracts, and invariably retains, habits of
mind peculiar to itself, and adopts by choice certain words and certain
terms, which afterwards pass from generation to generation, like their
estates. The same idiom then comprises a language of the poor and a
language of the rich--a language of the citizen and a language of the
nobility--a learned language and a vulgar one. The deeper the divisions,
and the more impassable the barriers of society become, the more must
this be the case. I would lay a wager, that amongst the castes of India
there are amazing variations of language, and that there is almost
as much difference between the language of the pariah and that of the
Brahmin as there is in their dress. When, on the contrary, men, being no
longer restrained by ranks, meet on terms of constant intercourse--when
castes are destroyed, and the classes of society are recruited and
intermixed with each other, all the words of a language are mingled.
Those which are unsuitable to the greater number perish; the remainder
form a common store, whence everyone chooses pretty nearly at random.
Almost all the different dialects which divided the idioms of European
nations are manifestly declining; there is no patois in the New World,
and it is disappearing every day from the old countries.

The influence of this revolution in social conditions is as much felt
in style as it is in phraseology. Not only does everyone use the same
words, but a habit springs up of using them without discrimination. The
rules which style had set up are almost abolished: the line ceases to
be drawn between expressions which seem by their very nature vulgar, and
other which appear to be refined. Persons springing from different ranks
of society carry the terms and expressions they are accustomed to use
with them, into whatever circumstances they may pass; thus the origin
of words is lost like the origin of individuals, and there is as much
confusion in language as there is in society.

I am aware that in the classification of words there are rules which do
not belong to one form of society any more than to another, but which
are derived from the nature of things. Some expressions and phrases
are vulgar, because the ideas they are meant to express are low in
themselves; others are of a higher character, because the objects they
are intended to designate are naturally elevated. No intermixture of
ranks will ever efface these differences. But the principle of equality
cannot fail to root out whatever is merely conventional and arbitrary
in the forms of thought. Perhaps the necessary classification which
I pointed out in the last sentence will always be less respected by a
democratic people than by any other, because amongst such a people
there are no men who are permanently disposed by education, culture, and
leisure to study the natural laws of language, and who cause those laws
to be respected by their own observance of them.

I shall not quit this topic without touching on a feature of democratic
languages, which is perhaps more characteristic of them than any other.
It has already been shown that democratic nations have a taste, and
sometimes a passion, for general ideas, and that this arises from their
peculiar merits and defects. This liking for general ideas is displayed
in democratic languages by the continual use of generic terms or
abstract expressions, and by the manner in which they are employed.
This is the great merit and the great imperfection of these languages.
Democratic nations are passionately addicted to generic terms or
abstract expressions, because these modes of speech enlarge thought,
and assist the operations of the mind by enabling it to include several
objects in a small compass. A French democratic writer will be apt
to say capacites in the abstract for men of capacity, and without
particularizing the objects to which their capacity is applied: he will
talk about actualities to designate in one word the things passing
before his eyes at the instant; and he will comprehend under the term
eventualities whatever may happen in the universe, dating from the moment
at which he speaks. Democratic writers are perpetually coining words of
this kind, in which they sublimate into further abstraction the abstract
terms of the language. Nay, more, to render their mode of speech more
succinct, they personify the subject of these abstract terms, and make
it act like a real entity. Thus they would say in French, "La force des
choses veut que les capacites gouvernent."

I cannot better illustrate what I mean than by my own example. I have
frequently used the word "equality" in an absolute sense--nay, I have
personified equality in several places; thus I have said that equality
does such and such things, or refrains from doing others. It may be
affirmed that the writers of the age of Louis XIV would not have used
these expressions: they would never have thought of using the word
"equality" without applying it to some particular object; and they would
rather have renounced the term altogether than have consented to make a
living personage of it.

These abstract terms which abound in democratic languages, and which are
used on every occasion without attaching them to any particular fact,
enlarge and obscure the thoughts they are intended to convey; they
render the mode of speech more succinct, and the idea contained in
it less clear. But with regard to language, democratic nations prefer
obscurity to labor. I know not indeed whether this loose style has not
some secret charm for those who speak and write amongst these nations.
As the men who live there are frequently left to the efforts of their
individual powers of mind, they are almost always a prey to doubt; and
as their situation in life is forever changing, they are never held fast
to any of their opinions by the certain tenure of their fortunes. Men
living in democratic countries are, then, apt to entertain unsettled
ideas, and they require loose expressions to convey them. As they never
know whether the idea they express to-day will be appropriate to the new
position they may occupy to-morrow, they naturally acquire a liking for
abstract terms. An abstract term is like a box with a false bottom: you
may put in it what ideas you please, and take them out again without
being observed.

Amongst all nations, generic and abstract terms form the basis of
language. I do not, therefore, affect to expel these terms from
democratic languages; I simply remark that men have an especial
tendency, in the ages of democracy, to multiply words of this kind--to
take them always by themselves in their most abstract acceptation, and
to use them on all occasions, even when the nature of the discourse does
not require them.

Chapter XVII: Of Some Of The Sources Of Poetry Amongst Democratic

Various different significations have been given to the word "poetry."
It would weary my readers if I were to lead them into a discussion as to
which of these definitions ought to be selected: I prefer telling them
at once that which I have chosen. In my opinion, poetry is the search
and the delineation of the ideal. The poet is he who, by suppressing a
part of what exists, by adding some imaginary touches to the picture,
and by combining certain real circumstances, but which do not in fact
concurrently happen, completes and extends the work of nature. Thus the
object of poetry is not to represent what is true, but to adorn it,
and to present to the mind some loftier imagery. Verse, regarded as the
ideal beauty of language, may be eminently poetical; but verse does not,
of itself, constitute poetry.

I now proceed to inquire whether, amongst the actions, the sentiments,
and the opinions of democratic nations, there are any which lead to a
conception of ideal beauty, and which may for this reason be
considered as natural sources of poetry. It must in the first place, be
acknowledged that the taste for ideal beauty, and the pleasure derived
from the expression of it, are never so intense or so diffused amongst a
democratic as amongst an aristocratic people. In aristocratic nations it
sometimes happens that the body goes on to act as it were spontaneously,
whilst the higher faculties are bound and burdened by repose. Amongst
these nations the people will very often display poetic tastes, and
sometimes allow their fancy to range beyond and above what surrounds
them. But in democracies the love of physical gratification, the notion
of bettering one's condition, the excitement of competition, the charm
of anticipated success, are so many spurs to urge men onwards in the
active professions they have embraced, without allowing them to deviate
for an instant from the track. The main stress of the faculties is to
this point. The imagination is not extinct; but its chief function is to
devise what may be useful, and to represent what is real.

The principle of equality not only diverts men from the description of
ideal beauty--it also diminishes the number of objects to be described.
Aristocracy, by maintaining society in a fixed position, is favorable
to the solidity and duration of positive religions, as well as to the
stability of political institutions. It not only keeps the human mind
within a certain sphere of belief, but it predisposes the mind to adopt
one faith rather than another. An aristocratic people will always be
prone to place intermediate powers between God and man. In this respect
it may be said that the aristocratic element is favorable to poetry.
When the universe is peopled with supernatural creatures, not palpable
to the senses but discovered by the mind, the imagination ranges
freely, and poets, finding a thousand subjects to delineate, also find
a countless audience to take an interest in their productions. In
democratic ages it sometimes happens, on the contrary, that men are as
much afloat in matters of belief as they are in their laws. Scepticism
then draws the imagination of poets back to earth, and confines them to
the real and visible world. Even when the principle of equality does
not disturb religious belief, it tends to simplify it, and to divert
attention from secondary agents, to fix it principally on the Supreme
Power. Aristocracy naturally leads the human mind to the contemplation
of the past, and fixes it there. Democracy, on the contrary, gives men
a sort of instinctive distaste for what is ancient. In this respect
aristocracy is far more favorable to poetry; for things commonly grow
larger and more obscure as they are more remote; and for this twofold
reason they are better suited to the delineation of the ideal.

After having deprived poetry of the past, the principle of equality
robs it in part of the present. Amongst aristocratic nations there are a
certain number of privileged personages, whose situation is, as it were,
without and above the condition of man; to these, power, wealth, fame,
wit, refinement, and distinction in all things appear peculiarly to
belong. The crowd never sees them very closely, or does not watch them
in minute details; and little is needed to make the description of such
men poetical. On the other hand, amongst the same people, you will meet
with classes so ignorant, low, and enslaved, that they are no less fit
objects for poetry from the excess of their rudeness and wretchedness,
than the former are from their greatness and refinement. Besides, as
the different classes of which an aristocratic community is composed
are widely separated, and imperfectly acquainted with each other, the
imagination may always represent them with some addition to, or some
subtraction from, what they really are. In democratic communities, where
men are all insignificant and very much alike, each man instantly sees
all his fellows when he surveys himself. The poets of democratic ages
can never, therefore, take any man in particular as the subject of a
piece; for an object of slender importance, which is distinctly seen
on all sides, will never lend itself to an ideal conception. Thus the
principle of equality; in proportion as it has established itself in
the world, has dried up most of the old springs of poetry. Let us now
attempt to show what new ones it may disclose.

When scepticism had depopulated heaven, and the progress of equality
had reduced each individual to smaller and better known proportions, the
poets, not yet aware of what they could substitute for the great themes
which were departing together with the aristocracy, turned their eyes
to inanimate nature. As they lost sight of gods and heroes, they set
themselves to describe streams and mountains. Thence originated in
the last century, that kind of poetry which has been called, by way
of distinction, the descriptive. Some have thought that this sort of
delineation, embellished with all the physical and inanimate objects
which cover the earth, was the kind of poetry peculiar to democratic
ages; but I believe this to be an error, and that it only belongs to a
period of transition.

I am persuaded that in the end democracy diverts the imagination from
all that is external to man, and fixes it on man alone. Democratic
nations may amuse themselves for a while with considering the
productions of nature; but they are only excited in reality by a survey
of themselves. Here, and here alone, the true sources of poetry amongst
such nations are to be found; and it may be believed that the poets who
shall neglect to draw their inspirations hence, will lose all sway over
the minds which they would enchant, and will be left in the end with
none but unimpassioned spectators of their transports. I have shown how
the ideas of progression and of the indefinite perfectibility of the
human race belong to democratic ages. Democratic nations care but little
for what has been, but they are haunted by visions of what will be; in
this direction their unbounded imagination grows and dilates beyond all
measure. Here then is the wildest range open to the genius of poets,
which allows them to remove their performances to a sufficient distance
from the eye. Democracy shuts the past against the poet, but opens
the future before him. As all the citizens who compose a democratic
community are nearly equal and alike, the poet cannot dwell upon any one
of them; but the nation itself invites the exercise of his powers. The
general similitude of individuals, which renders any one of them taken
separately an improper subject of poetry, allows poets to include them
all in the same imagery, and to take a general survey of the people
itself. Democractic nations have a clearer perception than any others of
their own aspect; and an aspect so imposing is admirably fitted to the
delineation of the ideal.

I readily admit that the Americans have no poets; I cannot allow that
they have no poetic ideas. In Europe people talk a great deal of the
wilds of America, but the Americans themselves never think about them:
they are insensible to the wonders of inanimate nature, and they may be
said not to perceive the mighty forests which surround them till they
fall beneath the hatchet. Their eyes are fixed upon another sight: the
American people views its own march across these wilds--drying swamps,
turning the course of rivers, peopling solitudes, and subduing nature.
This magnificent image of themselves does not meet the gaze of the
Americans at intervals only; it may be said to haunt every one of them
in his least as well as in his most important actions, and to be always
flitting before his mind. Nothing conceivable is so petty, so insipid,
so crowded with paltry interests, in one word so anti-poetic, as the
life of a man in the United States. But amongst the thoughts which it
suggests there is always one which is full of poetry, and that is the
hidden nerve which gives vigor to the frame.

In aristocratic ages each people, as well as each individual, is prone
to stand separate and aloof from all others. In democratic ages, the
extreme fluctuations of men and the impatience of their desires keep
them perpetually on the move; so that the inhabitants of different
countries intermingle, see, listen to, and borrow from each other's
stores. It is not only then the members of the same community who grow
more alike; communities are themselves assimilated to one another,
and the whole assemblage presents to the eye of the spectator one vast
democracy, each citizen of which is a people. This displays the aspect
of mankind for the first time in the broadest light. All that belongs
to the existence of the human race taken as a whole, to its vicissitudes
and to its future, becomes an abundant mine of poetry. The poets who
lived in aristocratic ages have been eminently successful in their
delineations of certain incidents in the life of a people or a man;
but none of them ever ventured to include within his performances the
destinies of mankind--a task which poets writing in democratic ages may
attempt. At that same time at which every man, raising his eyes above
his country, begins at length to discern mankind at large, the Divinity
is more and more manifest to the human mind in full and entire majesty.
If in democratic ages faith in positive religions be often shaken, and
the belief in intermediate agents, by whatever name they are called, be
overcast; on the other hand men are disposed to conceive a far broader
idea of Providence itself, and its interference in human affairs assumes
a new and more imposing appearance to their eyes. Looking at the human
race as one great whole, they easily conceive that its destinies are
regulated by the same design; and in the actions of every individual
they are led to acknowledge a trace of that universal and eternal plan
on which God rules our race. This consideration may be taken as another
prolific source of poetry which is opened in democratic ages. Democratic
poets will always appear trivial and frigid if they seek to invest gods,
demons, or angels, with corporeal forms, and if they attempt to draw
them down from heaven to dispute the supremacy of earth. But if they
strive to connect the great events they commemorate with the general
providential designs which govern the universe, and, without showing the
finger of the Supreme Governor, reveal the thoughts of the Supreme Mind,
their works will be admired and understood, for the imagination of their
contemporaries takes this direction of its own accord.

It may be foreseen in the like manner that poets living in democratic
ages will prefer the delineation of passions and ideas to that of
persons and achievements. The language, the dress, and the daily actions
of men in democracies are repugnant to ideal conceptions. These things
are not poetical in themselves; and, if it were otherwise, they would
cease to be so, because they are too familiar to all those to whom the
poet would speak of them. This forces the poet constantly to search
below the external surface which is palpable to the senses, in order to
read the inner soul: and nothing lends itself more to the delineation
of the ideal than the scrutiny of the hidden depths in the immaterial
nature of man. I need not to ramble over earth and sky to discover
a wondrous object woven of contrasts, of greatness and littleness
infinite, of intense gloom and of amazing brightness--capable at once
of exciting pity, admiration, terror, contempt. I find that object in
myself. Man springs out of nothing, crosses time, and disappears forever
in the bosom of God; he is seen but for a moment, staggering on the
verge of the two abysses, and there he is lost. If man were wholly
ignorant of himself, he would have no poetry in him; for it is
impossible to describe what the mind does not conceive. If man clearly
discerned his own nature, his imagination would remain idle, and
would have nothing to add to the picture. But the nature of man is
sufficiently disclosed for him to apprehend something of himself; and
sufficiently obscure for all the rest to be plunged in thick darkness,
in which he gropes forever--and forever in vain--to lay hold on some
completer notion of his being.

Amongst a democratic people poetry will not be fed with legendary lays
or the memorials of old traditions. The poet will not attempt to people
the universe with supernatural beings in whom his readers and his own
fancy have ceased to believe; nor will he present virtues and vices
in the mask of frigid personification, which are better received under
their own features. All these resources fail him; but Man remains, and
the poet needs no more. The destinies of mankind--man himself, taken
aloof from his age and his country, and standing in the presence of
Nature and of God, with his passions, his doubts, his rare prosperities,
and inconceivable wretchedness--will become the chief, if not the sole
theme of poetry amongst these nations. Experience may confirm this
assertion, if we consider the productions of the greatest poets who have
appeared since the world has been turned to democracy. The authors of
our age who have so admirably delineated the features of Faust, Childe
Harold, Rene, and Jocelyn, did not seek to record the actions of an
individual, but to enlarge and to throw light on some of the obscurer
recesses of the human heart. Such are the poems of democracy. The
principle of equality does not then destroy all the subjects of poetry:
it renders them less numerous, but more vast.

Chapter XVIII: Of The Inflated Style Of American Writers And Orators

I have frequently remarked that the Americans, who generally treat
of business in clear, plain language, devoid of all ornament, and so
extremely simple as to be often coarse, are apt to become inflated
as soon as they attempt a more poetical diction. They then vent their
pomposity from one end of a harangue to the other; and to hear them
lavish imagery on every occasion, one might fancy that they never spoke
of anything with simplicity. The English are more rarely given to a
similar failing. The cause of this may be pointed out without much
difficulty. In democratic communities each citizen is habitually engaged
in the contemplation of a very puny object, namely himself. If he ever
raises his looks higher, he then perceives nothing but the immense form
of society at large, or the still more imposing aspect of mankind. His
ideas are all either extremely minute and clear, or extremely general
and vague: what lies between is an open void. When he has been drawn out
of his own sphere, therefore, he always expects that some amazing object
will be offered to his attention; and it is on these terms alone that he
consents to tear himself for an instant from the petty complicated cares
which form the charm and the excitement of his life. This appears to me
sufficiently to explain why men in democracies, whose concerns are in
general so paltry, call upon their poets for conceptions so vast and
descriptions so unlimited.

The authors, on their part, do not fail to obey a propensity of which
they themselves partake; they perpetually inflate their imaginations,
and expanding them beyond all bounds, they not unfrequently abandon
the great in order to reach the gigantic. By these means they hope to
attract the observation of the multitude, and to fix it easily upon
themselves: nor are their hopes disappointed; for as the multitude
seeks for nothing in poetry but subjects of very vast dimensions, it
has neither the time to measure with accuracy the proportions of all the
subjects set before it, nor a taste sufficiently correct to perceive
at once in what respect they are out of proportion. The author and the
public at once vitiate one another.

We have just seen that amongst democratic nations, the sources of poetry
are grand, but not abundant. They are soon exhausted: and poets, not
finding the elements of the ideal in what is real and true, abandon
them entirely and create monsters. I do not fear that the poetry of
democratic nations will prove too insipid, or that it will fly too near
the ground; I rather apprehend that it will be forever losing itself in
the clouds, and that it will range at last to purely imaginary regions.
I fear that the productions of democratic poets may often be surcharged
with immense and incoherent imagery, with exaggerated descriptions and
strange creations; and that the fantastic beings of their brain may
sometimes make us regret the world of reality.

Chapter XIX: Some Observations On The Drama Amongst Democratic Nations

When the revolution which subverts the social and political state of an
aristocratic people begins to penetrate into literature, it generally
first manifests itself in the drama, and it always remains conspicuous
there. The spectator of a dramatic piece is, to a certain extent, taken
by surprise by the impression it conveys. He has no time to refer to his
memory, or to consult those more able to judge than himself. It does
not occur to him to resist the new literary tendencies which begin to
be felt by him; he yields to them before he knows what they are. Authors
are very prompt in discovering which way the taste of the public is thus
secretly inclined. They shape their productions accordingly; and the
literature of the stage, after having served to indicate the approaching
literary revolution, speedily completes its accomplishment. If you would
judge beforehand of the literature of a people which is lapsing into
democracy, study its dramatic productions.

The literature of the stage, moreover, even amongst aristocratic
nations, constitutes the most democratic part of their literature.
No kind of literary gratification is so much within the reach of the
multitude as that which is derived from theatrical representations.
Neither preparation nor study is required to enjoy them: they lay hold
on you in the midst of your prejudices and your ignorance. When the yet
untutored love of the pleasures of the mind begins to affect a class
of the community, it instantly draws them to the stage. The theatres
of aristocratic nations have always been filled with spectators not
belonging to the aristocracy. At the theatre alone the higher ranks mix
with the middle and the lower classes; there alone do the former consent
to listen to the opinion of the latter, or at least to allow them
to give an opinion at all. At the theatre, men of cultivation and of
literary attainments have always had more difficulty than elsewhere in
making their taste prevail over that of the people, and in preventing
themselves from being carried away by the latter. The pit has frequently
made laws for the boxes.

If it be difficult for an aristocracy to prevent the people from getting
the upper hand in the theatre, it will readily be understood that the
people will be supreme there when democratic principles have crept into
the laws and manners--when ranks are intermixed--when minds, as well as
fortunes, are brought more nearly together--and when the upper class
has lost, with its hereditary wealth, its power, its precedents, and its
leisure. The tastes and propensities natural to democratic nations, in
respect to literature, will therefore first be discernible in the drama,
and it may be foreseen that they will break out there with vehemence. In
written productions, the literary canons of aristocracy will be gently,
gradually, and, so to speak, legally modified; at the theatre they
will be riotously overthrown. The drama brings out most of the
good qualities, and almost all the defects, inherent in democratic
literature. Democratic peoples hold erudition very cheap, and care but
little for what occurred at Rome and Athens; they want to hear something
which concerns themselves, and the delineation of the present age is
what they demand.

When the heroes and the manners of antiquity are frequently brought
upon the stage, and dramatic authors faithfully observe the rules of
antiquated precedent, that is enough to warrant a conclusion that the
democratic classes have not yet got the upper hand of the theatres.
Racine makes a very humble apology in the preface to the "Britannicus"
for having disposed of Junia amongst the Vestals, who, according to
Aulus Gellius, he says, "admitted no one below six years of age nor
above ten." We may be sure that he would neither have accused himself
of the offence, nor defended himself from censure, if he had written for
our contemporaries. A fact of this kind not only illustrates the state
of literature at the time when it occurred, but also that of society
itself. A democratic stage does not prove that the nation is in a state
of democracy, for, as we have just seen, even in aristocracies it may
happen that democratic tastes affect the drama; but when the spirit
of aristocracy reigns exclusively on the stage, the fact irrefragably
demonstrates that the whole of society is aristocratic; and it may be
boldly inferred that the same lettered and learned class which sways the
dramatic writers commands the people and governs the country.

The refined tastes and the arrogant bearing of an aristocracy will
rarely fail to lead it, when it manages the stage, to make a kind of
selection in human nature. Some of the conditions of society claim
its chief interest; and the scenes which delineate their manners are
preferred upon the stage. Certain virtues, and even certain vices,
are thought more particularly to deserve to figure there; and they are
applauded whilst all others are excluded. Upon the stage, as well
as elsewhere, an aristocratic audience will only meet personages of
quality, and share the emotions of kings. The same thing applies to
style: an aristocracy is apt to impose upon dramatic authors certain
modes of expression which give the key in which everything is to be
delivered. By these means the stage frequently comes to delineate only
one side of man, or sometimes even to represent what is not to be met
with in human nature at all--to rise above nature and to go beyond it.

In democratic communities the spectators have no such partialities,
and they rarely display any such antipathies: they like to see upon the
stage that medley of conditions, of feelings, and of opinions, which
occurs before their eyes. The drama becomes more striking, more common,
and more true. Sometimes, however, those who write for the stage in
democracies also transgress the bounds of human nature--but it is on
a different side from their predecessors. By seeking to represent in
minute detail the little singularities of the moment and the peculiar
characteristics of certain personages, they forget to portray the
general features of the race.

When the democratic classes rule the stage, they introduce as much
license in the manner of treating subjects as in the choice of them.
As the love of the drama is, of all literary tastes, that which is most
natural to democratic nations, the number of authors and of spectators,
as well as of theatrical representations, is constantly increasing
amongst these communities. A multitude composed of elements so
different, and scattered in so many different places, cannot acknowledge
the same rules or submit to the same laws. No concurrence is possible
amongst judges so numerous, who know not when they may meet again; and
therefore each pronounces his own sentence on the piece. If the effect
of democracy is generally to question the authority of all literary
rules and conventions, on the stage it abolishes them altogether, and
puts in their place nothing but the whim of each author and of each

The drama also displays in an especial manner the truth of what I have
said before in speaking more generally of style and art in democratic
literature. In reading the criticisms which were occasioned by the
dramatic productions of the age of Louis XIV, one is surprised to remark
the great stress which the public laid on the probability of the plot,
and the importance which was attached to the perfect consistency of
the characters, and to their doing nothing which could not be easily
explained and understood. The value which was set upon the forms of
language at that period, and the paltry strife about words with which
dramatic authors were assailed, are no less surprising. It would
seem that the men of the age of Louis XIV attached very exaggerated
importance to those details, which may be perceived in the study, but
which escape attention on the stage. For, after all, the principal
object of a dramatic piece is to be performed, and its chief merit is to
affect the audience. But the audience and the readers in that age were
the same: on quitting the theatre they called up the author for judgment
to their own firesides. In democracies, dramatic pieces are listened to,
but not read. Most of those who frequent the amusements of the stage do
not go there to seek the pleasures of the mind, but the keen emotions of
the heart. They do not expect to hear a fine literary work, but to see
a play; and provided the author writes the language of his country
correctly enough to be understood, and that his characters excite
curiosity and awaken sympathy, the audience are satisfied. They ask no
more of fiction, and immediately return to real life. Accuracy of style
is therefore less required, because the attentive observance of its
rules is less perceptible on the stage. As for the probability of the
plot, it is incompatible with perpetual novelty, surprise, and rapidity
of invention. It is therefore neglected, and the public excuses the
neglect. You may be sure that if you succeed in bringing your audience
into the presence of something that affects them, they will not care by
what road you brought them there; and they will never reproach you for
having excited their emotions in spite of dramatic rules.

The Americans very broadly display all the different propensities which
I have here described when they go to the theatres; but it must be
acknowledged that as yet a very small number of them go to theatres at
all. Although playgoers and plays have prodigiously increased in the
United States in the last forty years, the population indulges in this
kind of amusement with the greatest reserve. This is attributable to
peculiar causes, which the reader is already acquainted with, and of
which a few words will suffice to remind him. The Puritans who founded
the American republics were not only enemies to amusements, but they
professed an especial abhorrence for the stage. They considered it as
an abominable pastime; and as long as their principles prevailed with
undivided sway, scenic performances were wholly unknown amongst them.
These opinions of the first fathers of the colony have left very deep
marks on the minds of their descendants. The extreme regularity of
habits and the great strictness of manners which are observable in the
United States, have as yet opposed additional obstacles to the growth
of dramatic art. There are no dramatic subjects in a country which has
witnessed no great political catastrophes, and in which love invariably
leads by a straight and easy road to matrimony. People who spend every
day in the week in making money, and the Sunday in going to church, have
nothing to invite the muse of Comedy.

A single fact suffices to show that the stage is not very popular in the
United States. The Americans, whose laws allow of the utmost freedom
and even license of language in all other respects, have nevertheless
subjected their dramatic authors to a sort of censorship. Theatrical
performances can only take place by permission of the municipal
authorities. This may serve to show how much communities are like
individuals; they surrender themselves unscrupulously to their ruling
passions, and afterwards take the greatest care not to yield too much to
the vehemence of tastes which they do not possess.

No portion of literature is connected by closer or more numerous ties
with the present condition of society than the drama. The drama of one
period can never be suited to the following age, if in the interval an
important revolution has changed the manners and the laws of the nation.
The great authors of a preceding age may be read; but pieces written
for a different public will not be followed. The dramatic authors of the
past live only in books. The traditional taste of certain individuals,
vanity, fashion, or the genius of an actor may sustain or resuscitate
for a time the aristocratic drama amongst a democracy; but it will
speedily fall away of itself--not overthrown, but abandoned.

Chapter XX: Characteristics Of Historians In Democratic Ages

Historians who write in aristocratic ages are wont to refer all
occurrences to the particular will or temper of certain individuals; and
they are apt to attribute the most important revolutions to very
slight accidents. They trace out the smallest causes with sagacity,
and frequently leave the greatest unperceived. Historians who live in
democratic ages exhibit precisely opposite characteristics. Most of them
attribute hardly any influence to the individual over the destiny of the
race, nor to citizens over the fate of a people; but, on the other hand,
they assign great general causes to all petty incidents. These contrary
tendencies explain each other.

When the historian of aristocratic ages surveys the theatre of the
world, he at once perceives a very small number of prominent actors, who
manage the whole piece. These great personages, who occupy the front of
the stage, arrest the observation, and fix it on themselves; and whilst
the historian is bent on penetrating the secret motives which make them
speak and act, the rest escape his memory. The importance of the things
which some men are seen to do, gives him an exaggerated estimate of the
influence which one man may possess; and naturally leads him to think,
that in order to explain the impulses of the multitude, it is necessary
to refer them to the particular influence of some one individual.

When, on the contrary, all the citizens are independent of one another,
and each of them is individually weak, no one is seen to exert a great,
or still less a lasting power, over the community. At first sight,
individuals appear to be absolutely devoid of any influence over it;
and society would seem to advance alone by the free and voluntary
concurrence of all the men who compose it. This naturally prompts the
mind to search for that general reason which operates upon so many men's
faculties at the same time, and turns them simultaneously in the same

I am very well convinced that even amongst democratic nations, the
genius, the vices, or the virtues of certain individuals retard or
accelerate the natural current of a people's history: but causes of
this secondary and fortuitous nature are infinitely more various, more
concealed, more complex, less powerful, and consequently less easy to
trace in periods of equality than in ages of aristocracy, when the task
of the historian is simply to detach from the mass of general events the
particular influences of one man or of a few men. In the former case
the historian is soon wearied by the toil; his mind loses itself in this
labyrinth; and, in his inability clearly to discern or conspicuously to
point out the influence of individuals, he denies their existence.
He prefers talking about the characteristics of race, the physical
conformation of the country, or the genius of civilization, which
abridges his own labors, and satisfies his reader far better at less

M. de Lafayette says somewhere in his "Memoirs" that the exaggerated
system of general causes affords surprising consolations to second-rate
statesmen. I will add, that its effects are not less consolatory to
second-rate historians; it can always furnish a few mighty reasons
to extricate them from the most difficult part of their work, and it
indulges the indolence or incapacity of their minds, whilst it confers
upon them the honors of deep thinking.

For myself, I am of opinion that at all times one great portion of the
events of this world are attributable to general facts, and another to
special influences. These two kinds of cause are always in operation:
their proportion only varies. General facts serve to explain more things
in democratic than in aristocratic ages, and fewer things are then
assignable to special influences. At periods of aristocracy the
reverse takes place: special influences are stronger, general causes
weaker--unless indeed we consider as a general cause the fact itself of
the inequality of conditions, which allows some individuals to baffle
the natural tendencies of all the rest. The historians who seek to
describe what occurs in democratic societies are right, therefore, in
assigning much to general causes, and in devoting their chief attention
to discover them; but they are wrong in wholly denying the special
influence of individuals, because they cannot easily trace or follow it.

The historians who live in democratic ages are not only prone to assign
a great cause to every incident, but they are also given to connect
incidents together, so as to deduce a system from them. In aristocratic
ages, as the attention of historians is constantly drawn to individuals,
the connection of events escapes them; or rather, they do not believe
in any such connection. To them the clew of history seems every instant
crossed and broken by the step of man. In democratic ages, on the
contrary, as the historian sees much more of actions than of actors, he
may easily establish some kind of sequency and methodical order amongst
the former. Ancient literature, which is so rich in fine historical
compositions, does not contain a single great historical system, whilst
the poorest of modern literatures abound with them. It would appear
that the ancient historians did not make sufficient use of those general
theories which our historical writers are ever ready to carry to excess.

Those who write in democratic ages have another more dangerous tendency.
When the traces of individual action upon nations are lost, it often
happens that the world goes on to move, though the moving agent is no
longer discoverable. As it becomes extremely difficult to discern and
to analyze the reasons which, acting separately on the volition of each
member of the community, concur in the end to produce movement in the
old mass, men are led to believe that this movement is involuntary, and
that societies unconsciously obey some superior force ruling over them.
But even when the general fact which governs the private volition of all
individuals is supposed to be discovered upon the earth, the principle
of human free-will is not secure. A cause sufficiently extensive to
affect millions of men at once, and sufficiently strong to bend them all
together in the same direction, may well seem irresistible: having seen
that mankind do yield to it, the mind is close upon the inference that
mankind cannot resist it.

Historians who live in democratic ages, then, not only deny that the few
have any power of acting upon the destiny of a people, but they deprive
the people themselves of the power of modifying their own condition, and
they subject them either to an inflexible Providence, or to some blind
necessity. According to them, each nation is indissolubly bound by its
position, its origin, its precedents, and its character, to a certain
lot which no efforts can ever change. They involve generation in
generation, and thus, going back from age to age, and from necessity
to necessity, up to the origin of the world, they forge a close and
enormous chain, which girds and binds the human race. To their minds it
is not enough to show what events have occurred: they would fain show
that events could not have occurred otherwise. They take a nation
arrived at a certain stage of its history, and they affirm that it could
not but follow the track which brought it thither. It is easier to
make such an assertion than to show by what means the nation might have
adopted a better course.

In reading the historians of aristocratic ages, and especially those of
antiquity, it would seem that, to be master of his lot, and to govern
his fellow-creatures, man requires only to be master of himself. In
perusing the historical volumes which our age has produced, it would
seem that man is utterly powerless over himself and over all around him.
The historians of antiquity taught how to command: those of our time
teach only how to obey; in their writings the author often appears
great, but humanity is always diminutive. If this doctrine of necessity,
which is so attractive to those who write history in democratic ages,
passes from authors to their readers, till it infects the whole mass
of the community and gets possession of the public mind, it will soon
paralyze the activity of modern society, and reduce Christians to the
level of the Turks. I would moreover observe, that such principles
are peculiarly dangerous at the period at which we are arrived. Our
contemporaries are but too prone to doubt of the human free-will,
because each of them feels himself confined on every side by his own
weakness; but they are still willing to acknowledge the strength and
independence of men united in society. Let not this principle be lost
sight of; for the great object in our time is to raise the faculties of
men, not to complete their prostration.

Chapter XXI: Of Parliamentary Eloquence In The United States

Amongst aristocratic nations all the members of the community are
connected with and dependent upon each other; the graduated scale of
different ranks acts as a tie, which keeps everyone in his proper place
and the whole body in subordination. Something of the same kind always
occurs in the political assemblies of these nations. Parties naturally
range themselves under certain leaders, whom they obey by a sort of
instinct, which is only the result of habits contracted elsewhere. They
carry the manners of general society into the lesser assemblage.

In democratic countries it often happens that a great number of citizens
are tending to the same point; but each one only moves thither, or at
least flatters himself that he moves, of his own accord. Accustomed to
regulate his doings by personal impulse alone, he does not willingly
submit to dictation from without. This taste and habit of independence
accompany him into the councils of the nation. If he consents to connect
himself with other men in the prosecution of the same purpose, at least
he chooses to remain free to contribute to the common success after his
own fashion. Hence it is that in democratic countries parties are so
impatient of control, and are never manageable except in moments of
great public danger. Even then, the authority of leaders, which under
such circumstances may be able to make men act or speak, hardly ever
reaches the extent of making them keep silence.

Amongst aristocratic nations the members of political assemblies are
at the same time members of the aristocracy. Each of them enjoys high
established rank in his own right, and the position which he occupies
in the assembly is often less important in his eyes than that which
he fills in the country. This consoles him for playing no part in
the discussion of public affairs, and restrains him from too eagerly
attempting to play an insignificant one.

In America, it generally happens that a Representative only becomes
somebody from his position in the Assembly. He is therefore perpetually
haunted by a craving to acquire importance there, and he feels a
petulant desire to be constantly obtruding his opinions upon the House.
His own vanity is not the only stimulant which urges him on in this
course, but that of his constituents, and the continual necessity
of propitiating them. Amongst aristocratic nations a member of the
legislature is rarely in strict dependence upon his constituents: he is
frequently to them a sort of unavoidable representative; sometimes they
are themselves strictly dependent upon him; and if at length they reject
him, he may easily get elected elsewhere, or, retiring from public life,
he may still enjoy the pleasures of splendid idleness. In a democratic
country like the United States a Representative has hardly ever
a lasting hold on the minds of his constituents. However small an
electoral body may be, the fluctuations of democracy are constantly
changing its aspect; it must, therefore, be courted unceasingly. He
is never sure of his supporters, and, if they forsake him, he is
left without a resource; for his natural position is not sufficiently
elevated for him to be easily known to those not close to him; and,
with the complete state of independence prevailing among the people, he
cannot hope that his friends or the government will send him down to be
returned by an electoral body unacquainted with him. The seeds of his
fortune are, therefore, sown in his own neighborhood; from that nook of
earth he must start, to raise himself to the command of a people and
to influence the destinies of the world. Thus it is natural that in
democratic countries the members of political assemblies think more of
their constituents than of their party, whilst in aristocracies they
think more of their party than of their constituents.

But what ought to be said to gratify constituents is not always what
ought to be said in order to serve the party to which Representatives
profess to belong. The general interest of a party frequently demands
that members belonging to it should not speak on great questions which
they understand imperfectly; that they should speak but little on those
minor questions which impede the great ones; lastly, and for the most
part, that they should not speak at all. To keep silence is the
most useful service that an indifferent spokesman can render to the
commonwealth. Constituents, however, do not think so. The population of
a district sends a representative to take a part in the government of
a country, because they entertain a very lofty notion of his merits.
As men appear greater in proportion to the littleness of the objects
by which they are surrounded, it may be assumed that the opinion
entertained of the delegate will be so much the higher as talents are
more rare among his constituents. It will therefore frequently happen
that the less constituents have to expect from their representative, the
more they will anticipate from him; and, however incompetent he may be,
they will not fail to call upon him for signal exertions, corresponding
to the rank they have conferred upon him.

Independently of his position as a legislator of the State, electors
also regard their Representative as the natural patron of the
constituency in the Legislature; they almost consider him as the proxy
of each of his supporters, and they flatter themselves that he will not
be less zealous in defense of their private interests than of those
of the country. Thus electors are well assured beforehand that the
Representative of their choice will be an orator; that he will speak
often if he can, and that in case he is forced to refrain, he will
strive at any rate to compress into his less frequent orations an
inquiry into all the great questions of state, combined with a statement
of all the petty grievances they have themselves to complain to; so
that, though he be not able to come forward frequently, he should on
each occasion prove what he is capable of doing; and that, instead of
perpetually lavishing his powers, he should occasionally condense them
in a small compass, so as to furnish a sort of complete and brilliant
epitome of his constituents and of himself. On these terms they will
vote for him at the next election. These conditions drive worthy men of
humble abilities to despair, who, knowing their own powers, would never
voluntarily have come forward. But thus urged on, the Representative
begins to speak, to the great alarm of his friends; and rushing
imprudently into the midst of the most celebrated orators, he perplexes
the debate and wearies the House.

All laws which tend to make the Representative more dependent on the
elector, not only affect the conduct of the legislators, as I
have remarked elsewhere, but also their language. They exercise a
simultaneous influence on affairs themselves, and on the manner in which
affairs are discussed.

There is hardly a member of Congress who can make up his mind to go home
without having despatched at least one speech to his constituents;
nor who will endure any interruption until he has introduced into
his harangue whatever useful suggestions may be made touching the
four-and-twenty States of which the Union is composed, and especially
the district which he represents. He therefore presents to the mind of
his auditors a succession of great general truths (which he himself only
comprehends, and expresses, confusedly), and of petty minutia, which he
is but too able to discover and to point out. The consequence is that
the debates of that great assembly are frequently vague and perplexed,
and that they seem rather to drag their slow length along than to
advance towards a distinct object. Some such state of things will, I
believe, always arise in the public assemblies of democracies.

Propitious circumstances and good laws might succeed in drawing to the
legislature of a democratic people men very superior to those who are
returned by the Americans to Congress; but nothing will ever prevent the
men of slender abilities who sit there from obtruding themselves with
complacency, and in all ways, upon the public. The evil does not appear
to me to be susceptible of entire cure, because it not only originates
in the tactics of that assembly, but in its constitution and in that
of the country. The inhabitants of the United States seem themselves to
consider the matter in this light; and they show their long experience
of parliamentary life not by abstaining from making bad speeches, but by
courageously submitting to hear them made. They are resigned to it, as
to an evil which they know to be inevitable.

We have shown the petty side of political debates in democratic
assemblies--let us now exhibit the more imposing one. The proceedings
within the Parliament of England for the last one hundred and fifty
years have never occasioned any great sensation out of that country; the
opinions and feelings expressed by the speakers have never awakened much
sympathy, even amongst the nations placed nearest to the great arena of
British liberty; whereas Europe was excited by the very first debates
which took place in the small colonial assemblies of America at the
time of the Revolution. This was attributable not only to particular
and fortuitous circumstances, but to general and lasting causes. I can
conceive nothing more admirable or more powerful than a great orator
debating on great questions of state in a democratic assembly. As no
particular class is ever represented there by men commissioned to defend
its own interests, it is always to the whole nation, and in the name of
the whole nation, that the orator speaks. This expands his thoughts,
and heightens his power of language. As precedents have there but
little weight-as there are no longer any privileges attached to certain
property, nor any rights inherent in certain bodies or in certain
individuals, the mind must have recourse to general truths derived from
human nature to resolve the particular question under discussion. Hence
the political debates of a democratic people, however small it may be,
have a degree of breadth which frequently renders them attractive to
mankind. All men are interested by them, because they treat of man, who
is everywhere the same. Amongst the greatest aristocratic nations, on
the contrary, the most general questions are almost always argued on
some special grounds derived from the practice of a particular time, or
the rights of a particular class; which interest that class alone, or at
most the people amongst whom that class happens to exist. It is owing
to this, as much as to the greatness of the French people, and the
favorable disposition of the nations who listen to them, that the great
effect which the French political debates sometimes produce in the
world, must be attributed. The orators of France frequently speak to
mankind, even when they are addressing their countrymen only.

Section 2: Influence of Democracy on the Feelings of Americans

Chapter I: Why Democratic Nations Show A More Ardent And Enduring Love
Of Equality Than Of Liberty

The first and most intense passion which is engendered by the equality
of conditions is, I need hardly say, the love of that same equality. My
readers will therefore not be surprised that I speak of its before
all others. Everybody has remarked that in our time, and especially in
France, this passion for equality is every day gaining ground in the
human heart. It has been said a hundred times that our contemporaries
are far more ardently and tenaciously attached to equality than to
freedom; but as I do not find that the causes of the fact have been
sufficiently analyzed, I shall endeavor to point them out.

It is possible to imagine an extreme point at which freedom and equality
would meet and be confounded together. Let us suppose that all the
members of the community take a part in the government, and that each of
them has an equal right to take a part in it. As none is different from
his fellows, none can exercise a tyrannical power: men will be perfectly
free, because they will all be entirely equal; and they will all be
perfectly equal, because they will be entirely free. To this ideal state
democratic nations tend. Such is the completest form that equality can
assume upon earth; but there are a thousand others which, without being
equally perfect, are not less cherished by those nations.

The principle of equality may be established in civil society, without
prevailing in the political world. Equal rights may exist of indulging
in the same pleasures, of entering the same professions, of frequenting
the same places--in a word, of living in the same manner and seeking
wealth by the same means, although all men do not take an equal share
in the government. A kind of equality may even be established in the
political world, though there should be no political freedom there. A
man may be the equal of all his countrymen save one, who is the master
of all without distinction, and who selects equally from among them
all the agents of his power. Several other combinations might be easily
imagined, by which very great equality would be united to institutions
more or less free, or even to institutions wholly without freedom.
Although men cannot become absolutely equal unless they be entirely
free, and consequently equality, pushed to its furthest extent, may be
confounded with freedom, yet there is good reason for distinguishing the
one from the other. The taste which men have for liberty, and that which
they feel for equality, are, in fact, two different things; and I am
not afraid to add that, amongst democratic nations, they are two unequal

Upon close inspection, it will be seen that there is in every age some
peculiar and preponderating fact with which all others are connected;
this fact almost always gives birth to some pregnant idea or some ruling
passion, which attracts to itself, and bears away in its course, all the
feelings and opinions of the time: it is like a great stream, towards
which each of the surrounding rivulets seems to flow. Freedom has
appeared in the world at different times and under various forms; it
has not been exclusively bound to any social condition, and it is
not confined to democracies. Freedom cannot, therefore, form the
distinguishing characteristic of democratic ages. The peculiar and
preponderating fact which marks those ages as its own is the equality
of conditions; the ruling passion of men in those periods is the love
of this equality. Ask not what singular charm the men of democratic ages
find in being equal, or what special reasons they may have for clinging
so tenaciously to equality rather than to the other advantages which
society holds out to them: equality is the distinguishing characteristic
of the age they live in; that, of itself, is enough to explain that they
prefer it to all the rest.

But independently of this reason there are several others, which will at
all times habitually lead men to prefer equality to freedom. If a people
could ever succeed in destroying, or even in diminishing, the equality
which prevails in its own body, this could only be accomplished by long
and laborious efforts. Its social condition must be modified, its laws
abolished, its opinions superseded, its habits changed, its manners
corrupted. But political liberty is more easily lost; to neglect to
hold it fast is to allow it to escape. Men therefore not only cling to
equality because it is dear to them; they also adhere to it because they
think it will last forever.

That political freedom may compromise in its excesses the tranquillity,
the property, the lives of individuals, is obvious to the narrowest
and most unthinking minds. But, on the contrary, none but attentive and
clear-sighted men perceive the perils with which equality threatens us,
and they commonly avoid pointing them out. They know that the calamities
they apprehend are remote, and flatter themselves that they will only
fall upon future generations, for which the present generation takes
but little thought. The evils which freedom sometimes brings with it are
immediate; they are apparent to all, and all are more or less affected
by them. The evils which extreme equality may produce are slowly
disclosed; they creep gradually into the social frame; they are only
seen at intervals, and at the moment at which they become most violent
habit already causes them to be no longer felt. The advantages which
freedom brings are only shown by length of time; and it is always easy
to mistake the cause in which they originate. The advantages of equality
are instantaneous, and they may constantly be traced from their source.
Political liberty bestows exalted pleasures, from time to time, upon a
certain number of citizens. Equality every day confers a number of small
enjoyments on every man. The charms of equality are every instant felt,
and are within the reach of all; the noblest hearts are not insensible
to them, and the most vulgar souls exult in them. The passion which
equality engenders must therefore be at once strong and general. Men
cannot enjoy political liberty unpurchased by some sacrifices, and they
never obtain it without great exertions. But the pleasures of equality
are self-proffered: each of the petty incidents of life seems to
occasion them, and in order to taste them nothing is required but to

Democratic nations are at all times fond of equality, but there are
certain epochs at which the passion they entertain for it swells to the
height of fury. This occurs at the moment when the old social system,
long menaced, completes its own destruction after a last intestine
struggle, and when the barriers of rank are at length thrown down. At
such times men pounce upon equality as their booty, and they cling to
it as to some precious treasure which they fear to lose. The passion for
equality penetrates on every side into men's hearts, expands there,
and fills them entirely. Tell them not that by this blind surrender of
themselves to an exclusive passion they risk their dearest interests:
they are deaf. Show them not freedom escaping from their grasp, whilst
they are looking another way: they are blind--or rather, they can
discern but one sole object to be desired in the universe.

What I have said is applicable to all democratic nations: what I am
about to say concerns the French alone. Amongst most modern nations, and
especially amongst all those of the Continent of Europe, the taste and
the idea of freedom only began to exist and to extend themselves at
the time when social conditions were tending to equality, and as
a consequence of that very equality. Absolute kings were the most
efficient levellers of ranks amongst their subjects. Amongst these
nations equality preceded freedom: equality was therefore a fact of some
standing when freedom was still a novelty: the one had already created
customs, opinions, and laws belonging to it, when the other, alone and
for the first time, came into actual existence. Thus the latter was
still only an affair of opinion and of taste, whilst the former had
already crept into the habits of the people, possessed itself of their
manners, and given a particular turn to the smallest actions of their
lives. Can it be wondered that the men of our own time prefer the one to
the other?

I think that democratic communities have a natural taste for freedom:
left to themselves, they will seek it, cherish it, and view any
privation of it with regret. But for equality, their passion is ardent,
insatiable, incessant, invincible: they call for equality in freedom;
and if they cannot obtain that, they still call for equality in slavery.
They will endure poverty, servitude, barbarism--but they will not endure
aristocracy. This is true at all times, and especially true in our own.
All men and all powers seeking to cope with this irresistible passion,
will be overthrown and destroyed by it. In our age, freedom cannot be
established without it, and despotism itself cannot reign without its

Chapter II: Of Individualism In Democratic Countries

I have shown how it is that in ages of equality every man seeks for his
opinions within himself: I am now about to show how it is that, in
the same ages, all his feelings are turned towards himself alone.
Individualism *a is a novel expression, to which a novel idea has given
birth. Our fathers were only acquainted with egotism. Egotism is a
passionate and exaggerated love of self, which leads a man to connect
everything with his own person, and to prefer himself to everything in
the world. Individualism is a mature and calm feeling, which disposes
each member of the community to sever himself from the mass of his
fellow-creatures; and to draw apart with his family and his friends; so
that, after he has thus formed a little circle of his own, he willingly
leaves society at large to itself. Egotism originates in blind instinct:
individualism proceeds from erroneous judgment more than from depraved
feelings; it originates as much in the deficiencies of the mind as in
the perversity of the heart. Egotism blights the germ of all virtue;
individualism, at first, only saps the virtues of public life; but,
in the long run, it attacks and destroys all others, and is at length
absorbed in downright egotism. Egotism is a vice as old as the world,
which does not belong to one form of society more than to another:
individualism is of democratic origin, and it threatens to spread in the
same ratio as the equality of conditions.

[Footnote a: [I adopt the expression of the original, however strange it
may seem to the English ear, partly because it illustrates the remark
on the introduction of general terms into democratic language which was
made in a preceding chapter, and partly because I know of no English
word exactly equivalent to the expression. The chapter itself defines
the meaning attached to it by the author.--Translator's Note.]]

Amongst aristocratic nations, as families remain for centuries in the
same condition, often on the same spot, all generations become as it
were contemporaneous. A man almost always knows his forefathers, and
respects them: he thinks he already sees his remote descendants, and he
loves them. He willingly imposes duties on himself towards the
former and the latter; and he will frequently sacrifice his personal
gratifications to those who went before and to those who will come after
him. Aristocratic institutions have, moreover, the effect of closely
binding every man to several of his fellow-citizens. As the classes of
an aristocratic people are strongly marked and permanent, each of
them is regarded by its own members as a sort of lesser country,
more tangible and more cherished than the country at large. As in
aristocratic communities all the citizens occupy fixed positions, one
above the other, the result is that each of them always sees a man above
himself whose patronage is necessary to him, and below himself another
man whose co-operation he may claim. Men living in aristocratic ages
are therefore almost always closely attached to something placed out of
their own sphere, and they are often disposed to forget themselves. It
is true that in those ages the notion of human fellowship is faint, and
that men seldom think of sacrificing themselves for mankind; but they
often sacrifice themselves for other men. In democratic ages, on the
contrary, when the duties of each individual to the race are much more
clear, devoted service to any one man becomes more rare; the bond of
human affection is extended, but it is relaxed.

Amongst democratic nations new families are constantly springing up,
others are constantly falling away, and all that remain change their
condition; the woof of time is every instant broken, and the track of
generations effaced. Those who went before are soon forgotten; of those
who will come after no one has any idea: the interest of man is confined
to those in close propinquity to himself. As each class approximates
to other classes, and intermingles with them, its members become
indifferent and as strangers to one another. Aristocracy had made a
chain of all the members of the community, from the peasant to the king:
democracy breaks that chain, and severs every link of it. As social
conditions become more equal, the number of persons increases who,
although they are neither rich enough nor powerful enough to exercise
any great influence over their fellow-creatures, have nevertheless
acquired or retained sufficient education and fortune to satisfy their
own wants. They owe nothing to any man, they expect nothing from any
man; they acquire the habit of always considering themselves as standing
alone, and they are apt to imagine that their whole destiny is in
their own hands. Thus not only does democracy make every man forget
his ancestors, but it hides his descendants, and separates his
contemporaries from him; it throws him back forever upon himself alone,
and threatens in the end to confine him entirely within the solitude of
his own heart.

Chapter III: Individualism Stronger At The Close Of A Democratic
Revolution Than At Other Periods

The period when the construction of democratic society upon the ruins of
an aristocracy has just been completed, is especially that at which this
separation of men from one another, and the egotism resulting from it,
most forcibly strike the observation. Democratic communities not only
contain a large number of independent citizens, but they are constantly
filled with men who, having entered but yesterday upon their independent
condition, are intoxicated with their new power. They entertain a
presumptuous confidence in their strength, and as they do not suppose
that they can henceforward ever have occasion to claim the assistance of
their fellow-creatures, they do not scruple to show that they care for
nobody but themselves.

An aristocracy seldom yields without a protracted struggle, in the
course of which implacable animosities are kindled between the different
classes of society. These passions survive the victory, and traces of
them may be observed in the midst of the democratic confusion which
ensues. Those members of the community who were at the top of the late
gradations of rank cannot immediately forget their former greatness;
they will long regard themselves as aliens in the midst of the newly
composed society. They look upon all those whom this state of society
has made their equals as oppressors, whose destiny can excite no
sympathy; they have lost sight of their former equals, and feel no
longer bound by a common interest to their fate: each of them, standing
aloof, thinks that he is reduced to care for himself alone. Those, on
the contrary, who were formerly at the foot of the social scale, and who
have been brought up to the common level by a sudden revolution, cannot
enjoy their newly acquired independence without secret uneasiness; and
if they meet with some of their former superiors on the same footing as
themselves, they stand aloof from them with an expression of triumph and
of fear. It is, then, commonly at the outset of democratic society that
citizens are most disposed to live apart. Democracy leads men not to
draw near to their fellow-creatures; but democratic revolutions lead
them to shun each other, and perpetuate in a state of equality the
animosities which the state of inequality engendered. The great
advantage of the Americans is that they have arrived at a state of
democracy without having to endure a democratic revolution; and that
they are born equal, instead of becoming so.

Chapter IV: That The Americans Combat The Effects Of Individualism By
Free Institutions

Despotism, which is of a very timorous nature, is never more secure of
continuance than when it can keep men asunder; and all is influence
is commonly exerted for that purpose. No vice of the human heart is so
acceptable to it as egotism: a despot easily forgives his subjects for
not loving him, provided they do not love each other. He does not ask
them to assist him in governing the State; it is enough that they do not
aspire to govern it themselves. He stigmatizes as turbulent and
unruly spirits those who would combine their exertions to promote the
prosperity of the community, and, perverting the natural meaning of
words, he applauds as good citizens those who have no sympathy for any
but themselves. Thus the vices which despotism engenders are precisely
those which equality fosters. These two things mutually and perniciously
complete and assist each other. Equality places men side by side,
unconnected by any common tie; despotism raises barriers to keep
them asunder; the former predisposes them not to consider their
fellow-creatures, the latter makes general indifference a sort of public

Despotism then, which is at all times dangerous, is more particularly to
be feared in democratic ages. It is easy to see that in those same ages
men stand most in need of freedom. When the members of a community are
forced to attend to public affairs, they are necessarily drawn from
the circle of their own interests, and snatched at times from
self-observation. As soon as a man begins to treat of public affairs
in public, he begins to perceive that he is not so independent of his
fellow-men as he had at first imagined, and that, in order to obtain
their support, he must often lend them his co-operation.

When the public is supreme, there is no man who does not feel the value
of public goodwill, or who does not endeavor to court it by drawing to
himself the esteem and affection of those amongst whom he is to live.
Many of the passions which congeal and keep asunder human hearts,
are then obliged to retire and hide below the surface. Pride must be
dissembled; disdain dares not break out; egotism fears its own self.
Under a free government, as most public offices are elective, the men
whose elevated minds or aspiring hopes are too closely circumscribed in
private life, constantly feel that they cannot do without the population
which surrounds them. Men learn at such times to think of their
fellow-men from ambitious motives; and they frequently find it, in a
manner, their interest to forget themselves.

I may here be met by an objection derived from electioneering intrigues,
the meannesses of candidates, and the calumnies of their opponents.
These are opportunities for animosity which occur the oftener the more
frequent elections become. Such evils are doubtless great, but they are
transient; whereas the benefits which attend them remain. The desire
of being elected may lead some men for a time to violent hostility; but
this same desire leads all men in the long run mutually to support
each other; and if it happens that an election accidentally severs two
friends, the electoral system brings a multitude of citizens permanently
together, who would always have remained unknown to each other. Freedom
engenders private animosities, but despotism gives birth to general

The Americans have combated by free institutions the tendency of
equality to keep men asunder, and they have subdued it. The legislators
of America did not suppose that a general representation of the whole
nation would suffice to ward off a disorder at once so natural to the
frame of democratic society, and so fatal: they also thought that
it would be well to infuse political life into each portion of the
territory, in order to multiply to an infinite extent opportunities of
acting in concert for all the members of the community, and to make them
constantly feel their mutual dependence on each other. The plan was a
wise one. The general affairs of a country only engage the attention of
leading politicians, who assemble from time to time in the same places;
and as they often lose sight of each other afterwards, no lasting ties
are established between them. But if the object be to have the local
affairs of a district conducted by the men who reside there, the same
persons are always in contact, and they are, in a manner, forced to be
acquainted, and to adapt themselves to one another.

It is difficult to draw a man out of his own circle to interest him in
the destiny of the State, because he does not clearly understand what
influence the destiny of the State can have upon his own lot. But if it
be proposed to make a road cross the end of his estate, he will see at
a glance that there is a connection between this small public affair and
his greatest private affairs; and he will discover, without its being
shown to him, the close tie which unites private to general interest.
Thus, far more may be done by intrusting to the citizens the
administration of minor affairs than by surrendering to them the control
of important ones, towards interesting them in the public welfare, and
convincing them that they constantly stand in need one of the other in
order to provide for it. A brilliant achievement may win for you the
favor of a people at one stroke; but to earn the love and respect of
the population which surrounds you, a long succession of little services
rendered and of obscure good deeds--a constant habit of kindness, and
an established reputation for disinterestedness--will be required.
Local freedom, then, which leads a great number of citizens to value the
affection of their neighbors and of their kindred, perpetually brings
men together, and forces them to help one another, in spite of the
propensities which sever them.

In the United States the more opulent citizens take great care not to
stand aloof from the people; on the contrary, they constantly keep on
easy terms with the lower classes: they listen to them, they speak to
them every day. They know that the rich in democracies always stand in
need of the poor; and that in democratic ages you attach a poor man to
you more by your manner than by benefits conferred. The magnitude of
such benefits, which sets off the difference of conditions, causes a
secret irritation to those who reap advantage from them; but the charm
of simplicity of manners is almost irresistible: their affability
carries men away, and even their want of polish is not always
displeasing. This truth does not take root at once in the minds of the
rich. They generally resist it as long as the democratic revolution
lasts, and they do not acknowledge it immediately after that revolution
is accomplished. They are very ready to do good to the people, but
they still choose to keep them at arm's length; they think that is
sufficient, but they are mistaken. They might spend fortunes thus
without warming the hearts of the population around them;--that
population does not ask them for the sacrifice of their money, but of
their pride.

It would seem as if every imagination in the United States were upon
the stretch to invent means of increasing the wealth and satisfying
the wants of the public. The best-informed inhabitants of each district
constantly use their information to discover new truths which may
augment the general prosperity; and if they have made any such
discoveries, they eagerly surrender them to the mass of the people.

When the vices and weaknesses, frequently exhibited by those who
govern in America, are closely examined, the prosperity of the people
occasions--but improperly occasions--surprise. Elected magistrates do
not make the American democracy flourish; it flourishes because the
magistrates are elective.

It would be unjust to suppose that the patriotism and the zeal which
every American displays for the welfare of his fellow-citizens are
wholly insincere. Although private interest directs the greater part
of human actions in the United States as well as elsewhere, it does
not regulate them all. I must say that I have often seen Americans make
great and real sacrifices to the public welfare; and I have remarked
a hundred instances in which they hardly ever failed to lend faithful
support to each other. The free institutions which the inhabitants of
the United States possess, and the political rights of which they make
so much use, remind every citizen, and in a thousand ways, that he lives
in society. They every instant impress upon his mind the notion that it
is the duty, as well as the interest of men, to make themselves useful
to their fellow-creatures; and as he sees no particular ground of
animosity to them, since he is never either their master or their slave,
his heart readily leans to the side of kindness. Men attend to the
interests of the public, first by necessity, afterwards by choice: what
was intentional becomes an instinct; and by dint of working for the good
of one's fellow citizens, the habit and the taste for serving them is at
length acquired.

Many people in France consider equality of conditions as one evil, and
political freedom as a second. When they are obliged to yield to the
former, they strive at least to escape from the latter. But I contend
that in order to combat the evils which equality may produce, there is
only one effectual remedy--namely, political freedom.

Chapter V: Of The Use Which The Americans Make Of Public Associations In
Civil Life

I do not propose to speak of those political associations--by the aid of
which men endeavor to defend themselves against the despotic influence
of a majority--or against the aggressions of regal power. That subject I
have already treated. If each citizen did not learn, in proportion as
he individually becomes more feeble, and consequently more incapable
of preserving his freedom single-handed, to combine with his
fellow-citizens for the purpose of defending it, it is clear that
tyranny would unavoidably increase together with equality.

Those associations only which are formed in civil life, without
reference to political objects, are here adverted to. The political
associations which exist in the United States are only a single feature
in the midst of the immense assemblage of associations in that country.
Americans of all ages, all conditions, and all dispositions, constantly
form associations. They have not only commercial and manufacturing
companies, in which all take part, but associations of a thousand other
kinds--religious, moral, serious, futile, extensive, or restricted,
enormous or diminutive. The Americans make associations to give
entertainments, to found establishments for education, to build inns,
to construct churches, to diffuse books, to send missionaries to
the antipodes; and in this manner they found hospitals, prisons, and
schools. If it be proposed to advance some truth, or to foster some
feeling by the encouragement of a great example, they form a society.
Wherever, at the head of some new undertaking, you see the government
in France, or a man of rank in England, in the United States you will be
sure to find an association. I met with several kinds of associations in
America, of which I confess I had no previous notion; and I have often
admired the extreme skill with which the inhabitants of the United
States succeed in proposing a common object to the exertions of a great
many men, and in getting them voluntarily to pursue it. I have since
travelled over England, whence the Americans have taken some of their
laws and many of their customs; and it seemed to me that the principle
of association was by no means so constantly or so adroitly used in
that country. The English often perform great things singly; whereas the
Americans form associations for the smallest undertakings. It is evident
that the former people consider association as a powerful means of
action, but the latter seem to regard it as the only means they have of

Thus the most democratic country on the face of the earth is that in
which men have in our time carried to the highest perfection the art of
pursuing in common the object of their common desires, and have applied
this new science to the greatest number of purposes. Is this the result
of accident? or is there in reality any necessary connection between the
principle of association and that of equality? Aristocratic communities
always contain, amongst a multitude of persons who by themselves are
powerless, a small number of powerful and wealthy citizens, each of whom
can achieve great undertakings single-handed. In aristocratic societies
men do not need to combine in order to act, because they are strongly
held together. Every wealthy and powerful citizen constitutes the head
of a permanent and compulsory association, composed of all those who are
dependent upon him, or whom he makes subservient to the execution of his
designs. Amongst democratic nations, on the contrary, all the citizens
are independent and feeble; they can do hardly anything by themselves,
and none of them can oblige his fellow-men to lend him their assistance.
They all, therefore, fall into a state of incapacity, if they do not
learn voluntarily to help each other. If men living in democratic
countries had no right and no inclination to associate for political
purposes, their independence would be in great jeopardy; but they might
long preserve their wealth and their cultivation: whereas if they
never acquired the habit of forming associations in ordinary life,
civilization itself would be endangered. A people amongst which
individuals should lose the power of achieving great things
single-handed, without acquiring the means of producing them by united
exertions, would soon relapse into barbarism.

Unhappily, the same social condition which renders associations so
necessary to democratic nations, renders their formation more difficult
amongst those nations than amongst all others. When several members of
an aristocracy agree to combine, they easily succeed in doing so; as
each of them brings great strength to the partnership, the number of its
members may be very limited; and when the members of an association
are limited in number, they may easily become mutually acquainted,
understand each other, and establish fixed regulations. The same
opportunities do not occur amongst democratic nations, where the
associated members must always be very numerous for their association to
have any power.

I am aware that many of my countrymen are not in the least embarrassed
by this difficulty. They contend that the more enfeebled and incompetent
the citizens become, the more able and active the government ought to
be rendered, in order that society at large may execute what individuals
can no longer accomplish. They believe this answers the whole
difficulty, but I think they are mistaken. A government might perform
the part of some of the largest American companies; and several States,
members of the Union, have already attempted it; but what political
power could ever carry on the vast multitude of lesser undertakings
which the American citizens perform every day, with the assistance of
the principle of association? It is easy to foresee that the time is
drawing near when man will be less and less able to produce, of himself
alone, the commonest necessaries of life. The task of the governing
power will therefore perpetually increase, and its very efforts will
extend it every day. The more it stands in the place of associations,
the more will individuals, losing the notion of combining together,
require its assistance: these are causes and effects which unceasingly
engender each other. Will the administration of the country ultimately
assume the management of all the manufacturers, which no single
citizen is able to carry on? And if a time at length arrives, when, in
consequence of the extreme subdivision of landed property, the soil
is split into an infinite number of parcels, so that it can only be
cultivated by companies of husbandmen, will it be necessary that the
head of the government should leave the helm of state to follow the
plough? The morals and the intelligence of a democratic people would be
as much endangered as its business and manufactures, if the government
ever wholly usurped the place of private companies.

Feelings and opinions are recruited, the heart is enlarged, and the
human mind is developed by no other means than by the reciprocal
influence of men upon each other. I have shown that these influences are
almost null in democratic countries; they must therefore be artificially
created, and this can only be accomplished by associations.

When the members of an aristocratic community adopt a new opinion, or
conceive a new sentiment, they give it a station, as it were, beside
themselves, upon the lofty platform where they stand; and opinions
or sentiments so conspicuous to the eyes of the multitude are easily
introduced into the minds or hearts of all around. In democratic
countries the governing power alone is naturally in a condition to
act in this manner; but it is easy to see that its action is always
inadequate, and often dangerous. A government can no more be competent
to keep alive and to renew the circulation of opinions and feelings
amongst a great people, than to manage all the speculations of
productive industry. No sooner does a government attempt to go
beyond its political sphere and to enter upon this new track, than
it exercises, even unintentionally, an insupportable tyranny; for a
government can only dictate strict rules, the opinions which it favors
are rigidly enforced, and it is never easy to discriminate between its
advice and its commands. Worse still will be the case if the government
really believes itself interested in preventing all circulation of
ideas; it will then stand motionless, and oppressed by the heaviness of
voluntary torpor. Governments therefore should not be the only active
powers: associations ought, in democratic nations, to stand in lieu of
those powerful private individuals whom the equality of conditions has
swept away.

As soon as several of the inhabitants of the United States have taken
up an opinion or a feeling which they wish to promote in the world,
they look out for mutual assistance; and as soon as they have found each
other out, they combine. From that moment they are no longer isolated
men, but a power seen from afar, whose actions serve for an example,
and whose language is listened to. The first time I heard in the United
States that 100,000 men had bound themselves publicly to abstain from
spirituous liquors, it appeared to me more like a joke than a serious
engagement; and I did not at once perceive why these temperate citizens
could not content themselves with drinking water by their own firesides.
I at last understood that 300,000 Americans, alarmed by the progress
of drunkenness around them, had made up their minds to patronize
temperance. They acted just in the same way as a man of high rank who
should dress very plainly, in order to inspire the humbler orders with
a contempt of luxury. It is probable that if these 100,000 men had lived
in France, each of them would singly have memorialized the government to
watch the public-houses all over the kingdom.

Nothing, in my opinion, is more deserving of our attention than the
intellectual and moral associations of America. The political and
industrial associations of that country strike us forcibly; but the
others elude our observation, or if we discover them, we understand them
imperfectly, because we have hardly ever seen anything of the kind.
It must, however, be acknowledged that they are as necessary to the
American people as the former, and perhaps more so. In democratic
countries the science of association is the mother of science; the
progress of all the rest depends upon the progress it has made. Amongst
the laws which rule human societies there is one which seems to be more
precise and clear than all others. If men are to remain civilized, or to
become so, the art of associating together must grow and improve in the
same ratio in which the equality of conditions is increased.

Chapter VI: Of The Relation Between Public Associations And Newspapers

When men are no longer united amongst themselves by firm and lasting
ties, it is impossible to obtain the cooperation of any great number of
them, unless you can persuade every man whose concurrence you require
that this private interest obliges him voluntarily to unite his
exertions to the exertions of all the rest. This can only be habitually
and conveniently effected by means of a newspaper; nothing but a
newspaper can drop the same thought into a thousand minds at the same
moment. A newspaper is an adviser who does not require to be sought, but
who comes of his own accord, and talks to you briefly every day of the
common weal, without distracting you from your private affairs.

Newspapers therefore become more necessary in proportion as men become
more equal, and individualism more to be feared. To suppose that they
only serve to protect freedom would be to diminish their importance:
they maintain civilization. I shall not deny that in democratic
countries newspapers frequently lead the citizens to launch together in
very ill-digested schemes; but if there were no newspapers there would
be no common activity. The evil which they produce is therefore much
less than that which they cure.

The effect of a newspaper is not only to suggest the same purpose to
a great number of persons, but also to furnish means for executing in
common the designs which they may have singly conceived. The principal
citizens who inhabit an aristocratic country discern each other from
afar; and if they wish to unite their forces, they move towards each
other, drawing a multitude of men after them. It frequently happens, on
the contrary, in democratic countries, that a great number of men who
wish or who want to combine cannot accomplish it, because as they are
very insignificant and lost amidst the crowd, they cannot see, and know
not where to find, one another. A newspaper then takes up the notion or
the feeling which had occurred simultaneously, but singly, to each of
them. All are then immediately guided towards this beacon; and these
wandering minds, which had long sought each other in darkness, at length
meet and unite.

The newspaper brought them together, and the newspaper is still
necessary to keep them united. In order that an association amongst a
democratic people should have any power, it must be a numerous body.
The persons of whom it is composed are therefore scattered over a wide
extent, and each of them is detained in the place of his domicile by the
narrowness of his income, or by the small unremitting exertions by which
he earns it. Means then must be found to converse every day without
seeing each other, and to take steps in common without having met. Thus
hardly any democratic association can do without newspapers. There is
consequently a necessary connection between public associations
and newspapers: newspapers make associations, and associations make
newspapers; and if it has been correctly advanced that associations will
increase in number as the conditions of men become more equal, it is not
less certain that the number of newspapers increases in proportion to
that of associations. Thus it is in America that we find at the same
time the greatest number of associations and of newspapers.

This connection between the number of newspapers and that of
associations leads us to the discovery of a further connection between
the state of the periodical press and the form of the administration
in a country; and shows that the number of newspapers must diminish
or increase amongst a democratic people, in proportion as its
administration is more or less centralized. For amongst democratic
nations the exercise of local powers cannot be intrusted to the
principal members of the community as in aristocracies. Those powers
must either be abolished, or placed in the hands of very large
numbers of men, who then in fact constitute an association permanently
established by law for the purpose of administering the affairs of a
certain extent of territory; and they require a journal, to bring
to them every day, in the midst of their own minor concerns, some
intelligence of the state of their public weal. The more numerous local
powers are, the greater is the number of men in whom they are vested by
law; and as this want is hourly felt, the more profusely do newspapers

The extraordinary subdivision of administrative power has much more
to do with the enormous number of American newspapers than the great
political freedom of the country and the absolute liberty of the press.
If all the inhabitants of the Union had the suffrage--but a suffrage
which should only extend to the choice of their legislators in
Congress--they would require but few newspapers, because they would only
have to act together on a few very important but very rare occasions.
But within the pale of the great association of the nation, lesser
associations have been established by law in every country, every city,
and indeed in every village, for the purposes of local administration.
The laws of the country thus compel every American to co-operate every
day of his life with some of his fellow-citizens for a common purpose,
and each one of them requires a newspaper to inform him what all the
others are doing.

I am of opinion that a democratic people, *a without any national
representative assemblies, but with a great number of small local
powers, would have in the end more newspapers than another people
governed by a centralized administration and an elective legislation.
What best explains to me the enormous circulation of the daily press
in the United States, is that amongst the Americans I find the utmost
national freedom combined with local freedom of every kind. There is
a prevailing opinion in France and England that the circulation of
newspapers would be indefinitely increased by removing the taxes which
have been laid upon the press. This is a very exaggerated estimate
of the effects of such a reform. Newspapers increase in numbers, not
according to their cheapness, but according to the more or less frequent
want which a great number of men may feel for intercommunication and

[Footnote a: I say a democratic people: the administration of an
aristocratic people may be the reverse of centralized, and yet the want
of newspapers be little felt, because local powers are then vested in
the hands of a very small number of men, who either act apart, or who
know each other and can easily meet and come to an understanding.]

In like manner I should attribute the increasing influence of the
daily press to causes more general than those by which it is commonly
explained. A newspaper can only subsist on the condition of publishing
sentiments or principles common to a large number of men. A newspaper
therefore always represents an association which is composed of its
habitual readers. This association may be more or less defined, more or
less restricted, more or less numerous; but the fact that the newspaper
keeps alive, is a proof that at least the germ of such an association
exists in the minds of its readers.

This leads me to a last reflection, with which I shall conclude this
chapter. The more equal the conditions of men become, and the less
strong men individually are, the more easily do they give way to the
current of the multitude, and the more difficult is it for them to
adhere by themselves to an opinion which the multitude discard. A
newspaper represents an association; it may be said to address each of
its readers in the name of all the others, and to exert its influence
over them in proportion to their individual weakness. The power of the
newspaper press must therefore increase as the social conditions of men
become more equal.

Chapter VII: Connection Of Civil And Political Associations

There is only one country on the face of the earth where the citizens
enjoy unlimited freedom of association for political purposes. This same
country is the only one in the world where the continual exercise of the
right of association has been introduced into civil life, and where all
the advantages which civilization can confer are procured by means of
it. In all the countries where political associations are prohibited,
civil associations are rare. It is hardly probable that this is the
result of accident; but the inference should rather be, that there is a
natural, and perhaps a necessary, connection between these two kinds
of associations. Certain men happen to have a common interest in some
concern--either a commercial undertaking is to be managed, or some
speculation in manufactures to be tried; they meet, they combine, and
thus by degrees they become familiar with the principle of association.
The greater is the multiplicity of small affairs, the more do men, even
without knowing it, acquire facility in prosecuting great undertakings
in common. Civil associations, therefore, facilitate political
association: but, on the other hand, political association singularly
strengthens and improves associations for civil purposes. In civil life
every man may, strictly speaking, fancy that he can provide for his own
wants; in politics, he can fancy no such thing. When a people, then,
have any knowledge of public life, the notion of association, and the
wish to coalesce, present themselves every day to the minds of the whole
community: whatever natural repugnance may restrain men from acting in
concert, they will always be ready to combine for the sake of a party.
Thus political life makes the love and practice of association more
general; it imparts a desire of union, and teaches the means of
combination to numbers of men who would have always lived apart.

Politics not only give birth to numerous associations, but to
associations of great extent. In civil life it seldom happens that any
one interest draws a very large number of men to act in concert; much
skill is required to bring such an interest into existence: but in
politics opportunities present themselves every day. Now it is solely
in great associations that the general value of the principle of
association is displayed. Citizens who are individually powerless,
do not very clearly anticipate the strength which they may acquire by
uniting together; it must be shown to them in order to be understood.
Hence it is often easier to collect a multitude for a public purpose
than a few persons; a thousand citizens do not see what interest they
have in combining together--ten thousand will be perfectly aware of it.
In politics men combine for great undertakings; and the use they make
of the principle of association in important affairs practically teaches
them that it is their interest to help each other in those of less
moment. A political association draws a number of individuals at the
same time out of their own circle: however they may be naturally kept
asunder by age, mind, and fortune, it places them nearer together and
brings them into contact. Once met, they can always meet again.

Men can embark in few civil partnerships without risking a portion of
their possessions; this is the case with all manufacturing and
trading companies. When men are as yet but little versed in the art of
association, and are unacquainted with its principal rules, they
are afraid, when first they combine in this manner, of buying their
experience dear. They therefore prefer depriving themselves of a
powerful instrument of success to running the risks which attend the use
of it. They are, however, less reluctant to join political associations,
which appear to them to be without danger, because they adventure no
money in them. But they cannot belong to these associations for any
length of time without finding out how order is maintained amongst a
large number of men, and by what contrivance they are made to advance,
harmoniously and methodically, to the same object. Thus they learn to
surrender their own will to that of all the rest, and to make their own
exertions subordinate to the common impulse--things which it is not less
necessary to know in civil than in political associations. Political
associations may therefore be considered as large free schools, where
all the members of the community go to learn the general theory of

But even if political association did not directly contribute to the
progress of civil association, to destroy the former would be to impair
the latter. When citizens can only meet in public for certain purposes,
they regard such meetings as a strange proceeding of rare occurrence,
and they rarely think at all about it. When they are allowed to meet
freely for all purposes, they ultimately look upon public association
as the universal, or in a manner the sole means, which men can employ to
accomplish the different purposes they may have in view. Every new want
instantly revives the notion. The art of association then becomes, as I
have said before, the mother of action, studied and applied by all.

When some kinds of associations are prohibited and others allowed, it is
difficult to distinguish the former from the latter, beforehand. In this
state of doubt men abstain from them altogether, and a sort of public
opinion passes current which tends to cause any association whatsoever
to be regarded as a bold and almost an illicit enterprise. *a

[Footnote a: This is more especially true when the executive government
has a discretionary power of allowing or prohibiting associations. When
certain associations are simply prohibited by law, and the courts of
justice have to punish infringements of that law, the evil is far less
considerable. Then every citizen knows beforehand pretty nearly what he
has to expect. He judges himself before he is judged by the law, and,
abstaining from prohibited associations, he embarks in those which are
legally sanctioned. It is by these restrictions that all free nations
have always admitted that the right of association might be limited.
But if the legislature should invest a man with a power of ascertaining
beforehand which associations are dangerous and which are useful, and
should authorize him to destroy all associations in the bud or allow
them to be formed, as nobody would be able to foresee in what cases
associations might be established and in what cases they would be put
down, the spirit of association would be entirely paralyzed. The former
of these laws would only assail certain associations; the latter would
apply to society itself, and inflict an injury upon it. I can conceive
that a regular government may have recourse to the former, but I do not
concede that any government has the right of enacting the latter.]

It is therefore chimerical to suppose that the spirit of association,
when it is repressed on some one point, will nevertheless display
the same vigor on all others; and that if men be allowed to prosecute
certain undertakings in common, that is quite enough for them eagerly
to set about them. When the members of a community are allowed and
accustomed to combine for all purposes, they will combine as readily for
the lesser as for the more important ones; but if they are only allowed
to combine for small affairs, they will be neither inclined nor able
to effect it. It is in vain that you will leave them entirely free to
prosecute their business on joint-stock account: they will hardly care
to avail themselves of the rights you have granted to them; and, after
having exhausted your strength in vain efforts to put down prohibited
associations, you will be surprised that you cannot persuade men to form
the associations you encourage.

I do not say that there can be no civil associations in a country where
political association is prohibited; for men can never live in society
without embarking in some common undertakings: but I maintain that in
such a country civil associations will always be few in number, feebly
planned, unskillfully managed, that they will never form any vast
designs, or that they will fail in the execution of them.

This naturally leads me to think that freedom of association in
political matters is not so dangerous to public tranquillity as is
supposed; and that possibly, after having agitated society for some
time, it may strengthen the State in the end. In democratic countries
political associations are, so to speak, the only powerful persons who
aspire to rule the State. Accordingly, the governments of our time look
upon associations of this kind just as sovereigns in the Middle Ages
regarded the great vassals of the Crown: they entertain a sort of
instinctive abhorrence of them, and they combat them on all occasions.
They bear, on the contrary, a natural goodwill to civil associations,
because they readily discover that, instead of directing the minds of
the community to public affairs, these institutions serve to divert them
from such reflections; and that, by engaging them more and more in the
pursuit of objects which cannot be attained without public tranquillity,
they deter them from revolutions. But these governments do not attend
to the fact that political associations tend amazingly to multiply and
facilitate those of a civil character, and that in avoiding a dangerous
evil they deprive themselves of an efficacious remedy.

When you see the Americans freely and constantly forming associations
for the purpose of promoting some political principle, of raising one
man to the head of affairs, or of wresting power from another, you
have some difficulty in understanding that men so independent do not
constantly fall into the abuse of freedom. If, on the other hand, you
survey the infinite number of trading companies which are in operation
in the United States, and perceive that the Americans are on every side
unceasingly engaged in the execution of important and difficult plans,
which the slightest revolution would throw into confusion, you will
readily comprehend why people so well employed are by no means tempted
to perturb the State, nor to destroy that public tranquillity by which
they all profit.

Is it enough to observe these things separately, or should we not
discover the hidden tie which connects them? In their political
associations, the Americans of all conditions, minds, and ages, daily
acquire a general taste for association, and grow accustomed to the use
of it. There they meet together in large numbers, they converse, they
listen to each other, and they are mutually stimulated to all sorts of
undertakings. They afterwards transfer to civil life the notions they
have thus acquired, and make them subservient to a thousand purposes.
Thus it is by the enjoyment of a dangerous freedom that the Americans
learn the art of rendering the dangers of freedom less formidable.

If a certain moment in the existence of a nation be selected, it is easy
to prove that political associations perturb the State, and paralyze
productive industry; but take the whole life of a people, and it may
perhaps be easy to demonstrate that freedom of association in political
matters is favorable to the prosperity and even to the tranquillity of
the community.

I said in the former part of this work, "The unrestrained liberty of
political association cannot be entirely assimilated to the liberty of
the press. The one is at the same time less necessary and more dangerous
than the other. A nation may confine it within certain limits without
ceasing to be mistress of itself; and it may sometimes be obliged to do
so in order to maintain its own authority." And further on I added:
"It cannot be denied that the unrestrained liberty of association for
political purposes is the last degree of liberty which a people is fit
for. If it does not throw them into anarchy, it perpetually brings them,
as it were, to the verge of it." Thus I do not think that a nation
is always at liberty to invest its citizens with an absolute right of
association for political purposes; and I doubt whether, in any country
or in any age, it be wise to set no limits to freedom of association.
A certain nation, it is said, could not maintain tranquillity in the
community, cause the laws to be respected, or establish a lasting
government, if the right of association were not confined within narrow
limits. These blessings are doubtless invaluable, and I can imagine
that, to acquire or to preserve them, a nation may impose upon itself
severe temporary restrictions: but still it is well that the nation
should know at what price these blessings are purchased. I can
understand that it may be advisable to cut off a man's arm in order to
save his life; but it would be ridiculous to assert that he will be as
dexterous as he was before he lost it.

Chapter VIII: The Americans Combat Individualism By The Principle Of
Interest Rightly Understood

When the world was managed by a few rich and powerful individuals, these
persons loved to entertain a lofty idea of the duties of man. They were
fond of professing that it is praiseworthy to forget one's self, and
that good should be done without hope of reward, as it is by the Deity
himself. Such were the standard opinions of that time in morals. I doubt
whether men were more virtuous in aristocratic ages than in others; but
they were incessantly talking of the beauties of virtue, and its utility
was only studied in secret. But since the imagination takes less lofty
flights and every man's thoughts are centred in himself, moralists are
alarmed by this idea of self-sacrifice, and they no longer venture to
present it to the human mind. They therefore content themselves with
inquiring whether the personal advantage of each member of the community
does not consist in working for the good of all; and when they have hit
upon some point on which private interest and public interest meet and
amalgamate, they are eager to bring it into notice. Observations of this
kind are gradually multiplied: what was only a single remark becomes a
general principle; and it is held as a truth that man serves himself
in serving his fellow-creatures, and that his private interest is to do

I have already shown, in several parts of this work, by what means the
inhabitants of the United States almost always manage to combine their
own advantage with that of their fellow-citizens: my present purpose is
to point out the general rule which enables them to do so. In the United
States hardly anybody talks of the beauty of virtue; but they maintain
that virtue is useful, and prove it every day. The American moralists
do not profess that men ought to sacrifice themselves for their
fellow-creatures because it is noble to make such sacrifices; but they
boldly aver that such sacrifices are as necessary to him who imposes
them upon himself as to him for whose sake they are made. They have
found out that in their country and their age man is brought home to
himself by an irresistible force; and losing all hope of stopping
that force, they turn all their thoughts to the direction of it. They
therefore do not deny that every man may follow his own interest;
but they endeavor to prove that it is the interest of every man to be
virtuous. I shall not here enter into the reasons they allege, which
would divert me from my subject: suffice it to say that they have
convinced their fellow-countrymen.

Montaigne said long ago: "Were I not to follow the straight road for its
straightness, I should follow it for having found by experience that in
the end it is commonly the happiest and most useful track." The doctrine
of interest rightly understood is not, then, new, but amongst the
Americans of our time it finds universal acceptance: it has become
popular there; you may trace it at the bottom of all their actions, you
will remark it in all they say. It is as often to be met with on the
lips of the poor man as of the rich. In Europe the principle of interest
is much grosser than it is in America, but at the same time it is
less common, and especially it is less avowed; amongst us, men still
constantly feign great abnegation which they no longer feel. The
Americans, on the contrary, are fond of explaining almost all the
actions of their lives by the principle of interest rightly understood;
they show with complacency how an enlightened regard for themselves
constantly prompts them to assist each other, and inclines them
willingly to sacrifice a portion of their time and property to the
welfare of the State. In this respect I think they frequently fail to
do themselves justice; for in the United States, as well as elsewhere,
people are sometimes seen to give way to those disinterested and
spontaneous impulses which are natural to man; but the Americans seldom
allow that they yield to emotions of this kind; they are more anxious to
do honor to their philosophy than to themselves.

I might here pause, without attempting to pass a judgment on what I have
described. The extreme difficulty of the subject would be my excuse,
but I shall not avail myself of it; and I had rather that my readers,
clearly perceiving my object, should refuse to follow me than that
I should leave them in suspense. The principle of interest rightly
understood is not a lofty one, but it is clear and sure. It does not aim
at mighty objects, but it attains without excessive exertion all
those at which it aims. As it lies within the reach of all capacities,
everyone can without difficulty apprehend and retain it. By its
admirable conformity to human weaknesses, it easily obtains great
dominion; nor is that dominion precarious, since the principle checks
one personal interest by another, and uses, to direct the passions,
the very same instrument which excites them. The principle of interest
rightly understood produces no great acts of self-sacrifice, but it
suggests daily small acts of self-denial. By itself it cannot suffice to
make a man virtuous, but it disciplines a number of citizens in habits
of regularity, temperance, moderation, foresight, self-command; and, if
it does not lead men straight to virtue by the will, it gradually draws
them in that direction by their habits. If the principle of interest
rightly understood were to sway the whole moral world, extraordinary
virtues would doubtless be more rare; but I think that gross depravity
would then also be less common. The principle of interest rightly
understood perhaps prevents some men from rising far above the level of
mankind; but a great number of other men, who were falling far below it,
are caught and restrained by it. Observe some few individuals, they are
lowered by it; survey mankind, it is raised. I am not afraid to say that
the principle of interest, rightly understood, appears to me the best
suited of all philosophical theories to the wants of the men of our
time, and that I regard it as their chief remaining security against
themselves. Towards it, therefore, the minds of the moralists of our
age should turn; even should they judge it to be incomplete, it must
nevertheless be adopted as necessary.

I do not think upon the whole that there is more egotism amongst us than
in America; the only difference is, that there it is enlightened--here
it is not. Every American will sacrifice a portion of his private
interests to preserve the rest; we would fain preserve the whole, and
oftentimes the whole is lost. Everybody I see about me seems bent on
teaching his contemporaries, by precept and example, that what is useful
is never wrong. Will nobody undertake to make them understand how what
is right may be useful? No power upon earth can prevent the increasing
equality of conditions from inclining the human mind to seek out what is
useful, or from leading every member of the community to be wrapped up
in himself. It must therefore be expected that personal interest will
become more than ever the principal, if not the sole, spring of men's
actions; but it remains to be seen how each man will understand his
personal interest. If the members of a community, as they become more
equal, become more ignorant and coarse, it is difficult to foresee to
what pitch of stupid excesses their egotism may lead them; and no one
can foretell into what disgrace and wretchedness they would plunge
themselves, lest they should have to sacrifice something of their own
well-being to the prosperity of their fellow-creatures. I do not think
that the system of interest, as it is professed in America, is, in all
its parts, self-evident; but it contains a great number of truths so
evident that men, if they are but educated, cannot fail to see them.
Educate, then, at any rate; for the age of implicit self-sacrifice and
instinctive virtues is already flitting far away from us, and the time
is fast approaching when freedom, public peace, and social order itself
will not be able to exist without education.

Chapter IX: That The Americans Apply The Principle Of Interest Rightly
Understood To Religious Matters

If the principle of interest rightly understood had nothing but the
present world in view, it would be very insufficient; for there are many
sacrifices which can only find their recompense in another; and whatever
ingenuity may be put forth to demonstrate the utility of virtue, it will
never be an easy task to make that man live aright who has no thoughts
of dying. It is therefore necessary to ascertain whether the principle
of interest rightly understood is easily compatible with religious
belief. The philosophers who inculcate this system of morals tell men,
that to be happy in this life they must watch their own passions and
steadily control their excess; that lasting happiness can only be
secured by renouncing a thousand transient gratifications; and that a
man must perpetually triumph over himself, in order to secure his own
advantage. The founders of almost all religions have held the same
language. The track they point out to man is the same, only that the
goal is more remote; instead of placing in this world the reward of the
sacrifices they impose, they transport it to another. Nevertheless I
cannot believe that all those who practise virtue from religious motives
are only actuated by the hope of a recompense. I have known zealous
Christians who constantly forgot themselves, to work with greater ardor
for the happiness of their fellow-men; and I have heard them declare
that all they did was only to earn the blessings of a future state. I
cannot but think that they deceive themselves; I respect them too much
to believe them.

Christianity indeed teaches that a man must prefer his neighbor to
himself, in order to gain eternal life; but Christianity also teaches
that men ought to benefit their fellow-creatures for the love of God.
A sublime expression! Man, searching by his intellect into the divine
conception, and seeing that order is the purpose of God, freely combines
to prosecute the great design; and whilst he sacrifices his personal
interests to this consummate order of all created things, expects no
other recompense than the pleasure of contemplating it. I do not believe
that interest is the sole motive of religious men: but I believe that
interest is the principal means which religions themselves employ to
govern men, and I do not question that this way they strike into the
multitude and become popular. It is not easy clearly to perceive why
the principle of interest rightly understood should keep aloof from
religious opinions; and it seems to me more easy to show why it should
draw men to them. Let it be supposed that, in order to obtain happiness
in this world, a man combats his instinct on all occasions and
deliberately calculates every action of his life; that, instead of
yielding blindly to the impetuosity of first desires, he has learned the
art of resisting them, and that he has accustomed himself to sacrifice
without an effort the pleasure of a moment to the lasting interest
of his whole life. If such a man believes in the religion which he
professes, it will cost him but little to submit to the restrictions it
may impose. Reason herself counsels him to obey, and habit has prepared
him to endure them. If he should have conceived any doubts as to the
object of his hopes, still he will not easily allow himself to be
stopped by them; and he will decide that it is wise to risk some of the
advantages of this world, in order to preserve his rights to the great
inheritance promised him in another. "To be mistaken in believing that
the Christian religion is true," says Pascal, "is no great loss to
anyone; but how dreadful to be mistaken in believing it to be false!"

The Americans do not affect a brutal indifference to a future state;
they affect no puerile pride in despising perils which they hope to
escape from. They therefore profess their religion without shame and
without weakness; but there generally is, even in their zeal, something
so indescribably tranquil, methodical, and deliberate, that it would
seem as if the head, far more than the heart, brought them to the
foot of the altar. The Americans not only follow their religion from
interest, but they often place in this world the interest which makes
them follow it. In the Middle Ages the clergy spoke of nothing but a
future state; they hardly cared to prove that a sincere Christian may
be a happy man here below. But the American preachers are constantly
referring to the earth; and it is only with great difficulty that they
can divert their attention from it. To touch their congregations, they
always show them how favorable religious opinions are to freedom and
public tranquillity; and it is often difficult to ascertain from their
discourses whether the principal object of religion is to procure
eternal felicity in the other world, or prosperity in this.

Chapter X: Of The Taste For Physical Well-Being In America

In America the passion for physical well-being is not always exclusive,
but it is general; and if all do not feel it in the same manner, yet it
is felt by all. Carefully to satisfy all, even the least wants of the
body, and to provide the little conveniences of life, is uppermost
in every mind. Something of an analogous character is more and more
apparent in Europe. Amongst the causes which produce these similar
consequences in both hemispheres, several are so connected with my
subject as to deserve notice.

When riches are hereditarily fixed in families, there are a great number
of men who enjoy the comforts of life without feeling an exclusive
taste for those comforts. The heart of man is not so much caught by the
undisturbed possession of anything valuable as by the desire, as yet
imperfectly satisfied, of possessing it, and by the incessant dread
of losing it. In aristocratic communities, the wealthy, never having
experienced a condition different from their own, entertain no fear of
changing it; the existence of such conditions hardly occurs to them. The
comforts of life are not to them the end of life, but simply a way of
living; they regard them as existence itself--enjoyed, but scarcely
thought of. As the natural and instinctive taste which all men feel
for being well off is thus satisfied without trouble and without
apprehension, their faculties are turned elsewhere, and cling to more
arduous and more lofty undertakings, which excite and engross their
minds. Hence it is that, in the midst of physical gratifications, the
members of an aristocracy often display a haughty contempt of these very
enjoyments, and exhibit singular powers of endurance under the privation
of them. All the revolutions which have ever shaken or destroyed
aristocracies, have shown how easily men accustomed to superfluous
luxuries can do without the necessaries of life; whereas men who have
toiled to acquire a competency can hardly live after they have lost it.

If I turn my observation from the upper to the lower classes, I find
analogous effects produced by opposite causes. Amongst a nation where
aristocracy predominates in society, and keeps it stationary, the
people in the end get as much accustomed to poverty as the rich to
their opulence. The latter bestow no anxiety on their physical comforts,
because they enjoy them without an effort; the former do not think
of things which they despair of obtaining, and which they hardly know
enough of to desire them. In communities of this kind, the imagination
of the poor is driven to seek another world; the miseries of real life
inclose it around, but it escapes from their control, and flies to seek
its pleasures far beyond. When, on the contrary, the distinctions
of ranks are confounded together and privileges are destroyed--when
hereditary property is subdivided, and education and freedom widely
diffused, the desire of acquiring the comforts of the world haunts the
imagination of the poor, and the dread of losing them that of the rich.
Many scanty fortunes spring up; those who possess them have a sufficient
share of physical gratifications to conceive a taste for these
pleasures--not enough to satisfy it. They never procure them without
exertion, and they never indulge in them without apprehension. They
are therefore always straining to pursue or to retain gratifications so
delightful, so imperfect, so fugitive.

If I were to inquire what passion is most natural to men who are
stimulated and circumscribed by the obscurity of their birth or the
mediocrity of their fortune, I could discover none more peculiarly
appropriate to their condition than this love of physical prosperity.
The passion for physical comforts is essentially a passion of the
middle classes: with those classes it grows and spreads, with them it
preponderates. From them it mounts into the higher orders of society,
and descends into the mass of the people. I never met in America with
any citizen so poor as not to cast a glance of hope and envy on the
enjoyments of the rich, or whose imagination did not possess itself by
anticipation of those good things which fate still obstinately withheld
from him. On the other hand, I never perceived amongst the wealthier
inhabitants of the United States that proud contempt of physical
gratifications which is sometimes to be met with even in the most
opulent and dissolute aristocracies. Most of these wealthy persons were
once poor; they have felt the sting of want; they were long a prey to
adverse fortunes; and now that the victory is won, the passions which
accompanied the contest have survived it: their minds are, as it were,
intoxicated by the small enjoyments which they have pursued for forty
years. Not but that in the United States, as elsewhere, there are a
certain number of wealthy persons who, having come into their property
by inheritance, possess, without exertion, an opulence they have not
earned. But even these men are not less devotedly attached to the
pleasures of material life. The love of well-being is now become the
predominant taste of the nation; the great current of man's passions
runs in that channel, and sweeps everything along in its course.

Chapter XI: Peculiar Effects Of The Love Of Physical Gratifications In
Democratic Ages

It may be supposed, from what has just been said, that the love
of physical gratifications must constantly urge the Americans to
irregularities in morals, disturb the peace of families, and threaten
the security of society at large. Such is not the case: the passion for
physical gratifications produces in democracies effects very different
from those which it occasions in aristocratic nations. It sometimes
happens that, wearied with public affairs and sated with opulence,
amidst the ruin of religious belief and the decline of the State, the
heart of an aristocracy may by degrees be seduced to the pursuit of
sensual enjoyments only. At other times the power of the monarch or the
weakness of the people, without stripping the nobility of their fortune,
compels them to stand aloof from the administration of affairs, and
whilst the road to mighty enterprise is closed, abandons them to the
inquietude of their own desires; they then fall back heavily upon
themselves, and seek in the pleasures of the body oblivion of their
former greatness. When the members of an aristocratic body are thus
exclusively devoted to the pursuit of physical gratifications, they
commonly concentrate in that direction all the energy which they derive
from their long experience of power. Such men are not satisfied with
the pursuit of comfort; they require sumptuous depravity and splendid
corruption. The worship they pay the senses is a gorgeous one; and they
seem to vie with each other in the art of degrading their own natures.
The stronger, the more famous, and the more free an aristocracy has
been, the more depraved will it then become; and however brilliant
may have been the lustre of its virtues, I dare predict that they will
always be surpassed by the splendor of its vices.

The taste for physical gratifications leads a democratic people into no
such excesses. The love of well-being is there displayed as a tenacious,
exclusive, universal passion; but its range is confined. To build
enormous palaces, to conquer or to mimic nature, to ransack the world in
order to gratify the passions of a man, is not thought of: but to add
a few roods of land to your field, to plant an orchard, to enlarge a
dwelling, to be always making life more comfortable and convenient,
to avoid trouble, and to satisfy the smallest wants without effort and
almost without cost. These are small objects, but the soul clings to
them; it dwells upon them closely and day by day, till they at last shut
out the rest of the world, and sometimes intervene between itself and

This, it may be said, can only be applicable to those members of the
community who are in humble circumstances; wealthier individuals will
display tastes akin to those which belonged to them in aristocratic
ages. I contest the proposition: in point of physical gratifications,
the most opulent members of a democracy will not display tastes very
different from those of the people; whether it be that, springing from
the people, they really share those tastes, or that they esteem it a
duty to submit to them. In democratic society the sensuality of the
public has taken a moderate and tranquil course, to which all are bound
to conform: it is as difficult to depart from the common rule by one's
vices as by one's virtues. Rich men who live amidst democratic nations
are therefore more intent on providing for their smallest wants than for
their extraordinary enjoyments; they gratify a number of petty desires,
without indulging in any great irregularities of passion: thus they are
more apt to become enervated than debauched. The especial taste which
the men of democratic ages entertain for physical enjoyments is not
naturally opposed to the principles of public order; nay, it often
stands in need of order that it may be gratified. Nor is it adverse to
regularity of morals, for good morals contribute to public tranquillity
and are favorable to industry. It may even be frequently combined with a
species of religious morality: men wish to be as well off as they can
in this world, without foregoing their chance of another. Some physical
gratifications cannot be indulged in without crime; from such they
strictly abstain. The enjoyment of others is sanctioned by religion
and morality; to these the heart, the imagination, and life itself are
unreservedly given up; till, in snatching at these lesser gifts, men
lose sight of those more precious possessions which constitute the glory
and the greatness of mankind. The reproach I address to the principle
of equality, is not that it leads men away in the pursuit of forbidden
enjoyments, but that it absorbs them wholly in quest of those which are
allowed. By these means, a kind of virtuous materialism may ultimately
be established in the world, which would not corrupt, but enervate the
soul, and noiselessly unbend its springs of action.

Chapter XII: Causes Of Fanatical Enthusiasm In Some Americans

Although the desire of acquiring the good things of this world is the
prevailing passion of the American people, certain momentary outbreaks
occur, when their souls seem suddenly to burst the bonds of matter by
which they are restrained, and to soar impetuously towards heaven. In
all the States of the Union, but especially in the half-peopled country
of the Far West, wandering preachers may be met with who hawk about the
word of God from place to place. Whole families--old men, women, and
children--cross rough passes and untrodden wilds, coming from a great
distance, to join a camp-meeting, where they totally forget for several
days and nights, in listening to these discourses, the cares of business
and even the most urgent wants of the body. Here and there, in the midst
of American society, you meet with men, full of a fanatical and almost
wild enthusiasm, which hardly exists in Europe. From time to time
strange sects arise, which endeavor to strike out extraordinary paths
to eternal happiness. Religious insanity is very common in the United

Nor ought these facts to surprise us. It was not man who implanted in
himself the taste for what is infinite and the love of what is immortal:
those lofty instincts are not the offspring of his capricious will;
their steadfast foundation is fixed in human nature, and they exist in
spite of his efforts. He may cross and distort them--destroy them he
cannot. The soul has wants which must be satisfied; and whatever pains
be taken to divert it from itself, it soon grows weary, restless, and
disquieted amidst the enjoyments of sense. If ever the faculties of
the great majority of mankind were exclusively bent upon the pursuit of
material objects, it might be anticipated that an amazing reaction would
take place in the souls of some men. They would drift at large in the
world of spirits, for fear of remaining shackled by the close bondage of
the body.

It is not then wonderful if, in the midst of a community whose thoughts
tend earthward, a small number of individuals are to be found who turn
their looks to heaven. I should be surprised if mysticism did not soon
make some advance amongst a people solely engaged in promoting its own
worldly welfare. It is said that the deserts of the Thebaid were peopled
by the persecutions of the emperors and the massacres of the Circus; I
should rather say that it was by the luxuries of Rome and the Epicurean
philosophy of Greece. If their social condition, their present
circumstances, and their laws did not confine the minds of the Americans
so closely to the pursuit of worldly welfare, it is probable that they
would display more reserve and more experience whenever their attention
is turned to things immaterial, and that they would check themselves
without difficulty. But they feel imprisoned within bounds which they
will apparently never be allowed to pass. As soon as they have passed
these bounds, their minds know not where to fix themselves, and they
often rush unrestrained beyond the range of common-sense.

Chapter XIII: Causes Of The Restless Spirit Of Americans In The Midst Of
Their Prosperity

In certain remote corners of the Old World you may still sometimes
stumble upon a small district which seems to have been forgotten amidst
the general tumult, and to have remained stationary whilst everything
around it was in motion. The inhabitants are for the most part extremely
ignorant and poor; they take no part in the business of the country, and
they are frequently oppressed by the government; yet their countenances
are generally placid, and their spirits light. In America I saw the
freest and most enlightened men, placed in the happiest circumstances
which the world affords: it seemed to me as if a cloud habitually hung
upon their brow, and I thought them serious and almost sad even in their
pleasures. The chief reason of this contrast is that the former do not
think of the ills they endure--the latter are forever brooding over
advantages they do not possess. It is strange to see with what feverish
ardor the Americans pursue their own welfare; and to watch the vague
dread that constantly torments them lest they should not have chosen the
shortest path which may lead to it. A native of the United States clings
to this world's goods as if he were certain never to die; and he is so
hasty in grasping at all within his reach, that one would suppose he was
constantly afraid of not living long enough to enjoy them. He clutches
everything, he holds nothing fast, but soon loosens his grasp to pursue
fresh gratifications.

In the United States a man builds a house to spend his latter years in
it, and he sells it before the roof is on: he plants a garden, and lets
it just as the trees are coming into bearing: he brings a field into
tillage, and leaves other men to gather the crops: he embraces a
profession, and gives it up: he settles in a place, which he soon
afterwards leaves, to carry his changeable longings elsewhere. If his
private affairs leave him any leisure, he instantly plunges into the
vortex of politics; and if at the end of a year of unremitting labor he
finds he has a few days' vacation, his eager curiosity whirls him over
the vast extent of the United States, and he will travel fifteen
hundred miles in a few days, to shake off his happiness. Death at length
overtakes him, but it is before he is weary of his bootless chase of
that complete felicity which is forever on the wing.

At first sight there is something surprising in this strange unrest of
so many happy men, restless in the midst of abundance. The spectacle
itself is however as old as the world; the novelty is to see a whole
people furnish an exemplification of it. Their taste for physical
gratifications must be regarded as the original source of that secret
inquietude which the actions of the Americans betray, and of that
inconstancy of which they afford fresh examples every day. He who has
set his heart exclusively upon the pursuit of worldly welfare is always
in a hurry, for he has but a limited time at his disposal to reach it,
to grasp it, and to enjoy it. The recollection of the brevity of life is
a constant spur to him. Besides the good things which he possesses, he
every instant fancies a thousand others which death will prevent him
from trying if he does not try them soon. This thought fills him with
anxiety, fear, and regret, and keeps his mind in ceaseless trepidation,
which leads him perpetually to change his plans and his abode. If in
addition to the taste for physical well-being a social condition be
superadded, in which the laws and customs make no condition permanent,
here is a great additional stimulant to this restlessness of temper. Men
will then be seen continually to change their track, for fear of missing
the shortest cut to happiness. It may readily be conceived that if men,
passionately bent upon physical gratifications, desire eagerly, they are
also easily discouraged: as their ultimate object is to enjoy, the
means to reach that object must be prompt and easy, or the trouble of
acquiring the gratification would be greater than the gratification
itself. Their prevailing frame of mind then is at once ardent and
relaxed, violent and enervated. Death is often less dreaded than
perseverance in continuous efforts to one end.

The equality of conditions leads by a still straighter road to several
of the effects which I have here described. When all the privileges of
birth and fortune are abolished, when all professions are accessible
to all, and a man's own energies may place him at the top of any one of
them, an easy and unbounded career seems open to his ambition, and he
will readily persuade himself that he is born to no vulgar destinies.
But this is an erroneous notion, which is corrected by daily experience.
The same equality which allows every citizen to conceive these
lofty hopes, renders all the citizens less able to realize them: it
circumscribes their powers on every side, whilst it gives freer scope to
their desires. Not only are they themselves powerless, but they are
met at every step by immense obstacles, which they did not at first
perceive. They have swept away the privileges of some of their
fellow-creatures which stood in their way, but they have opened the door
to universal competition: the barrier has changed its shape rather than
its position. When men are nearly alike, and all follow the same track,
it is very difficult for any one individual to walk quick and cleave
a way through the dense throng which surrounds and presses him. This
constant strife between the propensities springing from the equality
of conditions and the means it supplies to satisfy them, harasses and
wearies the mind.

It is possible to conceive men arrived at a degree of freedom which
should completely content them; they would then enjoy their independence
without anxiety and without impatience. But men will never establish any
equality with which they can be contented. Whatever efforts a people may
make, they will never succeed in reducing all the conditions of society
to a perfect level; and even if they unhappily attained that absolute
and complete depression, the inequality of minds would still remain,
which, coming directly from the hand of God, will forever escape the
laws of man. However democratic then the social state and the political
constitution of a people may be, it is certain that every member of the
community will always find out several points about him which command
his own position; and we may foresee that his looks will be doggedly
fixed in that direction. When inequality of conditions is the common
law of society, the most marked inequalities do not strike the eye: when
everything is nearly on the same level, the slightest are marked enough
to hurt it. Hence the desire of equality always becomes more insatiable
in proportion as equality is more complete.

Amongst democratic nations men easily attain a certain equality
of conditions: they can never attain the equality they desire. It
perpetually retires from before them, yet without hiding itself from
their sight, and in retiring draws them on. At every moment they think
they are about to grasp it; it escapes at every moment from their hold.
They are near enough to see its charms, but too far off to enjoy them;
and before they have fully tasted its delights they die. To these causes
must be attributed that strange melancholy which oftentimes will haunt
the inhabitants of democratic countries in the midst of their abundance,
and that disgust at life which sometimes seizes upon them in the midst
of calm and easy circumstances. Complaints are made in France that the
number of suicides increases; in America suicide is rare, but insanity
is said to be more common than anywhere else. These are all different
symptoms of the same disease. The Americans do not put an end to their
lives, however disquieted they may be, because their religion
forbids it; and amongst them materialism may be said hardly to exist,
notwithstanding the general passion for physical gratification. The will
resists--reason frequently gives way. In democratic ages enjoyments are
more intense than in the ages of aristocracy, and especially the number
of those who partake in them is larger: but, on the other hand, it must
be admitted that man's hopes and his desires are oftener blasted, the
soul is more stricken and perturbed, and care itself more keen.

Chapter XIV: Taste For Physical Gratifications United In America To Love
Of Freedom And Attention To Public Affairs

When a democratic state turns to absolute monarchy, the activity which
was before directed to public and to private affairs is all at once
centred upon the latter: the immediate consequence is, for some time,
great physical prosperity; but this impulse soon slackens, and the
amount of productive industry is checked. I know not if a single trading
or manufacturing people can be cited, from the Tyrians down to the
Florentines and the English, who were not a free people also. There
is therefore a close bond and necessary relation between these two
elements--freedom and productive industry. This proposition is generally
true of all nations, but especially of democratic nations. I have
already shown that men who live in ages of equality continually require
to form associations in order to procure the things they covet; and, on
the other hand, I have shown how great political freedom improves and
diffuses the art of association. Freedom, in these ages, is therefore
especially favorable to the production of wealth; nor is it difficult
to perceive that despotism is especially adverse to the same result.
The nature of despotic power in democratic ages is not to be fierce or
cruel, but minute and meddling. Despotism of this kind, though it does
not trample on humanity, is directly opposed to the genius of commerce
and the pursuits of industry.

Thus the men of democratic ages require to be free in order more readily
to procure those physical enjoyments for which they are always longing.
It sometimes happens, however, that the excessive taste they conceive
for these same enjoyments abandons them to the first master who appears.
The passion for worldly welfare then defeats itself, and, without
perceiving it, throws the object of their desires to a greater distance.

There is, indeed, a most dangerous passage in the history of a
democratic people. When the taste for physical gratifications amongst
such a people has grown more rapidly than their education and their
experience of free institutions, the time will come when men are carried
away, and lose all self-restraint, at the sight of the new possessions
they are about to lay hold upon. In their intense and exclusive anxiety
to make a fortune, they lose sight of the close connection which exists
between the private fortune of each of them and the prosperity of all.
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. The discharge of political duties appears to them to be a
troublesome annoyance, which diverts them from their occupations and
business. If they be required to elect representatives, to support the
Government by personal service, to meet on public business, they have no
time--they cannot waste their precious time in useless engagements: such
idle amusements are unsuited to serious men who are engaged with the
more important interests of life. These people think they are following
the principle of self-interest, but the idea they entertain of that
principle is a very rude one; and the better to look after what they
call their business, they neglect their chief business, which is to
remain their own masters.

As the citizens who work do not care to attend to public business, and
as the class which might devote its leisure to these duties has ceased
to exist, the place of the Government is, as it were, unfilled. If at
that critical moment some able and ambitious man grasps the supreme
power, he will find the road to every kind of usurpation open before
him. If he does but attend for some time to the material prosperity of
the country, no more will be demanded of him. Above all he must insure
public tranquillity: men who are possessed by the passion of physical
gratification generally find out that the turmoil of freedom disturbs
their welfare, before they discover how freedom itself serves to promote
it. If the slightest rumor of public commotion intrudes into the petty
pleasures of private life, they are aroused and alarmed by it. The fear
of anarchy perpetually haunts them, and they are always ready to fling
away their freedom at the first disturbance.

I readily admit that public tranquillity is a great good; but at the
same time I cannot forget that all nations have been enslaved by being
kept in good order. Certainly it is not to be inferred that nations
ought to despise public tranquillity; but that state ought not to
content them. A nation which asks nothing of its government but the
maintenance of order is already a slave at heart--the slave of its own
well-being, awaiting but the hand that will bind it. By such a nation
the despotism of faction is not less to be dreaded than the despotism
of an individual. When the bulk of the community is engrossed by private
concerns, the smallest parties need not despair of getting the upper
hand in public affairs. At such times it is not rare to see upon
the great stage of the world, as we see at our theatres, a multitude
represented by a few players, who alone speak in the name of an
absent or inattentive crowd: they alone are in action whilst all are
stationary; they regulate everything by their own caprice; they change
the laws, and tyrannize at will over the manners of the country; and
then men wonder to see into how small a number of weak and worthless
hands a great people may fall.

Hitherto the Americans have fortunately escaped all the perils which I
have just pointed out; and in this respect they are really deserving of
admiration. Perhaps there is no country in the world where fewer idle
men are to be met with than in America, or where all who work are more
eager to promote their own welfare. But if the passion of the
Americans for physical gratifications is vehement, at least it is
not indiscriminating; and reason, though unable to restrain it, still
directs its course. An American attends to his private concerns as if he
were alone in the world, and the next minute he gives himself up to the
common weal as if he had forgotten them. At one time he seems animated
by the most selfish cupidity, at another by the most lively patriotism.
The human heart cannot be thus divided. The inhabitants of the United
States alternately display so strong and so similar a passion for their
own welfare and for their freedom, that it may be supposed that these
passions are united and mingled in some part of their character. And
indeed the Americans believe their freedom to be the best instrument and
surest safeguard of their welfare: they are attached to the one by the
other. They by no means think that they are not called upon to take a
part in the public weal; they believe, on the contrary, that their chief
business is to secure for themselves a government which will allow them
to acquire the things they covet, and which will not debar them from the
peaceful enjoyment of those possessions which they have acquired.

Chapter XV: That Religious Belief Sometimes Turns The Thoughts Of The
Americans To Immaterial Pleasures

In the United States, on the seventh day of every week, the trading and
working life of the nation seems suspended; all noises cease; a deep
tranquillity, say rather the solemn calm of meditation, succeeds the
turmoil of the week, and the soul resumes possession and contemplation
of itself. Upon this day the marts of traffic are deserted; every member
of the community, accompanied by his children, goes to church, where he
listens to strange language which would seem unsuited to his ear. He
is told of the countless evils caused by pride and covetousness: he
is reminded of the necessity of checking his desires, of the finer
pleasures which belong to virtue alone, and of the true happiness which
attends it. On his return home, he does not turn to the ledgers of his
calling, but he opens the book of Holy Scripture; there he meets with
sublime or affecting descriptions of the greatness and goodness of the
Creator, of the infinite magnificence of the handiwork of God, of the
lofty destinies of man, of his duties, and of his immortal privileges.
Thus it is that the American at times steals an hour from himself; and
laying aside for a while the petty passions which agitate his life,
and the ephemeral interests which engross it, he strays at once into an
ideal world, where all is great, eternal, and pure.

I have endeavored to point out in another part of this work the causes
to which the maintenance of the political institutions of the Americans
is attributable; and religion appeared to be one of the most prominent
amongst them. I am now treating of the Americans in an individual
capacity, and I again observe that religion is not less useful to each
citizen than to the whole State. The Americans show, by their practice,
that they feel the high necessity of imparting morality to democratic
communities by means of religion. What they think of themselves in
this respect is a truth of which every democratic nation ought to be
thoroughly persuaded.

I do not doubt that the social and political constitution of a people
predisposes them to adopt a certain belief and certain tastes, which
afterwards flourish without difficulty amongst them; whilst the same
causes may divert a people from certain opinions and propensities,
without any voluntary effort, and, as it were, without any distinct
consciousness, on their part. The whole art of the legislator
is correctly to discern beforehand these natural inclinations of
communities of men, in order to know whether they should be assisted, or
whether it may not be necessary to check them. For the duties incumbent
on the legislator differ at different times; the goal towards which the
human race ought ever to be tending is alone stationary; the means of
reaching it are perpetually to be varied.

If I had been born in an aristocratic age, in the midst of a nation
where the hereditary wealth of some, and the irremediable penury of
others, should equally divert men from the idea of bettering their
condition, and hold the soul as it were in a state of torpor fixed on
the contemplation of another world, I should then wish that it were
possible for me to rouse that people to a sense of their wants; I should
seek to discover more rapid and more easy means for satisfying the fresh
desires which I might have awakened; and, directing the most strenuous
efforts of the human mind to physical pursuits, I should endeavor to
stimulate it to promote the well-being of man. If it happened that some
men were immoderately incited to the pursuit of riches, and displayed an
excessive liking for physical gratifications, I should not be alarmed;
these peculiar symptoms would soon be absorbed in the general aspect of
the people.

The attention of the legislators of democracies is called to other
cares. Give democratic nations education and freedom, and leave them
alone. They will soon learn to draw from this world all the benefits
which it can afford; they will improve each of the useful arts, and will
day by day render life more comfortable, more convenient, and more easy.
Their social condition naturally urges them in this direction; I do not
fear that they will slacken their course.

But whilst man takes delight in this honest and lawful pursuit of his
wellbeing, it is to be apprehended that he may in the end lose the use
of his sublimest faculties; and that whilst he is busied in improving
all around him, he may at length degrade himself. Here, and here only,
does the peril lie. It should therefore be the unceasing object of the
legislators of democracies, and of all the virtuous and enlightened men
who live there, to raise the souls of their fellow-citizens, and keep
them lifted up towards heaven. It is necessary that all who feel an
interest in the future destinies of democratic society should unite, and
that all should make joint and continual efforts to diffuse the love
of the infinite, a sense of greatness, and a love of pleasures not
of earth. If amongst the opinions of a democratic people any of those
pernicious theories exist which tend to inculcate that all perishes with
the body, let men by whom such theories are professed be marked as the
natural foes of such a people.

The materialists are offensive to me in many respects; their doctrines
I hold to be pernicious, and I am disgusted at their arrogance. If their
system could be of any utility to man, it would seem to be by giving him
a modest opinion of himself. But these reasoners show that it is not
so; and when they think they have said enough to establish that they are
brutes, they show themselves as proud as if they had demonstrated that
they are gods. Materialism is, amongst all nations, a dangerous disease
of the human mind; but it is more especially to be dreaded amongst a
democratic people, because it readily amalgamates with that vice which
is most familiar to the heart under such circumstances. Democracy
encourages a taste for physical gratification: this taste, if it become
excessive, soon disposes men to believe that all is matter only; and
materialism, in turn, hurries them back with mad impatience to these
same delights: such is the fatal circle within which democratic nations
are driven round. It were well that they should see the danger and hold

Most religions are only general, simple, and practical means of teaching
men the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. That is the greatest
benefit which a democratic people derives, from its belief, and hence
belief is more necessary to such a people than to all others. When
therefore any religion has struck its roots deep into a democracy,
beware lest you disturb them; but rather watch it carefully, as the most
precious bequest of aristocratic ages. Seek not to supersede the old
religious opinions of men by new ones; lest in the passage from one
faith to another, the soul being left for a while stripped of all
belief, the love of physical gratifications should grow upon it and fill
it wholly.

The doctrine of metempsychosis is assuredly not more rational than that
of materialism; nevertheless if it were absolutely necessary that a
democracy should choose one of the two, I should not hesitate to decide
that the community would run less risk of being brutalized by believing
that the soul of man will pass into the carcass of a hog, than by
believing that the soul of man is nothing at all. The belief in a
supersensual and immortal principle, united for a time to matter, is
so indispensable to man's greatness, that its effects are striking even
when it is not united to the doctrine of future reward and punishment;
and when it holds no more than that after death the divine principle
contained in man is absorbed in the Deity, or transferred to animate
the frame of some other creature. Men holding so imperfect a belief will
still consider the body as the secondary and inferior portion of
their nature, and they will despise it even whilst they yield to its
influence; whereas they have a natural esteem and secret admiration for
the immaterial part of man, even though they sometimes refuse to submit
to its dominion. That is enough to give a lofty cast to their opinions
and their tastes, and to bid them tend with no interested motive, and as
it were by impulse, to pure feelings and elevated thoughts.

It is not certain that Socrates and his followers had very fixed
opinions as to what would befall man hereafter; but the sole point
of belief on which they were determined--that the soul has nothing in
common with the body, and survives it--was enough to give the Platonic
philosophy that sublime aspiration by which it is distinguished. It
is clear from the works of Plato, that many philosophical writers, his
predecessors or contemporaries, professed materialism. These writers
have not reached us, or have reached us in mere fragments. The same
thing has happened in almost all ages; the greater part of the most
famous minds in literature adhere to the doctrines of a supersensual
philosophy. The instinct and the taste of the human race maintain those
doctrines; they save them oftentimes in spite of men themselves, and
raise the names of their defenders above the tide of time. It must not
then be supposed that at any period or under any political condition,
the passion for physical gratifications, and the opinions which are
superinduced by that passion, can ever content a whole people. The heart
of man is of a larger mould: it can at once comprise a taste for the
possessions of earth and the love of those of heaven: at times it may
seem to cling devotedly to the one, but it will never be long without
thinking of the other.

If it be easy to see that it is more particularly important in
democratic ages that spiritual opinions should prevail, it is not easy
to say by what means those who govern democratic nations may make them
predominate. I am no believer in the prosperity, any more than in the
durability, of official philosophies; and as to state religions, I
have always held, that if they be sometimes of momentary service to the
interests of political power, they always, sooner or later, become
fatal to the Church. Nor do I think with those who assert, that to raise
religion in the eyes of the people, and to make them do honor to her
spiritual doctrines, it is desirable indirectly to give her ministers a
political influence which the laws deny them. I am so much alive to
the almost inevitable dangers which beset religious belief whenever
the clergy take part in public affairs, and I am so convinced that
Christianity must be maintained at any cost in the bosom of modern
democracies, that I had rather shut up the priesthood within the
sanctuary than allow them to step beyond it.

What means then remain in the hands of constituted authorities to bring
men back to spiritual opinions, or to hold them fast to the religion
by which those opinions are suggested? My answer will do me harm in
the eyes of politicians. I believe that the sole effectual means which
governments can employ in order to have the doctrine of the immortality
of the soul duly respected, is ever to act as if they believed in it
themselves; and I think that it is only by scrupulous conformity to
religious morality in great affairs that they can hope to teach the
community at large to know, to love, and to observe it in the lesser
concerns of life.

Chapter XVI: That Excessive Care Of Worldly Welfare May Impair That

There is a closer tie than is commonly supposed between the improvement
of the soul and the amelioration of what belongs to the body. Man may
leave these two things apart, and consider each of them alternately; but
he cannot sever them entirely without at last losing sight of one and of
the other. The beasts have the same senses as ourselves, and very nearly
the same appetites. We have no sensual passions which are not common
to our race and theirs, and which are not to be found, at least in the
germ, in a dog as well as in a man. Whence is it then that the animals
can only provide for their first and lowest wants, whereas we can
infinitely vary and endlessly increase our enjoyments?

We are superior to the beasts in this, that we use our souls to find out
those material benefits to which they are only led by instinct. In man,
the angel teaches the brute the art of contenting its desires. It is
because man is capable of rising above the things of the body, and of
contemning life itself, of which the beasts have not the least notion,
that he can multiply these same things of the body to a degree which
inferior races are equally unable to conceive. Whatever elevates,
enlarges, and expands the soul, renders it more capable of succeeding
in those very undertakings which concern it not. Whatever, on the other
hand, enervates or lowers it, weakens it for all purposes, the chiefest,
as well as the least, and threatens to render it almost equally impotent
for the one and for the other. Hence the soul must remain great and
strong, though it were only to devote its strength and greatness from
time to time to the service of the body. If men were ever to content
themselves with material objects, it is probable that they would lose by
degrees the art of producing them; and they would enjoy them in the end,
like the brutes, without discernment and without improvement.

Chapter XVII: That In Times Marked By Equality Of Conditions And
Sceptical Opinions, It Is Important To Remove To A Distance The Objects
Of Human Actions

In the ages of faith the final end of life is placed beyond life. The
men of those ages therefore naturally, and in a manner involuntarily,
accustom themselves to fix their gaze for a long course of years on some
immovable object, towards which they are constantly tending; and they
learn by insensible degrees to repress a multitude of petty passing
desires, in order to be the better able to content that great and
lasting desire which possesses them. When these same men engage in the
affairs of this world, the same habits may be traced in their conduct.
They are apt to set up some general and certain aim and end to their
actions here below, towards which all their efforts are directed: they
do not turn from day to day to chase some novel object of desire, but
they have settled designs which they are never weary of pursuing. This
explains why religious nations have so often achieved such lasting
results: for whilst they were thinking only of the other world, they
had found out the great secret of success in this. Religions give men a
general habit of conducting themselves with a view to futurity: in
this respect they are not less useful to happiness in this life than
to felicity hereafter; and this is one of their chief political

But in proportion as the light of faith grows dim, the range of man's
sight is circumscribed, as if the end and aim of human actions appeared
every day to be more within his reach. When men have once allowed
themselves to think no more of what is to befall them after life, they
readily lapse into that complete and brutal indifference to futurity,
which is but too conformable to some propensities of mankind. As soon
as they have lost the habit of placing their chief hopes upon remote
events, they naturally seek to gratify without delay their smallest
desires; and no sooner do they despair of living forever, than they
are disposed to act as if they were to exist but for a single day.
In sceptical ages it is always therefore to be feared that men may
perpetually give way to their daily casual desires; and that, wholly
renouncing whatever cannot be acquired without protracted effort, they
may establish nothing great, permanent, and calm.

If the social condition of a people, under these circumstances, becomes
democratic, the danger which I here point out is thereby increased. When
everyone is constantly striving to change his position--when an immense
field for competition is thrown open to all--when wealth is amassed or
dissipated in the shortest possible space of time amidst the turmoil
of democracy, visions of sudden and easy fortunes--of great possessions
easily won and lost--of chance, under all its forms--haunt the mind. The
instability of society itself fosters the natural instability of man's
desires. In the midst of these perpetual fluctuations of his lot, the
present grows upon his mind, until it conceals futurity from his sight,
and his looks go no further than the morrow.

In those countries in which unhappily irreligion and democracy coexist,
the most important duty of philosophers and of those in power is to be
always striving to place the objects of human actions far beyond man's
immediate range. Circumscribed by the character of his country and
his age, the moralist must learn to vindicate his principles in that
position. He must constantly endeavor to show his contemporaries, that,
even in the midst of the perpetual commotion around them, it is easier
than they think to conceive and to execute protracted undertakings. He
must teach them that, although the aspect of mankind may have changed,
the methods by which men may provide for their prosperity in this world
are still the same; and that amongst democratic nations, as well as
elsewhere, it is only by resisting a thousand petty selfish passions of
the hour that the general and unquenchable passion for happiness can be

The task of those in power is not less clearly marked out. At all times
it is important that those who govern nations should act with a view to
the future: but this is even more necessary in democratic and sceptical
ages than in any others. By acting thus, the leading men of democracies
not only make public affairs prosperous, but they also teach private
individuals, by their example, the art of managing private concerns.
Above all they must strive as much as possible to banish chance from the
sphere of politics. The sudden and undeserved promotion of a courtier
produces only a transient impression in an aristocratic country, because
the aggregate institutions and opinions of the nation habitually compel
men to advance slowly in tracks which they cannot get out of. But
nothing is more pernicious than similar instances of favor exhibited
to the eyes of a democratic people: they give the last impulse to the
public mind in a direction where everything hurries it onwards. At times
of scepticism and equality more especially, the favor of the people or
of the prince, which chance may confer or chance withhold, ought never
to stand in lieu of attainments or services. It is desirable that every
advancement should there appear to be the result of some effort; so that
no greatness should be of too easy acquirement, and that ambition should
be obliged to fix its gaze long upon an object before it is gratified.
Governments must apply themselves to restore to men that love of the
future with which religion and the state of society no longer inspire
them; and, without saying so, they must practically teach the community
day by day that wealth, fame, and power are the rewards of labor--that
great success stands at the utmost range of long desires, and that
nothing lasting is obtained but what is obtained by toil. When men have
accustomed themselves to foresee from afar what is likely to befall in
the world and to feed upon hopes, they can hardly confine their minds
within the precise circumference of life, and they are ready to break
the boundary and cast their looks beyond. I do not doubt that, by
training the members of a community to think of their future condition
in this world, they would be gradually and unconsciously brought nearer
to religious convictions. Thus the means which allow men, up to a
certain point, to go without religion, are perhaps after all the
only means we still possess for bringing mankind back by a long and
roundabout path to a state of faith.

Chapter XVIII: That Amongst The Americans All Honest Callings Are

Amongst a democratic people, where there is no hereditary wealth, every
man works to earn a living, or has worked, or is born of parents who
have worked. The notion of labor is therefore presented to the mind
on every side as the necessary, natural, and honest condition of human
existence. Not only is labor not dishonorable amongst such a people, but
it is held in honor: the prejudice is not against it, but in its favor.
In the United States a wealthy man thinks that he owes it to public
opinion to devote his leisure to some kind of industrial or commercial
pursuit, or to public business. He would think himself in bad repute if
he employed his life solely in living. It is for the purpose of escaping
this obligation to work, that so many rich Americans come to Europe,
where they find some scattered remains of aristocratic society, amongst
which idleness is still held in honor.

Equality of conditions not only ennobles the notion of labor in men's
estimation, but it raises the notion of labor as a source of profit. In
aristocracies it is not exactly labor that is despised, but labor with
a view to profit. Labor is honorific in itself, when it is undertaken at
the sole bidding of ambition or of virtue. Yet in aristocratic society
it constantly happens that he who works for honor is not insensible to
the attractions of profit. But these two desires only intermingle in
the innermost depths of his soul: he carefully hides from every eye
the point at which they join; he would fain conceal it from himself. In
aristocratic countries there are few public officers who do not affect
to serve their country without interested motives. Their salary is an
incident of which they think but little, and of which they always affect
not to think at all. Thus the notion of profit is kept distinct from
that of labor; however they may be united in point of fact, they are not
thought of together.

In democratic communities these two notions are, on the contrary, always
palpably united. As the desire of well-being is universal--as fortunes
are slender or fluctuating--as everyone wants either to increase his
own resources, or to provide fresh ones for his progeny, men clearly see
that it is profit which, if not wholly, at least partially, leads them
to work. Even those who are principally actuated by the love of fame are
necessarily made familiar with the thought that they are not exclusively
actuated by that motive; and they discover that the desire of getting
a living is mingled in their minds with the desire of making life

As soon as, on the one hand, labor is held by the whole community to be
an honorable necessity of man's condition, and, on the other, as soon as
labor is always ostensibly performed, wholly or in part, for the purpose
of earning remuneration, the immense interval which separated different
callings in aristocratic societies disappears. If all are not alike, all
at least have one feature in common. No profession exists in which men
do not work for money; and the remuneration which is common to them
all gives them all an air of resemblance. This serves to explain
the opinions which the Americans entertain with respect to different
callings. In America no one is degraded because he works, for everyone
about him works also; nor is anyone humiliated by the notion of
receiving pay, for the President of the United States also works for
pay. He is paid for commanding, other men for obeying orders. In the
United States professions are more or less laborious, more or less
profitable; but they are never either high or low: every honest calling
is honorable.

Chapter XIX: That Almost All The Americans Follow Industrial Callings

Agriculture is, perhaps, of all the useful arts that which improves most
slowly amongst democratic nations. Frequently, indeed, it would seem
to be stationary, because other arts are making rapid strides towards
perfection. On the other hand, almost all the tastes and habits which
the equality of condition engenders naturally lead men to commercial and
industrial occupations.

Suppose an active, enlightened, and free man, enjoying a competency, but
full of desires: he is too poor to live in idleness; he is rich enough
to feel himself protected from the immediate fear of want, and he thinks
how he can better his condition. This man has conceived a taste for
physical gratifications, which thousands of his fellow-men indulge in
around him; he has himself begun to enjoy these pleasures, and he is
eager to increase his means of satisfying these tastes more completely.
But life is slipping away, time is urgent--to what is he to turn? The
cultivation of the ground promises an almost certain result to his
exertions, but a slow one; men are not enriched by it without patience
and toil. Agriculture is therefore only suited to those who have already
large, superfluous wealth, or to those whose penury bids them only seek
a bare subsistence. The choice of such a man as we have supposed is soon
made; he sells his plot of ground, leaves his dwelling, and embarks in
some hazardous but lucrative calling. Democratic communities abound
in men of this kind; and in proportion as the equality of conditions
becomes greater, their multitude increases. Thus democracy not only
swells the number of workingmen, but it leads men to prefer one kind
of labor to another; and whilst it diverts them from agriculture, it
encourages their taste for commerce and manufactures. *a

[Footnote a: It has often been remarked that manufacturers and
mercantile men are inordinately addicted to physical gratifications, and
this has been attributed to commerce and manufactures; but that is,
I apprehend, to take the effect for the cause. The taste for physical
gratifications is not imparted to men by commerce or manufactures,
but it is rather this taste which leads men to embark in commerce and
manufactures, as a means by which they hope to satisfy themselves more
promptly and more completely. If commerce and manufactures increase the
desire of well-being, it is because every passion gathers strength in
proportion as it is cultivated, and is increased by all the efforts made
to satiate it. All the causes which make the love of worldly welfare
predominate in the heart of man are favorable to the growth of commerce
and manufactures. Equality of conditions is one of those causes; it
encourages trade, not directly by giving men a taste for business, but
indirectly by strengthening and expanding in their minds a taste for

This spirit may be observed even amongst the richest members of the
community. In democratic countries, however opulent a man is supposed to
be, he is almost always discontented with his fortune, because he finds
that he is less rich than his father was, and he fears that his sons
will be less rich than himself. Most rich men in democracies are
therefore constantly haunted by the desire of obtaining wealth, and they
naturally turn their attention to trade and manufactures, which appear
to offer the readiest and most powerful means of success. In this
respect they share the instincts of the poor, without feeling the
same necessities; say rather, they feel the most imperious of all
necessities, that of not sinking in the world.

In aristocracies the rich are at the same time those who govern. The
attention which they unceasingly devote to important public affairs
diverts them from the lesser cares which trade and manufactures
demand. If the will of an individual happens, nevertheless, to turn his
attention to business, the will of the body to which he belongs will
immediately debar him from pursuing it; for however men may declaim
against the rule of numbers, they cannot wholly escape their sway; and
even amongst those aristocratic bodies which most obstinately refuse to
acknowledge the rights of the majority of the nation, a private majority
is formed which governs the rest. *b

[Footnote b: Some aristocracies, however, have devoted themselves
eagerly to commerce, and have cultivated manufactures with success. The
history of the world might furnish several conspicuous examples. But,
generally speaking, it may be affirmed that the aristocratic principle
is not favorable to the growth of trade and manufactures. Moneyed
aristocracies are the only exception to the rule. Amongst such
aristocracies there are hardly any desires which do not require wealth
to satisfy them; the love of riches becomes, so to speak, the high road
of human passions, which is crossed by or connected with all lesser
tracks. The love of money and the thirst for that distinction which
attaches to power, are then so closely intermixed in the same souls,
that it becomes difficult to discover whether men grow covetous from
ambition, or whether they are ambitious from covetousness. This is
the case in England, where men seek to get rich in order to arrive at
distinction, and seek distinctions as a manifestation of their wealth.
The mind is then seized by both ends, and hurried into trade and
manufactures, which are the shortest roads that lead to opulence.

This, however, strikes me as an exceptional and transitory circumstance.
When wealth is become the only symbol of aristocracy, it is very
difficult for the wealthy to maintain sole possession of political
power, to the exclusion of all other men. The aristocracy of birth and
pure democracy are at the two extremes of the social and political state
of nations: between them moneyed aristocracy finds its place. The latter
approximates to the aristocracy of birth by conferring great privileges
on a small number of persons; it so far belongs to the democratic
element, that these privileges may be successively acquired by all. It
frequently forms a natural transition between these two conditions
of society, and it is difficult to say whether it closes the reign of
aristocratic institutions, or whether it already opens the new era of

In democratic countries, where money does not lead those who possess it
to political power, but often removes them from it, the rich do not
know how to spend their leisure. They are driven into active life by the
inquietude and the greatness of their desires, by the extent of their
resources, and by the taste for what is extraordinary, which is almost
always felt by those who rise, by whatsoever means, above the crowd.
Trade is the only road open to them. In democracies nothing is more
great or more brilliant than commerce: it attracts the attention of
the public, and fills the imagination of the multitude; all energetic
passions are directed towards it. Neither their own prejudices, nor
those of anybody else, can prevent the rich from devoting themselves
to it. The wealthy members of democracies never form a body which has
manners and regulations of its own; the opinions peculiar to their class
do not restrain them, and the common opinions of their country urge them
on. Moreover, as all the large fortunes which are to be met with in a
democratic community are of commercial growth, many generations must
succeed each other before their possessors can have entirely laid aside
their habits of business.

Circumscribed within the narrow space which politics leave them, rich
men in democracies eagerly embark in commercial enterprise: there they
can extend and employ their natural advantages; and indeed it is even by
the boldness and the magnitude of their industrial speculations that we
may measure the slight esteem in which productive industry would have
been held by them, if they had been born amidst an aristocracy.

A similar observation is likewise applicable to all men living in
democracies, whether they be poor or rich. Those who live in the midst
of democratic fluctuations have always before their eyes the phantom of
chance; and they end by liking all undertakings in which chance plays a
part. They are therefore all led to engage in commerce, not only for
the sake of the profit it holds out to them, but for the love of the
constant excitement occasioned by that pursuit.

The United States of America have only been emancipated for half a
century [in 1840] from the state of colonial dependence in which they
stood to Great Britain; the number of large fortunes there is small, and
capital is still scarce. Yet no people in the world has made such rapid
progress in trade and manufactures as the Americans: they constitute at
the present day the second maritime nation in the world; and although
their manufactures have to struggle with almost insurmountable natural
impediments, they are not prevented from making great and daily
advances. In the United States the greatest undertakings and
speculations are executed without difficulty, because the whole
population is engaged in productive industry, and because the poorest
as well as the most opulent members of the commonwealth are ready to
combine their efforts for these purposes. The consequence is, that a
stranger is constantly amazed by the immense public works executed by a
nation which contains, so to speak, no rich men. The Americans arrived
but as yesterday on the territory which they inhabit, and they have
already changed the whole order of nature for their own advantage. They
have joined the Hudson to the Mississippi, and made the Atlantic Ocean
communicate with the Gulf of Mexico, across a continent of more than
five hundred leagues in extent which separates the two seas. The longest
railroads which have been constructed up to the present time are in
America. But what most astonishes me in the United States, is not so
much the marvellous grandeur of some undertakings, as the innumerable
multitude of small ones. Almost all the farmers of the United States
combine some trade with agriculture; most of them make agriculture
itself a trade. It seldom happens that an American farmer settles for
good upon the land which he occupies: especially in the districts of the
Far West he brings land into tillage in order to sell it again, and not
to farm it: he builds a farmhouse on the speculation that, as the state
of the country will soon be changed by the increase of population, a
good price will be gotten for it. Every year a swarm of the inhabitants
of the North arrive in the Southern States, and settle in the parts
where the cotton plant and the sugar-cane grow. These men cultivate the
soil in order to make it produce in a few years enough to enrich them;
and they already look forward to the time when they may return home
to enjoy the competency thus acquired. Thus the Americans carry their
business-like qualities into agriculture; and their trading passions are
displayed in that as in their other pursuits.

The Americans make immense progress in productive industry, because they
all devote themselves to it at once; and for this same reason they are
exposed to very unexpected and formidable embarrassments. As they are
all engaged in commerce, their commercial affairs are affected by
such various and complex causes that it is impossible to foresee
what difficulties may arise. As they are all more or less engaged in
productive industry, at the least shock given to business all private
fortunes are put in jeopardy at the same time, and the State is shaken.
I believe that the return of these commercial panics is an endemic
disease of the democratic nations of our age. It may be rendered less
dangerous, but it cannot be cured; because it does not originate in
accidental circumstances, but in the temperament of these nations.

Chapter XX: That Aristocracy May Be Engendered By Manufactures

I have shown that democracy is favorable to the growth of manufactures,
and that it increases without limit the numbers of the manufacturing
classes: we shall now see by what side road manufacturers may possibly
in their turn bring men back to aristocracy. It is acknowledged that
when a workman is engaged every day upon the same detail, the whole
commodity is produced with greater ease, promptitude, and economy. It
is likewise acknowledged that the cost of the production of manufactured
goods is diminished by the extent of the establishment in which they are
made, and by the amount of capital employed or of credit. These truths
had long been imperfectly discerned, but in our time they have been
demonstrated. They have been already applied to many very important
kinds of manufactures, and the humblest will gradually be governed by
them. I know of nothing in politics which deserves to fix the attention
of the legislator more closely than these two new axioms of the science
of manufactures.

When a workman is unceasingly and exclusively engaged in the fabrication
of one thing, he ultimately does his work with singular dexterity; but
at the same time he loses the general faculty of applying his mind to
the direction of the work. He every day becomes more adroit and less
industrious; so that it may be said of him, that in proportion as the
workman improves the man is degraded. What can be expected of a man who
has spent twenty years of his life in making heads for pins? and to
what can that mighty human intelligence, which has so often stirred the
world, be applied in him, except it be to investigate the best method of
making pins' heads? When a workman has spent a considerable portion
of his existence in this manner, his thoughts are forever set upon the
object of his daily toil; his body has contracted certain fixed habits,
which it can never shake off: in a word, he no longer belongs to
himself, but to the calling which he has chosen. It is in vain that laws
and manners have been at the pains to level all barriers round such
a man, and to open to him on every side a thousand different paths to
fortune; a theory of manufactures more powerful than manners and laws
binds him to a craft, and frequently to a spot, which he cannot leave:
it assigns to him a certain place in society, beyond which he cannot go:
in the midst of universal movement it has rendered him stationary.

In proportion as the principle of the division of labor is more
extensively applied, the workman becomes more weak, more narrow-minded,
and more dependent. The art advances, the artisan recedes. On the other
hand, in proportion as it becomes more manifest that the productions of
manufactures are by so much the cheaper and better as the manufacture is
larger and the amount of capital employed more considerable, wealthy
and educated men come forward to embark in manufactures which were
heretofore abandoned to poor or ignorant handicraftsmen. The magnitude
of the efforts required, and the importance of the results to be
obtained, attract them. Thus at the very time at which the science
of manufactures lowers the class of workmen, it raises the class of

Whereas the workman concentrates his faculties more and more upon the
study of a single detail, the master surveys a more extensive whole, and
the mind of the latter is enlarged in proportion as that of the former
is narrowed. In a short time the one will require nothing but physical
strength without intelligence; the other stands in need of science, and
almost of genius, to insure success. This man resembles more and more
the administrator of a vast empire--that man, a brute. The master and
the workman have then here no similarity, and their differences increase
every day. They are only connected as the two rings at the extremities
of a long chain. Each of them fills the station which is made for him,
and out of which he does not get: the one is continually, closely, and
necessarily dependent upon the other, and seems as much born to obey as
that other is to command. What is this but aristocracy?

As the conditions of men constituting the nation become more and more
equal, the demand for manufactured commodities becomes more general and
more extensive; and the cheapness which places these objects within
the reach of slender fortunes becomes a great element of success. Hence
there are every day more men of great opulence and education who devote
their wealth and knowledge to manufactures; and who seek, by opening
large establishments, and by a strict division of labor, to meet the
fresh demands which are made on all sides. Thus, in proportion as the
mass of the nation turns to democracy, that particular class which is
engaged in manufactures becomes more aristocratic. Men grow more alike
in the one--more different in the other; and inequality increases in
the less numerous class in the same ratio in which it decreases in
the community. Hence it would appear, on searching to the bottom, that
aristocracy should naturally spring out of the bosom of democracy.

But this kind of aristocracy by no means resembles those kinds which
preceded it. It will be observed at once, that as it applies exclusively
to manufactures and to some manufacturing callings, it is a monstrous
exception in the general aspect of society. The small aristocratic
societies which are formed by some manufacturers in the midst of the
immense democracy of our age, contain, like the great aristocratic
societies of former ages, some men who are very opulent, and a multitude
who are wretchedly poor. The poor have few means of escaping from their
condition and becoming rich; but the rich are constantly becoming poor,
or they give up business when they have realized a fortune. Thus the
elements of which the class of the poor is composed are fixed; but the
elements of which the class of the rich is composed are not so. To say
the truth, though there are rich men, the class of rich men does not
exist; for these rich individuals have no feelings or purposes in
common, no mutual traditions or mutual hopes; there are therefore
members, but no body.

Not only are the rich not compactly united amongst themselves, but there
is no real bond between them and the poor. Their relative position is
not a permanent one; they are constantly drawn together or separated by
their interests. The workman is generally dependent on the master, but
not on any particular master; these two men meet in the factory, but
know not each other elsewhere; and whilst they come into contact on one
point, they stand very wide apart on all others. The manufacturer asks
nothing of the workman but his labor; the workman expects nothing from
him but his wages. The one contracts no obligation to protect, nor the
other to defend; and they are not permanently connected either by habit
or by duty. The aristocracy created by business rarely settles in the
midst of the manufacturing population which it directs; the object
is not to govern that population, but to use it. An aristocracy thus
constituted can have no great hold upon those whom it employs; and even
if it succeed in retaining them at one moment, they escape the next; it
knows not how to will, and it cannot act. The territorial aristocracy of
former ages was either bound by law, or thought itself bound by
usage, to come to the relief of its serving-men, and to succor
their distresses. But the manufacturing aristocracy of our age first
impoverishes and debases the men who serve it, and then abandons them to
be supported by the charity of the public. This is a natural consequence
of what has been said before. Between the workmen and the master there
are frequent relations, but no real partnership.

I am of opinion, upon the whole, that the manufacturing aristocracy
which is growing up under our eyes is one of the harshest which ever
existed in the world; but at the same time it is one of the most
confined and least dangerous. Nevertheless the friends of democracy
should keep their eyes anxiously fixed in this direction; for if ever a
permanent inequality of conditions and aristocracy again penetrate into
the world, it may be predicted that this is the channel by which they
will enter.

Book Three: Influence Of Democracy On Manners, Properly So Called

Chapter I: That Manners Are Softened As Social Conditions Become More

We perceive that for several ages social conditions have tended to
equality, and we discover that in the course of the same period the
manners of society have been softened. Are these two things merely
contemporaneous, or does any secret link exist between them, so that the
one cannot go on without making the other advance? Several causes may
concur to render the manners of a people less rude; but, of all
these causes, the most powerful appears to me to be the equality of
conditions. Equality of conditions and growing civility in manners are,
then, in my eyes, not only contemporaneous occurrences, but correlative
facts. When the fabulists seek to interest us in the actions of beasts,
they invest them with human notions and passions; the poets who sing of
spirits and angels do the same; there is no wretchedness so deep, nor
any happiness so pure, as to fill the human mind and touch the heart,
unless we are ourselves held up to our own eyes under other features.

This is strictly applicable to the subject upon which we are at present
engaged. When all men are irrevocably marshalled in an aristocratic
community, according to their professions, their property, and their
birth, the members of each class, considering themselves as children
of the same family, cherish a constant and lively sympathy towards each
other, which can never be felt in an equal degree by the citizens of
a democracy. But the same feeling does not exist between the several
classes towards each other. Amongst an aristocratic people each caste
has its own opinions, feelings, rights, manners, and modes of living.
Thus the men of whom each caste is composed do not resemble the mass of
their fellow-citizens; they do not think or feel in the same manner,
and they scarcely believe that they belong to the same human race. They
cannot, therefore, thoroughly understand what others feel, nor judge of
others by themselves. Yet they are sometimes eager to lend each other
mutual aid; but this is not contrary to my previous observation. These
aristocratic institutions, which made the beings of one and the same
race so different, nevertheless bound them to each other by close
political ties. Although the serf had no natural interest in the fate of
nobles, he did not the less think himself obliged to devote his person
to the service of that noble who happened to be his lord; and although
the noble held himself to be of a different nature from that of his
serfs, he nevertheless held that his duty and his honor constrained
him to defend, at the risk of his own life, those who dwelt upon his

It is evident that these mutual obligations did not originate in the law
of nature, but in the law of society; and that the claim of social duty
was more stringent than that of mere humanity. These services were not
supposed to be due from man to man, but to the vassal or to the lord.
Feudal institutions awakened a lively sympathy for the sufferings of
certain men, but none at all for the miseries of mankind. They infused
generosity rather than mildness into the manners of the time, and
although they prompted men to great acts of self-devotion, they
engendered no real sympathies; for real sympathies can only exist
between those who are alike; and in aristocratic ages men acknowledge
none but the members of their own caste to be like themselves.

When the chroniclers of the Middle Ages, who all belonged to the
aristocracy by birth or education, relate the tragical end of a noble,
their grief flows apace; whereas they tell you at a breath, and without
wincing, of massacres and tortures inflicted on the common sort of
people. Not that these writers felt habitual hatred or systematic
disdain for the people; war between the several classes of the community
was not yet declared. They were impelled by an instinct rather than by a
passion; as they had formed no clear notion of a poor man's sufferings,
they cared but little for his fate. The same feelings animated the lower
orders whenever the feudal tie was broken. The same ages which witnessed
so many heroic acts of self-devotion on the part of vassals for their
lords, were stained with atrocious barbarities, exercised from time to
time by the lower classes on the higher. It must not be supposed that
this mutual insensibility arose solely from the absence of public
order and education; for traces of it are to be found in the following
centuries, which became tranquil and enlightened whilst they remained
aristocratic. In 1675 the lower classes in Brittany revolted at
the imposition of a new tax. These disturbances were put down with
unexampled atrocity. Observe the language in which Madame de Sevigne, a
witness of these horrors, relates them to her daughter:--

"Aux Rochers, 30 Octobre, 1675.

"Mon Dieu, ma fille, que votre lettre d'Aix est plaisante! Au moins
relisez vos lettres avant que de les envoyer; laissez-vous surpendre a
leur agrement, et consolez-vous par ce plaisir de la peine que vous avez
d'en tant ecrire. Vous avez donc baise toute la Provence? il n'y aurait
pas satisfaction a baiser toute la Bretagne, a moins qu'on n'aimat a
sentir le vin. . . . Voulez-vous savoir des nouvelles de Rennes? On a
fait une taxe de cent mille ecus sur le bourgeois; et si on ne trouve
point cette somme dans vingt-quatre heures, elle sera doublee et
exigible par les soldats. On a chasse et banni toute une grand rue, et
defendu de les recueillir sous peine de la vie; de sorte qu'on voyait
tous ces miserables, veillards, femmes accouchees, enfans, errer en
pleurs au sortir de cette ville sans savoir ou aller. On roua avant-hier
un violon, qui avait commence la danse et la pillerie du papier timbre;
il a ete ecartele apres sa mort, et ses quatre quartiers exposes aux
quatre coins de la ville. On a pris soixante bourgeois, et on commence
demain les punitions. Cette province est un bel exemple pour les autres,
et surtout de respecter les gouverneurs et les gouvernantes, et de ne
point jeter de pierres dans leur jardin." *a

[Footnote a: To feel the point of this joke the reader should recollect
that Madame de Grignan was Gouvernante de Provence.] "Madame de Tarente
etait hier dans ces bois par un temps enchante: il n'est question ni de
chambre ni de collation; elle entre par la barriere et s'en retourne de
meme. . . ."

In another letter she adds:--

"Vous me parlez bien plaisamment de nos miseres; nous ne sommes plus si
roues; un en huit jours, pour entretenir la justice. Il est vrai que la
penderie me parait maintenant un refraichissement. J'ai une tout autre
idee de la justice, depuis que je suis en ce pays. Vos galeriens me
paraissent une societe d'honnetes gens qui se sont retires du monde pour
mener une vie douce."

It would be a mistake to suppose that Madame de Sevigne, who wrote these
lines, was a selfish or cruel person; she was passionately attached
to her children, and very ready to sympathize in the sorrows of her
friends; nay, her letters show that she treated her vassals and servants
with kindness and indulgence. But Madame de Sevigne had no clear notion
of suffering in anyone who was not a person of quality.

In our time the harshest man writing to the most insensible person of
his acquaintance would not venture wantonly to indulge in the cruel
jocularity which I have quoted; and even if his own manners allowed him
to do so, the manners of society at large would forbid it. Whence does
this arise? Have we more sensibility than our forefathers? I know not
that we have; but I am sure that our insensibility is extended to a far
greater range of objects. When all the ranks of a community are nearly
equal, as all men think and feel in nearly the same manner, each of them
may judge in a moment of the sensations of all the others; he casts a
rapid glance upon himself, and that is enough. There is no wretchedness
into which he cannot readily enter, and a secret instinct reveals to him
its extent. It signifies not that strangers or foes be the sufferers;
imagination puts him in their place; something like a personal feeling
is mingled with his pity, and makes himself suffer whilst the body
of his fellow-creature is in torture. In democratic ages men rarely
sacrifice themselves for one another; but they display general
compassion for the members of the human race. They inflict no useless
ills; and they are happy to relieve the griefs of others, when they can
do so without much hurting themselves; they are not disinterested, but
they are humane.

Although the Americans have, in a manner, reduced egotism to a social
and philosophical theory, they are nevertheless extremely open to
compassion. In no country is criminal justice administered with more
mildness than in the United States. Whilst the English seem disposed
carefully to retain the bloody traces of the dark ages in their penal
legislation, the Americans have almost expunged capital punishment from
their codes. North America is, I think, the only one country upon earth
in which the life of no one citizen has been taken for a political
offence in the course of the last fifty years. The circumstance which
conclusively shows that this singular mildness of the Americans arises
chiefly from their social condition, is the manner in which they treat
their slaves. Perhaps there is not, upon the whole, a single European
colony in the New World in which the physical condition of the blacks
is less severe than in the United States; yet the slaves still endure
horrid sufferings there, and are constantly exposed to barbarous
punishments. It is easy to perceive that the lot of these unhappy beings
inspires their masters with but little compassion, and that they look
upon slavery, not only as an institution which is profitable to them,
but as an evil which does not affect them. Thus the same man who is full
of humanity towards his fellow-creatures when they are at the same time
his equals, becomes insensible to their afflictions as soon as that
equality ceases. His mildness should therefore be attributed to the
equality of conditions, rather than to civilization and education.

What I have here remarked of individuals is, to a certain extent,
applicable to nations. When each nation has its distinct opinions,
belief, laws, and customs, it looks upon itself as the whole of mankind,
and is moved by no sorrows but its own. Should war break out between
two nations animated by this feeling, it is sure to be waged with great
cruelty. At the time of their highest culture, the Romans slaughtered
the generals of their enemies, after having dragged them in triumph
behind a car; and they flung their prisoners to the beasts of the Circus
for the amusement of the people. Cicero, who declaimed so vehemently at
the notion of crucifying a Roman citizen, had not a word to say against
these horrible abuses of victory. It is evident that in his eyes a
barbarian did not belong to the same human race as a Roman. On the
contrary, in proportion as nations become more like each other, they
become reciprocally more compassionate, and the law of nations is

Chapter II: That Democracy Renders The Habitual Intercourse Of The
Americans Simple And Easy

Democracy does not attach men strongly to each other; but it places
their habitual intercourse upon an easier footing. If two Englishmen
chance to meet at the Antipodes, where they are surrounded by strangers
whose language and manners are almost unknown to them, they will first
stare at each other with much curiosity and a kind of secret uneasiness;
they will then turn away, or, if one accosts the other, they will
take care only to converse with a constrained and absent air upon very
unimportant subjects. Yet there is no enmity between these men; they
have never seen each other before, and each believes the other to be a
respectable person. Why then should they stand so cautiously apart? We
must go back to England to learn the reason.

When it is birth alone, independent of wealth, which classes men in
society, everyone knows exactly what his own position is upon the
social scale; he does not seek to rise, he does not fear to sink. In
a community thus organized, men of different castes communicate very
little with each other; but if accident brings them together, they are
ready to converse without hoping or fearing to lose their own position.
Their intercourse is not upon a footing of equality, but it is not
constrained. When moneyed aristocracy succeeds to aristocracy of birth,
the case is altered. The privileges of some are still extremely great,
but the possibility of acquiring those privileges is open to all: whence
it follows that those who possess them are constantly haunted by the
apprehension of losing them, or of other men's sharing them; those who
do not yet enjoy them long to possess them at any cost, or, if they
fail to appear at least to possess them--which is not impossible. As the
social importance of men is no longer ostensibly and permanently fixed
by blood, and is infinitely varied by wealth, ranks still exist, but it
is not easy clearly to distinguish at a glance those who respectively
belong to them. Secret hostilities then arise in the community; one set
of men endeavor by innumerable artifices to penetrate, or to appear to
penetrate, amongst those who are above them; another set are constantly
in arms against these usurpers of their rights; or rather the same
individual does both at once, and whilst he seeks to raise himself into
a higher circle, he is always on the defensive against the intrusion of
those below him.

Such is the condition of England at the present time; and I am of
opinion that the peculiarity before adverted to is principally to be
attributed to this cause. As aristocratic pride is still extremely great
amongst the English, and as the limits of aristocracy are ill-defined,
everybody lives in constant dread lest advantage should be taken of his
familiarity. Unable to judge at once of the social position of those
he meets, an Englishman prudently avoids all contact with them. Men
are afraid lest some slight service rendered should draw them into
an unsuitable acquaintance; they dread civilities, and they avoid the
obtrusive gratitude of a stranger quite as much as his hatred. Many
people attribute these singular anti-social propensities, and the
reserved and taciturn bearing of the English, to purely physical causes.
I may admit that there is something of it in their race, but much more
of it is attributable to their social condition, as is proved by the
contrast of the Americans.

In America, where the privileges of birth never existed, and where
riches confer no peculiar rights on their possessors, men unacquainted
with each other are very ready to frequent the same places, and find
neither peril nor advantage in the free interchange of their thoughts.
If they meet by accident, they neither seek nor avoid intercourse; their
manner is therefore natural, frank, and open: it is easy to see that
they hardly expect or apprehend anything from each other, and that they
do not care to display, any more than to conceal, their position in the
world. If their demeanor is often cold and serious, it is never haughty
or constrained; and if they do not converse, it is because they are
not in a humor to talk, not because they think it their interest to be
silent. In a foreign country two Americans are at once friends, simply
because they are Americans. They are repulsed by no prejudice; they are
attracted by their common country. For two Englishmen the same blood
is not enough; they must be brought together by the same rank. The
Americans remark this unsociable mood of the English as much as the
French do, and they are not less astonished by it. Yet the Americans are
connected with England by their origin, their religion, their language,
and partially by their manners; they only differ in their social
condition. It may therefore be inferred that the reserve of the English
proceeds from the constitution of their country much more than from that
of its inhabitants.

Chapter III: Why The Americans Show So Little Sensitiveness In Their Own
Country, And Are So Sensitive In Europe

The temper of the Americans is vindictive, like that of all serious and
reflecting nations. They hardly ever forget an offence, but it is not
easy to offend them; and their resentment is as slow to kindle as it is
to abate. In aristocratic communities where a small number of persons
manage everything, the outward intercourse of men is subject to settled
conventional rules. Everyone then thinks he knows exactly what marks of
respect or of condescension he ought to display, and none are presumed
to be ignorant of the science of etiquette. These usages of the first
class in society afterwards serve as a model to all the others; besides
which each of the latter lays down a code of its own, to which all
its members are bound to conform. Thus the rules of politeness form a
complex system of legislation, which it is difficult to be perfectly
master of, but from which it is dangerous for anyone to deviate; so that
men are constantly exposed involuntarily to inflict or to receive
bitter affronts. But as the distinctions of rank are obliterated, as men
differing in education and in birth meet and mingle in the same places
of resort, it is almost impossible to agree upon the rules of good
breeding. As its laws are uncertain, to disobey them is not a crime,
even in the eyes of those who know what they are; men attach more
importance to intentions than to forms, and they grow less civil, but at
the same time less quarrelsome. There are many little attentions which
an American does not care about; he thinks they are not due to him, or
he presumes that they are not known to be due: he therefore either
does not perceive a rudeness or he forgives it; his manners become less
courteous, and his character more plain and masculine.

The mutual indulgence which the Americans display, and the manly
confidence with which they treat each other, also result from another
deeper and more general cause, which I have already adverted to in the
preceding chapter. In the United States the distinctions of rank
in civil society are slight, in political society they are null; an
American, therefore, does not think himself bound to pay particular
attentions to any of his fellow-citizens, nor does he require such
attentions from them towards himself. As he does not see that it is his
interest eagerly to seek the company of any of his countrymen, he is
slow to fancy that his own company is declined: despising no one on
account of his station, he does not imagine that anyone can despise him
for that cause; and until he has clearly perceived an insult, he does
not suppose that an affront was intended. The social condition of the
Americans naturally accustoms them not to take offence in small
matters; and, on the other hand, the democratic freedom which they
enjoy transfuses this same mildness of temper into the character of the
nation. The political institutions of the United States constantly bring
citizens of all ranks into contact, and compel them to pursue great
undertakings in concert. People thus engaged have scarcely time to
attend to the details of etiquette, and they are besides too strongly
interested in living harmoniously for them to stick at such things. They
therefore soon acquire a habit of considering the feelings and opinions
of those whom they meet more than their manners, and they do not allow
themselves to be annoyed by trifles.

I have often remarked in the United States that it is not easy to make
a man understand that his presence may be dispensed with; hints will not
always suffice to shake him off. I contradict an American at every word
he says, to show him that his conversation bores me; he instantly labors
with fresh pertinacity to convince me; I preserve a dogged silence, and
he thinks I am meditating deeply on the truths which he is uttering; at
last I rush from his company, and he supposes that some urgent business
hurries me elsewhere. This man will never understand that he wearies me
to extinction unless I tell him so: and the only way to get rid of him
is to make him my enemy for life.

It appears surprising at first sight that the same man transported to
Europe suddenly becomes so sensitive and captious, that I often find
it as difficult to avoid offending him here as it was to put him out
of countenance. These two opposite effects proceed from the same cause.
Democratic institutions generally give men a lofty notion of their
country and of themselves. An American leaves his country with a heart
swollen with pride; on arriving in Europe he at once finds out that we
are not so engrossed by the United States and the great people which
inhabits them as he had supposed, and this begins to annoy him. He has
been informed that the conditions of society are not equal in our part
of the globe, and he observes that among the nations of Europe the
traces of rank are not wholly obliterated; that wealth and birth still
retain some indeterminate privileges, which force themselves upon his
notice whilst they elude definition. He is therefore profoundly ignorant
of the place which he ought to occupy in this half-ruined scale of
classes, which are sufficiently distinct to hate and despise each other,
yet sufficiently alike for him to be always confounding them. He is
afraid of ranging himself too high--still more is he afraid of being
ranged too low; this twofold peril keeps his mind constantly on the
stretch, and embarrasses all he says and does. He learns from tradition
that in Europe ceremonial observances were infinitely varied according
to different ranks; this recollection of former times completes his
perplexity, and he is the more afraid of not obtaining those marks of
respect which are due to him, as he does not exactly know in what
they consist. He is like a man surrounded by traps: society is not a
recreation for him, but a serious toil: he weighs your least actions,
interrogates your looks, and scrutinizes all you say, lest there should
be some hidden allusion to affront him. I doubt whether there was ever
a provincial man of quality so punctilious in breeding as he is: he
endeavors to attend to the slightest rules of etiquette, and does not
allow one of them to be waived towards himself: he is full of scruples
and at the same time of pretensions; he wishes to do enough, but fears
to do too much; and as he does not very well know the limits of the one
or of the other, he keeps up a haughty and embarrassed air of reserve.

But this is not all: here is yet another double of the human heart. An
American is forever talking of the admirable equality which prevails in
the United States; aloud he makes it the boast of his country, but in
secret he deplores it for himself; and he aspires to show that, for his
part, he is an exception to the general state of things which he vaunts.
There is hardly an American to be met with who does not claim some
remote kindred with the first founders of the colonies; and as for the
scions of the noble families of England, America seemed to me to be
covered with them. When an opulent American arrives in Europe, his first
care is to surround himself with all the luxuries of wealth: he is so
afraid of being taken for the plain citizen of a democracy, that he
adopts a hundred distorted ways of bringing some new instance of his
wealth before you every day. His house will be in the most fashionable
part of the town: he will always be surrounded by a host of servants.
I have heard an American complain, that in the best houses of Paris the
society was rather mixed; the taste which prevails there was not pure
enough for him; and he ventured to hint that, in his opinion, there was
a want of elegance of manner; he could not accustom himself to see wit
concealed under such unpretending forms.

These contrasts ought not to surprise us. If the vestiges of former
aristocratic distinctions were not so completely effaced in the United
States, the Americans would be less simple and less tolerant in their
own country--they would require less, and be less fond of borrowed
manners in ours.

Chapter IV: Consequences Of The Three Preceding Chapters

When men feel a natural compassion for their mutual sufferings--when
they are brought together by easy and frequent intercourse, and no
sensitive feelings keep them asunder--it may readily be supposed that
they will lend assistance to one another whenever it is needed. When an
American asks for the co-operation of his fellow-citizens it is seldom
refused, and I have often seen it afforded spontaneously and with great
goodwill. If an accident happens on the highway, everybody hastens to
help the sufferer; if some great and sudden calamity befalls a family,
the purses of a thousand strangers are at once willingly opened, and
small but numerous donations pour in to relieve their distress. It often
happens amongst the most civilized nations of the globe, that a poor
wretch is as friendless in the midst of a crowd as the savage in his
wilds: this is hardly ever the case in the United States. The Americans,
who are always cold and often coarse in their manners, seldom show
insensibility; and if they do not proffer services eagerly, yet they do
not refuse to render them.

All this is not in contradiction to what I have said before on the
subject of individualism. The two things are so far from combating each
other, that I can see how they agree. Equality of conditions, whilst it
makes men feel their independence, shows them their own weakness: they
are free, but exposed to a thousand accidents; and experience soon
teaches them that, although they do not habitually require the
assistance of others, a time almost always comes when they cannot do
without it. We constantly see in Europe that men of the same profession
are ever ready to assist each other; they are all exposed to the same
ills, and that is enough to teach them to seek mutual preservatives,
however hard-hearted and selfish they may otherwise be. When one of
them falls into danger, from which the others may save him by a slight
transient sacrifice or a sudden effort, they do not fail to make the
attempt. Not that they are deeply interested in his fate; for if, by
chance, their exertions are unavailing, they immediately forget the
object of them, and return to their own business; but a sort of tacit
and almost involuntary agreement has been passed between them, by which
each one owes to the others a temporary support which he may claim for
himself in turn. Extend to a people the remark here applied to a class,
and you will understand my meaning. A similar covenant exists in fact
between all the citizens of a democracy: they all feel themselves
subject to the same weakness and the same dangers; and their interest,
as well as their sympathy, makes it a rule with them to lend each
other mutual assistance when required. The more equal social conditions
become, the more do men display this reciprocal disposition to oblige
each other. In democracies no great benefits are conferred, but good
offices are constantly rendered: a man seldom displays self-devotion,
but all men are ready to be of service to one another.

Chapter V: How Democracy Affects the Relation Of Masters And Servants

An American who had travelled for a long time in Europe once said to me,
"The English treat their servants with a stiffness and imperiousness
of manner which surprise us; but on the other hand the French sometimes
treat their attendants with a degree of familiarity or of politeness
which we cannot conceive. It looks as if they were afraid to give
orders: the posture of the superior and the inferior is ill-maintained."
The remark was a just one, and I have often made it myself. I have
always considered England as the country in the world where, in our
time, the bond of domestic service is drawn most tightly, and France as
the country where it is most relaxed. Nowhere have I seen masters stand
so high or so low as in these two countries. Between these two extremes
the Americans are to be placed. Such is the fact as it appears upon the
surface of things: to discover the causes of that fact, it is necessary
to search the matter thoroughly.

No communities have ever yet existed in which social conditions have
been so equal that there were neither rich nor poor, and consequently
neither masters nor servants. Democracy does not prevent the existence
of these two classes, but it changes their dispositions and modifies
their mutual relations. Amongst aristocratic nations servants form a
distinct class, not more variously composed than that of masters. A
settled order is soon established; in the former as well as in the
latter class a scale is formed, with numerous distinctions or marked
gradations of rank, and generations succeed each other thus without any
change of position. These two communities are superposed one above the
other, always distinct, but regulated by analogous principles. This
aristocratic constitution does not exert a less powerful influence
on the notions and manners of servants than on those of masters; and,
although the effects are different, the same cause may easily be traced.
Both classes constitute small communities in the heart of the nation,
and certain permanent notions of right and wrong are ultimately
engendered amongst them. The different acts of human life are viewed by
one particular and unchanging light. In the society of servants, as in
that of masters, men exercise a great influence over each other: they
acknowledge settled rules, and in the absence of law they are guided by
a sort of public opinion: their habits are settled, and their conduct is
placed under a certain control.

These men, whose destiny is to obey, certainly do not understand fame,
virtue, honesty, and honor in the same manner as their masters; but they
have a pride, a virtue, and an honesty pertaining to their condition;
and they have a notion, if I may use the expression, of a sort of
servile honor. *a Because a class is mean, it must not be supposed that
all who belong to it are mean-hearted; to think so would be a great
mistake. However lowly it may be, he who is foremost there, and who
has no notion of quitting it, occupies an aristocratic position which
inspires him with lofty feelings, pride, and self-respect, that fit
him for the higher virtues and actions above the common. Amongst
aristocratic nations it was by no means rare to find men of noble and
vigorous minds in the service of the great, who felt not the servitude
they bore, and who submitted to the will of their masters without any
fear of their displeasure. But this was hardly ever the case amongst
the inferior ranks of domestic servants. It may be imagined that he
who occupies the lowest stage of the order of menials stands very low
indeed. The French created a word on purpose to designate the servants
of the aristocracy--they called them lackeys. This word "lackey"
served as the strongest expression, when all others were exhausted, to
designate human meanness. Under the old French monarchy, to denote by
a single expression a low-spirited contemptible fellow, it was usual to
say that he had the "soul of a lackey"; the term was enough to convey
all that was intended. [Footnote a: If the principal opinions by which
men are guided are examined closely and in detail, the analogy appears
still more striking, and one is surprised to find amongst them, just as
much as amongst the haughtiest scions of a feudal race, pride of birth,
respect for their ancestry and their descendants, disdain of their
inferiors, a dread of contact, a taste for etiquette, precedents, and

The permanent inequality of conditions not only gives servants certain
peculiar virtues and vices, but it places them in a peculiar relation
with respect to their masters. Amongst aristocratic nations the poor man
is familiarized from his childhood with the notion of being commanded:
to whichever side he turns his eyes the graduated structure of society
and the aspect of obedience meet his view. Hence in those countries the
master readily obtains prompt, complete, respectful, and easy obedience
from his servants, because they revere in him not only their master but
the class of masters. He weighs down their will by the whole weight of
the aristocracy. He orders their actions--to a certain extent he even
directs their thoughts. In aristocracies the master often exercises,
even without being aware of it, an amazing sway over the opinions, the
habits, and the manners of those who obey him, and his influence extends
even further than his authority.

In aristocratic communities there are not only hereditary families of
servants as well as of masters, but the same families of servants
adhere for several generations to the same families of masters (like two
parallel lines which neither meet nor separate); and this considerably
modifies the mutual relations of these two classes of persons. Thus,
although in aristocratic society the master and servant have no natural
resemblance--although, on the contrary, they are placed at an immense
distance on the scale of human beings by their fortune, education, and
opinions--yet time ultimately binds them together. They are connected
by a long series of common reminiscences, and however different they
may be, they grow alike; whilst in democracies, where they are naturally
almost alike, they always remain strangers to each other. Amongst an
aristocratic people the master gets to look upon his servants as an
inferior and secondary part of himself, and he often takes an interest
in their lot by a last stretch of egotism.

Servants, on their part, are not averse to regard themselves in the same
light; and they sometimes identify themselves with the person of the
master, so that they become an appendage to him in their own eyes as
well as in his. In aristocracies a servant fills a subordinate position
which he cannot get out of; above him is another man, holding a superior
rank which he cannot lose. On one side are obscurity, poverty, obedience
for life; on the other, and also for life, fame, wealth, and command.
The two conditions are always distinct and always in propinquity; the
tie that connects them is as lasting as they are themselves. In this
predicament the servant ultimately detaches his notion of interest from
his own person; he deserts himself, as it were, or rather he transports
himself into the character of his master, and thus assumes an imaginary
personality. He complacently invests himself with the wealth of those
who command him; he shares their fame, exalts himself by their rank,
and feeds his mind with borrowed greatness, to which he attaches
more importance than those who fully and really possess it. There is
something touching, and at the same time ridiculous, in this strange
confusion of two different states of being. These passions of masters,
when they pass into the souls of menials, assume the natural dimensions
of the place they occupy--they are contracted and lowered. What was
pride in the former becomes puerile vanity and paltry ostentation in the
latter. The servants of a great man are commonly most punctilious as to
the marks of respect due to him, and they attach more importance to his
slightest privileges than he does himself. In France a few of these old
servants of the aristocracy are still to be met with here and there;
they have survived their race, which will soon disappear with them
altogether. In the United States I never saw anyone at all like them.
The Americans are not only unacquainted with the kind of man, but it is
hardly possible to make them understand that such ever existed. It is
scarcely less difficult for them to conceive it, than for us to form a
correct notion of what a slave was amongst the Romans, or a serf in the
Middle Ages. All these men were in fact, though in different degrees,
results of the same cause: they are all retiring from our sight, and
disappearing in the obscurity of the past, together with the social
condition to which they owed their origin.

Equality of conditions turns servants and masters into new beings, and
places them in new relative positions. When social conditions are nearly
equal, men are constantly changing their situations in life: there is
still a class of menials and a class of masters, but these classes are
not always composed of the same individuals, still less of the same
families; and those who command are not more secure of perpetuity than
those who obey. As servants do not form a separate people, they have
no habits, prejudices, or manners peculiar to themselves; they are not
remarkable for any particular turn of mind or moods of feeling. They
know no vices or virtues of their condition, but they partake of the
education, the opinions, the feelings, the virtues, and the vices of
their contemporaries; and they are honest men or scoundrels in the same
way as their masters are. The conditions of servants are not less equal
than those of masters. As no marked ranks or fixed subordination are to
be found amongst them, they will not display either the meanness or the
greatness which characterizes the aristocracy of menials as well as all
other aristocracies. I never saw a man in the United States who reminded
me of that class of confidential servants of which we still retain a
reminiscence in Europe, neither did I ever meet with such a thing as a
lackey: all traces of the one and of the other have disappeared.

In democracies servants are not only equal amongst themselves, but it
may be said that they are in some sort the equals of their masters. This
requires explanation in order to be rightly understood. At any moment a
servant may become a master, and he aspires to rise to that condition:
the servant is therefore not a different man from the master. Why
then has the former a right to command, and what compels the latter to
obey?--the free and temporary consent of both their wills. Neither of
them is by nature inferior to the other; they only become so for a time
by covenant. Within the terms of this covenant, the one is a
servant, the other a master; beyond it they are two citizens of the
commonwealth--two men. I beg the reader particularly to observe that
this is not only the notion which servants themselves entertain of their
own condition; domestic service is looked upon by masters in the same
light; and the precise limits of authority and obedience are as clearly
settled in the mind of the one as in that of the other.

When the greater part of the community have long attained a condition
nearly alike, and when equality is an old and acknowledged fact, the
public mind, which is never affected by exceptions, assigns certain
general limits to the value of man, above or below which no man can
long remain placed. It is in vain that wealth and poverty, authority
and obedience, accidentally interpose great distances between two men;
public opinion, founded upon the usual order of things, draws them to a
common level, and creates a species of imaginary equality between them,
in spite of the real inequality of their conditions. This all-powerful
opinion penetrates at length even into the hearts of those whose
interest might arm them to resist it; it affects their judgment whilst
it subdues their will. In their inmost convictions the master and the
servant no longer perceive any deep-seated difference between them, and
they neither hope nor fear to meet with any such at any time. They are
therefore neither subject to disdain nor to anger, and they discern in
each other neither humility nor pride. The master holds the contract of
service to be the only source of his power, and the servant regards
it as the only cause of his obedience. They do not quarrel about their
reciprocal situations, but each knows his own and keeps it.

In the French army the common soldier is taken from nearly the same
classes as the officer, and may hold the same commissions; out of the
ranks he considers himself entirely equal to his military superiors, and
in point of fact he is so; but when under arms he does not hesitate to
obey, and his obedience is not the less prompt, precise, and ready,
for being voluntary and defined. This example may give a notion of what
takes place between masters and servants in democratic communities.

It would be preposterous to suppose that those warm and deep-seated
affections, which are sometimes kindled in the domestic service of
aristocracy, will ever spring up between these two men, or that they
will exhibit strong instances of self-sacrifice. In aristocracies
masters and servants live apart, and frequently their only intercourse
is through a third person; yet they commonly stand firmly by one
another. In democratic countries the master and the servant are close
together; they are in daily personal contact, but their minds do not
intermingle; they have common occupations, hardly ever common interests.
Amongst such a people the servant always considers himself as a
sojourner in the dwelling of his masters. He knew nothing of their
forefathers--he will see nothing of their descendants--he has nothing
lasting to expect from their hand. Why then should he confound his
life with theirs, and whence should so strange a surrender of himself
proceed? The reciprocal position of the two men is changed--their mutual
relations must be so too.

I would fain illustrate all these reflections by the example of the
Americans; but for this purpose the distinctions of persons and places
must be accurately traced. In the South of the Union, slavery exists;
all that I have just said is consequently inapplicable there. In the
North, the majority of servants are either freedmen or the children
of freedmen; these persons occupy a contested position in the public
estimation; by the laws they are brought up to the level of their
masters--by the manners of the country they are obstinately detruded
from it. They do not themselves clearly know their proper place, and
they are almost always either insolent or craven. But in the Northern
States, especially in New England, there are a certain number of whites,
who agree, for wages, to yield a temporary obedience to the will of
their fellow-citizens. I have heard that these servants commonly perform
the duties of their situation with punctuality and intelligence; and
that without thinking themselves naturally inferior to the person who
orders them, they submit without reluctance to obey him. They appear to
me to carry into service some of those manly habits which independence
and equality engender. Having once selected a hard way of life, they do
not seek to escape from it by indirect means; and they have sufficient
respect for themselves, not to refuse to their master that obedience
which they have freely promised. On their part, masters require nothing
of their servants but the faithful and rigorous performance of the
covenant: they do not ask for marks of respect, they do not claim their
love or devoted attachment; it is enough that, as servants, they
are exact and honest. It would not then be true to assert that,
in democratic society, the relation of servants and masters is
disorganized: it is organized on another footing; the rule is different,
but there is a rule.

It is not my purpose to inquire whether the new state of things which
I have just described is inferior to that which preceded it, or simply
different. Enough for me that it is fixed and determined: for what is
most important to meet with among men is not any given ordering, but
order. But what shall I say of those sad and troubled times at which
equality is established in the midst of the tumult of revolution--when
democracy, after having been introduced into the state of society, still
struggles with difficulty against the prejudices and manners of the
country? The laws, and partially public opinion, already declare that
no natural or permanent inferiority exists between the servant and
the master. But this new belief has not yet reached the innermost
convictions of the latter, or rather his heart rejects it; in the secret
persuasion of his mind the master thinks that he belongs to a peculiar
and superior race; he dares not say so, but he shudders whilst he allows
himself to be dragged to the same level. His authority over his servants
becomes timid and at the same time harsh: he has already ceased to
entertain for them the feelings of patronizing kindness which long
uncontested power always engenders, and he is surprised that, being
changed himself, his servant changes also. He wants his attendants to
form regular and permanent habits, in a condition of domestic service
which is only temporary: he requires that they should appear contented
with and proud of a servile condition, which they will one day shake
off--that they should sacrifice themselves to a man who can neither
protect nor ruin them--and in short that they should contract an
indissoluble engagement to a being like themselves, and one who will
last no longer than they will.

Amongst aristocratic nations it often happens that the condition of
domestic service does not degrade the character of those who enter upon
it, because they neither know nor imagine any other; and the amazing
inequality which is manifest between them and their master appears to
be the necessary and unavoidable consequence of some hidden law of
Providence. In democracies the condition of domestic service does not
degrade the character of those who enter upon it, because it is freely
chosen, and adopted for a time only; because it is not stigmatized by
public opinion, and creates no permanent inequality between the servant
and the master. But whilst the transition from one social condition
to another is going on, there is almost always a time when men's
minds fluctuate between the aristocratic notion of subjection and
the democratic notion of obedience. Obedience then loses its moral
importance in the eyes of him who obeys; he no longer considers it as
a species of divine obligation, and he does not yet view it under
its purely human aspect; it has to him no character of sanctity or
of justice, and he submits to it as to a degrading but profitable
condition. At that moment a confused and imperfect phantom of equality
haunts the minds of servants; they do not at once perceive whether the
equality to which they are entitled is to be found within or without
the pale of domestic service; and they rebel in their hearts against a
subordination to which they have subjected themselves, and from which
they derive actual profit. They consent to serve, and they blush to
obey; they like the advantages of service, but not the master; or
rather, they are not sure that they ought not themselves to be masters,
and they are inclined to consider him who orders them as an unjust
usurper of their own rights. Then it is that the dwelling of every
citizen offers a spectacle somewhat analogous to the gloomy aspect of
political society. A secret and intestine warfare is going on there
between powers, ever rivals and suspicious of one another: the master is
ill-natured and weak, the servant ill-natured and intractable; the one
constantly attempts to evade by unfair restrictions his obligation to
protect and to remunerate--the other his obligation to obey. The reins
of domestic government dangle between them, to be snatched at by one
or the other. The lines which divide authority from oppression, liberty
from license, and right from might, are to their eyes so jumbled
together and confused, that no one knows exactly what he is, or what he
may be, or what he ought to be. Such a condition is not democracy, but

Chapter VI: That Democratic Institutions And Manners Tend To Raise Rents
And Shorten The Terms Of Leases

What has been said of servants and masters is applicable, to a certain
extent, to landowners and farming tenants; but this subject deserves
to be considered by itself. In America there are, properly speaking, no
tenant farmers; every man owns the ground he tills. It must be admitted
that democratic laws tend greatly to increase the number of landowners,
and to diminish that of farming tenants. Yet what takes place in the
United States is much less attributable to the institutions of the
country than to the country itself. In America land is cheap, and anyone
may easily become a landowner; its returns are small, and its produce
cannot well be divided between a landowner and a farmer. America
therefore stands alone in this as well as in many other respects, and it
would be a mistake to take it as an example.

I believe that in democratic as well as in aristocratic countries there
will be landowners and tenants, but the connection existing between them
will be of a different kind. In aristocracies the hire of a farm is paid
to the landlord, not only in rent, but in respect, regard, and duty;
in democracies the whole is paid in cash. When estates are divided and
passed from hand to hand, and the permanent connection which existed
between families and the soil is dissolved, the landowner and the tenant
are only casually brought into contact. They meet for a moment to settle
the conditions of the agreement, and then lose sight of each other; they
are two strangers brought together by a common interest, and who keenly
talk over a matter of business, the sole object of which is to make

In proportion as property is subdivided and wealth distributed over the
country, the community is filled with people whose former opulence is
declining, and with others whose fortunes are of recent growth and whose
wants increase more rapidly than their resources. For all such persons
the smallest pecuniary profit is a matter of importance, and none of
them feel disposed to waive any of their claims, or to lose any portion
of their income. As ranks are intermingled, and as very large as well
as very scanty fortunes become more rare, every day brings the social
condition of the landowner nearer to that of the farmer; the one has not
naturally any uncontested superiority over the other; between two men
who are equal, and not at ease in their circumstances, the contract of
hire is exclusively an affair of money. A man whose estate extends over
a whole district, and who owns a hundred farms, is well aware of the
importance of gaining at the same time the affections of some thousands
of men; this object appears to call for his exertions, and to attain it
he will readily make considerable sacrifices. But he who owns a hundred
acres is insensible to similar considerations, and he cares but little
to win the private regard of his tenant.

An aristocracy does not expire like a man in a single day; the
aristocratic principle is slowly undermined in men's opinion, before it
is attacked in their laws. Long before open war is declared against it,
the tie which had hitherto united the higher classes to the lower may be
seen to be gradually relaxed. Indifference and contempt are betrayed by
one class, jealousy and hatred by the others; the intercourse between
rich and poor becomes less frequent and less kind, and rents are raised.
This is not the consequence of a democratic revolution, but its certain
harbinger; for an aristocracy which has lost the affections of the
people, once and forever, is like a tree dead at the root, which is the
more easily torn up by the winds the higher its branches have spread.

In the course of the last fifty years the rents of farms have amazingly
increased, not only in France but throughout the greater part of Europe.
The remarkable improvements which have taken place in agriculture and
manufactures within the same period do not suffice in my opinion to
explain this fact; recourse must be had to another cause more powerful
and more concealed. I believe that cause is to be found in the
democratic institutions which several European nations have adopted, and
in the democratic passions which more or less agitate all the rest. I
have frequently heard great English landowners congratulate themselves
that, at the present day, they derive a much larger income from their
estates than their fathers did. They have perhaps good reasons to be
glad; but most assuredly they know not what they are glad of. They think
they are making a clear gain, when it is in reality only an exchange;
their influence is what they are parting with for cash; and what they
gain in money will ere long be lost in power.

There is yet another sign by which it is easy to know that a great
democratic revolution is going on or approaching. In the Middle Ages
almost all lands were leased for lives, or for very long terms; the
domestic economy of that period shows that leases for ninety-nine years
were more frequent then than leases for twelve years are now. Men then
believed that families were immortal; men's conditions seemed settled
forever, and the whole of society appeared to be so fixed, that it
was not supposed that anything would ever be stirred or shaken in its
structure. In ages of equality, the human mind takes a different bent;
the prevailing notion is that nothing abides, and man is haunted by
the thought of mutability. Under this impression the landowner and
the tenant himself are instinctively averse to protracted terms of
obligation; they are afraid of being tied up to-morrow by the contract
which benefits them today. They have vague anticipations of some sudden
and unforeseen change in their conditions; they mistrust themselves;
they fear lest their taste should change, and lest they should lament
that they cannot rid themselves of what they coveted; nor are such fears
unfounded, for in democratic ages that which is most fluctuating amidst
the fluctuation of all around is the heart of man.

Chapter VII: Influence Of Democracy On Wages

Most of the remarks which I have already made in speaking of servants
and masters, may be applied to masters and workmen. As the gradations
of the social scale come to be less observed, whilst the great sink the
humble rise, and as poverty as well as opulence ceases to be hereditary,
the distance both in reality and in opinion, which heretofore separated
the workman from the master, is lessened every day. The workman
conceives a more lofty opinion of his rights, of his future, of himself;
he is filled with new ambition and with new desires, he is harassed by
new wants. Every instant he views with longing eyes the profits of his
employer; and in order to share them, he strives to dispose of his labor
at a higher rate, and he generally succeeds at length in the attempt.
In democratic countries, as well as elsewhere, most of the branches
of productive industry are carried on at a small cost, by men little
removed by their wealth or education above the level of those whom they
employ. These manufacturing speculators are extremely numerous; their
interests differ; they cannot therefore easily concert or combine their
exertions. On the other hand the workmen have almost always some sure
resources, which enable them to refuse to work when they cannot get
what they conceive to be the fair price of their labor. In the constant
struggle for wages which is going on between these two classes, their
strength is divided, and success alternates from one to the other. It
is even probable that in the end the interest of the working class must
prevail; for the high wages which they have already obtained make
them every day less dependent on their masters; and as they grow more
independent, they have greater facilities for obtaining a further
increase of wages.

I shall take for example that branch of productive industry which is
still at the present day the most generally followed in France, and in
almost all the countries of the world--I mean the cultivation of the
soil. In France most of those who labor for hire in agriculture, are
themselves owners of certain plots of ground, which just enable them
to subsist without working for anyone else. When these laborers come to
offer their services to a neighboring landowner or farmer, if he refuses
them a certain rate of wages, they retire to their own small property
and await another opportunity.

I think that, upon the whole, it may be asserted that a slow and gradual
rise of wages is one of the general laws of democratic communities. In
proportion as social conditions become more equal, wages rise; and as
wages are higher, social conditions become more equal. But a great and
gloomy exception occurs in our own time. I have shown in a preceding
chapter that aristocracy, expelled from political society, has
taken refuge in certain departments of productive industry, and has
established its sway there under another form; this powerfully affects
the rate of wages. As a large capital is required to embark in the great
manufacturing speculations to which I allude, the number of persons who
enter upon them is exceedingly limited: as their number is small, they
can easily concert together, and fix the rate of wages as they please.
Their workmen on the contrary are exceedingly numerous, and the number
of them is always increasing; for, from time to time, an extraordinary
run of business takes place, during which wages are inordinately high,
and they attract the surrounding population to the factories. But, when
once men have embraced that line of life, we have already seen that they
cannot quit it again, because they soon contract habits of body and mind
which unfit them for any other sort of toil. These men have generally
but little education and industry, with but few resources; they stand
therefore almost at the mercy of the master. When competition, or other
fortuitous circumstances, lessen his profits, he can reduce the wages of
his workmen almost at pleasure, and make from them what he loses by the
chances of business. Should the workmen strike, the master, who is a
rich man, can very well wait without being ruined until necessity brings
them back to him; but they must work day by day or they die, for their
only property is in their hands. They have long been impoverished by
oppression, and the poorer they become the more easily may they be
oppressed: they can never escape from this fatal circle of cause
and consequence. It is not then surprising that wages, after having
sometimes suddenly risen, are permanently lowered in this branch of
industry; whereas in other callings the price of labor, which generally
increases but little, is nevertheless constantly augmented.

This state of dependence and wretchedness, in which a part of the
manufacturing population of our time lives, forms an exception to the
general rule, contrary to the state of all the rest of the community;
but, for this very reason, no circumstance is more important or more
deserving of the especial consideration of the legislator; for when the
whole of society is in motion, it is difficult to keep any one class
stationary; and when the greater number of men are opening new paths to
fortune, it is no less difficult to make the few support in peace their
wants and their desires.

Chapter VIII: Influence Of Democracy On Kindred

I have just examined the changes which the equality of conditions
produces in the mutual relations of the several members of the community
amongst democratic nations, and amongst the Americans in particular.
I would now go deeper, and inquire into the closer ties of kindred: my
object here is not to seek for new truths, but to show in what manner
facts already known are connected with my subject.

It has been universally remarked, that in our time the several members
of a family stand upon an entirely new footing towards each other; that
the distance which formerly separated a father from his sons has been
lessened; and that paternal authority, if not destroyed, is at least
impaired. Something analogous to this, but even more striking, may be
observed in the United States. In America the family, in the Roman and
aristocratic signification of the word, does not exist. All that remains
of it are a few vestiges in the first years of childhood, when the
father exercises, without opposition, that absolute domestic authority,
which the feebleness of his children renders necessary, and which their
interest, as well as his own incontestable superiority, warrants. But
as soon as the young American approaches manhood, the ties of filial
obedience are relaxed day by day: master of his thoughts, he is soon
master of his conduct. In America there is, strictly speaking, no
adolescence: at the close of boyhood the man appears, and begins to
trace out his own path. It would be an error to suppose that this is
preceded by a domestic struggle, in which the son has obtained by a
sort of moral violence the liberty that his father refused him. The
same habits, the same principles which impel the one to assert
his independence, predispose the other to consider the use of that
independence as an incontestable right. The former does not exhibit any
of those rancorous or irregular passions which disturb men long after
they have shaken off an established authority; the latter feels none of
that bitter and angry regret which is apt to survive a bygone power. The
father foresees the limits of his authority long beforehand, and when
the time arrives he surrenders it without a struggle: the son looks
forward to the exact period at which he will be his own master; and he
enters upon his freedom without precipitation and without effort, as a
possession which is his own and which no one seeks to wrest from him. *a

[Footnote a: The Americans, however, have not yet thought fit to strip
the parent, as has been done in France, of one of the chief elements of
parental authority, by depriving him of the power of disposing of his
property at his death. In the United States there are no restrictions on
the powers of a testator. In this respect, as in almost all others, it
is easy to perceive, that if the political legislation of the Americans
is much more democratic than that of the French, the civil legislation
of the latter is infinitely more democratic than that of the former.
This may easily be accounted for. The civil legislation of France
was the work of a man who saw that it was his interest to satisfy the
democratic passions of his contemporaries in all that was not directly
and immediately hostile to his own power. He was willing to allow some
popular principles to regulate the distribution of property and the
government of families, provided they were not to be introduced into
the administration of public affairs. Whilst the torrent of democracy
overwhelmed the civil laws of the country, he hoped to find an easy
shelter behind its political institutions. This policy was at once both
adroit and selfish; but a compromise of this kind could not last; for
in the end political institutions never fail to become the image and
expression of civil society; and in this sense it may be said that
nothing is more political in a nation than its civil legislation.]

It may perhaps not be without utility to show how these changes which
take place in family relations, are closely connected with the social
and political revolution which is approaching its consummation under
our own observation. There are certain great social principles, which a
people either introduces everywhere, or tolerates nowhere. In countries
which are aristocratically constituted with all the gradations of rank,
the government never makes a direct appeal to the mass of the governed:
as men are united together, it is enough to lead the foremost, the
rest will follow. This is equally applicable to the family, as to all
aristocracies which have a head. Amongst aristocratic nations, social
institutions recognize, in truth, no one in the family but the father;
children are received by society at his hands; society governs him,
he governs them. Thus the parent has not only a natural right, but he
acquires a political right, to command them: he is the author and
the support of his family; but he is also its constituted ruler. In
democracies, where the government picks out every individual singly from
the mass, to make him subservient to the general laws of the community,
no such intermediate person is required: a father is there, in the eye
of the law, only a member of the community, older and richer than his

When most of the conditions of life are extremely unequal, and the
inequality of these conditions is permanent, the notion of a superior
grows upon the imaginations of men: if the law invested him with no
privileges, custom and public opinion would concede them. When, on
the contrary, men differ but little from each other, and do not always
remain in dissimilar conditions of life, the general notion of a
superior becomes weaker and less distinct: it is vain for legislation
to strive to place him who obeys very much beneath him who commands; the
manners of the time bring the two men nearer to one another, and draw
them daily towards the same level. Although the legislation of an
aristocratic people should grant no peculiar privileges to the heads
of families; I shall not be the less convinced that their power is
more respected and more extensive than in a democracy; for I know that,
whatsoever the laws may be, superiors always appear higher and inferiors
lower in aristocracies than amongst democratic nations.

When men live more for the remembrance of what has been than for the
care of what is, and when they are more given to attend to what their
ancestors thought than to think themselves, the father is the natural
and necessary tie between the past and the present--the link by which
the ends of these two chains are connected. In aristocracies, then, the
father is not only the civil head of the family, but the oracle of its
traditions, the expounder of its customs, the arbiter of its manners.
He is listened to with deference, he is addressed with respect, and
the love which is felt for him is always tempered with fear. When the
condition of society becomes democratic, and men adopt as their general
principle that it is good and lawful to judge of all things for one's
self, using former points of belief not as a rule of faith but simply
as a means of information, the power which the opinions of a father
exercise over those of his sons diminishes as well as his legal power.

Perhaps the subdivision of estates which democracy brings with it
contributes more than anything else to change the relations existing
between a father and his children. When the property of the father of a
family is scanty, his son and himself constantly live in the same place,
and share the same occupations: habit and necessity bring them
together, and force them to hold constant communication: the inevitable
consequence is a sort of familiar intimacy, which renders authority less
absolute, and which can ill be reconciled with the external forms
of respect. Now in democratic countries the class of those who are
possessed of small fortunes is precisely that which gives strength
to the notions, and a particular direction to the manners, of the
community. That class makes its opinions preponderate as universally as
its will, and even those who are most inclined to resist its commands
are carried away in the end by its example. I have known eager opponents
of democracy who allowed their children to address them with perfect
colloquial equality.

Thus, at the same time that the power of aristocracy is declining, the
austere, the conventional, and the legal part of parental authority
vanishes, and a species of equality prevails around the domestic hearth.
I know not, upon the whole, whether society loses by the change, but I
am inclined to believe that man individually is a gainer by it. I think
that, in proportion as manners and laws become more democratic, the
relation of father and son becomes more intimate and more affectionate;
rules and authority are less talked of; confidence and tenderness are
oftentimes increased, and it would seem that the natural bond is drawn
closer in proportion as the social bond is loosened. In a democratic
family the father exercises no other power than that with which men
love to invest the affection and the experience of age; his orders would
perhaps be disobeyed, but his advice is for the most part authoritative.
Though he be not hedged in with ceremonial respect, his sons at least
accost him with confidence; no settled form of speech is appropriated
to the mode of addressing him, but they speak to him constantly, and are
ready to consult him day by day; the master and the constituted ruler
have vanished--the father remains. Nothing more is needed, in order
to judge of the difference between the two states of society in this
respect, than to peruse the family correspondence of aristocratic ages.
The style is always correct, ceremonious, stiff, and so cold that the
natural warmth of the heart can hardly be felt in the language.
The language, on the contrary, addressed by a son to his father in
democratic countries is always marked by mingled freedom, familiarity
and affection, which at once show that new relations have sprung up in
the bosom of the family.

A similar revolution takes place in the mutual relations of children. In
aristocratic families, as well as in aristocratic society, every place
is marked out beforehand. Not only does the father occupy a separate
rank, in which he enjoys extensive privileges, but even the children
are not equal amongst themselves. The age and sex of each irrevocably
determine his rank, and secure to him certain privileges: most of these
distinctions are abolished or diminished by democracy. In aristocratic
families the eldest son, inheriting the greater part of the property,
and almost all the rights of the family, becomes the chief, and, to a
certain extent, the master, of his brothers. Greatness and power are for
him--for them, mediocrity and dependence. Nevertheless it would be wrong
to suppose that, amongst aristocratic nations, the privileges of the
eldest son are advantageous to himself alone, or that they excite
nothing but envy and hatred in those around him. The eldest son commonly
endeavors to procure wealth and power for his brothers, because the
general splendor of the house is reflected back on him who represents
it; the younger sons seek to back the elder brother in all his
undertakings, because the greatness and power of the head of the family
better enable him to provide for all its branches. The different members
of an aristocratic family are therefore very closely bound together;
their interests are connected, their minds agree, but their hearts are
seldom in harmony.

Democracy also binds brothers to each other, but by very different
means. Under democratic laws all the children are perfectly equal, and
consequently independent; nothing brings them forcibly together, but
nothing keeps them apart; and as they have the same origin, as they are
trained under the same roof, as they are treated with the same care, and
as no peculiar privilege distinguishes or divides them, the affectionate
and youthful intimacy of early years easily springs up between them.
Scarcely any opportunities occur to break the tie thus formed at the
outset of life; for their brotherhood brings them daily together,
without embarrassing them. It is not, then, by interest, but by common
associations and by the free sympathy of opinion and of taste, that
democracy unites brothers to each other. It divides their inheritance,
but it allows their hearts and minds to mingle together. Such is
the charm of these democratic manners, that even the partisans of
aristocracy are caught by it; and after having experienced it for some
time, they are by no means tempted to revert to the respectful and
frigid observance of aristocratic families. They would be glad to retain
the domestic habits of democracy, if they might throw off its social
conditions and its laws; but these elements are indissolubly united, and
it is impossible to enjoy the former without enduring the latter.
The remarks I have made on filial love and fraternal affection are
applicable to all the passions which emanate spontaneously from human
nature itself. If a certain mode of thought or feeling is the result of
some peculiar condition of life, when that condition is altered nothing
whatever remains of the thought or feeling. Thus a law may bind two
members of the community very closely to one another; but that law being
abolished, they stand asunder. Nothing was more strict than the tie
which united the vassal to the lord under the feudal system; at the
present day the two men know not each other; the fear, the gratitude,
and the affection which formerly connected them have vanished, and not
a vestige of the tie remains. Such, however, is not the case with those
feelings which are natural to mankind. Whenever a law attempts to tutor
these feelings in any particular manner, it seldom fails to weaken them;
by attempting to add to their intensity, it robs them of some of their
elements, for they are never stronger than when left to themselves.

Democracy, which destroys or obscures almost all the old conventional
rules of society, and which prevents men from readily assenting to new
ones, entirely effaces most of the feelings to which these conventional
rules have given rise; but it only modifies some others, and frequently
imparts to them a degree of energy and sweetness unknown before. Perhaps
it is not impossible to condense into a single proposition the whole
meaning of this chapter, and of several others that preceded it.
Democracy loosens social ties, but it draws the ties of nature more
tight; it brings kindred more closely together, whilst it places the
various members of the community more widely apart.

Chapter IX: Education Of Young Women In The United States

No free communities ever existed without morals; and, as I observed
in the former part of this work, morals are the work of woman.
Consequently, whatever affects the condition of women, their habits
and their opinions, has great political importance in my eyes. Amongst
almost all Protestant nations young women are far more the mistresses of
their own actions than they are in Catholic countries. This independence
is still greater in Protestant countries, like England, which have
retained or acquired the right of self-government; the spirit of freedom
is then infused into the domestic circle by political habits and by
religious opinions. In the United States the doctrines of Protestantism
are combined with great political freedom and a most democratic state
of society; and nowhere are young women surrendered so early or so
completely to their own guidance. Long before an American girl arrives
at the age of marriage, her emancipation from maternal control begins;
she has scarcely ceased to be a child when she already thinks for
herself, speaks with freedom, and acts on her own impulse. The great
scene of the world is constantly open to her view; far from seeking
concealment, it is every day disclosed to her more completely, and she
is taught to survey it with a firm and calm gaze. Thus the vices and
dangers of society are early revealed to her; as she sees them clearly,
she views them without illusions, and braves them without fear; for she
is full of reliance on her own strength, and her reliance seems to be
shared by all who are about her. An American girl scarcely ever displays
that virginal bloom in the midst of young desires, or that innocent
and ingenuous grace which usually attends the European woman in the
transition from girlhood to youth. It is rarely that an American woman
at any age displays childish timidity or ignorance. Like the young women
of Europe, she seeks to please, but she knows precisely the cost of
pleasing. If she does not abandon herself to evil, at least she knows
that it exists; and she is remarkable rather for purity of manners
than for chastity of mind. I have been frequently surprised, and almost
frightened, at the singular address and happy boldness with which young
women in America contrive to manage their thoughts and their language
amidst all the difficulties of stimulating conversation; a philosopher
would have stumbled at every step along the narrow path which they trod
without accidents and without effort. It is easy indeed to perceive
that, even amidst the independence of early youth, an American woman
is always mistress of herself; she indulges in all permitted pleasures,
without yielding herself up to any of them; and her reason never allows
the reins of self-guidance to drop, though it often seems to hold them

In France, where remnants of every age are still so strangely mingled
in the opinions and tastes of the people, women commonly receive a
reserved, retired, and almost cloistral education, as they did in
aristocratic times; and then they are suddenly abandoned, without a
guide and without assistance, in the midst of all the irregularities
inseparable from democratic society. The Americans are more consistent.
They have found out that in a democracy the independence of individuals
cannot fail to be very great, youth premature, tastes ill-restrained,
customs fleeting, public opinion often unsettled and powerless,
paternal authority weak, and marital authority contested. Under these
circumstances, believing that they had little chance of repressing in
woman the most vehement passions of the human heart, they held that
the surer way was to teach her the art of combating those passions for
herself. As they could not prevent her virtue from being exposed to
frequent danger, they determined that she should know how best to defend
it; and more reliance was placed on the free vigor of her will than
on safeguards which have been shaken or overthrown. Instead, then, of
inculcating mistrust of herself, they constantly seek to enhance their
confidence in her own strength of character. As it is neither possible
nor desirable to keep a young woman in perpetual or complete ignorance,
they hasten to give her a precocious knowledge on all subjects. Far
from hiding the corruptions of the world from her, they prefer that she
should see them at once and train herself to shun them; and they hold it
of more importance to protect her conduct than to be over-scrupulous of
her innocence.

Although the Americans are a very religious people, they do not rely
on religion alone to defend the virtue of woman; they seek to arm her
reason also. In this they have followed the same method as in several
other respects; they first make the most vigorous efforts to bring
individual independence to exercise a proper control over itself, and
they do not call in the aid of religion until they have reached the
utmost limits of human strength. I am aware that an education of this
kind is not without danger; I am sensible that it tends to invigorate
the judgment at the expense of the imagination, and to make cold and
virtuous women instead of affectionate wives and agreeable companions
to man. Society may be more tranquil and better regulated, but domestic
life has often fewer charms. These, however, are secondary evils, which
may be braved for the sake of higher interests. At the stage at which we
are now arrived the time for choosing is no longer within our control; a
democratic education is indispensable to protect women from the dangers
with which democratic institutions and manners surround them.

Chapter X: The Young Woman In The Character Of A Wife

In America the independence of woman is irrevocably lost in the bonds
of matrimony: if an unmarried woman is less constrained there than
elsewhere, a wife is subjected to stricter obligations. The former makes
her father's house an abode of freedom and of pleasure; the latter
lives in the home of her husband as if it were a cloister. Yet these
two different conditions of life are perhaps not so contrary as may be
supposed, and it is natural that the American women should pass through
the one to arrive at the other.

Religious peoples and trading nations entertain peculiarly serious
notions of marriage: the former consider the regularity of woman's life
as the best pledge and most certain sign of the purity of her morals;
the latter regard it as the highest security for the order and
prosperity of the household. The Americans are at the same time a
puritanical people and a commercial nation: their religious opinions,
as well as their trading habits, consequently lead them to require
much abnegation on the part of woman, and a constant sacrifice of her
pleasures to her duties which is seldom demanded of her in Europe. Thus
in the United States the inexorable opinion of the public carefully
circumscribes woman within the narrow circle of domestic interest and
duties, and forbids her to step beyond it.

Upon her entrance into the world a young American woman finds these
notions firmly established; she sees the rules which are derived from
them; she is not slow to perceive that she cannot depart for an instant
from the established usages of her contemporaries, without putting in
jeopardy her peace of mind, her honor, nay even her social existence;
and she finds the energy required for such an act of submission in
the firmness of her understanding and in the virile habits which her
education has given her. It may be said that she has learned by the use
of her independence to surrender it without a struggle and without a
murmur when the time comes for making the sacrifice. But no American
woman falls into the toils of matrimony as into a snare held out to
her simplicity and ignorance. She has been taught beforehand what is
expected of her, and voluntarily and freely does she enter upon this
engagement. She supports her new condition with courage, because she
chose it. As in America paternal discipline is very relaxed and the
conjugal tie very strict, a young woman does not contract the latter
without considerable circumspection and apprehension. Precocious
marriages are rare. Thus American women do not marry until their
understandings are exercised and ripened; whereas in other countries
most women generally only begin to exercise and to ripen their
understandings after marriage.

I by no means suppose, however, that the great change which takes place
in all the habits of women in the United States, as soon as they are
married, ought solely to be attributed to the constraint of public
opinion: it is frequently imposed upon themselves by the sole effort of
their own will. When the time for choosing a husband is arrived, that
cold and stern reasoning power which has been educated and invigorated
by the free observation of the world, teaches an American woman that a
spirit of levity and independence in the bonds of marriage is a constant
subject of annoyance, not of pleasure; it tells her that the amusements
of the girl cannot become the recreations of the wife, and that the
sources of a married woman's happiness are in the home of her husband.
As she clearly discerns beforehand the only road which can lead to
domestic happiness, she enters upon it at once, and follows it to the
end without seeking to turn back.

The same strength of purpose which the young wives of America display,
in bending themselves at once and without repining to the austere duties
of their new condition, is no less manifest in all the great trials
of their lives. In no country in the world are private fortunes more
precarious than in the United States. It is not uncommon for the same
man, in the course of his life, to rise and sink again through all the
grades which lead from opulence to poverty. American women support these
vicissitudes with calm and unquenchable energy: it would seem that their
desires contract, as easily as they expand, with their fortunes. *a

[Footnote a: See Appendix S.]

The greater part of the adventurers who migrate every year to people the
western wilds, belong, as I observed in the former part of this work, to
the old Anglo-American race of the Northern States. Many of these men,
who rush so boldly onwards in pursuit of wealth, were already in the
enjoyment of a competency in their own part of the country. They take
their wives along with them, and make them share the countless
perils and privations which always attend the commencement of these
expeditions. I have often met, even on the verge of the wilderness, with
young women, who after having been brought up amidst all the comforts
of the large towns of New England, had passed, almost without any
intermediate stage, from the wealthy abode of their parents to a
comfortless hovel in a forest. Fever, solitude, and a tedious life had
not broken the springs of their courage. Their features were impaired
and faded, but their looks were firm: they appeared to be at once
sad and resolute. I do not doubt that these young American women had
amassed, in the education of their early years, that inward strength
which they displayed under these circumstances. The early culture of
the girl may still therefore be traced, in the United States, under the
aspect of marriage: her part is changed, her habits are different, but
her character is the same.

Chapter XI: That The Equality Of Conditions Contributes To The
Maintenance Of Good Morals In America

Some philosophers and historians have said, or have hinted, that the
strictness of female morality was increased or diminished simply by the
distance of a country from the equator. This solution of the difficulty
was an easy one; and nothing was required but a globe and a pair of
compasses to settle in an instant one of the most difficult problems in
the condition of mankind. But I am not aware that this principle of the
materialists is supported by facts. The same nations have been chaste or
dissolute at different periods of their history; the strictness or the
laxity of their morals depended therefore on some variable cause, not
only on the natural qualities of their country, which were invariable.
I do not deny that in certain climates the passions which are occasioned
by the mutual attraction of the sexes are peculiarly intense; but I
am of opinion that this natural intensity may always be excited or
restrained by the condition of society and by political institutions.

Although the travellers who have visited North America differ on a great
number of points, they all agree in remarking that morals are far
more strict there than elsewhere. It is evident that on this point
the Americans are very superior to their progenitors the English.
A superficial glance at the two nations will establish the fact.
In England, as in all other countries of Europe, public malice is
constantly attacking the frailties of women. Philosophers and statesmen
are heard to deplore that morals are not sufficiently strict, and the
literary productions of the country constantly lead one to suppose so.
In America all books, novels not excepted, suppose women to be chaste,
and no one thinks of relating affairs of gallantry. No doubt this great
regularity of American morals originates partly in the country, in the
race of the people, and in their religion: but all these causes, which
operate elsewhere, do not suffice to account for it; recourse must
be had to some special reason. This reason appears to me to be the
principle of equality and the institutions derived from it. Equality
of conditions does not of itself engender regularity of morals, but
it unquestionably facilitates and increases it. *a [Footnote a: See
Appendix T.]

Amongst aristocratic nations birth and fortune frequently make two such
different beings of man and woman, that they can never be united to each
other. Their passions draw them together, but the condition of society,
and the notions suggested by it, prevent them from contracting a
permanent and ostensible tie. The necessary consequence is a great
number of transient and clandestine connections. Nature secretly avenges
herself for the constraint imposed upon her by the laws of man. This is
not so much the case when the equality of conditions has swept away all
the imaginary, or the real, barriers which separated man from woman. No
girl then believes that she cannot become the wife of the man who loves
her; and this renders all breaches of morality before marriage very
uncommon: for, whatever be the credulity of the passions, a woman will
hardly be able to persuade herself that she is beloved, when her lover
is perfectly free to marry her and does not.

The same cause operates, though more indirectly, on married life.
Nothing better serves to justify an illicit passion, either to the minds
of those who have conceived it or to the world which looks on, than
compulsory or accidental marriages. *b In a country in which a woman is
always free to exercise her power of choosing, and in which education
has prepared her to choose rightly, public opinion is inexorable to her
faults. The rigor of the Americans arises in part from this cause.
They consider marriages as a covenant which is often onerous, but every
condition of which the parties are strictly bound to fulfil, because
they knew all those conditions beforehand, and were perfectly free not
to have contracted them.

[Footnote b: The literature of Europe sufficiently corroborates this
remark. When a European author wishes to depict in a work of imagination
any of these great catastrophes in matrimony which so frequently occur
amongst us, he takes care to bespeak the compassion of the reader by
bringing before him ill-assorted or compulsory marriages. Although
habitual tolerance has long since relaxed our morals, an author could
hardly succeed in interesting us in the misfortunes of his characters,
if he did not first palliate their faults. This artifice seldom fails:
the daily scenes we witness prepare us long beforehand to be indulgent.
But American writers could never render these palliations probable to
their readers; their customs and laws are opposed to it; and as they
despair of rendering levity of conduct pleasing, they cease to depict
it. This is one of the causes to which must be attributed the small
number of novels published in the United States.]

The very circumstances which render matrimonial fidelity more obligatory
also render it more easy. In aristocratic countries the object of
marriage is rather to unite property than persons; hence the husband is
sometimes at school and the wife at nurse when they are betrothed. It
cannot be wondered at if the conjugal tie which holds the fortunes of
the pair united allows their hearts to rove; this is the natural result
of the nature of the contract. When, on the contrary, a man always
chooses a wife for himself, without any external coercion or even
guidance, it is generally a conformity of tastes and opinions which
brings a man and a woman together, and this same conformity keeps and
fixes them in close habits of intimacy.

Our forefathers had conceived a very strange notion on the subject of
marriage: as they had remarked that the small number of love-matches
which occurred in their time almost always turned out ill, they
resolutely inferred that it was exceedingly dangerous to listen to the
dictates of the heart on the subject. Accident appeared to them to be a
better guide than choice. Yet it was not very difficult to perceive that
the examples which they witnessed did in fact prove nothing at all. For
in the first place, if democratic nations leave a woman at liberty
to choose her husband, they take care to give her mind sufficient
knowledge, and her will sufficient strength, to make so important a
choice: whereas the young women who, amongst aristocratic nations,
furtively elope from the authority of their parents to throw themselves
of their own accord into the arms of men whom they have had neither time
to know, nor ability to judge of, are totally without those securities.
It is not surprising that they make a bad use of their freedom of action
the first time they avail themselves of it; nor that they fall into such
cruel mistakes, when, not having received a democratic education, they
choose to marry in conformity to democratic customs. But this is
not all. When a man and woman are bent upon marriage in spite of the
differences of an aristocratic state of society, the difficulties to
be overcome are enormous. Having broken or relaxed the bonds of filial
obedience, they have then to emancipate themselves by a final effort
from the sway of custom and the tyranny of opinion; and when at length
they have succeeded in this arduous task, they stand estranged from
their natural friends and kinsmen: the prejudice they have crossed
separates them from all, and places them in a situation which soon
breaks their courage and sours their hearts. If, then, a couple married
in this manner are first unhappy and afterwards criminal, it ought not
to be attributed to the freedom of their choice, but rather to their
living in a community in which this freedom of choice is not admitted.

Moreover it should not be forgotten that the same effort which makes a
man violently shake off a prevailing error, commonly impels him beyond
the bounds of reason; that, to dare to declare war, in however just
a cause, against the opinion of one's age and country, a violent and
adventurous spirit is required, and that men of this character seldom
arrive at happiness or virtue, whatever be the path they follow. And
this, it may be observed by the way, is the reason why in the most
necessary and righteous revolutions, it is so rare to meet with virtuous
or moderate revolutionary characters. There is then no just ground
for surprise if a man, who in an age of aristocracy chooses to consult
nothing but his own opinion and his own taste in the choice of a wife,
soon finds that infractions of morality and domestic wretchedness invade
his household: but when this same line of action is in the natural and
ordinary course of things, when it is sanctioned by parental authority
and backed by public opinion, it cannot be doubted that the internal
peace of families will be increased by it, and conjugal fidelity more
rigidly observed.

Almost all men in democracies are engaged in public or professional
life; and on the other hand the limited extent of common incomes obliges
a wife to confine herself to the house, in order to watch in person and
very closely over the details of domestic economy. All these distinct
and compulsory occupations are so many natural barriers, which, by
keeping the two sexes asunder, render the solicitations of the one less
frequent and less ardent--the resistance of the other more easy.

Not indeed that the equality of conditions can ever succeed in making
men chaste, but it may impart a less dangerous character to their
breaches of morality. As no one has then either sufficient time or
opportunity to assail a virtue armed in self-defence, there will be
at the same time a great number of courtesans and a great number
of virtuous women. This state of things causes lamentable cases of
individual hardship, but it does not prevent the body of society from
being strong and alert: it does not destroy family ties, or enervate the
morals of the nation. Society is endangered not by the great profligacy
of a few, but by laxity of morals amongst all. In the eyes of a
legislator, prostitution is less to be dreaded than intrigue.

The tumultuous and constantly harassed life which equality makes men
lead, not only distracts them from the passion of love, by denying
them time to indulge in it, but it diverts them from it by another more
secret but more certain road. All men who live in democratic ages more
or less contract the ways of thinking of the manufacturing and trading
classes; their minds take a serious, deliberate, and positive turn; they
are apt to relinquish the ideal, in order to pursue some visible and
proximate object, which appears to be the natural and necessary aim
of their desires. Thus the principle of equality does not destroy the
imagination, but lowers its flight to the level of the earth. No men are
less addicted to reverie than the citizens of a democracy; and few of
them are ever known to give way to those idle and solitary meditations
which commonly precede and produce the great emotions of the heart. It
is true they attach great importance to procuring for themselves that
sort of deep, regular, and quiet affection which constitutes the charm
and safeguard of life, but they are not apt to run after those violent
and capricious sources of excitement which disturb and abridge it.

I am aware that all this is only applicable in its full extent to
America, and cannot at present be extended to Europe. In the course of
the last half-century, whilst laws and customs have impelled several
European nations with unexampled force towards democracy, we have not
had occasion to observe that the relations of man and woman have become
more orderly or more chaste. In some places the very reverse may be
detected: some classes are more strict--the general morality of the
people appears to be more lax. I do not hesitate to make the remark, for
I am as little disposed to flatter my contemporaries as to malign them.
This fact must distress, but it ought not to surprise us. The propitious
influence which a democratic state of society may exercise upon orderly
habits, is one of those tendencies which can only be discovered after
a time. If the equality of conditions is favorable to purity of morals,
the social commotion by which conditions are rendered equal is adverse
to it. In the last fifty years, during which France has been undergoing
this transformation, that country has rarely had freedom, always
disturbance. Amidst this universal confusion of notions and this general
stir of opinions--amidst this incoherent mixture of the just and unjust,
of truth and falsehood, of right and might--public virtue has become
doubtful, and private morality wavering. But all revolutions, whatever
may have been their object or their agents, have at first produced
similar consequences; even those which have in the end drawn the bonds
of morality more tightly began by loosening them. The violations of
morality which the French frequently witness do not appear to me to have
a permanent character; and this is already betokened by some curious
signs of the times.

Nothing is more wretchedly corrupt than an aristocracy which retains its
wealth when it has lost its power, and which still enjoys a vast deal
of leisure after it is reduced to mere vulgar pastimes. The energetic
passions and great conceptions which animated it heretofore, leave it
then; and nothing remains to it but a host of petty consuming vices,
which cling about it like worms upon a carcass. No one denies that the
French aristocracy of the last century was extremely dissolute; whereas
established habits and ancient belief still preserved some respect for
morality amongst the other classes of society. Nor will it be contested
that at the present day the remnants of that same aristocracy exhibit
a certain severity of morals; whilst laxity of morals appears to have
spread amongst the middle and lower ranks. So that the same families
which were most profligate fifty years ago are nowadays the most
exemplary, and democracy seems only to have strengthened the morality
of the aristocratic classes. The French Revolution, by dividing the
fortunes of the nobility, by forcing them to attend assiduously to their
affairs and to their families, by making them live under the same roof
with their children, and in short by giving a more rational and serious
turn to their minds, has imparted to them, almost without their being
aware of it, a reverence for religious belief, a love of order, of
tranquil pleasures, of domestic endearments, and of comfort; whereas the
rest of the nation, which had naturally these same tastes, was carried
away into excesses by the effort which was required to overthrow the
laws and political habits of the country. The old French aristocracy has
undergone the consequences of the Revolution, but it neither felt the
revolutionary passions nor shared in the anarchical excitement which
produced that crisis; it may easily be conceived that this aristocracy
feels the salutary influence of the Revolution in its manners, before
those who achieve it. It may therefore be said, though at first it seems
paradoxical, that, at the present day, the most anti-democratic classes
of the nation principally exhibit the kind of morality which may
reasonably be anticipated from democracy. I cannot but think that when
we shall have obtained all the effects of this democratic Revolution,
after having got rid of the tumult it has caused, the observations which
are now only applicable to the few will gradually become true of the
whole community.

Chapter XII: How The Americans Understand The Equality Of The Sexes

I Have shown how democracy destroys or modifies the different
inequalities which originate in society; but is this all? or does it
not ultimately affect that great inequality of man and woman which has
seemed, up to the present day, to be eternally based in human nature? I
believe that the social changes which bring nearer to the same level
the father and son, the master and servant, and superiors and inferiors
generally speaking, will raise woman and make her more and more the
equal of man. But here, more than ever, I feel the necessity of making
myself clearly understood; for there is no subject on which the coarse
and lawless fancies of our age have taken a freer range.

There are people in Europe who, confounding together the different
characteristics of the sexes, would make of man and woman beings not
only equal but alike. They would give to both the same functions, impose
on both the same duties, and grant to both the same rights; they would
mix them in all things--their occupations, their pleasures, their
business. It may readily be conceived, that by thus attempting to make
one sex equal to the other, both are degraded; and from so preposterous
a medley of the works of nature nothing could ever result but weak men
and disorderly women. It is not thus that the Americans understand that
species of democratic equality which may be established between the
sexes. They admit, that as nature has appointed such wide differences
between the physical and moral constitution of man and woman, her
manifest design was to give a distinct employment to their various
faculties; and they hold that improvement does not consist in making
beings so dissimilar do pretty nearly the same things, but in getting
each of them to fulfil their respective tasks in the best possible
manner. The Americans have applied to the sexes the great principle
of political economy which governs the manufactures of our age, by
carefully dividing the duties of man from those of woman, in order that
the great work of society may be the better carried on.

In no country has such constant care been taken as in America to trace
two clearly distinct lines of action for the two sexes, and to make
them keep pace one with the other, but in two pathways which are always
different. American women never manage the outward concerns of the
family, or conduct a business, or take a part in political life; nor are
they, on the other hand, ever compelled to perform the rough labor of
the fields, or to make any of those laborious exertions which demand
the exertion of physical strength. No families are so poor as to form
an exception to this rule. If on the one hand an American woman cannot
escape from the quiet circle of domestic employments, on the other
hand she is never forced to go beyond it. Hence it is that the women of
America, who often exhibit a masculine strength of understanding and a
manly energy, generally preserve great delicacy of personal appearance
and always retain the manners of women, although they sometimes show
that they have the hearts and minds of men.

Nor have the Americans ever supposed that one consequence of democratic
principles is the subversion of marital power, of the confusion of the
natural authorities in families. They hold that every association must
have a head in order to accomplish its object, and that the natural head
of the conjugal association is man. They do not therefore deny him the
right of directing his partner; and they maintain, that in the smaller
association of husband and wife, as well as in the great social
community, the object of democracy is to regulate and legalize the
powers which are necessary, not to subvert all power. This opinion is
not peculiar to one sex, and contested by the other: I never observed
that the women of America consider conjugal authority as a fortunate
usurpation of their rights, nor that they thought themselves degraded by
submitting to it. It appeared to me, on the contrary, that they attach a
sort of pride to the voluntary surrender of their own will, and make it
their boast to bend themselves to the yoke, not to shake it off. Such
at least is the feeling expressed by the most virtuous of their sex; the
others are silent; and in the United States it is not the practice for
a guilty wife to clamor for the rights of women, whilst she is trampling
on her holiest duties.

It has often been remarked that in Europe a certain degree of contempt
lurks even in the flattery which men lavish upon women: although a
European frequently affects to be the slave of woman, it may be seen
that he never sincerely thinks her his equal. In the United States men
seldom compliment women, but they daily show how much they esteem them.
They constantly display an entire confidence in the understanding of a
wife, and a profound respect for her freedom; they have decided that her
mind is just as fitted as that of a man to discover the plain truth, and
her heart as firm to embrace it; and they have never sought to place her
virtue, any more than his, under the shelter of prejudice, ignorance,
and fear. It would seem that in Europe, where man so easily submits to
the despotic sway of women, they are nevertheless curtailed of some of
the greatest qualities of the human species, and considered as seductive
but imperfect beings; and (what may well provoke astonishment) women
ultimately look upon themselves in the same light, and almost consider
it as a privilege that they are entitled to show themselves futile,
feeble, and timid. The women of America claim no such privileges.

Again, it may be said that in our morals we have reserved strange
immunities to man; so that there is, as it were, one virtue for his use,
and another for the guidance of his partner; and that, according to the
opinion of the public, the very same act may be punished alternately
as a crime or only as a fault. The Americans know not this iniquitous
division of duties and rights; amongst them the seducer is as much
dishonored as his victim. It is true that the Americans rarely lavish
upon women those eager attentions which are commonly paid them in
Europe; but their conduct to women always implies that they suppose them
to be virtuous and refined; and such is the respect entertained for
the moral freedom of the sex, that in the presence of a woman the
most guarded language is used, lest her ear should be offended by an
expression. In America a young unmarried woman may, alone and without
fear, undertake a long journey.

The legislators of the United States, who have mitigated almost all the
penalties of criminal law, still make rape a capital offence, and no
crime is visited with more inexorable severity by public opinion.
This may be accounted for; as the Americans can conceive nothing more
precious than a woman's honor, and nothing which ought so much to be
respected as her independence, they hold that no punishment is too
severe for the man who deprives her of them against her will. In France,
where the same offence is visited with far milder penalties, it is
frequently difficult to get a verdict from a jury against the prisoner.
Is this a consequence of contempt of decency or contempt of women? I
cannot but believe that it is a contempt of one and of the other.

Thus the Americans do not think that man and woman have either the duty
or the right to perform the same offices, but they show an equal regard
for both their respective parts; and though their lot is different, they
consider both of them as beings of equal value. They do not give to the
courage of woman the same form or the same direction as to that of man;
but they never doubt her courage: and if they hold that man and his
partner ought not always to exercise their intellect and understanding
in the same manner, they at least believe the understanding of the one
to be as sound as that of the other, and her intellect to be as clear.
Thus, then, whilst they have allowed the social inferiority of woman
to subsist, they have done all they could to raise her morally and
intellectually to the level of man; and in this respect they appear
to me to have excellently understood the true principle of democratic
improvement. As for myself, I do not hesitate to avow that, although
the women of the United States are confined within the narrow circle of
domestic life, and their situation is in some respects one of extreme
dependence, I have nowhere seen woman occupying a loftier position; and
if I were asked, now that I am drawing to the close of this work, in
which I have spoken of so many important things done by the Americans,
to what the singular prosperity and growing strength of that people
ought mainly to be attributed, I should reply--to the superiority of
their women.

Chapter XIII: That The Principle Of Equality Naturally Divides The
Americans Into A Number Of Small Private Circles

It may probably be supposed that the final consequence and necessary
effect of democratic institutions is to confound together all the
members of the community in private as well as in public life, and to
compel them all to live in common; but this would be to ascribe a
very coarse and oppressive form to the equality which originates in
democracy. No state of society or laws can render men so much alike,
but that education, fortune, and tastes will interpose some differences
between them; and, though different men may sometimes find it their
interest to combine for the same purposes, they will never make it their
pleasure. They will therefore always tend to evade the provisions of
legislation, whatever they may be; and departing in some one respect
from the circle within which they were to be bounded, they will set up,
close by the great political community, small private circles, united
together by the similitude of their conditions, habits, and manners.

In the United States the citizens have no sort of pre-eminence over each
other; they owe each other no mutual obedience or respect; they all meet
for the administration of justice, for the government of the State, and
in general to treat of the affairs which concern their common welfare;
but I never heard that attempts have been made to bring them all to
follow the same diversions, or to amuse themselves promiscuously in the
same places of recreation. The Americans, who mingle so readily in their
political assemblies and courts of justice, are wont on the contrary
carefully to separate into small distinct circles, in order to indulge
by themselves in the enjoyments of private life. Each of them is willing
to acknowledge all his fellow-citizens as his equals, but he will only
receive a very limited number of them amongst his friends or his guests.
This appears to me to be very natural. In proportion as the circle of
public society is extended, it may be anticipated that the sphere of
private intercourse will be contracted; far from supposing that the
members of modern society will ultimately live in common, I am afraid
that they may end by forming nothing but small coteries.

Amongst aristocratic nations the different classes are like vast
chambers, out of which it is impossible to get, into which it is
impossible to enter. These classes have no communication with each
other, but within their pale men necessarily live in daily contact;
even though they would not naturally suit, the general conformity of a
similar condition brings them nearer together. But when neither law nor
custom professes to establish frequent and habitual relations between
certain men, their intercourse originates in the accidental analogy
of opinions and tastes; hence private society is infinitely varied. In
democracies, where the members of the community never differ much from
each other, and naturally stand in such propinquity that they may all
at any time be confounded in one general mass, numerous artificial and
arbitrary distinctions spring up, by means of which every man hopes to
keep himself aloof, lest he should be carried away in the crowd against
his will. This can never fail to be the case; for human institutions
may be changed, but not man: whatever may be the general endeavor of a
community to render its members equal and alike, the personal pride
of individuals will always seek to rise above the line, and to form
somewhere an inequality to their own advantage.

In aristocracies men are separated from each other by lofty stationary
barriers; in democracies they are divided by a number of small and
almost invisible threads, which are constantly broken or moved from
place to place. Thus, whatever may be the progress of equality, in
democratic nations a great number of small private communities will
always be formed within the general pale of political society; but none
of them will bear any resemblance in its manners to the highest class in

Chapter XIV: Some Reflections On American Manners

Nothing seems at first sight less important than the outward form of
human actions, yet there is nothing upon which men set more store: they
grow used to everything except to living in a society which has not
their own manners. The influence of the social and political state of
a country upon manners is therefore deserving of serious examination.
Manners are, generally, the product of the very basis of the character
of a people, but they are also sometimes the result of an arbitrary
convention between certain men; thus they are at once natural and
acquired. When certain men perceive that they are the foremost persons
in society, without contestation and without effort--when they are
constantly engaged on large objects, leaving the more minute details to
others--and when they live in the enjoyment of wealth which they did not
amass and which they do not fear to lose, it may be supposed that they
feel a kind of haughty disdain of the petty interests and practical
cares of life, and that their thoughts assume a natural greatness, which
their language and their manners denote. In democratic countries manners
are generally devoid of dignity, because private life is there extremely
petty in its character; and they are frequently low, because the mind
has few opportunities of rising above the engrossing cares of domestic
interests. True dignity in manners consists in always taking one's
proper station, neither too high nor too low; and this is as much within
the reach of a peasant as of a prince. In democracies all stations
appear doubtful; hence it is that the manners of democracies, though
often full of arrogance, are commonly wanting in dignity, and, moreover,
they are never either well disciplined or accomplished.

The men who live in democracies are too fluctuating for a certain number
of them ever to succeed in laying down a code of good breeding, and in
forcing people to follow it. Every man therefore behaves after his own
fashion, and there is always a certain incoherence in the manners of
such times, because they are moulded upon the feelings and notions of
each individual, rather than upon an ideal model proposed for general
imitation. This, however, is much more perceptible at the time when
an aristocracy has just been overthrown than after it has long been
destroyed. New political institutions and new social elements then bring
to the same places of resort, and frequently compel to live in common,
men whose education and habits are still amazingly dissimilar, and
this renders the motley composition of society peculiarly visible. The
existence of a former strict code of good breeding is still remembered,
but what it contained or where it is to be found is already forgotten.
Men have lost the common law of manners, and they have not yet made up
their minds to do without it; but everyone endeavors to make to himself
some sort of arbitrary and variable rule, from the remnant of former
usages; so that manners have neither the regularity and the dignity
which they often display amongst aristocratic nations, nor the
simplicity and freedom which they sometimes assume in democracies; they
are at once constrained and without constraint.

This, however, is not the normal state of things. When the equality of
conditions is long established and complete, as all men entertain nearly
the same notions and do nearly the same things, they do not require to
agree or to copy from one another in order to speak or act in the same
manner: their manners are constantly characterized by a number of lesser
diversities, but not by any great differences. They are never perfectly
alike, because they do not copy from the same pattern; they are never
very unlike, because their social condition is the same. At first sight
a traveller would observe that the manners of all the Americans
are exactly similar; it is only upon close examination that the
peculiarities in which they differ may be detected.

The English make game of the manners of the Americans; but it is
singular that most of the writers who have drawn these ludicrous
delineations belonged themselves to the middle classes in England, to
whom the same delineations are exceedingly applicable: so that these
pitiless censors for the most part furnish an example of the very thing
they blame in the United States; they do not perceive that they are
deriding themselves, to the great amusement of the aristocracy of their
own country.

Nothing is more prejudicial to democracy than its outward forms of
behavior: many men would willingly endure its vices, who cannot support
its manners. I cannot, however, admit that there is nothing commendable
in the manners of a democratic people. Amongst aristocratic nations, all
who live within reach of the first class in society commonly strain to
be like it, which gives rise to ridiculous and insipid imitations. As a
democratic people does not possess any models of high breeding, at least
it escapes the daily necessity of seeing wretched copies of them.
In democracies manners are never so refined as amongst aristocratic
nations, but on the other hand they are never so coarse. Neither the
coarse oaths of the populace, nor the elegant and choice expressions
of the nobility are to be heard there: the manners of such a people
are often vulgar, but they are neither brutal nor mean. I have already
observed that in democracies no such thing as a regular code of good
breeding can be laid down; this has some inconveniences and some
advantages. In aristocracies the rules of propriety impose the same
demeanor on everyone; they make all the members of the same class appear
alike, in spite of their private inclinations; they adorn and they
conceal the natural man. Amongst a democratic people manners are neither
so tutored nor so uniform, but they are frequently more sincere. They
form, as it were, a light and loosely woven veil, through which the real
feelings and private opinions of each individual are easily discernible.
The form and the substance of human actions often, therefore, stand
in closer relation; and if the great picture of human life be less
embellished, it is more true. Thus it may be said, in one sense, that
the effect of democracy is not exactly to give men any particular
manners, but to prevent them from having manners at all.

The feelings, the passions, the virtues, and the vices of an aristocracy
may sometimes reappear in a democracy, but not its manners; they are
lost, and vanish forever, as soon as the democratic revolution is
completed. It would seem that nothing is more lasting than the manners
of an aristocratic class, for they are preserved by that class for some
time after it has lost its wealth and its power--nor so fleeting, for
no sooner have they disappeared than not a trace of them is to be found;
and it is scarcely possible to say what they have been as soon as they
have ceased to be. A change in the state of society works this
miracle, and a few generations suffice to consummate it. The principal
characteristics of aristocracy are handed down by history after an
aristocracy is destroyed, but the light and exquisite touches of manners
are effaced from men's memories almost immediately after its fall. Men
can no longer conceive what these manners were when they have ceased to
witness them; they are gone, and their departure was unseen, unfelt; for
in order to feel that refined enjoyment which is derived from choice and
distinguished manners, habit and education must have prepared the heart,
and the taste for them is lost almost as easily as the practice of them.
Thus not only a democratic people cannot have aristocratic manners, but
they neither comprehend nor desire them; and as they never have thought
of them, it is to their minds as if such things had never been. Too
much importance should not be attached to this loss, but it may well be

I am aware that it has not unfrequently happened that the same men have
had very high-bred manners and very low-born feelings: the interior of
courts has sufficiently shown what imposing externals may conceal the
meanest hearts. But though the manners of aristocracy did not constitute
virtue, they sometimes embellish virtue itself. It was no ordinary sight
to see a numerous and powerful class of men, whose every outward action
seemed constantly to be dictated by a natural elevation of thought
and feeling, by delicacy and regularity of taste, and by urbanity
of manners. Those manners threw a pleasing illusory charm over human
nature; and though the picture was often a false one, it could not be
viewed without a noble satisfaction.

Chapter XV: Of The Gravity Of The Americans, And Why It Does Not Prevent
Them From Often Committing Inconsiderate Actions

Men who live in democratic countries do not value the simple, turbulent,
or coarse diversions in which the people indulge in aristocratic
communities: such diversions are thought by them to be puerile or
insipid. Nor have they a greater inclination for the intellectual and
refined amusements of the aristocratic classes. They want something
productive and substantial in their pleasures; they want to mix actual
fruition with their joy. In aristocratic communities the people readily
give themselves up to bursts of tumultuous and boisterous gayety, which
shake off at once the recollection of their privations: the natives of
democracies are not fond of being thus violently broken in upon, and
they never lose sight of their own selves without regret. They prefer to
these frivolous delights those more serious and silent amusements which
are like business, and which do not drive business wholly from their
minds. An American, instead of going in a leisure hour to dance merrily
at some place of public resort, as the fellows of his calling continue
to do throughout the greater part of Europe, shuts himself up at home
to drink. He thus enjoys two pleasures; he can go on thinking of his
business, and he can get drunk decently by his own fireside.

I thought that the English constituted the most serious nation on the
face of the earth, but I have since seen the Americans and have changed
my opinion. I do not mean to say that temperament has not a great deal
to do with the character of the inhabitants of the United States, but
I think that their political institutions are a still more influential
cause. I believe the seriousness of the Americans arises partly from
their pride. In democratic countries even poor men entertain a lofty
notion of their personal importance: they look upon themselves with
complacency, and are apt to suppose that others are looking at them,
too. With this disposition they watch their language and their actions
with care, and do not lay themselves open so as to betray their
deficiencies; to preserve their dignity they think it necessary to
retain their gravity.

But I detect another more deep-seated and powerful cause which
instinctively produces amongst the Americans this astonishing gravity.
Under a despotism communities give way at times to bursts of vehement
joy; but they are generally gloomy and moody, because they are afraid.
Under absolute monarchies tempered by the customs and manners of the
country, their spirits are often cheerful and even, because as they have
some freedom and a good deal of security, they are exempted from the
most important cares of life; but all free peoples are serious, because
their minds are habitually absorbed by the contemplation of some
dangerous or difficult purpose. This is more especially the case amongst
those free nations which form democratic communities. Then there are
in all classes a very large number of men constantly occupied with the
serious affairs of the government; and those whose thoughts are not
engaged in the direction of the commonwealth are wholly engrossed by
the acquisition of a private fortune. Amongst such a people a serious
demeanor ceases to be peculiar to certain men, and becomes a habit of
the nation.

We are told of small democracies in the days of antiquity, in which the
citizens met upon the public places with garlands of roses, and spent
almost all their time in dancing and theatrical amusements. I do not
believe in such republics any more than in that of Plato; or, if the
things we read of really happened, I do not hesitate to affirm that
these supposed democracies were composed of very different elements from
ours, and that they had nothing in common with the latter except their
name. But it must not be supposed that, in the midst of all their toils,
the people who live in democracies think themselves to be pitied; the
contrary is remarked to be the case. No men are fonder of their own
condition. Life would have no relish for them if they were delivered
from the anxieties which harass them, and they show more attachment to
their cares than aristocratic nations to their pleasures.

I am next led to inquire how it is that these same democratic nations,
which are so serious, sometimes act in so inconsiderate a manner. The
Americans, who almost always preserve a staid demeanor and a frigid air,
nevertheless frequently allow themselves to be borne away, far beyond
the bound of reason, by a sudden passion or a hasty opinion, and they
sometimes gravely commit strange absurdities. This contrast ought not to
surprise us. There is one sort of ignorance which originates in extreme
publicity. In despotic States men know not how to act, because they are
told nothing; in democratic nations they often act at random, because
nothing is to be left untold. The former do not know--the latter
forget; and the chief features of each picture are lost to them in a
bewilderment of details.

It is astonishing what imprudent language a public man may sometimes use
in free countries, and especially in democratic States, without being
compromised; whereas in absolute monarchies a few words dropped by
accident are enough to unmask him forever, and ruin him without hope of
redemption. This is explained by what goes before. When a man speaks
in the midst of a great crowd, many of his words are not heard, or are
forthwith obliterated from the memories of those who hear them; but
amidst the silence of a mute and motionless throng the slightest whisper
strikes the ear.

In democracies men are never stationary; a thousand chances waft them
to and fro, and their life is always the sport of unforeseen or (so to
speak) extemporaneous circumstances. Thus they are often obliged to
do things which they have imperfectly learned, to say things they
imperfectly understand, and to devote themselves to work for which they
are unprepared by long apprenticeship. In aristocracies every man has
one sole object which he unceasingly pursues, but amongst democratic
nations the existence of man is more complex; the same mind will almost
always embrace several objects at the same time, and these objects are
frequently wholly foreign to each other: as it cannot know them all
well, the mind is readily satisfied with imperfect notions of each.

When the inhabitant of democracies is not urged by his wants, he is so
at least by his desires; for of all the possessions which he sees around
him, none are wholly beyond his reach. He therefore does everything in a
hurry, he is always satisfied with "pretty well," and never pauses more
than an instant to consider what he has been doing. His curiosity is at
once insatiable and cheaply satisfied; for he cares more to know a great
deal quickly than to know anything well: he has no time and but little
taste to search things to the bottom. Thus then democratic peoples are
grave, because their social and political condition constantly leads
them to engage in serious occupations; and they act inconsiderately,
because they give but little time and attention to each of these
occupations. The habit of inattention must be considered as the greatest
bane of the democratic character.

Chapter XVI: Why The National Vanity Of The Americans Is More Restless
And Captious Than That Of The English

All free nations are vainglorious, but national pride is not displayed
by all in the same manner. The Americans in their intercourse with
strangers appear impatient of the smallest censure and insatiable
of praise. The most slender eulogium is acceptable to them; the most
exalted seldom contents them; they unceasingly harass you to extort
praise, and if you resist their entreaties they fall to praising
themselves. It would seem as if, doubting their own merit, they wished
to have it constantly exhibited before their eyes. Their vanity is not
only greedy, but restless and jealous; it will grant nothing, whilst it
demands everything, but is ready to beg and to quarrel at the same time.
If I say to an American that the country he lives in is a fine one,
"Ay," he replies, "there is not its fellow in the world." If I applaud
the freedom which its inhabitants enjoy, he answers, "Freedom is a fine
thing, but few nations are worthy to enjoy it." If I remark the purity
of morals which distinguishes the United States, "I can imagine," says
he, "that a stranger, who has been struck by the corruption of all other
nations, is astonished at the difference." At length I leave him to the
contemplation of himself; but he returns to the charge, and does not
desist till he has got me to repeat all I had just been saying. It is
impossible to conceive a more troublesome or more garrulous patriotism;
it wearies even those who are disposed to respect it. *a

[Footnote a: See Appendix U.]

Such is not the case with the English. An Englishman calmly enjoys the
real or imaginary advantages which in his opinion his country possesses.
If he grants nothing to other nations, neither does he solicit anything
for his own. The censure of foreigners does not affect him, and their
praise hardly flatters him; his position with regard to the rest of the
world is one of disdainful and ignorant reserve: his pride requires no
sustenance, it nourishes itself. It is remarkable that two nations,
so recently sprung from the same stock, should be so opposite to one
another in their manner of feeling and conversing.

In aristocratic countries the great possess immense privileges, upon
which their pride rests, without seeking to rely upon the lesser
advantages which accrue to them. As these privileges came to them by
inheritance, they regard them in some sort as a portion of themselves,
or at least as a natural right inherent in their own persons. They
therefore entertain a calm sense of their superiority; they do not dream
of vaunting privileges which everyone perceives and no one contests,
and these things are not sufficiently new to them to be made topics
of conversation. They stand unmoved in their solitary greatness, well
assured that they are seen of all the world without any effort to show
themselves off, and that no one will attempt to drive them from that
position. When an aristocracy carries on the public affairs, its
national pride naturally assumes this reserved, indifferent, and haughty
form, which is imitated by all the other classes of the nation.

When, on the contrary, social conditions differ but little, the
slightest privileges are of some importance; as every man sees around
himself a million of people enjoying precisely similar or analogous
advantages, his pride becomes craving and jealous, he clings to mere
trifles, and doggedly defends them. In democracies, as the conditions of
life are very fluctuating, men have almost always recently acquired the
advantages which they possess; the consequence is that they feel extreme
pleasure in exhibiting them, to show others and convince themselves that
they really enjoy them. As at any instant these same advantages may be
lost, their possessors are constantly on the alert, and make a point
of showing that they still retain them. Men living in democracies love
their country just as they love themselves, and they transfer the habits
of their private vanity to their vanity as a nation. The restless and
insatiable vanity of a democratic people originates so entirely in the
equality and precariousness of social conditions, that the members of
the haughtiest nobility display the very same passion in those lesser
portions of their existence in which there is anything fluctuating or
contested. An aristocratic class always differs greatly from the other
classes of the nation, by the extent and perpetuity of its privileges;
but it often happens that the only differences between the members who
belong to it consist in small transient advantages, which may any day be
lost or acquired. The members of a powerful aristocracy, collected in
a capital or a court, have been known to contest with virulence those
frivolous privileges which depend on the caprice of fashion or the
will of their master. These persons then displayed towards each
other precisely the same puerile jealousies which animate the men of
democracies, the same eagerness to snatch the smallest advantages which
their equals contested, and the same desire to parade ostentatiously
those of which they were in possession. If national pride ever entered
into the minds of courtiers, I do not question that they would display
it in the same manner as the members of a democratic community.

Chapter XVII: That The Aspect Of Society In The United States Is At Once
Excited And Monotonous

It would seem that nothing can be more adapted to stimulate and to feed
curiosity than the aspect of the United States. Fortunes, opinions,
and laws are there in ceaseless variation: it is as if immutable nature
herself were mutable, such are the changes worked upon her by the hand
of man. Yet in the end the sight of this excited community becomes
monotonous, and after having watched the moving pageant for a time the
spectator is tired of it. Amongst aristocratic nations every man is
pretty nearly stationary in his own sphere; but men are astonishingly
unlike each other--their passions, their notions, their habits, and
their tastes are essentially different: nothing changey, but everything
differs. In democracies, on the contrary, all men are alike and do
things pretty nearly alike. It is true that they are subject to great
and frequent vicissitudes; but as the same events of good or adverse
fortune are continually recurring, the name of the actors only is
changed, the piece is always the same. The aspect of American society
is animated, because men and things are always changing; but it is
monotonous, because all these changes are alike.

Men living in democratic ages have many passions, but most of their
passions either end in the love of riches or proceed from it. The cause
of this is, not that their souls are narrower, but that the importance
of money is really greater at such times. When all the members of
a community are independent of or indifferent to each other, the
co-operation of each of them can only be obtained by paying for it: this
infinitely multiplies the purposes to which wealth may be applied, and
increases its value. When the reverence which belonged to what is old
has vanished, birth, condition, and profession no longer distinguish
men, or scarcely distinguish them at all: hardly anything but money
remains to create strongly marked differences between them, and to raise
some of them above the common level. The distinction originating in
wealth is increased by the disappearance and diminution of all other
distinctions. Amongst aristocratic nations money only reaches to a few
points on the vast circle of man's desires--in democracies it seems to
lead to all. The love of wealth is therefore to be traced, either as
a principal or an accessory motive, at the bottom of all that the
Americans do: this gives to all their passions a sort of family
likeness, and soon renders the survey of them exceedingly wearisome.
This perpetual recurrence of the same passion is monotonous; the
peculiar methods by which this passion seeks its own gratification are
no less so.

In an orderly and constituted democracy like the United States, where
men cannot enrich themselves by war, by public office, or by political
confiscation, the love of wealth mainly drives them into business and
manufactures. Although these pursuits often bring about great commotions
and disasters, they cannot prosper without strictly regular habits and
a long routine of petty uniform acts. The stronger the passion is, the
more regular are these habits, and the more uniform are these acts. It
may be said that it is the vehemence of their desires which makes the
Americans so methodical; it perturbs their minds, but it disciplines
their lives.

The remark I here apply to America may indeed be addressed to almost
all our contemporaries. Variety is disappearing from the human race; the
same ways of acting, thinking, and feeling are to be met with all over
the world. This is not only because nations work more upon each other,
and are more faithful in their mutual imitation; but as the men of each
country relinquish more and more the peculiar opinions and feelings of
a caste, a profession, or a family, they simultaneously arrive at
something nearer to the constitution of man, which is everywhere the
same. Thus they become more alike, even without having imitated each
other. Like travellers scattered about some large wood, which is
intersected by paths converging to one point, if all of them keep, their
eyes fixed upon that point and advance towards it, they insensibly draw
nearer together--though they seek not, though they see not, though
they know not each other; and they will be surprised at length to find
themselves all collected on the same spot. All the nations which
take, not any particular man, but man himself, as the object of their
researches and their imitations, are tending in the end to a similar
state of society, like these travellers converging to the central plot
of the forest.

Chapter XVIII: Of Honor In The United States And In Democratic

It would seem that men employ two very distinct methods in the public
estimation *a of the actions of their fellowmen; at one time they judge
them by those simple notions of right and wrong which are diffused
all over the world; at another they refer their decision to a few very
special notions which belong exclusively to some particular age and
country. It often happens that these two rules differ; they sometimes
conflict: but they are never either entirely identified or entirely
annulled by one another. Honor, at the periods of its greatest power,
sways the will more than the belief of men; and even whilst they yield
without hesitation and without a murmur to its dictates, they feel
notwithstanding, by a dim but mighty instinct, the existence of a more
general, more ancient, and more holy law, which they sometimes disobey
although they cease not to acknowledge it. Some actions have been held
to be at the same time virtuous and dishonorable--a refusal to fight a
duel is a case in point.

[Footnote a: The word "honor" is not always used in the same sense
either in French or English. I. It first signifies the dignity, glory,
or reverence which a man receives from his kind; and in this sense a
man is said to acquire honor. 2. Honor signifies the aggregate of those
rules by the assistance of which this dignity, glory, or reverence is
obtained. Thus we say that a man has always strictly obeyed the laws
of honor; or a man has violated his honor. In this chapter the word is
always used in the latter sense.]

I think these peculiarities may be otherwise explained than by the mere
caprices of certain individuals and nations, as has hitherto been
the customary mode of reasoning on the subject. Mankind is subject
to general and lasting wants that have engendered moral laws, to the
neglect of which men have ever and in all places attached the notion of
censure and shame: to infringe them was "to do ill"--"to do well" was to
conform to them. Within the bosom of this vast association of the human
race, lesser associations have been formed which are called nations;
and amidst these nations further subdivisions have assumed the names
of classes or castes. Each of these associations forms, as it were,
a separate species of the human race; and though it has no essential
difference from the mass of mankind, to a certain extent it stands apart
and has certain wants peculiar to itself. To these special wants must
be attributed the modifications which affect in various degrees and
in different countries the mode of considering human actions, and
the estimate which ought to be formed of them. It is the general and
permanent interest of mankind that men should not kill each other: but
it may happen to be the peculiar and temporary interest of a people or a
class to justify, or even to honor, homicide.

Honor is simply that peculiar rule, founded upon a peculiar state of
society, by the application of which a people or a class allot praise or
blame. Nothing is more unproductive to the mind than an abstract idea; I
therefore hasten to call in the aid of facts and examples to illustrate
my meaning.

I select the most extraordinary kind of honor which was ever known
in the world, and that which we are best acquainted with, viz.,
aristocratic honor springing out of feudal society. I shall explain it
by means of the principle already laid down, and I shall explain the
principle by means of the illustration. I am not here led to inquire
when and how the aristocracy of the Middle Ages came into existence,
why it was so deeply severed from the remainder of the nation, or
what founded and consolidated its power. I take its existence as an
established fact, and I am endeavoring to account for the peculiar view
which it took of the greater part of human actions. The first thing that
strikes me is, that in the feudal world actions were not always praised
or blamed with reference to their intrinsic worth, but that they were
sometimes appreciated exclusively with reference to the person who
was the actor or the object of them, which is repugnant to the general
conscience of mankind. Thus some of the actions which were indifferent
on the part of a man in humble life, dishonored a noble; others changed
their whole character according as the person aggrieved by them belonged
or did not belong to the aristocracy. When these different notions first
arose, the nobility formed a distinct body amidst the people, which
it commanded from the inaccessible heights where it was ensconced. To
maintain this peculiar position, which constituted its strength, it not
only required political privileges, but it required a standard of right
and wrong for its own especial use. That some particular virtue or vice
belonged to the nobility rather than to the humble classes--that certain
actions were guiltless when they affected the villain, which were
criminal when they touched the noble--these were often arbitrary
matters; but that honor or shame should be attached to a man's actions
according to his condition, was a result of the internal constitution
of an aristocratic community. This has been actually the case in all
the countries which have had an aristocracy; as long as a trace of the
principle remains, these peculiarities will still exist; to debauch a
woman of color scarcely injures the reputation of an American--to marry
her dishonors him.

In some cases feudal honor enjoined revenge, and stigmatized the
forgiveness of insults; in others it imperiously commanded men to
conquer their own passions, and imposed forgetfulness of self. It did
not make humanity or kindness its law, but it extolled generosity; it
set more store on liberality than on benevolence; it allowed men to
enrich themselves by gambling or by war, but not by labor; it preferred
great crimes to small earnings; cupidity was less distasteful to it
than avarice; violence it often sanctioned, but cunning and treachery it
invariably reprobated as contemptible. These fantastical notions did not
proceed exclusively from the caprices of those who entertained them. A
class which has succeeded in placing itself at the head of and above
all others, and which makes perpetual exertions to maintain this lofty
position, must especially honor those virtues which are conspicuous for
their dignity and splendor, and which may be easily combined with pride
and the love of power. Such men would not hesitate to invert the natural
order of the conscience in order to give those virtues precedence before
all others. It may even be conceived that some of the more bold and
brilliant vices would readily be set above the quiet, unpretending
virtues. The very existence of such a class in society renders these
things unavoidable.

The nobles of the Middle Ages placed military courage foremost amongst
virtues, and in lieu of many of them. This was again a peculiar opinion
which arose necessarily from the peculiarity of the state of society.
Feudal aristocracy existed by war and for war; its power had been
founded by arms, and by arms that power was maintained; it therefore
required nothing more than military courage, and that quality was
naturally exalted above all others; whatever denoted it, even at the
expense of reason and humanity, was therefore approved and frequently
enjoined by the manners of the time. Such was the main principle; the
caprice of man was only to be traced in minuter details. That a man
should regard a tap on the cheek as an unbearable insult, and should be
obliged to kill in single combat the person who struck him thus lightly,
is an arbitrary rule; but that a noble could not tranquilly receive an
insult, and was dishonored if he allowed himself to take a blow without
fighting, were direct consequences of the fundamental principles and the
wants of military aristocracy.

Thus it was true to a certain extent to assert that the laws of honor
were capricious; but these caprices of honor were always confined within
certain necessary limits. The peculiar rule, which was called honor by
our forefathers, is so far from being an arbitrary law in my eyes, that
I would readily engage to ascribe its most incoherent and fantastical
injunctions to a small number of fixed and invariable wants inherent in
feudal society.

If I were to trace the notion of feudal honor into the domain of
politics, I should not find it more difficult to explain its dictates.
The state of society and the political institutions of the Middle Ages
were such, that the supreme power of the nation never governed the
community directly. That power did not exist in the eyes of the people:
every man looked up to a certain individual whom he was bound to obey;
by that intermediate personage he was connected with all the others.
Thus in feudal society the whole system of the commonwealth rested upon
the sentiment of fidelity to the person of the lord: to destroy that
sentiment was to open the sluices of anarchy. Fidelity to a political
superior was, moreover, a sentiment of which all the members of the
aristocracy had constant opportunities of estimating the importance; for
every one of them was a vassal as well as a lord, and had to command as
well as to obey. To remain faithful to the lord, to sacrifice one's self
for him if called upon, to share his good or evil fortunes, to stand
by him in his undertakings whatever they might be--such were the first
injunctions of feudal honor in relation to the political institutions
of those times. The treachery of a vassal was branded with extraordinary
severity by public opinion, and a name of peculiar infamy was invented
for the offence which was called "felony."

On the contrary, few traces are to be found in the Middle Ages of the
passion which constituted the life of the nations of antiquity--I mean
patriotism; the word itself is not of very ancient date in the language.
*b Feudal institutions concealed the country at large from men's sight,
and rendered the love of it less necessary. The nation was forgotten in
the passions which attached men to persons. Hence it was no part of
the strict law of feudal honor to remain faithful to one's country. Not
indeed that the love of their country did not exist in the hearts of
our forefathers; but it constituted a dim and feeble instinct, which has
grown more clear and strong in proportion as aristocratic classes have
been abolished, and the supreme power of the nation centralized. This
may be clearly seen from the contrary judgments which European nations
have passed upon the various events of their histories, according to the
generations by which such judgments have been formed. The circumstance
which most dishonored the Constable de Bourbon in the eyes of his
contemporaries was that he bore arms against his king: that which most
dishonors him in our eyes, is that he made war against his country; we
brand him as deeply as our forefathers did, but for different reasons.

[Footnote b: Even the word "patrie" was not used by the French writers
until the sixteenth century.]

I have chosen the honor of feudal times by way of illustration of my
meaning, because its characteristics are more distinctly marked and more
familiar to us than those of any other period; but I might have taken
an example elsewhere, and I should have reached the same conclusion by
a different road. Although we are less perfectly acquainted with the
Romans than with our own ancestors, yet we know that certain peculiar
notions of glory and disgrace obtained amongst them, which were not
solely derived from the general principles of right and wrong. Many
human actions were judged differently, according as they affected a
Roman citizen or a stranger, a freeman or a slave; certain vices were
blazoned abroad, certain virtues were extolled above all others. "In
that age," says Plutarch in the life of Coriolanus, "martial prowess
was more honored and prized in Rome than all the other virtues, insomuch
that it was called virtus, the name of virtue itself, by applying the
name of the kind to this particular species; so that virtue in Latin was
as much as to say valor." Can anyone fail to recognize the peculiar
want of that singular community which was formed for the conquest of the

Any nation would furnish us with similar grounds of observation; for,
as I have already remarked, whenever men collect together as a distinct
community, the notion of honor instantly grows up amongst them; that
is to say, a system of opinions peculiar to themselves as to what is
blamable or commendable; and these peculiar rules always originate
in the special habits and special interests of the community. This is
applicable to a certain extent to democratic communities as well as
to others, as we shall now proceed to prove by the example of the
Americans. *c Some loose notions of the old aristocratic honor of Europe
are still to be found scattered amongst the opinions of the Americans;
but these traditional opinions are few in number, they have but little
root in the country, and but little power. They are like a religion
which has still some temples left standing, though men have ceased
to believe in it. But amidst these half-obliterated notions of exotic
honor, some new opinions have sprung up, which constitute what may be
termed in our days American honor. I have shown how the Americans are
constantly driven to engage in commerce and industry. Their origin,
their social condition, their political institutions, and even the spot
they inhabit, urge them irresistibly in this direction. Their present
condition is then that of an almost exclusively manufacturing and
commercial association, placed in the midst of a new and boundless
country, which their principal object is to explore for purposes of
profit. This is the characteristic which most peculiarly distinguishes
the American people from all others at the present time. All those quiet
virtues which tend to give a regular movement to the community, and to
encourage business, will therefore be held in peculiar honor by that
people, and to neglect those virtues will be to incur public contempt.
All the more turbulent virtues, which often dazzle, but more frequently
disturb society, will on the contrary occupy a subordinate rank in the
estimation of this same people: they may be neglected without forfeiting
the esteem of the community--to acquire them would perhaps be to run a
risk of losing it.

[Footnote c: I speak here of the Americans inhabiting those States where
slavery does not exist; they alone can be said to present a complete
picture of democratic society.]

The Americans make a no less arbitrary classification of men's vices.
There are certain propensities which appear censurable to the general
reason and the universal conscience of mankind, but which happen to
agree with the peculiar and temporary wants of the American community:
these propensities are lightly reproved, sometimes even encouraged; for
instance, the love of wealth and the secondary propensities connected
with it may be more particularly cited. To clear, to till, and to
transform the vast uninhabited continent which is his domain, the
American requires the daily support of an energetic passion; that
passion can only be the love of wealth; the passion for wealth is
therefore not reprobated in America, and provided it does not go beyond
the bounds assigned to it for public security, it is held in honor.
The American lauds as a noble and praiseworthy ambition what our own
forefathers in the Middle Ages stigmatized as servile cupidity, just
as he treats as a blind and barbarous frenzy that ardor of conquest and
martial temper which bore them to battle. In the United States fortunes
are lost and regained without difficulty; the country is boundless, and
its resources inexhaustible. The people have all the wants and cravings
of a growing creature; and whatever be their efforts, they are always
surrounded by more than they can appropriate. It is not the ruin of a
few individuals which may be soon repaired, but the inactivity and
sloth of the community at large which would be fatal to such a people.
Boldness of enterprise is the foremost cause of its rapid progress, its
strength, and its greatness. Commercial business is there like a vast
lottery, by which a small number of men continually lose, but the State
is always a gainer; such a people ought therefore to encourage and do
honor to boldness in commercial speculations. But any bold speculation
risks the fortune of the speculator and of all those who put their trust
in him. The Americans, who make a virtue of commercial temerity, have
no right in any case to brand with disgrace those who practise it. Hence
arises the strange indulgence which is shown to bankrupts in the United
States; their honor does not suffer by such an accident. In this respect
the Americans differ, not only from the nations of Europe, but from all
the commercial nations of our time, and accordingly they resemble none
of them in their position or their wants.

In America all those vices which tend to impair the purity of morals,
and to destroy the conjugal tie, are treated with a degree of severity
which is unknown in the rest of the world. At first sight this seems
strangely at variance with the tolerance shown there on other subjects,
and one is surprised to meet with a morality so relaxed and so austere
amongst the selfsame people. But these things are less incoherent
than they seem to be. Public opinion in the United States very gently
represses that love of wealth which promotes the commercial greatness
and the prosperity of the nation, and it especially condemns that laxity
of morals which diverts the human mind from the pursuit of well-being,
and disturbs the internal order of domestic life which is so necessary
to success in business. To earn the esteem of their countrymen, the
Americans are therefore constrained to adapt themselves to orderly
habits--and it may be said in this sense that they make it a matter of
honor to live chastely.

On one point American honor accords with the notions of honor
acknowledged in Europe; it places courage as the highest virtue, and
treats it as the greatest of the moral necessities of man; but the
notion of courage itself assumes a different aspect. In the United
States martial valor is but little prized; the courage which is best
known and most esteemed is that which emboldens men to brave the
dangers of the ocean, in order to arrive earlier in port--to support the
privations of the wilderness without complaint, and solitude more cruel
than privations--the courage which renders them almost insensible to the
loss of a fortune laboriously acquired, and instantly prompts to fresh
exertions to make another. Courage of this kind is peculiarly necessary
to the maintenance and prosperity of the American communities, and it is
held by them in peculiar honor and estimation; to betray a want of it is
to incur certain disgrace.

I have yet another characteristic point which may serve to place the
idea of this chapter in stronger relief. In a democratic society like
that of the United States, where fortunes are scanty and insecure,
everybody works, and work opens a way to everything: this has changed
the point of honor quite round, and has turned it against idleness.
I have sometimes met in America with young men of wealth, personally
disinclined to all laborious exertion, but who had been compelled to
embrace a profession. Their disposition and their fortune allowed them
to remain without employment; public opinion forbade it, too imperiously
to be disobeyed. In the European countries, on the contrary, where
aristocracy is still struggling with the flood which overwhelms it, I
have often seen men, constantly spurred on by their wants and desires,
remain in idleness, in order not to lose the esteem of their equals; and
I have known them submit to ennui and privations rather than to work.
No one can fail to perceive that these opposite obligations are two
different rules of conduct, both nevertheless originating in the notion
of honor.

What our forefathers designated as honor absolutely was in reality only
one of its forms; they gave a generic name to what was only a species.
Honor therefore is to be found in democratic as well as in aristocratic
ages, but it will not be difficult to show that it assumes a different
aspect in the former. Not only are its injunctions different, but we
shall shortly see that they are less numerous, less precise, and that
its dictates are less rigorously obeyed. The position of a caste is
always much more peculiar than that of a people. Nothing is so much out
of the way of the world as a small community invariably composed of the
same families (as was for instance the aristocracy of the Middle
Ages), whose object is to concentrate and to retain, exclusively and
hereditarily, education, wealth, and power amongst its own members. But
the more out of the way the position of a community happens to be, the
more numerous are its special wants, and the more extensive are its
notions of honor corresponding to those wants. The rules of honor will
therefore always be less numerous amongst a people not divided into
castes than amongst any other. If ever any nations are constituted in
which it may even be difficult to find any peculiar classes of society,
the notion of honor will be confined to a small number of precepts,
which will be more and more in accordance with the moral laws adopted
by the mass of mankind. Thus the laws of honor will be less peculiar and
less multifarious amongst a democratic people than in an aristocracy.
They will also be more obscure; and this is a necessary consequence
of what goes before; for as the distinguishing marks of honor are less
numerous and less peculiar, it must often be difficult to distinguish
them. To this, other reasons may be added. Amongst the aristocratic
nations of the Middle Ages, generation succeeded generation in vain;
each family was like a never-dying, ever-stationary man, and the state
of opinions was hardly more changeable than that of conditions. Everyone
then had always the same objects before his eyes, which he contemplated
from the same point; his eyes gradually detected the smallest details,
and his discernment could not fail to become in the end clear and
accurate. Thus not only had the men of feudal times very extraordinary
opinions in matters of honor, but each of those opinions was present to
their minds under a clear and precise form.

This can never be the case in America, where all men are in constant
motion; and where society, transformed daily by its own operations,
changes its opinions together with its wants. In such a country men
have glimpses of the rules of honor, but they have seldom time to fix
attention upon them.

But even if society were motionless, it would still be difficult to
determine the meaning which ought to be attached to the word "honor." In
the Middle Ages, as each class had its own honor, the same opinion
was never received at the same time by a large number of men; and this
rendered it possible to give it a determined and accurate form, which
was the more easy, as all those by whom it was received, having a
perfectly identical and most peculiar position, were naturally disposed
to agree upon the points of a law which was made for themselves alone.
Thus the code of honor became a complete and detailed system, in which
everything was anticipated and provided for beforehand, and a fixed
and always palpable standard was applied to human actions. Amongst a
democratic nation, like the Americans, in which ranks are identified,
and the whole of society forms one single mass, composed of elements
which are all analogous though not entirely similar, it is impossible
ever to agree beforehand on what shall or shall not be allowed by the
laws of honor. Amongst that people, indeed, some national wants do exist
which give rise to opinions common to the whole nation on points of
honor; but these opinions never occur at the same time, in the same
manner, or with the same intensity to the minds of the whole community;
the law of honor exists, but it has no organs to promulgate it.

The confusion is far greater still in a democratic country like France,
where the different classes of which the former fabric of society was
composed, being brought together but not yet mingled, import day by day
into each other's circles various and sometimes conflicting notions
of honor--where every man, at his own will and pleasure, forsakes one
portion of his forefathers' creed, and retains another; so that, amidst
so many arbitrary measures, no common rule can ever be established, and
it is almost impossible to predict which actions will be held in honor
and which will be thought disgraceful. Such times are wretched, but they
are of short duration.

As honor, amongst democratic nations, is imperfectly defined, its
influence is of course less powerful; for it is difficult to apply
with certainty and firmness a law which is not distinctly known. Public
opinion, the natural and supreme interpreter of the laws of honor, not
clearly discerning to which side censure or approval ought to lean,
can only pronounce a hesitating judgment. Sometimes the opinion of the
public may contradict itself; more frequently it does not act, and lets
things pass.

The weakness of the sense of honor in democracies also arises from
several other causes. In aristocratic countries, the same notions of
honor are always entertained by only a few persons, always limited in
number, often separated from the rest of their fellow-citizens. Honor is
easily mingled and identified in their minds with the idea of all
that distinguishes their own position; it appears to them as the chief
characteristic of their own rank; they apply its different rules with
all the warmth of personal interest, and they feel (if I may use the
expression) a passion for complying with its dictates. This truth is
extremely obvious in the old black-letter lawbooks on the subject of
"trial by battel." The nobles, in their disputes, were bound to use
the lance and sword; whereas the villains used only sticks amongst
themselves, "inasmuch as," to use the words of the old books, "villains
have no honor." This did not mean, as it may be imagined at the present
day, that these people were contemptible; but simply that their actions
were not to be judged by the same rules which were applied to the
actions of the aristocracy.

It is surprising, at first sight, that when the sense of honor is most
predominant, its injunctions are usually most strange; so that the
further it is removed from common reason the better it is obeyed; whence
it has sometimes been inferred that the laws of honor were strengthened
by their own extravagance. The two things indeed originate from the
same source, but the one is not derived from the other. Honor becomes
fantastical in proportion to the peculiarity of the wants which it
denotes, and the paucity of the men by whom those wants are felt; and
it is because it denotes wants of this kind that its influence is great.
Thus the notion of honor is not the stronger for being fantastical, but
it is fantastical and strong from the selfsame cause.

Further, amongst aristocratic nations each rank is different, but all
ranks are fixed; every man occupies a place in his own sphere which he
cannot relinquish, and he lives there amidst other men who are bound by
the same ties. Amongst these nations no man can either hope or fear to
escape being seen; no man is placed so low but that he has a stage of
his own, and none can avoid censure or applause by his obscurity.
In democratic States on the contrary, where all the members of the
community are mingled in the same crowd and in constant agitation,
public opinion has no hold on men; they disappear at every instant, and
elude its power. Consequently the dictates of honor will be there less
imperious and less stringent; for honor acts solely for the public
eye--differing in this respect from mere virtue, which lives upon itself
contented with its own approval.

If the reader has distinctly apprehended all that goes before, he will
understand that there is a close and necessary relation between the
inequality of social conditions and what has here been styled honor--a
relation which, if I am not mistaken, had not before been clearly
pointed out. I shall therefore make one more attempt to illustrate it
satisfactorily. Suppose a nation stands apart from the rest of mankind:
independently of certain general wants inherent in the human race, it
will also have wants and interests peculiar to itself: certain opinions
of censure or approbation forthwith arise in the community, which are
peculiar to itself, and which are styled honor by the members of that
community. Now suppose that in this same nation a caste arises, which,
in its turn, stands apart from all the other classes, and contracts
certain peculiar wants, which give rise in their turn to special
opinions. The honor of this caste, composed of a medley of the peculiar
notions of the nation, and the still more peculiar notions of the caste,
will be as remote as it is possible to conceive from the simple and
general opinions of men.

Having reached this extreme point of the argument, I now return. When
ranks are commingled and privileges abolished, the men of whom a nation
is composed being once more equal and alike, their interests and wants
become identical, and all the peculiar notions which each caste styled
honor successively disappear: the notion of honor no longer proceeds
from any other source than the wants peculiar to the nation at large,
and it denotes the individual character of that nation to the world.
Lastly, if it be allowable to suppose that all the races of mankind
should be commingled, and that all the peoples of earth should
ultimately come to have the same interests, the same wants,
undistinguished from each other by any characteristic peculiarities,
no conventional value whatever would then be attached to men's actions;
they would all be regarded by all in the same light; the general
necessities of mankind, revealed by conscience to every man, would
become the common standard. The simple and general notions of right and
wrong only would then be recognized in the world, to which, by a natural
and necessary tie, the idea of censure or approbation would be
attached. Thus, to comprise all my meaning in a single proposition,
the dissimilarities and inequalities of men gave rise to the notion of
honor; that notion is weakened in proportion as these differences are
obliterated, and with them it would disappear.

Chapter XIX: Why So Many Ambitious Men And So Little Lofty Ambition Are
To Be Found In The United States

The first thing which strikes a traveller in the United States is the
innumerable multitude of those who seek to throw off their original
condition; and the second is the rarity of lofty ambition to be observed
in the midst of the universally ambitious stir of society. No Americans
are devoid of a yearning desire to rise; but hardly any appear to
entertain hopes of great magnitude, or to drive at very lofty aims. All
are constantly seeking to acquire property, power, and reputation--few
contemplate these things upon a great scale; and this is the more
surprising, as nothing is to be discerned in the manners or laws of
America to limit desire, or to prevent it from spreading its impulses in
every direction. It seems difficult to attribute this singular state
of things to the equality of social conditions; for at the instant when
that same equality was established in France, the flight of ambition
became unbounded. Nevertheless, I think that the principal cause which
may be assigned to this fact is to be found in the social condition and
democratic manners of the Americans.

All revolutions enlarge the ambition of men: this proposition is more
peculiarly true of those revolutions which overthrow an aristocracy.
When the former barriers which kept back the multitude from fame and
power are suddenly thrown down, a violent and universal rise takes place
towards that eminence so long coveted and at length to be enjoyed. In
this first burst of triumph nothing seems impossible to anyone: not only
are desires boundless, but the power of satisfying them seems almost
boundless, too. Amidst the general and sudden renewal of laws and
customs, in this vast confusion of all men and all ordinances, the
various members of the community rise and sink again with excessive
rapidity; and power passes so quickly from hand to hand that none need
despair of catching it in turn. It must be recollected, moreover, that
the people who destroy an aristocracy have lived under its laws; they
have witnessed its splendor, and they have unconsciously imbibed the
feelings and notions which it entertained. Thus at the moment when an
aristocracy is dissolved, its spirit still pervades the mass of the
community, and its tendencies are retained long after it has been
defeated. Ambition is therefore always extremely great as long as a
democratic revolution lasts, and it will remain so for some time after
the revolution is consummated. The reminiscence of the extraordinary
events which men have witnessed is not obliterated from their memory in
a day. The passions which a revolution has roused do not disappear at
its close. A sense of instability remains in the midst of re-established
order: a notion of easy success survives the strange vicissitudes which
gave it birth; desires still remain extremely enlarged, when the means
of satisfying them are diminished day by day. The taste for large
fortunes subsists, though large fortunes are rare: and on every side we
trace the ravages of inordinate and hapless ambition kindled in hearts
which they consume in secret and in vain.

At length, however, the last vestiges of the struggle are effaced; the
remains of aristocracy completely disappear; the great events by which
its fall was attended are forgotten; peace succeeds to war, and the sway
of order is restored in the new realm; desires are again adapted to the
means by which they may be fulfilled; the wants, the opinions, and
the feelings of men cohere once more; the level of the community is
permanently determined, and democratic society established. A democratic
nation, arrived at this permanent and regular state of things, will
present a very different spectacle from that which we have just
described; and we may readily conclude that, if ambition becomes great
whilst the conditions of society are growing equal, it loses that
quality when they have grown so. As wealth is subdivided and knowledge
diffused, no one is entirely destitute of education or of property;
the privileges and disqualifications of caste being abolished, and
men having shattered the bonds which held them fixed, the notion of
advancement suggests itself to every mind, the desire to rise swells in
every heart, and all men want to mount above their station: ambition is
the universal feeling.

But if the equality of conditions gives some resources to all the
members of the community, it also prevents any of them from having
resources of great extent, which necessarily circumscribes their desires
within somewhat narrow limits. Thus amongst democratic nations ambition
is ardent and continual, but its aim is not habitually lofty; and life
is generally spent in eagerly coveting small objects which are within
reach. What chiefly diverts the men of democracies from lofty ambition
is not the scantiness of their fortunes, but the vehemence of the
exertions they daily make to improve them. They strain their faculties
to the utmost to achieve paltry results, and this cannot fail speedily
to limit their discernment and to circumscribe their powers. They
might be much poorer and still be greater. The small number of opulent
citizens who are to be found amidst a democracy do not constitute an
exception to this rule. A man who raises himself by degrees to wealth
and power, contracts, in the course of this protracted labor, habits
of prudence and restraint which he cannot afterwards shake off. A man
cannot enlarge his mind as he would his house. The same observation is
applicable to the sons of such a man; they are born, it is true, in a
lofty position, but their parents were humble; they have grown up amidst
feelings and notions which they cannot afterwards easily get rid of;
and it may be presumed that they will inherit the propensities of their
father as well as his wealth. It may happen, on the contrary, that
the poorest scion of a powerful aristocracy may display vast ambition,
because the traditional opinions of his race and the general spirit of
his order still buoy him up for some time above his fortune. Another
thing which prevents the men of democratic periods from easily indulging
in the pursuit of lofty objects, is the lapse of time which they foresee
must take place before they can be ready to approach them. "It is a
great advantage," says Pascal, "to be a man of quality, since it brings
one man as forward at eighteen or twenty as another man would be at
fifty, which is a clear gain of thirty years." Those thirty years
are commonly wanting to the ambitious characters of democracies. The
principle of equality, which allows every man to arrive at everything,
prevents all men from rapid advancement.

In a democratic society, as well as elsewhere, there are only a certain
number of great fortunes to be made; and as the paths which lead to them
are indiscriminately open to all, the progress of all must necessarily
be slackened. As the candidates appear to be nearly alike, and as it
is difficult to make a selection without infringing the principle of
equality, which is the supreme law of democratic societies, the first
idea which suggests itself is to make them all advance at the same rate
and submit to the same probation. Thus in proportion as men become
more alike, and the principle of equality is more peaceably and deeply
infused into the institutions and manners of the country, the rules
of advancement become more inflexible, advancement itself slower, the
difficulty of arriving quickly at a certain height far greater. From
hatred of privilege and from the embarrassment of choosing, all men are
at last constrained, whatever may be their standard, to pass the same
ordeal; all are indiscriminately subjected to a multitude of petty
preliminary exercises, in which their youth is wasted and their
imagination quenched, so that they despair of ever fully attaining
what is held out to them; and when at length they are in a condition to
perform any extraordinary acts, the taste for such things has forsaken

In China, where the equality of conditions is exceedingly great and
very ancient, no man passes from one public office to another without
undergoing a probationary trial. This probation occurs afresh at every
stage of his career; and the notion is now so rooted in the manners of
the people that I remember to have read a Chinese novel, in which the
hero, after numberless crosses, succeeds at length in touching the
heart of his mistress by taking honors. A lofty ambition breathes with
difficulty in such an atmosphere.

The remark I apply to politics extends to everything; equality
everywhere produces the same effects; where the laws of a country do
not regulate and retard the advancement of men by positive enactment,
competition attains the same end. In a well-established democratic
community great and rapid elevation is therefore rare; it forms
an exception to the common rule; and it is the singularity of such
occurrences that makes men forget how rarely they happen. Men living in
democracies ultimately discover these things; they find out at last that
the laws of their country open a boundless field of action before them,
but that no one can hope to hasten across it. Between them and the final
object of their desires, they perceive a multitude of small intermediate
impediments, which must be slowly surmounted: this prospect wearies
and discourages their ambition at once. They therefore give up hopes so
doubtful and remote, to search nearer to themselves for less lofty
and more easy enjoyments. Their horizon is not bounded by the laws but
narrowed by themselves.

I have remarked that lofty ambitions are more rare in the ages of
democracy than in times of aristocracy: I may add that when, in spite of
these natural obstacles, they do spring into existence, their character
is different. In aristocracies the career of ambition is often wide, but
its boundaries are determined. In democracies ambition commonly ranges
in a narrower field, but if once it gets beyond that, hardly any limits
can be assigned to it. As men are individually weak--as they live
asunder, and in constant motion--as precedents are of little authority
and laws but of short duration, resistance to novelty is languid,
and the fabric of society never appears perfectly erect or firmly
consolidated. So that, when once an ambitious man has the power in his
grasp, there is nothing he may noted are; and when it is gone from him,
he meditates the overthrow of the State to regain it. This gives to
great political ambition a character of revolutionary violence, which
it seldom exhibits to an equal degree in aristocratic communities. The
common aspect of democratic nations will present a great number of
small and very rational objects of ambition, from amongst which a few
ill-controlled desires of a larger growth will at intervals break out:
but no such a thing as ambition conceived and contrived on a vast scale
is to be met with there.

I have shown elsewhere by what secret influence the principle of
equality makes the passion for physical gratifications and the exclusive
love of the present predominate in the human heart: these different
propensities mingle with the sentiment of ambition, and tinge it, as it
were, with their hues. I believe that ambitious men in democracies are
less engrossed than any others with the interests and the judgment of
posterity; the present moment alone engages and absorbs them. They are
more apt to complete a number of undertakings with rapidity than to
raise lasting monuments of their achievements; and they care much more
for success than for fame. What they most ask of men is obedience--what
they most covet is empire. Their manners have in almost all cases
remained below the height of their station; the consequence is that they
frequently carry very low tastes into their extraordinary fortunes, and
that they seem to have acquired the supreme power only to minister to
their coarse or paltry pleasures.

I think that in our time it is very necessary to cleanse, to regulate,
and to adapt the feeling of ambition, but that it would be extremely
dangerous to seek to impoverish and to repress it over-much. We should
attempt to lay down certain extreme limits, which it should never be
allowed to outstep; but its range within those established limits
should not be too much checked. I confess that I apprehend much less
for democratic society from the boldness than from the mediocrity of
desires. What appears to me most to be dreaded is that, in the midst of
the small incessant occupations of private life, ambition should lose
its vigor and its greatness--that the passions of man should abate, but
at the same time be lowered, so that the march of society should every
day become more tranquil and less aspiring. I think then that the
leaders of modern society would be wrong to seek to lull the community
by a state of too uniform and too peaceful happiness; and that it is
well to expose it from time to time to matters of difficulty and danger,
in order to raise ambition and to give it a field of action. Moralists
are constantly complaining that the ruling vice of the present time is
pride. This is true in one sense, for indeed no one thinks that he is
not better than his neighbor, or consents to obey his superior: but
it is extremely false in another; for the same man who cannot endure
subordination or equality, has so contemptible an opinion of himself
that he thinks he is only born to indulge in vulgar pleasures. He
willingly takes up with low desires, without daring to embark in lofty
enterprises, of which he scarcely dreams. Thus, far from thinking
that humility ought to be preached to our contemporaries, I would have
endeavors made to give them a more enlarged idea of themselves and of
their kind. Humility is unwholesome to them; what they most want is,
in my opinion, pride. I would willingly exchange several of our small
virtues for this one vice.

Chapter XX: The Trade Of Place-Hunting In Certain Democratic Countries

In the United States as soon as a man has acquired some education and
pecuniary resources, he either endeavors to get rich by commerce or
industry, or he buys land in the bush and turns pioneer. All that he
asks of the State is not to be disturbed in his toil, and to be secure
of his earnings. Amongst the greater part of European nations, when a
man begins to feel his strength and to extend his desires, the first
thing that occurs to him is to get some public employment. These
opposite effects, originating in the same cause, deserve our passing

When public employments are few in number, ill-paid and precarious,
whilst the different lines of business are numerous and lucrative, it is
to business, and not to official duties, that the new and eager desires
engendered by the principle of equality turn from every side. But if,
whilst the ranks of society are becoming more equal, the education of
the people remains incomplete, or their spirit the reverse of bold--if
commerce and industry, checked in their growth, afford only slow and
arduous means of making a fortune--the various members of the community,
despairing of ameliorating their own condition, rush to the head of the
State and demand its assistance. To relieve their own necessities at the
cost of the public treasury, appears to them to be the easiest and most
open, if not the only, way they have to rise above a condition which no
longer contents them; place-hunting becomes the most generally followed
of all trades. This must especially be the case, in those great
centralized monarchies in which the number of paid offices is immense,
and the tenure of them tolerably secure, so that no one despairs of
obtaining a place, and of enjoying it as undisturbedly as a hereditary

I shall not remark that the universal and inordinate desire for place is
a great social evil; that it destroys the spirit of independence in the
citizen, and diffuses a venal and servile humor throughout the frame
of society; that it stifles the manlier virtues: nor shall I be at
the pains to demonstrate that this kind of traffic only creates an
unproductive activity, which agitates the country without adding to its
resources: all these things are obvious. But I would observe, that a
government which encourages this tendency risks its own tranquillity,
and places its very existence in great jeopardy. I am aware that at a
time like our own, when the love and respect which formerly clung to
authority are seen gradually to decline, it may appear necessary to
those in power to lay a closer hold on every man by his own interest,
and it may seem convenient to use his own passions to keep him in order
and in silence; but this cannot be so long, and what may appear to be a
source of strength for a certain time will assuredly become in the end a
great cause of embarrassment and weakness.

Amongst democratic nations, as well as elsewhere, the number of official
appointments has in the end some limits; but amongst those nations,
the number of aspirants is unlimited; it perpetually increases, with a
gradual and irresistible rise in proportion as social conditions become
more equal, and is only checked by the limits of the population.
Thus, when public employments afford the only outlet for ambition, the
government necessarily meets with a permanent opposition at last; for
it is tasked to satisfy with limited means unlimited desires. It is very
certain that of all people in the world the most difficult to restrain
and to manage are a people of solicitants. Whatever endeavors are made
by rulers, such a people can never be contented; and it is always to be
apprehended that they will ultimately overturn the constitution of the
country, and change the aspect of the State, for the sole purpose of
making a clearance of places. The sovereigns of the present age, who
strive to fix upon themselves alone all those novel desires which are
aroused by equality, and to satisfy them, will repent in the end, if I
am not mistaken, that they ever embarked in this policy: they will one
day discover that they have hazarded their own power, by making it so
necessary; and that the more safe and honest course would have been to
teach their subjects the art of providing for themselves. *a

[Footnote a: As a matter of fact, more recent experience has shown that
place-hunting is quite as intense in the United States as in any country
in Europe. It is regarded by the Americans themselves as one of the
great evils of their social condition, and it powerfully affects their
political institutions. But the American who seeks a place seeks not so
much a means of subsistence as the distinction which office and public
employment confer. In the absence of any true aristocracy, the public
service creates a spurious one, which is as much an object of ambition
as the distinctions of rank in aristocratic countries.--Translator's

Chapter XXI: Why Great Revolutions Will Become More Rare

A people which has existed for centuries under a system of castes and
classes can only arrive at a democratic state of society by passing
through a long series of more or less critical transformations,
accomplished by violent efforts, and after numerous vicissitudes; in the
course of which, property, opinions, and power are rapidly transferred
from one hand to another. Even after this great revolution is
consummated, the revolutionary habits engendered by it may long be
traced, and it will be followed by deep commotion. As all this takes
place at the very time at which social conditions are becoming more
equal, it is inferred that some concealed relation and secret tie exist
between the principle of equality itself and revolution, insomuch that
the one cannot exist without giving rise to the other.

On this point reasoning may seem to lead to the same result as
experience. Amongst a people whose ranks are nearly equal, no ostensible
bond connects men together, or keeps them settled in their station.
None of them have either a permanent right or power to command--none
are forced by their condition to obey; but every man, finding himself
possessed of some education and some resources, may choose his won path
and proceed apart from all his fellow-men. The same causes which make
the members of the community independent of each other, continually
impel them to new and restless desires, and constantly spur them
onwards. It therefore seems natural that, in a democratic community,
men, things, and opinions should be forever changing their form and
place, and that democratic ages should be times of rapid and incessant

But is this really the case? does the equality of social conditions
habitually and permanently lead men to revolution? does that state of
society contain some perturbing principle which prevents the community
from ever subsiding into calm, and disposes the citizens to alter
incessantly their laws, their principles, and their manners? I do not
believe it; and as the subject is important, I beg for the reader's
close attention. Almost all the revolutions which have changed the
aspect of nations have been made to consolidate or to destroy social
inequality. Remove the secondary causes which have produced the great
convulsions of the world, and you will almost always find the principle
of inequality at the bottom. Either the poor have attempted to plunder
the rich, or the rich to enslave the poor. If then a state of society
can ever be founded in which every man shall have something to keep, and
little to take from others, much will have been done for the peace of
the world. I am aware that amongst a great democratic people there will
always be some members of the community in great poverty, and others in
great opulence; but the poor, instead of forming the immense majority
of the nation, as is always the case in aristocratic communities, are
comparatively few in number, and the laws do not bind them together by
the ties of irremediable and hereditary penury. The wealthy, on their
side, are scarce and powerless; they have no privileges which attract
public observation; even their wealth, as it is no longer incorporated
and bound up with the soil, is impalpable, and as it were invisible. As
there is no longer a race of poor men, so there is no longer a race of
rich men; the latter spring up daily from the multitude, and relapse
into it again. Hence they do not form a distinct class, which may be
easily marked out and plundered; and, moreover, as they are connected
with the mass of their fellow-citizens by a thousand secret ties, the
people cannot assail them without inflicting an injury upon itself.
Between these two extremes of democratic communities stand an
innumerable multitude of men almost alike, who, without being exactly
either rich or poor, are possessed of sufficient property to desire the
maintenance of order, yet not enough to excite envy. Such men are the
natural enemies of violent commotions: their stillness keeps all beneath
them and above them still, and secures the balance of the fabric of
society. Not indeed that even these men are contented with what they
have gotten, or that they feel a natural abhorrence for a revolution in
which they might share the spoil without sharing the calamity; on the
contrary, they desire, with unexampled ardor, to get rich, but the
difficulty is to know from whom riches can be taken. The same state of
society which constantly prompts desires, restrains these desires
within necessary limits: it gives men more liberty of changing and less
interest in change.

Not only are the men of democracies not naturally desirous of
revolutions, but they are afraid of them. All revolutions more or
less threaten the tenure of property: but most of those who live in
democratic countries are possessed of property--not only are they
possessed of property, but they live in the condition of men who set the
greatest store upon their property. If we attentively consider each of
the classes of which society is composed, it is easy to see that the
passions engendered by property are keenest and most tenacious amongst
the middle classes. The poor often care but little for what they
possess, because they suffer much more from the want of what they have
not, than they enjoy the little they have. The rich have many other
passions besides that of riches to satisfy; and, besides, the long and
arduous enjoyment of a great fortune sometimes makes them in the end
insensible to its charms. But the men who have a competency, alike
removed from opulence and from penury, attach an enormous value to their
possessions. As they are still almost within the reach of poverty, they
see its privations near at hand, and dread them; between poverty and
themselves there is nothing but a scanty fortune, upon which they
immediately fix their apprehensions and their hopes. Every day increases
the interest they take in it, by the constant cares which it occasions;
and they are the more attached to it by their continual exertions to
increase the amount. The notion of surrendering the smallest part of it
is insupportable to them, and they consider its total loss as the worst
of misfortunes. Now these eager and apprehensive men of small property
constitute the class which is constantly increased by the equality of
conditions. Hence, in democratic communities, the majority of the people
do not clearly see what they have to gain by a revolution, but they
continually and in a thousand ways feel that they might lose by one.

I have shown in another part of this work that the equality of
conditions naturally urges men to embark in commercial and industrial
pursuits, and that it tends to increase and to distribute real property:
I have also pointed out the means by which it inspires every man with
an eager and constant desire to increase his welfare. Nothing is more
opposed to revolutionary passions than these things. It may happen
that the final result of a revolution is favorable to commerce and
manufactures; but its first consequence will almost always be the ruin
of manufactures and mercantile men, because it must always change at
once the general principles of consumption, and temporarily upset the
existing proportion between supply and demand. I know of nothing more
opposite to revolutionary manners than commercial manners. Commerce is
naturally adverse to all the violent passions; it loves to temporize,
takes delight in compromise, and studiously avoids irritation. It
is patient, insinuating, flexible, and never has recourse to extreme
measures until obliged by the most absolute necessity. Commerce renders
men independent of each other, gives them a lofty notion of their
personal importance, leads them to seek to conduct their own affairs,
and teaches how to conduct them well; it therefore prepares men for
freedom, but preserves them from revolutions. In a revolution the owners
of personal property have more to fear than all others; for on the one
hand their property is often easy to seize, and on the other it may
totally disappear at any moment--a subject of alarm to which the owners
of real property are less exposed, since, although they may lose the
income of their estates, they may hope to preserve the land itself
through the greatest vicissitudes. Hence the former are much more
alarmed at the symptoms of revolutionary commotion than the latter. Thus
nations are less disposed to make revolutions in proportion as personal
property is augmented and distributed amongst them, and as the number
of those possessing it increases. Moreover, whatever profession men
may embrace, and whatever species of property they may possess, one
characteristic is common to them all. No one is fully contented with
his present fortune--all are perpetually striving in a thousand ways to
improve it. Consider any one of them at any period of his life, and
he will be found engaged with some new project for the purpose of
increasing what he has; talk not to him of the interests and the rights
of mankind: this small domestic concern absorbs for the time all his
thoughts, and inclines him to defer political excitement to some other
season. This not only prevents men from making revolutions, but deters
men from desiring them. Violent political passions have but little hold
on those who have devoted all their faculties to the pursuit of their
well-being. The ardor which they display in small matters calms their
zeal for momentous undertakings.

From time to time indeed, enterprising and ambitious men will arise in
democratic communities, whose unbounded aspirations cannot be contented
by following the beaten track. Such men like revolutions and hail their
approach; but they have great difficulty in bringing them about, unless
unwonted events come to their assistance. No man can struggle with
advantage against the spirit of his age and country; and, however
powerful he may be supposed to be, he will find it difficult to make his
contemporaries share in feelings and opinions which are repugnant to t
all their feelings and desires.

It is a mistake to believe that, when once the equality of conditions
has become the old and uncontested state of society, and has imparted
its characteristics to the manners of a nation, men will easily allow
themselves to be thrust into perilous risks by an imprudent leader or
a bold innovator. Not indeed that they will resist him openly, by
well-contrived schemes, or even by a premeditated plan of resistance.
They will not struggle energetically against him, sometimes they will
even applaud him--but they do not follow him. 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.

I do not assert that men living in democratic communities are naturally
stationary; I think, on the contrary, that a perpetual stir prevails
in the bosom of those societies, and that rest is unknown there; but I
think that men bestir themselves within certain limits beyond which
they hardly ever go. They are forever varying, altering, and restoring
secondary matters; but they carefully abstain from touching what is
fundamental. They love change, but they dread revolutions. Although the
Americans are constantly modifying or abrogating some of their laws,
they by no means display revolutionary passions. It may be easily seen,
from the promptitude with which they check and calm themselves when
public excitement begins to grow alarming, and at the very moment when
passions seem most roused, that they dread a revolution as the worst
of misfortunes, and that every one of them is inwardly resolved to make
great sacrifices to avoid such a catastrophe. In no country in the world
is the love of property more active and more anxious than in the United
States; nowhere does the majority display less inclination for those
principles which threaten to alter, in whatever manner, the laws
of property. I have often remarked that theories which are of a
revolutionary nature, since they cannot be put in practice without a
complete and sometimes a sudden change in the state of property and
persons, are much less favorably viewed in the United States than in
the great monarchical countries of Europe: if some men profess them,
the bulk of the people reject them with instinctive abhorrence. I do not
hesitate to say that most of the maxims commonly called democratic in
France would be proscribed by the democracy of the United States. This
may easily be understood: in America men have the opinions and passions
of democracy, in Europe we have still the passions and opinions of
revolution. If ever America undergoes great revolutions, they will
be brought about by the presence of the black race on the soil of the
United States--that is to say, they will owe their origin, not to the
equality, but to the inequality, of conditions.

When social conditions are equal, every man is apt to live apart,
centred in himself and forgetful of the public. If the rulers of
democratic nations were either to neglect to correct this fatal
tendency, or to encourage it from a notion that it weans men from
political passions and thus wards off revolutions, they might eventually
produce the evil they seek to avoid, and a time might come when the
inordinate passions of a few men, aided by the unintelligent selfishness
or the pusillanimity of the greater number, would ultimately compel
society to pass through strange vicissitudes. In democratic communities
revolutions are seldom desired except by a minority; but a minority
may sometimes effect them. I do not assert that democratic nations are
secure from revolutions; I merely say that the state of society in
those nations does not lead to revolutions, but rather wards them off.
A democratic people left to itself will not easily embark in great
hazards; it is only led to revolutions unawares; it may sometimes
undergo them, but it does not make them; and I will add that, when
such a people has been allowed to acquire sufficient knowledge and
experience, it will not suffer them to be made. I am well aware that
it this respect public institutions may themselves do much; they may
encourage or repress the tendencies which originate in the state of
society. I therefore do not maintain, I repeat, that a people is secure
from revolutions simply because conditions are equal in the community;
but I think that, whatever the institutions of such a people may be,
great revolutions will always be far less violent and less frequent than
is supposed; and I can easily discern a state of polity, which, when
combined with the principle of equality, would render society more
stationary than it has ever been in our western apart of the world.

The observations I have here made on events may also be applied in
part to opinions. Two things are surprising in the United States--the
mutability of the greater part of human actions, and the singular
stability of certain principles. Men are in constant motion; the mind
of man appears almost unmoved. When once an opinion has spread over the
country and struck root there, it would seem that no power on earth is
strong enough to eradicate it. In the United States, general principles
in religion, philosophy, morality, and even politics, do not vary, or at
least are only modified by a hidden and often an imperceptible process:
even the grossest prejudices are obliterated with incredible slowness,
amidst the continual friction of men and things. I hear it said that it
is in the nature and the habits of democracies to be constantly changing
their opinions and feelings. This may be true of small democratic
nations, like those of the ancient world, in which the whole community
could be assembled in a public place and then excited at will by an
orator. But I saw nothing of the kind amongst the great democratic
people which dwells upon the opposite shores of the Atlantic Ocean.
What struck me in the United States was the difficulty in shaking the
majority in an opinion once conceived, or of drawing it off from a
leader once adopted. Neither speaking nor writing can accomplish it;
nothing but experience will avail, and even experience must be repeated.
This is surprising at first sight, but a more attentive investigation
explains the fact. I do not think that it is as easy as is supposed to
uproot the prejudices of a democratic people--to change its belief--to
supersede principles once established, by new principles in religion,
politics, and morals--in a word, to make great and frequent changes in
men's minds. Not that the human mind is there at rest--it is in constant
agitation; but it is engaged in infinitely varying the consequences of
known principles, and in seeking for new consequences, rather than in
seeking for new principles. Its motion is one of rapid circumvolution,
rather than of straightforward impulse by rapid and direct effort; it
extends its orbit by small continual and hasty movements, but it does
not suddenly alter its position.

Men who are equal in rights, in education, in fortune, or, to comprise
all in one word, in their social condition, have necessarily wants,
habits, and tastes which are hardly dissimilar. As they look at
objects under the same aspect, their minds naturally tend to
analogous conclusions; and, though each of them may deviate from his
contemporaries and from opinions of his own, they will involuntarily and
unconsciously concur in a certain number of received opinions. The more
attentively I consider the effects of equality upon the mind, the more
am I persuaded that the intellectual anarchy which we witness about us
is not, as many men suppose, the natural state of democratic nations.
I think it is rather to be regarded as an accident peculiar to their
youth, and that it only breaks out at that period of transition when men
have already snapped the former ties which bound them together, but are
still amazingly different in origin, education, and manners; so that,
having retained opinions, propensities and tastes of great diversity,
nothing any longer prevents men from avowing them openly. The leading
opinions of men become similar in proportion as their conditions
assimilate; such appears to me to be the general and permanent law--the
rest is casual and transient.

I believe that it will rarely happen to any man amongst a democratic
community, suddenly to frame a system of notions very remote from
that which his contemporaries have adopted; and if some such innovator
appeared, I apprehend that he would have great difficulty in finding
listeners, still more in finding believers. When the conditions of men
are almost equal, they do not easily allow themselves to be persuaded by
each other. As they all live in close intercourse, as they have learned
the same things together, and as they lead the same life, they are not
naturally disposed to take one of themselves for a guide, and to follow
him implicitly. Men seldom take the opinion of their equal, or of a
man like themselves, upon trust. Not only is confidence in the superior
attainments of certain individuals weakened amongst democratic nations,
as I have elsewhere remarked, but the general notion of the intellectual
superiority which any man whatsoever may acquire in relation to the rest
of the community is soon overshadowed. As men grow more like each other,
the doctrine of the equality of the intellect gradually infuses itself
into their opinions; and it becomes more difficult for any innovator to
acquire or to exert much influence over the minds of a people. In such
communities sudden intellectual revolutions will therefore be rare; for,
if we read aright the history of the world, we shall find that great and
rapid changes in human opinions have been produced far less by the force
of reasoning than by the authority of a name. Observe, too, that as the
men who live in democratic societies are not connected with each other
by any tie, each of them must be convinced individually; whilst in
aristocratic society it is enough to convince a few--the rest follow.
If Luther had lived in an age of equality, and had not had princes
and potentates for his audience, he would perhaps have found it more
difficult to change the aspect of Europe. Not indeed that the men of
democracies are naturally strongly persuaded of the certainty of their
opinions, or are unwavering in belief; they frequently entertain doubts
which no one, in their eyes, can remove. It sometimes happens at such
times that the human mind would willingly change its position; but as
nothing urges or guides it forwards, it oscillates to and fro without
progressive motion. *a

[Footnote a: If I inquire what state of society is most favorable to the
great revolutions of the mind, I find that it occurs somewhere between
the complete equality of the whole community and the absolute separation
of ranks. Under a system of castes generations succeed each other
without altering men's positions; some have nothing more, others nothing
better, to hope for. The imagination slumbers amidst this universal
silence and stillness, and the very idea of change fades from the human
mind. When ranks have been abolished and social conditions are almost
equalized, all men are in ceaseless excitement, but each of them stands
alone, independent and weak. This latter state of things is excessively
different from the former one; yet it has one point of analogy--great
revolutions of the human mind seldom occur in it. But between these two
extremes of the history of nations is an intermediate period--a period
as glorious as it is agitated--when the conditions of men are not
sufficiently settled for the mind to be lulled in torpor, when they are
sufficiently unequal for men to exercise a vast power on the minds of
one another, and when some few may modify the convictions of all. It is
at such times that great reformers start up, and new opinions suddenly
change the face of the world.]

Even when the reliance of a democratic people has been won, it is still
no easy matter to gain their attention. It is extremely difficult to
obtain a hearing from men living in democracies, unless it be to speak
to them of themselves. 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. I think
that it is extremely difficult to excite the enthusiasm of a democratic
people for any theory which has not a palpable, direct, and immediate
connection with the daily occupations of life: therefore they will not
easily forsake their old opinions; for it is enthusiasm which flings the
minds of men out of the beaten track, and effects the great revolutions
of the intellect as well as the great revolutions of the political
world. Thus democratic nations have neither time nor taste to go in
search of novel opinions. Even when those they possess become doubtful,
they still retain them, because it would take too much time and inquiry
to change them--they retain them, not as certain, but as established.

There are yet other and more cogent reasons which prevent any great
change from being easily effected in the principles of a democratic
people. I have already adverted to them at the commencement of this
part of my work. If the influence of individuals is weak and hardly
perceptible amongst such a people, the power exercised by the mass upon
the mind of each individual is extremely great--I have already shown for
what reasons. I would now observe that it is wrong to suppose that this
depends solely upon the form of government, and that the majority would
lose its intellectual supremacy if it were to lose its political power.
In aristocracies men have often much greatness and strength of their
own: when they find themselves at variance with the greater number of
their fellow-countrymen, they withdraw to their own circle, where they
support and console themselves. Such is not the case in a democratic
country; there public favor seems as necessary as the air we breathe,
and to live at variance with the multitude is, as it were, not to
live. The multitude requires no laws to coerce those who think not like
itself: public disapprobation is enough; a sense of their loneliness and
impotence overtakes them and drives them to despair.

Whenever social conditions are equal, public opinion presses with
enormous weight upon the mind of each individual; it surrounds, directs,
and oppresses him; and this arises from the very constitution of
society, much more than from its political laws. As men grow more alike,
each man feels himself weaker in regard to all the rest; as he discerns
nothing by which he is considerably raised above them, or distinguished
from them, he mistrusts himself as soon as they assail him. Not only
does he mistrust his strength, but he even doubts of his right; and he
is very near acknowledging that he is in the wrong, when the greater
number of his countrymen assert that he is so. The majority do not need
to constrain him--they convince him. In whatever way then the powers of
a democratic community may be organized and balanced, it will always be
extremely difficult to believe what the bulk of the people reject, or to
profess what they condemn.

This circumstance is extraordinarily favorable to the stability of
opinions. When an opinion has taken root amongst a democratic people,
and established itself in the minds of the bulk of the community, it
afterwards subsists by itself and is maintained without effort, because
no one attacks it. Those who at first rejected it as false, ultimately
receive it as the general impression; and those who still dispute it in
their hearts, conceal their dissent; they are careful not to engage in a
dangerous and useless conflict. It is true, that when the majority of
a democratic people change their opinions, they may suddenly and
arbitrarily effect strange revolutions in men's minds; but their
opinions do not change without much difficulty, and it is almost as
difficult to show that they are changed.

Time, events, or the unaided individual action of the mind, will
sometimes undermine or destroy an opinion, without any outward sign
of the change. It has not been openly assailed, no conspiracy has been
formed to make war on it, but its followers one by one noiselessly
secede--day by day a few of them abandon it, until last it is only
professed by a minority. In this state it will still continue to
prevail. As its enemies remain mute, or only interchange their thoughts
by stealth, they are themselves unaware for a long period that a great
revolution has actually been effected; and in this state of uncertainly
they take no steps--they observe each other and are silent. The majority
have ceased to believe what they believed before; but they still affect
to believe, and this empty phantom of public opinion in strong enough to
chill innovators, and to keep them silent and at respectful distance. We
live at a time which has witnessed the most rapid changes of opinion in
the minds of men; nevertheless it may be that the leading opinions of
society will ere long be more settled than they have been for several
centuries in our history: that time is not yet come, but it may
perhaps be approaching. As I examine more closely the natural wants and
tendencies of democratic nations, I grow persuaded that if ever social
equality is generally and permanently established in the world, great
intellectual and political revolutions will become more difficult and
less frequent than is supposed. Because the men of democracies appear
always excited, uncertain, eager, changeable in their wills and in their
positions, it is imagined that they are suddenly to abrogate their laws,
to adopt new opinions, and to assume new manners. But if the principle
of equality predisposes men to change, it also suggests to them certain
interests and tastes which cannot be satisfied without a settled order
of things; equality urges them on, but at the same time it holds them
back; it spurs them, but fastens them to earth;--it kindles their
desires, but limits their powers. This, however, is not perceived at
first; the passions which tend to sever the citizens of a democracy are
obvious enough; but the hidden force which restrains and unites them is
not discernible at a glance.

Amidst the ruins which surround me, shall I dare to say that revolutions
are not what I most fear coming generations? If men continue to shut
themselves more closely within the narrow circle of domestic interests
and to live upon that kind of excitement, it is to be apprehended that
they may ultimately become inaccessible to those great and powerful
public emotions which perturb nations--but which enlarge them and
recruit them. When property becomes so fluctuating, and the love of
property so restless and so ardent, I cannot but fear that men may
arrive at such a state as to regard every new theory as a peril,
every innovation as an irksome toil, every social improvement as a
stepping-stone to revolution, and so refuse to move altogether for fear
of being moved too far. I dread, and I confess it, lest they should at
last so entirely give way to a cowardly love of present enjoyment, as to
lose sight of the interests of their future selves and of those of their
descendants; and to prefer to glide along the easy current of life,
rather than to make, when it is necessary, a strong and sudden effort
to a higher purpose. It is believed by some that modern society will be
ever changing its aspect; for myself, I fear that it will ultimately be
too invariably fixed in the same institutions, the same prejudices, the
same manners, so that mankind will be stopped and circumscribed; that
the mind will swing backwards and forwards forever, without begetting
fresh ideas; that man will waste his strength in bootless and solitary
trifling; and, though in continual motion, that humanity will cease to

Chapter XXII: Why Democratic Nations Are Naturally Desirous Of Peace,
And Democratic Armies Of War

The same interests, the same fears, the same passions which deter
democratic nations from revolutions, deter them also from war; the
spirit of military glory and the spirit of revolution are weakened at
the same time and by the same causes. The ever-increasing numbers of men
of property--lovers of peace, the growth of personal wealth which war
so rapidly consumes, the mildness of manners, the gentleness of heart,
those tendencies to pity which are engendered by the equality
of conditions, that coolness of understanding which renders men
comparatively insensible to the violent and poetical excitement of
arms--all these causes concur to quench the military spirit. I think it
may be admitted as a general and constant rule, that, amongst civilized
nations, the warlike passions will become more rare and less intense in
proportion as social conditions shall be more equal. War is nevertheless
an occurrence to which all nations are subject, democratic nations as
well as others. Whatever taste they may have for peace, they must hold
themselves in readiness to repel aggression, or in other words they must
have an army.

Fortune, which has conferred so many peculiar benefits upon the
inhabitants of the United States, has placed them in the midst of a
wilderness, where they have, so to speak, no neighbors: a few thousand
soldiers are sufficient for their wants; but this is peculiar to
America, not to democracy. The equality of conditions, and the
manners as well as the institutions resulting from it, do not exempt
a democratic people from the necessity of standing armies, and their
armies always exercise a powerful influence over their fate. It is
therefore of singular importance to inquire what are the natural
propensities of the men of whom these armies are composed.

Amongst aristocratic nations, especially amongst those in which birth
is the only source of rank, the same inequality exists in the army as
in the nation; the officer is noble, the soldier is a serf; the one is
naturally called upon to command, the other to obey. In aristocratic
armies, the private soldier's ambition is therefore circumscribed within
very narrow limits. Nor has the ambition of the officer an unlimited
range. An aristocratic body not only forms a part of the scale of ranks
in the nation, but it contains a scale of ranks within itself: the
members of whom it is composed are placed one above another, in a
particular and unvarying manner. Thus one man is born to the command of
a regiment, another to that of a company; when once they have reached
the utmost object of their hopes, they stop of their own accord, and
remain contented with their lot. There is, besides, a strong cause,
which, in aristocracies, weakens the officer's desire of promotion.
Amongst aristocratic nations, an officer, independently of his rank
in the army, also occupies an elevated rank in society; the former is
almost always in his eyes only an appendage to the latter. A nobleman
who embraces the profession of arms follows it less from motives of
ambition than from a sense of the duties imposed on him by his birth.
He enters the army in order to find an honorable employment for the idle
years of his youth, and to be able to bring back to his home and his
peers some honorable recollections of military life; but his principal
object is not to obtain by that profession either property, distinction,
or power, for he possesses these advantages in his own right, and enjoys
them without leaving his home.

In democratic armies all the soldiers may become officers, which makes
the desire of promotion general, and immeasurably extends the bounds
of military ambition. The officer, on his part, sees nothing which
naturally and necessarily stops him at one grade more than at another;
and each grade has immense importance in his eyes, because his rank
in society almost always depends on his rank in the army. Amongst
democratic nations it often happens that an officer has no property but
his pay, and no distinction but that of military honors: consequently as
often as his duties change, his fortune changes, and he becomes, as
it were, a new man. What was only an appendage to his position in
aristocratic armies, has thus become the main point, the basis of his
whole condition. Under the old French monarchy officers were always
called by their titles of nobility; they are now always called by
the title of their military rank. This little change in the forms of
language suffices to show that a great revolution has taken place in the
constitution of society and in that of the army. In democratic armies
the desire of advancement is almost universal: it is ardent,
tenacious, perpetual; it is strengthened by all other desires, and only
extinguished with life itself. But it is easy to see, that of all armies
in the world, those in which advancement must be slowest in time
of peace are the armies of democratic countries. As the number of
commissions is naturally limited, whilst the number of competitors is
almost unlimited, and as the strict law of equality is over all alike,
none can make rapid progress--many can make no progress at all. Thus the
desire of advancement is greater, and the opportunities of advancement
fewer, there than elsewhere. All the ambitious spirits of a democratic
army are consequently ardently desirous of war, because war makes
vacancies, and warrants the violation of that law of seniority which is
the sole privilege natural to democracy.

We thus arrive at this singular consequence, that of all armies those
most ardently desirous of war are democratic armies, and of all nations
those most fond of peace are democratic nations: and, what makes these
facts still more extraordinary, is that these contrary effects are
produced at the same time by the principle of equality.

All the members of the community, being alike, constantly harbor the
wish, and discover the possibility, of changing their condition and
improving their welfare: this makes them fond of peace, which is
favorable to industry, and allows every man to pursue his own little
undertakings to their completion. On the other hand, this same equality
makes soldiers dream of fields of battle, by increasing the value of
military honors in the eyes of those who follow the profession of arms,
and by rendering those honors accessible to all. In either case
the inquietude of the heart is the same, the taste for enjoyment as
insatiable, the ambition of success as great--the means of gratifying it
are alone different.

These opposite tendencies of the nation and the army expose democratic
communities to great dangers. When a military spirit forsakes a people,
the profession of arms immediately ceases to be held in honor, and
military men fall to the lowest rank of the public servants: they are
little esteemed, and no longer understood. The reverse of what takes
place in aristocratic ages then occurs; the men who enter the army
are no longer those of the highest, but of the lowest rank. Military
ambition is only indulged in when no other is possible. Hence arises a
circle of cause and consequence from which it is difficult to escape:
the best part of the nation shuns the military profession because that
profession is not honored, and the profession is not honored because the
best part of the nation has ceased to follow it. It is then no matter
of surprise that democratic armies are often restless, ill-tempered,
and dissatisfied with their lot, although their physical condition is
commonly far better, and their discipline less strict than in other
countries. The soldier feels that he occupies an inferior position,
and his wounded pride either stimulates his taste for hostilities
which would render his services necessary, or gives him a turn for
revolutions, during which he may hope to win by force of arms the
political influence and personal importance now denied him. The
composition of democratic armies makes this last-mentioned danger
much to be feared. In democratic communities almost every man has some
property to preserve; but democratic armies are generally led by men
without property, most of whom have little to lose in civil broils. The
bulk of the nation is naturally much more afraid of revolutions than in
the ages of aristocracy, but the leaders of the army much less so.

Moreover, as amongst democratic nations (to repeat what I have just
remarked) the wealthiest, the best educated, and the most able men
seldom adopt the military profession, the army, taken collectively,
eventually forms a small nation by itself, where the mind is less
enlarged, and habits are more rude than in the nation at large. Now,
this small uncivilized nation has arms in its possession, and alone
knows how to use them: for, indeed, the pacific temper of the community
increases the danger to which a democratic people is exposed from the
military and turbulent spirit of the army. Nothing is so dangerous as
an army amidst an unwarlike nation; the excessive love of the whole
community for quiet continually puts its constitution at the mercy of
the soldiery. It may therefore be asserted, generally speaking, that if
democratic nations are naturally prone to peace from their interests and
their propensities, they are constantly drawn to war and revolutions
by their armies. Military revolutions, which are scarcely ever to
be apprehended in aristocracies, are always to be dreaded amongst
democratic nations. These perils must be reckoned amongst the most
formidable which beset their future fate, and the attention of statesmen
should be sedulously applied to find a remedy for the evil.

When a nation perceives that it is inwardly affected by the restless
ambition of its army, the first thought which occurs is to give this
inconvenient ambition an object by going to war. I speak no ill of
war: war almost always enlarges the mind of a people, and raises their
character. In some cases it is the only check to the excessive growth
of certain propensities which naturally spring out of the equality
of conditions, and it must be considered as a necessary corrective to
certain inveterate diseases to which democratic communities are liable.
War has great advantages, but we must not flatter ourselves that it
can diminish the danger I have just pointed out. That peril is only
suspended by it, to return more fiercely when the war is over; for
armies are much more impatient of peace after having tasted military
exploits. War could only be a remedy for a people which should always be
athirst for military glory. I foresee that all the military rulers who
may rise up in great democratic nations, will find it easier to conquer
with their armies, than to make their armies live at peace after
conquest. There are two things which a democratic people will always
find very difficult--to begin a war, and to end it.

Again, if war has some peculiar advantages for democratic nations, on
the other hand it exposes them to certain dangers which aristocracies
have no cause to dread to an equal extent. I shall only point out two
of these. Although war gratifies the army, it embarrasses and often
exasperates that countless multitude of men whose minor passions every
day require peace in order to be satisfied. Thus there is some risk
of its causing, under another form, the disturbance it is intended
to prevent. No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a
democratic country. Not indeed that after every victory it is to be
apprehended that the victorious generals will possess themselves by
force of the supreme power, after the manner of Sylla and Caesar: the
danger is of another kind. War does not always give over democratic
communities to military government, but it must invariably and
immeasurably increase the powers of civil government; it must almost
compulsorily concentrate the direction of all men and the management
of all things in the hands of the administration. If it lead not to
despotism by sudden violence, it prepares men for it more gently
by their habits. All those who seek to destroy the liberties of a
democratic nation ought to know that war is the surest and the shortest
means to accomplish it. This is the first axiom of the science.

One remedy, which appears to be obvious when the ambition of soldiers
and officers becomes the subject of alarm, is to augment the number
of commissions to be distributed by increasing the army. This affords
temporary relief, but it plunges the country into deeper difficulties at
some future period. To increase the army may produce a lasting effect in
an aristocratic community, because military ambition is there confined
to one class of men, and the ambition of each individual stops, as it
were, at a certain limit; so that it may be possible to satisfy all who
feel its influence. But nothing is gained by increasing the army amongst
a democratic people, because the number of aspirants always rises in
exactly the same ratio as the army itself. Those whose claims have been
satisfied by the creation of new commissions are instantly succeeded by
a fresh multitude beyond all power of satisfaction; and even those who
were but now satisfied soon begin to crave more advancement; for the
same excitement prevails in the ranks of the army as in the civil
classes of democratic society, and what men want is not to reach a
certain grade, but to have constant promotion. Though these wants may
not be very vast, they are perpetually recurring. Thus a democratic
nation, by augmenting its army, only allays for a time the ambition
of the military profession, which soon becomes even more formidable,
because the number of those who feel it is increased. I am of opinion
that a restless and turbulent spirit is an evil inherent in the
very constitution of democratic armies, and beyond hope of cure. The
legislators of democracies must not expect to devise any military
organization capable by its influence of calming and restraining the
military profession: their efforts would exhaust their powers, before
the object is attained.

The remedy for the vices of the army is not to be found in the army
itself, but in the country. Democratic nations are naturally afraid
of disturbance and of despotism; the object is to turn these natural
instincts into well-digested, deliberate, and lasting tastes. When men
have at last learned to make a peaceful and profitable use of freedom,
and have felt its blessings--when they have conceived a manly love of
order, and have freely submitted themselves to discipline--these same
men, if they follow the profession of arms, bring into it, unconsciously
and almost against their will, these same habits and manners. The
general spirit of the nation being infused into the spirit peculiar to
the army, tempers the opinions and desires engendered by military life,
or represses them by the mighty force of public opinion. Teach but the
citizens to be educated, orderly, firm, and free, the soldiers will be
disciplined and obedient. Any law which, in repressing the turbulent
spirit of the army, should tend to diminish the spirit of freedom in the
nation, and to overshadow the notion of law and right, would defeat
its object: it would do much more to favor, than to defeat, the
establishment of military tyranny.

After all, and in spite of all precautions, a large army amidst a
democratic people will always be a source of great danger; the most
effectual means of diminishing that danger would be to reduce the army,
but this is a remedy which all nations have it not in their power to

Chapter XXIII: Which Is The Most Warlike And Most Revolutionary Class In
Democratic Armies?

It is a part of the essence of a democratic army to be very numerous in
proportion to the people to which it belongs, as I shall hereafter
show. On the other hand, men living in democratic times seldom choose a
military life. Democratic nations are therefore soon led to give up the
system of voluntary recruiting for that of compulsory enlistment. The
necessity of their social condition compels them to resort to the latter
means, and it may easily be foreseen that they will all eventually adopt
it. When military service is compulsory, the burden is indiscriminately
and equally borne by the whole community. This is another necessary
consequence of the social condition of these nations, and of their
notions. The government may do almost whatever it pleases, provided it
appeals to the whole community at once: it is the unequal distribution
of the weight, not the weight itself, which commonly occasions
resistance. But as military service is common to all the citizens, the
evident consequence is that each of them remains but for a few years
on active duty. Thus it is in the nature of things that the soldier in
democracies only passes through the army, whilst among most aristocratic
nations the military profession is one which the soldier adopts, or
which is imposed upon him, for life.

This has important consequences. Amongst the soldiers of a democratic
army, some acquire a taste for military life, but the majority, being
enlisted against their will, and ever ready to go back to their
homes, do not consider themselves as seriously engaged in the military
profession, and are always thinking of quitting it. Such men do not
contract the wants, and only half partake in the passions, which that
mode of life engenders. They adapt themselves to their military duties,
but their minds are still attached to the interests and the duties which
engaged them in civil life. They do not therefore imbibe the spirit of
the army--or rather, they infuse the spirit of the community at large
into the army, and retain it there. Amongst democratic nations the
private soldiers remain most like civilians: upon them the habits of the
nation have the firmest hold, and public opinion most influence. It is
by the instrumentality of the private soldiers especially that it may
be possible to infuse into a democratic army the love of freedom and
the respect of rights, if these principles have once been successfully
inculcated on the people at large. The reverse happens amongst
aristocratic nations, where the soldiery have eventually nothing in
common with their fellow-citizens, and where they live amongst them as
strangers, and often as enemies. In aristocratic armies the officers
are the conservative element, because the officers alone have retained a
strict connection with civil society, and never forego their purpose
of resuming their place in it sooner or later: in democratic armies the
private soldiers stand in this position, and from the same cause.

It often happens, on the contrary, that in these same democratic armies
the officers contract tastes and wants wholly distinct from those of
the nation--a fact which may be thus accounted for. Amongst democratic
nations, the man who becomes an officer severs all the ties which bound
him to civil life; he leaves it forever; he has no interest to resume
it. His true country is the army, since he owes all he has to the rank
he has attained in it; he therefore follows the fortunes of the army,
rises or sinks with it, and henceforward directs all his hopes to that
quarter only. As the wants of an officer are distinct from those of the
country, he may perhaps ardently desire war, or labor to bring about
a revolution at the very moment when the nation is most desirous of
stability and peace. There are, nevertheless, some causes which allay
this restless and warlike spirit. Though ambition is universal and
continual amongst democratic nations, we have seen that it is seldom
great. A man who, being born in the lower classes of the community, has
risen from the ranks to be an officer, has already taken a prodigious
step. He has gained a footing in a sphere above that which he filled
in civil life, and he has acquired rights which most democratic nations
will ever consider as inalienable. *a He is willing to pause after so
great an effort, and to enjoy what he has won. The fear of risking what
he has already obtained damps the desire of acquiring what he has not
got. Having conquered the first and greatest impediment which opposed
his advancement, he resigns himself with less impatience to the slowness
of his progress. His ambition will be more and more cooled in proportion
as the increasing distinction of his rank teaches him that he has more
to put in jeopardy. If I am not mistaken, the least warlike, and also
the least revolutionary part, of a democratic army, will always be its
chief commanders. [Footnote a: The position of officers is indeed much
more secure amongst democratic nations than elsewhere; the lower the
personal standing of the man, the greater is the comparative importance
of his military grade, and the more just and necessary is it that the
enjoyment of that rank should be secured by the laws.]

But the remarks I have just made on officers and soldiers are
not applicable to a numerous class which in all armies fills the
intermediate space between them--I mean the class of non-commissioned
officers. This class of non-commissioned officers which have never acted
a part in history until the present century, is henceforward destined,
I think, to play one of some importance. Like the officers,
non-commissioned officers have broken, in their minds, all the ties
which bound them to civil life; like the former, they devote themselves
permanently to the service, and perhaps make it even more exclusively
the object of all their desires: but non-commissioned officers are men
who have not yet reached a firm and lofty post at which they may pause
and breathe more freely, ere they can attain further promotion. By
the very nature of his duties, which is invariable, a non-commissioned
officer is doomed to lead an obscure, confined, comfortless, and
precarious existence; as yet he sees nothing of military life but its
dangers; he knows nothing but its privations and its discipline--more
difficult to support than dangers: he suffers the more from his present
miseries, from knowing that the constitution of society and of the army
allow him to rise above them; he may, indeed, at any time obtain his
commission, and enter at once upon command, honors, independence,
rights, and enjoyments. Not only does this object of his hopes appear to
him of immense importance, but he is never sure of reaching it till it
is actually his own; the grade he fills is by no means irrevocable; he
is always entirely abandoned to the arbitrary pleasure of his
commanding officer, for this is imperiously required by the necessity of
discipline: a slight fault, a whim, may always deprive him in an instant
of the fruits of many years of toil and endeavor; until he has reached
the grade to which he aspires he has accomplished nothing; not till he
reaches that grade does his career seem to begin. A desperate ambition
cannot fail to be kindled in a man thus incessantly goaded on by his
youth, his wants, his passions, the spirit of his age, his hopes,
and his age, his hopes, and his fears. Non-commissioned officers are
therefore bent on war--on war always, and at any cost; but if war be
denied them, then they desire revolutions to suspend the authority
of established regulations, and to enable them, aided by the general
confusion and the political passions of the time, to get rid of their
superior officers and to take their places. Nor is it impossible for
them to bring about such a crisis, because their common origin and
habits give them much influence over the soldiers, however different may
be their passions and their desires.

It would be an error to suppose that these various characteristics of
officers, non-commissioned officers, and men, belong to any particular
time or country; they will always occur at all times, and amongst
all democratic nations. In every democratic army the non-commissioned
officers will be the worst representatives of the pacific and orderly
spirit of the country, and the private soldiers will be the best. The
latter will carry with them into military life the strength or weakness
of the manners of the nation; they will display a faithful reflection of
the community: if that community is ignorant and weak, they will allow
themselves to be drawn by their leaders into disturbances, either
unconsciously or against their will; if it is enlightened and energetic,
the community will itself keep them within the bounds of order.

Chapter XXIV: Causes Which Render Democratic Armies Weaker Than Other
Armies At The Outset Of A Campaign, And More Formidable In Protracted

Any army is in danger of being conquered at the outset of a campaign,
after a long peace; any army which has long been engaged in warfare
has strong chances of victory: this truth is peculiarly applicable to
democratic armies. In aristocracies the military profession, being a
privileged career, is held in honor even in time of peace. Men of great
talents, great attainments, and great ambition embrace it; the army is
in all respects on a level with the nation, and frequently above it. We
have seen, on the contrary, that amongst a democratic people the
choicer minds of the nation are gradually drawn away from the military
profession, to seek by other paths, distinction, power, and especially
wealth. After a long peace--and in democratic ages the periods of peace
are long--the army is always inferior to the country itself. In this
state it is called into active service; and until war has altered it,
there is danger for the country as well as for the army.

I have shown that in democratic armies, and in time of peace, the rule
of seniority is the supreme and inflexible law of advancement. This is
not only a consequence, as I have before observed, of the constitution
of these armies, but of the constitution of the people, and it will
always occur. Again, as amongst these nations the officer derives his
position in the country solely from his position in the army, and as
he draws all the distinction and the competency he enjoys from the
same source, he does not retire from his profession, or is not
super-annuated, till towards the extreme close of life. The consequence
of these two causes is, that when a democratic people goes to war after
a long interval of peace all the leading officers of the army are old
men. I speak not only of the generals, but of the non-commissioned
officers, who have most of them been stationary, or have only advanced
step by step. It may be remarked with surprise, that in a democratic
army after a long peace all the soldiers are mere boys, and all the
superior officers in declining years; so that the former are wanting in
experience, the latter in vigor. This is a strong element of defeat,
for the first condition of successful generalship is youth: I should not
have ventured to say so if the greatest captain of modern times had not
made the observation. These two causes do not act in the same manner
upon aristocratic armies: as men are promoted in them by right of birth
much more than by right of seniority, there are in all ranks a certain
number of young men, who bring to their profession all the early vigor
of body and mind. Again, as the men who seek for military honors amongst
an aristocratic people, enjoy a settled position in civil society, they
seldom continue in the army until old age overtakes them. After having
devoted the most vigorous years of youth to the career of arms, they
voluntarily retire, and spend at home the remainder of their maturer

A long peace not only fills democratic armies with elderly officers,
but it also gives to all the officers habits both of body and mind which
render them unfit for actual service. The man who has long lived amidst
the calm and lukewarm atmosphere of democratic manners can at first ill
adapt himself to the harder toils and sterner duties of warfare; and if
he has not absolutely lost the taste for arms, at least he has assumed a
mode of life which unfits him for conquest.

Amongst aristocratic nations, the ease of civil life exercises less
influence on the manners of the army, because amongst those nations the
aristocracy commands the army: and an aristocracy, however plunged in
luxurious pleasures, has always many other passions besides that of
its own well-being, and to satisfy those passions more thoroughly its
well-being will be readily sacrificed. *a

[Footnote a: See Appendix V.]

I have shown that in democratic armies, in time of peace, promotion is
extremely slow. The officers at first support this state of things with
impatience, they grow excited, restless, exasperated, but in the end
most of them make up their minds to it. Those who have the largest
share of ambition and of resources quit the army; others, adapting their
tastes and their desires to their scanty fortunes, ultimately look upon
the military profession in a civil point of view. The quality they value
most in it is the competency and security which attend it: their whole
notion of the future rests upon the certainty of this little provision,
and all they require is peaceably to enjoy it. Thus not only does a long
peace fill an army with old men, but it is frequently imparts the views
of old men to those who are still in the prime of life.

I have also shown that amongst democratic nations in time of peace the
military profession is held in little honor and indifferently followed.
This want of public favor is a heavy discouragement to the army; it
weighs down the minds of the troops, and when war breaks out at last,
they cannot immediately resume their spring and vigor. No similar cause
of moral weakness occurs in aristocratic armies: there the officers are
never lowered either in their own eyes or in those of their countrymen,
because, independently of their military greatness, they are personally
great. But even if the influence of peace operated on the two kinds of
armies in the same manner, the results would still be different. When
the officers of an aristocratic army have lost their warlike spirit and
the desire of raising themselves by service, they still retain a certain
respect for the honor of their class, and an old habit of being foremost
to set an example. But when the officers of a democratic army have
no longer the love of war and the ambition of arms, nothing whatever
remains to them.

I am therefore of opinion that, when a democratic people engages in
a war after a long peace, it incurs much more risk of defeat than any
other nation; but it ought not easily to be cast down by its reverses,
for the chances of success for such an army are increased by the
duration of the war. When a war has at length, by its long continuance,
roused the whole community from their peaceful occupations and ruined
their minor undertakings, the same passions which made them attach so
much importance to the maintenance of peace will be turned to arms.
War, after it has destroyed all modes of speculation, becomes itself
the great and sole speculation, to which all the ardent and ambitious
desires which equality engenders are exclusively directed. Hence it is
that the selfsame democratic nations which are so reluctant to engage
in hostilities, sometimes perform prodigious achievements when once
they have taken the field. As the war attracts more and more of public
attention, and is seen to create high reputations and great fortunes
in a short space of time, the choicest spirits of the nation enter the
military profession: all the enterprising, proud, and martial minds, no
longer of the aristocracy solely, but of the whole country, are drawn
in this direction. As the number of competitors for military honors is
immense, and war drives every man to his proper level, great generals
are always sure to spring up. A long war produces upon a democratic army
the same effects that a revolution produces upon a people; it breaks
through regulations, and allows extraordinary men to rise above the
common level. Those officers whose bodies and minds have grown old in
peace, are removed, or superannuated, or they die. In their stead a host
of young men are pressing on, whose frames are already hardened, whose
desires are extended and inflamed by active service. They are bent on
advancement at all hazards, and perpetual advancement; they are followed
by others with the same passions and desires, and after these are
others yet unlimited by aught but the size of the army. The principle of
equality opens the door of ambition to all, and death provides chances
for ambition. Death is constantly thinning the ranks, making vacancies,
closing and opening the career of arms.

There is moreover a secret connection between the military character
and the character of democracies, which war brings to light. The men of
democracies are naturally passionately eager to acquire what they covet,
and to enjoy it on easy conditions. They for the most part worship
chance, and are much less afraid of death than of difficulty. This is
the spirit which they bring to commerce and manufactures; and this same
spirit, carried with them to the field of battle, induces them willingly
to expose their lives in order to secure in a moment the rewards of
victory. No kind of greatness is more pleasing to the imagination of
a democratic people than military greatness--a greatness of vivid and
sudden lustre, obtained without toil, by nothing but the risk of life.
Thus, whilst the interests and the tastes of the members of a democratic
community divert them from war, their habits of mind fit them for
carrying on war well; they soon make good soldiers, when they are roused
from their business and their enjoyments. If peace is peculiarly hurtful
to democratic armies, war secures to them advantages which no other
armies ever possess; and these advantages, however little felt at first,
cannot fail in the end to give them the victory. An aristocratic nation,
which in a contest with a democratic people does not succeed in ruining
the latter at the outset of the war, always runs a great risk of being
conquered by it.

Chapter XXV: Of Discipline In Democratic Armies

It is a very general opinion, especially in aristocratic countries,
that the great social equality which prevails in democracies ultimately
renders the private soldier independent of the officer, and thus
destroys the bond of discipline. This is a mistake, for there are two
kinds of discipline, which it is important not to confound. When the
officer is noble and the soldier a serf--one rich, the other poor--the
former educated and strong, the latter ignorant and weak--the strictest
bond of obedience may easily be established between the two men. The
soldier is broken in to military discipline, as it were, before he
enters the army; or rather, military discipline is nothing but an
enhancement of social servitude. In aristocratic armies the soldier
will soon become insensible to everything but the orders of his superior
officers; he acts without reflection, triumphs without enthusiasm, and
dies without complaint: in this state he is no longer a man, but he is
still a most formidable animal trained for war.

A democratic people must despair of ever obtaining from soldiers
that blind, minute, submissive, and invariable obedience which an
aristocratic people may impose on them without difficulty. The state of
society does not prepare them for it, and the nation might be in danger
of losing its natural advantages if it sought artificially to acquire
advantages of this particular kind. Amongst democratic communities,
military discipline ought not to attempt to annihilate the free spring
of the faculties; all that can be done by discipline is to direct it;
the obedience thus inculcated is less exact, but it is more eager and
more intelligent. It has its root in the will of him who obeys: it rests
not only on his instinct, but on his reason; and consequently it will
often spontaneously become more strict as danger requires it. The
discipline of an aristocratic army is apt to be relaxed in war, because
that discipline is founded upon habits, and war disturbs those habits.
The discipline of a democratic army on the contrary is strengthened in
sight of the enemy, because every soldier then clearly perceives that he
must be silent and obedient in order to conquer.

The nations which have performed the greatest warlike achievements knew
no other discipline than that which I speak of. Amongst the ancients
none were admitted into the armies but freemen and citizens, who
differed but little from one another, and were accustomed to treat
each other as equals. In this respect it may be said that the armies
of antiquity were democratic, although they came out of the bosom
of aristocracy; the consequence was that in those armies a sort of
fraternal familiarity prevailed between the officers and the men.
Plutarch's lives of great commanders furnish convincing instances of the
fact: the soldiers were in the constant habit of freely addressing their
general, and the general listened to and answered whatever the soldiers
had to say: they were kept in order by language and by example, far
more than by constraint or punishment; the general was as much their
companion as their chief. I know not whether the soldiers of Greece and
Rome ever carried the minutiae of military discipline to the same
degree of perfection as the Russians have done; but this did not prevent
Alexander from conquering Asia--and Rome, the world.

Chapter XXVI: Some Considerations On War In Democratic Communities

When the principle of equality is in growth, not only amongst a single
nation, but amongst several neighboring nations at the same time, as is
now the case in Europe, the inhabitants of these different countries,
notwithstanding the dissimilarity of language, of customs, and of laws,
nevertheless resemble each other in their equal dread of war and their
common love of peace. *a It is in vain that ambition or anger puts arms
in the hands of princes; they are appeased in spite of themselves by a
species of general apathy and goodwill, which makes the sword drop
from their grasp, and wars become more rare. As the spread of equality,
taking place in several countries at once, simultaneously impels their
various inhabitants to follow manufactures and commerce, not only do
their tastes grow alike, but their interests are so mixed and entangled
with one another that no nation can inflict evils on other nations
without those evils falling back upon itself; and all nations ultimately
regard war as a calamity, almost as severe to the conqueror as to
the conquered. Thus, on the one hand, it is extremely difficult in
democratic ages to draw nations into hostilities; but on the other hand,
it is almost impossible that any two of them should go to war without
embroiling the rest. The interests of all are so interlaced, their
opinions and their wants so much alike, that none can remain quiet when
the others stir. Wars therefore become more rare, but when they break
out they spread over a larger field. Neighboring democratic nations not
only become alike in some respects, but they eventually grow to resemble
each other in almost all. *b This similitude of nations has consequences
of great importance in relation to war.

[Footnote a: It is scarcely necessary for me to observe that the dread
of war displayed by the nations of Europe is not solely attributable
to the progress made by the principle of equality amongst them;
independently of this permanent cause several other accidental causes of
great weight might be pointed out, and I may mention before all the rest
the extreme lassitude which the wars of the Revolution and the Empire
have left behind them.]

[Footnote b: This is not only because these nations have the same social
condition, but it arises from the very nature of that social condition
which leads men to imitate and identify themselves with each other. When
the members of a community are divided into castes and classes, they not
only differ from one another, but they have no taste and no desire to be
alike; on the contrary, everyone endeavors, more and more, to keep his
own opinions undisturbed, to retain his own peculiar habits, and to
remain himself. The characteristics of individuals are very strongly
marked. When the state of society amongst a people is democratic--that
is to say, when there are no longer any castes or classes in the
community, and all its members are nearly equal in education and in
property--the human mind follows the opposite direction. Men are much
alike, and they are annoyed, as it were, by any deviation from that
likeness: far from seeking to preserve their own distinguishing
singularities, they endeavor to shake them off, in order to identify
themselves with the general mass of the people, which is the sole
representative of right and of might to their eyes. The characteristics
of individuals are nearly obliterated. In the ages of aristocracy even
those who are naturally alike strive to create imaginary differences
between themselves: in the ages of democracy even those who are not
alike seek only to become so, and to copy each other--so strongly is the
mind of every man always carried away by the general impulse of mankind.
Something of the same kind may be observed between nations: two nations
having the same aristocratic social condition, might remain thoroughly
distinct and extremely different, because the spirit of aristocracy
is to retain strong individual characteristics; but if two neighboring
nations have the same democratic social condition, they cannot fail
to adopt similar opinions and manners, because the spirit of democracy
tends to assimilate men to each other.]

If I inquire why it is that the Helvetic Confederacy made the greatest
and most powerful nations of Europe tremble in the fifteenth century,
whilst at the present day the power of that country is exactly
proportioned to its population, I perceive that the Swiss are become
like all the surrounding communities, and those surrounding communities
like the Swiss: so that as numerical strength now forms the only
difference between them, victory necessarily attends the largest army.
Thus one of the consequences of the democratic revolution which is going
on in Europe is to make numerical strength preponderate on all fields
of battle, and to constrain all small nations to incorporate themselves
with large States, or at least to adopt the policy of the latter. As
numbers are the determining cause of victory, each people ought of
course to strive by all the means in its power to bring the greatest
possible number of men into the field. When it was possible to enlist a
kind of troops superior to all others, such as the Swiss infantry or the
French horse of the sixteenth century, it was not thought necessary to
raise very large armies; but the case is altered when one soldier is as
efficient as another.

The same cause which begets this new want also supplies means of
satisfying it; for, as I have already observed, when men are all alike,
they are all weak, and the supreme power of the State is naturally much
stronger amongst democratic nations than elsewhere. Hence, whilst these
nations are desirous of enrolling the whole male population in the
ranks of the army, they have the power of effecting this object: the
consequence is, that in democratic ages armies seem to grow larger
in proportion as the love of war declines. In the same ages, too,
the manner of carrying on war is likewise altered by the same causes.
Machiavelli observes in "The Prince," "that it is much more difficult to
subdue a people which has a prince and his barons for its leaders,
than a nation which is commanded by a prince and his slaves." To avoid
offence, let us read public functionaries for slaves, and this important
truth will be strictly applicable to our own time.

A great aristocratic people cannot either conquer its neighbors, or be
conquered by them, without great difficulty. It cannot conquer them,
because all its forces can never be collected and held together for a
considerable period: it cannot be conquered, because an enemy meets at
every step small centres of resistance by which invasion is arrested.
War against an aristocracy may be compared to war in a mountainous
country; the defeated party has constant opportunities of rallying its
forces to make a stand in a new position. Exactly the reverse occurs
amongst democratic nations: they easily bring their whole disposable
force into the field, and when the nation is wealthy and populous it
soon becomes victorious; but if ever it is conquered, and its territory
invaded, it has few resources at command; and if the enemy takes the
capital, the nation is lost. This may very well be explained: as
each member of the community is individually isolated and extremely
powerless, no one of the whole body can either defend himself or present
a rallying point to others. Nothing is strong in a democratic country
except the State; as the military strength of the State is destroyed
by the destruction of the army, and its civil power paralyzed by the
capture of the chief city, all that remains is only a multitude without
strength or government, unable to resist the organized power by which it
is assailed. I am aware that this danger may be lessened by the creation
of provincial liberties, and consequently of provincial powers, but this
remedy will always be insufficient. For after such a catastrophe, not
only is the population unable to carry on hostilities, but it may be
apprehended that they will not be inclined to attempt it. In accordance
with the law of nations adopted in civilized countries, the object of
wars is not to seize the property of private individuals, but simply to
get possession of political power. The destruction of private property
is only occasionally resorted to for the purpose of attaining the latter
object. When an aristocratic country is invaded after the defeat of
its army, the nobles, although they are at the same time the
wealthiest members of the community, will continue to defend themselves
individually rather than submit; for if the conqueror remained master
of the country, he would deprive them of their political power, to which
they cling even more closely than to their property. They therefore
prefer fighting to subjection, which is to them the greatest of all
misfortunes; and they readily carry the people along with them because
the people has long been used to follow and obey them, and besides has
but little to risk in the war. Amongst a nation in which equality of
conditions prevails, each citizen, on the contrary, has but slender
share of political power, and often has no share at all; on the other
hand, all are independent, and all have something to lose; so that they
are much less afraid of being conquered, and much more afraid of war,
than an aristocratic people. It will always be extremely difficult to
decide a democratic population to take up arms, when hostilities have
reached its own territory. Hence the necessity of giving to such a
people the rights and the political character which may impart to every
citizen some of those interests that cause the nobles to act for the
public welfare in aristocratic countries.

It should never be forgotten by the princes and other leaders of
democratic nations, that nothing but the passion and the habit of
freedom can maintain an advantageous contest with the passion and the
habit of physical well-being. I can conceive nothing better prepared
for subjection, in case of defeat, than a democratic people without free

Formerly it was customary to take the field with a small body of troops,
to fight in small engagements, and to make long, regular sieges: modern
tactics consist in fighting decisive battles, and, as soon as a line
of march is open before the army, in rushing upon the capital city, in
order to terminate the war at a single blow. Napoleon, it is said, was
the inventor of this new system; but the invention of such a system did
not depend on any individual man, whoever he might be. The mode in which
Napoleon carried on war was suggested to him by the state of society in
his time; that mode was successful, because it was eminently adapted
to that state of society, and because he was the first to employ it.
Napoleon was the first commander who marched at the head of an army
from capital to capital, but the road was opened for him by the ruin of
feudal society. It may fairly be believed that, if that extraordinary
man had been born three hundred years ago, he would not have derived the
same results from his method of warfare, or, rather, that he would have
had a different method.

I shall add but a few words on civil wars, for fear of exhausting the
patience of the reader. Most of the remarks which I have made respecting
foreign wars are applicable a fortiori to civil wars. Men living in
democracies are not naturally prone to the military character; they
sometimes assume it, when they have been dragged by compulsion to the
field; but to rise in a body and voluntarily to expose themselves to the
horrors of war, and especially of civil war, is a course which the
men of democracies are not apt to adopt. None but the most adventurous
members of the community consent to run into such risks; the bulk of the
population remains motionless. But even if the population were inclined
to act, considerable obstacles would stand in their way; for they can
resort to no old and well-established influence which they are willing
to obey--no well-known leaders to rally the discontented, as well as
to discipline and to lead them--no political powers subordinate to the
supreme power of the nation, which afford an effectual support to the
resistance directed against the government. In democratic countries the
moral power of the majority is immense, and the physical resources
which it has at its command are out of all proportion to the physical
resources which may be combined against it. Therefore the party which
occupies the seat of the majority, which speaks in its name and wields
its power, triumphs instantaneously and irresistibly over all private
resistance; it does not even give such opposition time to exist,
but nips it in the bud. Those who in such nations seek to effect a
revolution by force of arms have no other resource than suddenly to
seize upon the whole engine of government as it stands, which can
better be done by a single blow than by a war; for as soon as there is
a regular war, the party which represents the State is always certain to
conquer. The only case in which a civil war could arise is, if the army
should divide itself into two factions, the one raising the standard
of rebellion, the other remaining true to its allegiance. An army
constitutes a small community, very closely united together, endowed
with great powers of vitality, and able to supply its own wants for some
time. Such a war might be bloody, but it could not be long; for either
the rebellious army would gain over the government by the sole display
of its resources, or by its first victory, and then the war would be
over; or the struggle would take place, and then that portion of the
army which should not be supported by the organized powers of the State
would speedily either disband itself or be destroyed. It may therefore
be admitted as a general truth, that in ages of equality civil wars will
become much less frequent and less protracted. *c

[Footnote c: It should be borne in mind that I speak here of sovereign
and independent democratic nations, not of confederate democracies; in
confederacies, as the preponderating power always resides, in spite of
all political fictions, in the state governments, and not in the
federal government, civil wars are in fact nothing but foreign wars in

Book Four: Influence Of Democratic Opinions On Political Society

Chapter I: That Equality Naturally Gives Men A Taste For Free

I should imperfectly fulfil the purpose of this book, if, after having
shown what opinions and sentiments are suggested by the principle of
equality, I did not point out, ere I conclude, the general influence
which these same opinions and sentiments may exercise upon the
government of human societies. To succeed in this object I shall
frequently have to retrace my steps; but I trust the reader will not
refuse to follow me through paths already known to him, which may lead
to some new truth.

The principle of equality, which makes men independent of each other,
gives them a habit and a taste for following, in their private actions,
no other guide but their own will. This complete independence, which
they constantly enjoy towards their equals and in the intercourse of
private life, tends to make them look upon all authority with a jealous
eye, and speedily suggests to them the notion and the love of
political freedom. Men living at such times have a natural bias to free
institutions. Take any one of them at a venture, and search if you can
his most deep-seated instincts; you will find that of all governments he
will soonest conceive and most highly value that government, whose head
he has himself elected, and whose administration he may control. Of all
the political effects produced by the equality of conditions, this love
of independence is the first to strike the observing, and to alarm the
timid; nor can it be said that their alarm is wholly misplaced, for
anarchy has a more formidable aspect in democratic countries than
elsewhere. As the citizens have no direct influence on each other, as
soon as the supreme power of the nation fails, which kept them all in
their several stations, it would seem that disorder must instantly
reach its utmost pitch, and that, every man drawing aside in a different
direction, the fabric of society must at once crumble away.

I am, however, persuaded that anarchy is not the principal evil which
democratic ages have to fear, but the least. For the principle
of equality begets two tendencies; the one leads men straight to
independence, and may suddenly drive them into anarchy; the other
conducts them by a longer, more secret, but more certain road, to
servitude. Nations readily discern the former tendency, and are prepared
to resist it; they are led away by the latter, without perceiving its
drift; hence it is peculiarly important to point it out. For myself, I
am so far from urging as a reproach to the principle of equality that it
renders men untractable, that this very circumstance principally calls
forth my approbation. I admire to see how it deposits in the mind
and heart of man the dim conception and instinctive love of political
independence, thus preparing the remedy for the evil which it engenders;
it is on this very account that I am attached to it.

Chapter II: That The Notions Of Democratic Nations On Government Are
Naturally Favorable To The Concentration Of Power

The notion of secondary powers, placed between the sovereign and his
subjects, occurred naturally to the imagination of aristocratic nations,
because those communities contained individuals or families raised above
the common level, and apparently destined to command by their birth,
their education, and their wealth. This same notion is naturally wanting
in the minds of men in democratic ages, for converse reasons: it
can only be introduced artificially, it can only be kept there with
difficulty; whereas they conceive, as it were, without thinking upon the
subject, the notion of a sole and central power which governs the whole
community by its direct influence. Moreover in politics, as well as
in philosophy and in religion, the intellect of democratic nations is
peculiarly open to simple and general notions. Complicated systems are
repugnant to it, and its favorite conception is that of a great nation
composed of citizens all resembling the same pattern, and all governed
by a single power.

The very next notion to that of a sole and central power, which presents
itself to the minds of men in the ages of equality, is the notion of
uniformity of legislation. As every man sees that he differs but
little from those about him, he cannot understand why a rule which is
applicable to one man should not be equally applicable to all others.
Hence the slightest privileges are repugnant to his reason; the faintest
dissimilarities in the political institutions of the same people offend
him, and uniformity of legislation appears to him to be the first
condition of good government. I find, on the contrary, that this same
notion of a uniform rule, equally binding on all the members of the
community, was almost unknown to the human mind in aristocratic ages;
it was either never entertained, or it was rejected. These contrary
tendencies of opinion ultimately turn on either side to such blind
instincts and such ungovernable habits that they still direct the
actions of men, in spite of particular exceptions. Notwithstanding the
immense variety of conditions in the Middle Ages, a certain number of
persons existed at that period in precisely similar circumstances; but
this did not prevent the laws then in force from assigning to each
of them distinct duties and different rights. On the contrary, at the
present time all the powers of government are exerted to impose the
same customs and the same laws on populations which have as yet but few
points of resemblance. As the conditions of men become equal amongst
a people, individuals seem of less importance, and society of greater
dimensions; or rather, every citizen, being assimilated to all the rest,
is lost in the crowd, and nothing stands conspicuous but the great and
imposing image of the people at large. This naturally gives the men of
democratic periods a lofty opinion of the privileges of society, and a
very humble notion of the rights of individuals; they are ready to admit
that the interests of the former are everything, and those of the latter
nothing. They are willing to acknowledge that the power which represents
the community has far more information and wisdom than any of the
members of that community; and that it is the duty, as well as the
right, of that power to guide as well as govern each private citizen.

If we closely scrutinize our contemporaries, and penetrate to the root
of their political opinions, we shall detect some of the notions which I
have just pointed out, and we shall perhaps be surprised to find so much
accordance between men who are so often at variance. The Americans hold,
that in every State the supreme power ought to emanate from the people;
but when once that power is constituted, they can conceive, as it were,
no limits to it, and they are ready to admit that it has the right to
do whatever it pleases. They have not the slightest notion of peculiar
privileges granted to cities, families, or persons: their minds appear
never to have foreseen that it might be possible not to apply
with strict uniformity the same laws to every part, and to all the
inhabitants. These same opinions are more and more diffused in Europe;
they even insinuate themselves amongst those nations which most
vehemently reject the principle of the sovereignty of the people. Such
nations assign a different origin to the supreme power, but they ascribe
to that power the same characteristics. Amongst them all, the idea of
intermediate powers is weakened and obliterated: the idea of rights
inherent in certain individuals is rapidly disappearing from the minds
of men; the idea of the omnipotence and sole authority of society at
large rises to fill its place. These ideas take root and spread in
proportion as social conditions become more equal, and men more alike;
they are engendered by equality, and in turn they hasten the progress of

In France, where the revolution of which I am speaking has gone further
than in any other European country, these opinions have got complete
hold of the public mind. If we listen attentively to the language of the
various parties in France, we shall find that there is not one which
has not adopted them. Most of these parties censure the conduct of the
government, but they all hold that the government ought perpetually to
act and interfere in everything that is done. Even those which are
most at variance are nevertheless agreed upon this head. The unity, the
ubiquity, the omnipotence of the supreme power, and the uniformity of
its rules, constitute the principal characteristics of all the political
systems which have been put forward in our age. They recur even in the
wildest visions of political regeneration: the human mind pursues them
in its dreams. If these notions spontaneously arise in the minds of
private individuals, they suggest themselves still more forcibly to
the minds of princes. Whilst the ancient fabric of European society
is altered and dissolved, sovereigns acquire new conceptions of their
opportunities and their duties; they learn for the first time that the
central power which they represent may and ought to administer by
its own agency, and on a uniform plan, all the concerns of the whole
community. This opinion, which, I will venture to say, was never
conceived before our time by the monarchs of Europe, now sinks deeply
into the minds of kings, and abides there amidst all the agitation of
more unsettled thoughts.

Our contemporaries are therefore much less divided than is commonly
supposed; they are constantly disputing as to the hands in which
supremacy is to be vested, but they readily agree upon the duties and
the rights of that supremacy. The notion they all form of government is
that of a sole, simple, providential, and creative power. All secondary
opinions in politics are unsettled; this one remains fixed, invariable,
and consistent. It is adopted by statesmen and political philosophers;
it is eagerly laid hold of by the multitude; those who govern and those
who are governed agree to pursue it with equal ardor: it is the foremost
notion of their minds, it seems inborn. It originates therefore in no
caprice of the human intellect, but it is a necessary condition of the
present state of mankind.

Chapter III: That The Sentiments Of Democratic Nations Accord With Their
Opinions In Leading Them To Concentrate Political Power

If it be true that, in ages of equality, men readily adopt the notion of
a great central power, it cannot be doubted on the other hand that their
habits and sentiments predispose them to recognize such a power and to
give it their support. This may be demonstrated in a few words, as the
greater part of the reasons, to which the fact may be attributed, have
been previously stated. *a As the men who inhabit democratic countries
have no superiors, no inferiors, and no habitual or necessary partners
in their undertakings, they readily fall back upon themselves and
consider themselves as beings apart. I had occasion to point this out
at considerable length in treating of individualism. Hence such men can
never, without an effort, tear themselves from their private affairs to
engage in public business; their natural bias leads them to abandon the
latter to the sole visible and permanent representative of the interests
of the community, that is to say, to the State. Not only are they
naturally wanting in a taste for public business, but they have
frequently no time to attend to it. Private life is so busy in
democratic periods, so excited, so full of wishes and of work, that
hardly any energy or leisure remains to each individual for public life.
I am the last man to contend that these propensities are unconquerable,
since my chief object in writing this book has been to combat them. I
only maintain that at the present day a secret power is fostering them
in the human heart, and that if they are not checked they will wholly
overgrow it.

[Footnote a: See Appendix W.]

I have also had occasion to show how the increasing love of well-being,
and the fluctuating character of property, cause democratic nations
to dread all violent disturbance. The love of public tranquillity is
frequently the only passion which these nations retain, and it becomes
more active and powerful amongst them in proportion as all other
passions droop and die. This naturally disposes the members of the
community constantly to give or to surrender additional rights to the
central power, which alone seems to be interested in defending them by
the same means that it uses to defend itself. As in ages of equality no
man is compelled to lend his assistance to his fellow-men, and none
has any right to expect much support from them, everyone is at once
independent and powerless. These two conditions, which must never be
either separately considered or confounded together, inspire the
citizen of a democratic country with very contrary propensities. His
independence fills him with self-reliance and pride amongst his equals;
his debility makes him feel from time to time the want of some outward
assistance, which he cannot expect from any of them, because they are
all impotent and unsympathizing. In this predicament he naturally turns
his eyes to that imposing power which alone rises above the level of
universal depression. Of that power his wants and especially his desires
continually remind him, until he ultimately views it as the sole and
necessary support of his own weakness. *b This may more completely
explain what frequently takes place in democratic countries, where the
very men who are so impatient of superiors patiently submit to a master,
exhibiting at once their pride and their servility.

[Footnote b: In democratic communities nothing but the central power has
any stability in its position or any permanence in its undertakings. All
the members of society are in ceaseless stir and transformation. Now it
is in the nature of all governments to seek constantly to enlarge their
sphere of action; hence it is almost impossible that such a government
should not ultimately succeed, because it acts with a fixed principle
and a constant will, upon men, whose position, whose notions, and whose
desires are in continual vacillation. It frequently happens that the
members of the community promote the influence of the central power
without intending it. Democratic ages are periods of experiment,
innovation, and adventure. At such times there are always a multitude of
men engaged in difficult or novel undertakings, which they follow alone,
without caring for their fellowmen. Such persons may be ready to admit,
as a general principle, that the public authority ought not to interfere
in private concerns; but, by an exception to that rule, each of them
craves for its assistance in the particular concern on which he is
engaged, and seeks to draw upon the influence of the government for his
own benefit, though he would restrict it on all other occasions. If a
large number of men apply this particular exception to a great
variety of different purposes, the sphere of the central power extends
insensibly in all directions, although each of them wishes it to be
circumscribed. Thus a democratic government increases its power simply
by the fact of its permanence. Time is on its side; every incident
befriends it; the passions of individuals unconsciously promote it; and
it may be asserted, that the older a democratic community is, the more
centralized will its government become.]

The hatred which men bear to privilege increases in proportion as
privileges become more scarce and less considerable, so that democratic
passions would seem to burn most fiercely at the very time when they
have least fuel. I have already given the reason of this phenomenon.
When all conditions are unequal, no inequality is so great as to offend
the eye; whereas the slightest dissimilarity is odious in the midst
of general uniformity: the more complete is this uniformity, the more
insupportable does the sight of such a difference become. Hence it is
natural that the love of equality should constantly increase together
with equality itself, and that it should grow by what it feeds upon.
This never-dying, ever-kindling hatred, which sets a democratic people
against the smallest privileges, is peculiarly favorable to the gradual
concentration of all political rights in the hands of the representative
of the State alone. The sovereign, being necessarily and incontestably
above all the citizens, excites not their envy, and each of them thinks
that he strips his equals of the prerogative which he concedes to the
crown. The man of a democratic age is extremely reluctant to obey his
neighbor who is his equal; he refuses to acknowledge in such a person
ability superior to his own; he mistrusts his justice, and is jealous
of his power; he fears and he contemns him; and he loves continually to
remind him of the common dependence in which both of them stand to the
same master. Every central power which follows its natural tendencies
courts and encourages the principle of equality; for equality singularly
facilitates, extends, and secures the influence of a central power.

In like manner it may be said that every central government worships
uniformity: uniformity relieves it from inquiry into an infinite number
of small details which must be attended to if rules were to be adapted
to men, instead of indiscriminately subjecting men to rules: thus the
government likes what the citizens like, and naturally hates what they
hate. These common sentiments, which, in democratic nations, constantly
unite the sovereign and every member of the community in one and the
same conviction, establish a secret and lasting sympathy between them.
The faults of the government are pardoned for the sake of its tastes;
public confidence is only reluctantly withdrawn in the midst even of
its excesses and its errors, and it is restored at the first call.
Democratic nations often hate those in whose hands the central power is
vested; but they always love that power itself.

Thus, by two separate paths, I have reached the same conclusion. I have
shown that the principle of equality suggests to men the notion of
a sole, uniform, and strong government: I have now shown that the
principle of equality imparts to them a taste for it. To governments of
this kind the nations of our age are therefore tending. They are drawn
thither by the natural inclination of mind and heart; and in order to
reach that result, it is enough that they do not check themselves in
their course. I am of opinion, that, in the democratic ages which are
opening upon us, individual independence and local liberties will ever
be the produce of artificial contrivance; that centralization will be
the natural form of government. *c

[Footnote c: See Appendix X.]

Chapter IV: Of Certain Peculiar And Accidental Causes Which Either Lead
A People To Complete Centralization Of Government, Or Which Divert Them
From It

If all democratic nations are instinctively led to the centralization of
government, they tend to this result in an unequal manner. This depends
on the particular circumstances which may promote or prevent the
natural consequences of that state of society--circumstances which are
exceedingly numerous; but I shall only advert to a few of them. Amongst
men who have lived free long before they became equal, the tendencies
derived from free institutions combat, to a certain extent, the
propensities superinduced by the principle of equality; and although
the central power may increase its privileges amongst such a people, the
private members of such a community will never entirely forfeit their
independence. But when the equality of conditions grows up amongst a
people which has never known, or has long ceased to know, what freedom
is (and such is the case upon the Continent of Europe), as the former
habits of the nation are suddenly combined, by some sort of natural
attraction, with the novel habits and principles engendered by the state
of society, all powers seem spontaneously to rush to the centre.
These powers accumulate there with astonishing rapidity, and the State
instantly attains the utmost limits of its strength, whilst private
persons allow themselves to sink as suddenly to the lowest degree of

The English who emigrated three hundred years ago to found a democratic
commonwealth on the shores of the New World, had all learned to take
a part in public affairs in their mother-country; they were conversant
with trial by jury; they were accustomed to liberty of speech and of the
press--to personal freedom, to the notion of rights and the practice
of asserting them. They carried with them to America these free
institutions and manly customs, and these institutions preserved them
against the encroachments of the State. Thus amongst the Americans it
is freedom which is old--equality is of comparatively modern date. The
reverse is occurring in Europe, where equality, introduced by absolute
power and under the rule of kings, was already infused into the habits
of nations long before freedom had entered into their conceptions.

I have said that amongst democratic nations the notion of government
naturally presents itself to the mind under the form of a sole and
central power, and that the notion of intermediate powers is not
familiar to them. This is peculiarly applicable to the democratic
nations which have witnessed the triumph of the principle of equality
by means of a violent revolution. As the classes which managed local
affairs have been suddenly swept away by the storm, and as the confused
mass which remains has as yet neither the organization nor the habits
which fit it to assume the administration of these same affairs, the
State alone seems capable of taking upon itself all the details of
government, and centralization becomes, as it were, the unavoidable
state of the country. Napoleon deserves neither praise nor censure for
having centred in his own hands almost all the administrative power
of France; for, after the abrupt disappearance of the nobility and
the higher rank of the middle classes, these powers devolved on him of
course: it would have been almost as difficult for him to reject as to
assume them. But no necessity of this kind has ever been felt by the
Americans, who, having passed through no revolution, and having governed
themselves from the first, never had to call upon the State to act for
a time as their guardian. Thus the progress of centralization amongst a
democratic people depends not only on the progress of equality, but on
the manner in which this equality has been established.

At the commencement of a great democratic revolution, when hostilities
have but just broken out between the different classes of society, the
people endeavors to centralize the public administration in the hands of
the government, in order to wrest the management of local affairs
from the aristocracy. Towards the close of such a revolution, on the
contrary, it is usually the conquered aristocracy that endeavors to
make over the management of all affairs to the State, because such an
aristocracy dreads the tyranny of a people which has become its equal,
and not unfrequently its master. Thus it is not always the same class
of the community which strives to increase the prerogative of the
government; but as long as the democratic revolution lasts there is
always one class in the nation, powerful in numbers or in wealth, which
is induced, by peculiar passions or interests, to centralize the public
administration, independently of that hatred of being governed by one's
neighbor, which is a general and permanent feeling amongst democratic
nations. It may be remarked, that at the present day the lower orders in
England are striving with all their might to destroy local independence,
and to transfer the administration from all points of the circumference
to the centre; whereas the higher classes are endeavoring to retain this
administration within its ancient boundaries. I venture to predict that
a time will come when the very reverse will happen.

These observations explain why the supreme power is always stronger, and
private individuals weaker, amongst a democratic people which has passed
through a long and arduous struggle to reach a state of equality than
amongst a democratic community in which the citizens have been equal
from the first. The example of the Americans completely demonstrates
the fact. The inhabitants of the United States were never divided by
any privileges; they have never known the mutual relation of master and
inferior, and as they neither dread nor hate each other, they have never
known the necessity of calling in the supreme power to manage their
affairs. The lot of the Americans is singular: they have derived from
the aristocracy of England the notion of private rights and the taste
for local freedom; and they have been able to retain both the one and
the other, because they have had no aristocracy to combat.

If at all times education enables men to defend their independence, this
is most especially true in democratic ages. When all men are alike, it
is easy to found a sole and all-powerful government, by the aid of
mere instinct. But men require much intelligence, knowledge, and art to
organize and to maintain secondary powers under similar circumstances,
and to create amidst the independence and individual weakness of the
citizens such free associations as may be in a condition to struggle
against tyranny without destroying public order.

Hence the concentration of power and the subjection of individuals will
increase amongst democratic nations, not only in the same proportion
as their equality, but in the same proportion as their ignorance. It
is true, that in ages of imperfect civilization the government is
frequently as wanting in the knowledge required to impose a despotism
upon the people as the people are wanting in the knowledge required to
shake it off; but the effect is not the same on both sides. However rude
a democratic people may be, the central power which rules it is never
completely devoid of cultivation, because it readily draws to its own
uses what little cultivation is to be found in the country, and, if
necessary, may seek assistance elsewhere. Hence, amongst a nation which
is ignorant as well as democratic, an amazing difference cannot fail
speedily to arise between the intellectual capacity of the ruler and
that of each of his subjects. This completes the easy concentration
of all power in his hands: the administrative function of the State is
perpetually extended, because the State alone is competent to administer
the affairs of the country. Aristocratic nations, however unenlightened
they may be, never afford the same spectacle, because in them
instruction is nearly equally diffused between the monarch and the
leading members of the community.

The pacha who now rules in Egypt found the population of that country
composed of men exceedingly ignorant and equal, and he has borrowed the
science and ability of Europe to govern that people. As the personal
attainments of the sovereign are thus combined with the ignorance and
democratic weakness of his subjects, the utmost centralization has been
established without impediment, and the pacha has made the country his
manufactory, and the inhabitants his workmen.

I think that extreme centralization of government ultimately enervates
society, and thus after a length of time weakens the government itself;
but I do not deny that a centralized social power may be able to execute
great undertakings with facility in a given time and on a particular
point. This is more especially true of war, in which success depends
much more on the means of transferring all the resources of a nation
to one single point, than on the extent of those resources. Hence it is
chiefly in war that nations desire and frequently require to increase
the powers of the central government. All men of military genius are
fond of centralization, which increases their strength; and all men of
centralizing genius are fond of war, which compels nations to combine
all their powers in the hands of the government. Thus the democratic
tendency which leads men unceasingly to multiply the privileges of the
State, and to circumscribe the rights of private persons, is much more
rapid and constant amongst those democratic nations which are exposed by
their position to great and frequent wars, than amongst all others.

I have shown how the dread of disturbance and the love of well-being
insensibly lead democratic nations to increase the functions of
central government, as the only power which appears to be intrinsically
sufficiently strong, enlightened, and secure, to protect them from
anarchy. I would now add, that all the particular circumstances
which tend to make the state of a democratic community agitated and
precarious, enhance this general propensity, and lead private persons
more and more to sacrifice their rights to their tranquility. A people
is therefore never so disposed to increase the functions of central
government as at the close of a long and bloody revolution, which, after
having wrested property from the hands of its former possessors,
has shaken all belief, and filled the nation with fierce hatreds,
conflicting interests, and contending factions. The love of public
tranquillity becomes at such times an indiscriminating passion, and the
members of the community are apt to conceive a most inordinate devotion
to order.

I have already examined several of the incidents which may concur to
promote the centralization of power, but the principal cause still
remains to be noticed. The foremost of the incidental causes which
may draw the management of all affairs into the hands of the ruler in
democratic countries, is the origin of that ruler himself, and his own
propensities. Men who live in the ages of equality are naturally fond
of central power, and are willing to extend its privileges; but if it
happens that this same power faithfully represents their own interests,
and exactly copies their own inclinations, the confidence they place in
it knows no bounds, and they think that whatever they bestow upon it is
bestowed upon themselves.

The attraction of administrative powers to the centre will always be
less easy and less rapid under the reign of kings who are still in some
way connected with the old aristocratic order, than under new princes,
the children of their own achievements, whose birth, prejudices,
propensities, and habits appear to bind them indissolubly to the cause
of equality. I do not mean that princes of aristocratic origin who live
in democratic ages do not attempt to centralize; I believe they apply
themselves to that object as diligently as any others. For them,
the sole advantages of equality lie in that direction; but their
opportunities are less great, because the community, instead of
volunteering compliance with their desires, frequently obeys them with
reluctance. In democratic communities the rule is that centralization
must increase in proportion as the sovereign is less aristocratic. When
an ancient race of kings stands at the head of an aristocracy, as the
natural prejudices of the sovereign perfectly accord with the natural
prejudices of the nobility, the vices inherent in aristocratic
communities have a free course, and meet with no corrective. The reverse
is the case when the scion of a feudal stock is placed at the head of
a democratic people. The sovereign is constantly led, by his education,
his habits, and his associations, to adopt sentiments suggested by the
inequality of conditions, and the people tend as constantly, by their
social condition, to those manners which are engendered by equality.
At such times it often happens that the citizens seek to control the
central power far less as a tyrannical than as an aristocratical power,
and that they persist in the firm defence of their independence, not
only because they would remain free, but especially because they are
determined to remain equal. A revolution which overthrows an ancient
regal family, in order to place men of more recent growth at the head
of a democratic people, may temporarily weaken the central power; but
however anarchical such a revolution may appear at first, we need not
hesitate to predict that its final and certain consequence will be to
extend and to secure the prerogatives of that power. The foremost or
indeed the sole condition which is required in order to succeed in
centralizing the supreme power in a democratic community, is to love
equality, or to get men to believe you love it. Thus the science of
despotism, which was once so complex, is simplified, and reduced as it
were to a single principle.

Chapter V: That Amongst The European Nations Of Our Time The Power Of
Governments Is Increasing, Although The Persons Who Govern Are Less

On reflecting upon what has already been said, the reader will be
startled and alarmed to find that in Europe everything seems to conduce
to the indefinite extension of the prerogatives of government, and to
render all that enjoyed the rights of private independence more weak,
more subordinate, and more precarious. The democratic nations of Europe
have all the general and permanent tendencies which urge the Americans
to the centralization of government, and they are moreover exposed to a
number of secondary and incidental causes with which the Americans are
unacquainted. It would seem as if every step they make towards equality
brings them nearer to despotism. And indeed if we do but cast our
looks around, we shall be convinced that such is the fact. During the
aristocratic ages which preceded the present time, the sovereigns of
Europe had been deprived of, or had relinquished, many of the rights
inherent in their power. Not a hundred years ago, amongst the greater
part of European nations, numerous private persons and corporations were
sufficiently independent to administer justice, to raise and maintain
troops, to levy taxes, and frequently even to make or interpret the
law. The State has everywhere resumed to itself alone these natural
attributes of sovereign power; in all matters of government the State
tolerates no intermediate agent between itself and the people, and in
general business it directs the people by its own immediate influence. I
am far from blaming this concentration of power, I simply point it out.

At the same period a great number of secondary powers existed in Europe,
which represented local interests and administered local affairs. Most
of these local authorities have already disappeared; all are speedily
tending to disappear, or to fall into the most complete dependence.
From one end of Europe to the other the privileges of the nobility, the
liberties of cities, and the powers of provincial bodies, are either
destroyed or upon the verge of destruction. Europe has endured, in
the course of the last half-century, many revolutions and
counter-revolutions which have agitated it in opposite directions: but
all these perturbations resemble each other in one respect--they have
all shaken or destroyed the secondary powers of government. The local
privileges which the French did not abolish in the countries they
conquered, have finally succumbed to the policy of the princes who
conquered the French. Those princes rejected all the innovations of the
French Revolution except centralization: that is the only principle they
consented to receive from such a source. My object is to remark, that
all these various rights, which have been successively wrested, in our
time, from classes, corporations, and individuals, have not served
to raise new secondary powers on a more democratic basis, but have
uniformly been concentrated in the hands of the sovereign. Everywhere
the State acquires more and more direct control over the humblest
members of the community, and a more exclusive power of governing
each of them in his smallest concerns. *a Almost all the charitable
establishments of Europe were formerly in the hands of private persons
or of corporations; they are now almost all dependent on the supreme
government, and in many countries are actually administered by that
power. The State almost exclusively undertakes to supply bread to the
hungry, assistance and shelter to the sick, work to the idle, and to
act as the sole reliever of all kinds of misery. Education, as well
as charity, is become in most countries at the present day a national
concern. The State receives, and often takes, the child from the arms of
the mother, to hand it over to official agents: the State undertakes to
train the heart and to instruct the mind of each generation. Uniformity
prevails in the courses of public instruction as in everything else;
diversity, as well as freedom, is disappearing day by day. Nor do I
hesitate to affirm, that amongst almost all the Christian nations of our
days, Catholic as well as Protestant, religion is in danger of falling
into the hands of the government. Not that rulers are over-jealous of
the right of settling points of doctrine, but they get more and more
hold upon the will of those by whom doctrines are expounded; they
deprive the clergy of their property, and pay them by salaries; they
divert to their own use the influence of the priesthood, they make them
their own ministers--often their own servants--and by this alliance with
religion they reach the inner depths of the soul of man. *b

[Footnote a: This gradual weakening of individuals in relation to
society at large may be traced in a thousand ways. I shall select
from amongst these examples one derived from the law of wills. In
aristocracies it is common to profess the greatest reverence for the
last testamentary dispositions of a man; this feeling sometimes even
became superstitious amongst the older nations of Europe: the power of
the State, far from interfering with the caprices of a dying man, gave
full force to the very least of them, and insured to him a perpetual
power. When all living men are enfeebled, the will of the dead is less
respected: it is circumscribed within a narrow range, beyond which it
is annulled or checked by the supreme power of the laws. In the Middle
Ages, testamentary power had, so to speak, no limits: amongst the French
at the present day, a man cannot distribute his fortune amongst his
children without the interference of the State; after having domineered
over a whole life, the law insists upon regulating the very last act of

[Footnote b: In proportion as the duties of the central power are
augmented, the number of public officers by whom that power is
represented must increase also. They form a nation in each nation; and
as they share the stability of the government, they more and more fill
up the place of an aristocracy.

In almost every part of Europe the government rules in two ways; it
rules one portion of the community by the fear which they entertain of
its agents, and the other by the hope they have of becoming its agents.]

But this is as yet only one side of the picture. The authority of
government has not only spread, as we have just seen, throughout the
sphere of all existing powers, till that sphere can no longer contain
it, but it goes further, and invades the domain heretofore reserved
to private independence. A multitude of actions, which were formerly
entirely beyond the control of the public administration, have been
subjected to that control in our time, and the number of them is
constantly increasing. Amongst aristocratic nations the supreme
government usually contented itself with managing and superintending
the community in whatever directly and ostensibly concerned the national
honor; but in all other respects the people were left to work out their
own free will. Amongst these nations the government often seemed to
forget that there is a point at which the faults and the sufferings of
private persons involve the general prosperity, and that to prevent
the ruin of a private individual must sometimes be a matter of public
importance. The democratic nations of our time lean to the opposite
extreme. It is evident that most of our rulers will not content
themselves with governing the people collectively: it would seem as
if they thought themselves responsible for the actions and private
condition of their subjects--as if they had undertaken to guide and to
instruct each of them in the various incidents of life, and to secure
their happiness quite independently of their own consent. On the other
hand private individuals grow more and more apt to look upon the
supreme power in the same light; they invoke its assistance in all their
necessities, and they fix their eyes upon the administration as their
mentor or their guide.

I assert that there is no country in Europe in which the public
administration has not become, not only more centralized, but more
inquisitive and more minute it everywhere interferes in private concerns
more than it did; it regulates more undertakings, and undertakings of a
lesser kind; and it gains a firmer footing every day about, above, and
around all private persons, to assist, to advise, and to coerce them.
Formerly a sovereign lived upon the income of his lands, or the revenue
of his taxes; this is no longer the case now that his wants have
increased as well as his power. Under the same circumstances which
formerly compelled a prince to put on a new tax, he now has recourse
to a loan. Thus the State gradually becomes the debtor of most of the
wealthier members of the community, and centralizes the largest amounts
of capital in its own hands. Small capital is drawn into its keeping
by another method. As men are intermingled and conditions become more
equal, the poor have more resources, more education, and more desires;
they conceive the notion of bettering their condition, and this teaches
them to save. These savings are daily producing an infinite number of
small capitals, the slow and gradual produce of labor, which are always
increasing. But the greater part of this money would be unproductive if
it remained scattered in the hands of its owners. This circumstance has
given rise to a philanthropic institution, which will soon become, if I
am not mistaken, one of our most important political institutions. Some
charitable persons conceived the notion of collecting the savings of
the poor and placing them out at interest. In some countries these
benevolent associations are still completely distinct from the State;
but in almost all they manifestly tend to identify themselves with the
government; and in some of them the government has superseded them,
taking upon itself the enormous task of centralizing in one place, and
putting out at interest on its own responsibility, the daily savings of
many millions of the working classes. Thus the State draws to itself the
wealth of the rich by loans, and has the poor man's mite at its disposal
in the savings banks. The wealth of the country is perpetually flowing
around the government and passing through its hands; the accumulation
increases in the same proportion as the equality of conditions; for in
a democratic country the State alone inspires private individuals with
confidence, because the State alone appears to be endowed with strength
and durability. *c Thus the sovereign does not confine himself to
the management of the public treasury; he interferes in private money
matters; he is the superior, and often the master, of all the members
of the community; and, in addition to this, he assumes the part of their
steward and paymaster.

[Footnote c: On the one hand the taste for worldly welfare is
perpetually increasing, and on the other the government gets more and
more complete possession of the sources of that welfare. Thus men are
following two separate roads to servitude: the taste for their own
welfare withholds them from taking a part in the government, and their
love of that welfare places them in closer dependence upon those who

The central power not only fulfils of itself the whole of the duties
formerly discharged by various authorities--extending those duties, and
surpassing those authorities--but it performs them with more alertness,
strength, and independence than it displayed before. All the governments
of Europe have in our time singularly improved the science of
administration: they do more things, and they do everything with more
order, more celerity, and at less expense; they seem to be constantly
enriched by all the experience of which they have stripped private
persons. From day to day the princes of Europe hold their subordinate
officers under stricter control, and they invent new methods for guiding
them more closely, and inspecting them with less trouble. Not content
with managing everything by their agents, they undertake to manage the
conduct of their agents in everything; so that the public administration
not only depends upon one and the same power, but it is more and more
confined to one spot and concentrated in the same hands. The government
centralizes its agency whilst it increases its prerogative--hence a
twofold increase of strength.

In examining the ancient constitution of the judicial power, amongst
most European nations, two things strike the mind--the independence of
that power, and the extent of its functions. Not only did the courts of
justice decide almost all differences between private persons, but in
very many cases they acted as arbiters between private persons and the
State. I do not here allude to the political and administrative offices
which courts of judicature had in some countries usurped, but the
judicial office common to them all. In most of the countries of Europe,
there were, and there still are, many private rights, connected for
the most part with the general right of property, which stood under
the protection of the courts of justice, and which the State could not
violate without their sanction. It was this semi-political power which
mainly distinguished the European courts of judicature from all others;
for all nations have had judges, but all have not invested their judges
with the same privileges. Upon examining what is now occurring amongst
the democratic nations of Europe which are called free, as well as
amongst the others, it will be observed that new and more dependent
courts are everywhere springing up by the side of the old ones, for
the express purpose of deciding, by an extraordinary jurisdiction,
such litigated matters as may arise between the government and private
persons. The elder judicial power retains its independence, but its
jurisdiction is narrowed; and there is a growing tendency to reduce it
to be exclusively the arbiter between private interests. The number of
these special courts of justice is continually increasing, and their
functions increase likewise. Thus the government is more and more
absolved from the necessity of subjecting its policy and its rights to
the sanction of another power. As judges cannot be dispensed with, at
least the State is to select them, and always to hold them under its
control; so that, between the government and private individuals, they
place the effigy of justice rather than justice itself. The State is
not satisfied with drawing all concerns to itself, but it acquires an
ever-increasing power of deciding on them all without restriction and
without appeal. *d

[Footnote d: A strange sophism has been made on this head in France.
When a suit arises between the government and a private person, it is
not to be tried before an ordinary judge--in order, they say, not to
mix the administrative and the judicial powers; as if it were not to
mix those powers, and to mix them in the most dangerous and oppressive
manner, to invest the government with the office of judging and
administering at the same time.]

There exists amongst the modern nations of Europe one great cause,
independent of all those which have already been pointed out, which
perpetually contributes to extend the agency or to strengthen the
prerogative of the supreme power, though it has not been sufficiently
attended to: I mean the growth of manufactures, which is fostered by the
progress of social equality. Manufactures generally collect a multitude
of men of the same spot, amongst whom new and complex relations
spring up. These men are exposed by their calling to great and sudden
alternations of plenty and want, during which public tranquillity is
endangered. It may also happen that these employments sacrifice the
health, and even the life, of those who gain by them, or of those who
live by them. Thus the manufacturing classes require more regulation,
superintendence, and restraint than the other classes of society, and
it is natural that the powers of government should increase in the same
proportion as those classes.

This is a truth of general application; what follows more especially
concerns the nations of Europe. In the centuries which preceded that in
which we live, the aristocracy was in possession of the soil, and was
competent to defend it: landed property was therefore surrounded by
ample securities, and its possessors enjoyed great independence.
This gave rise to laws and customs which have been perpetuated,
notwithstanding the subdivision of lands and the ruin of the nobility;
and, at the present time, landowners and agriculturists are still those
amongst the community who must easily escape from the control of the
supreme power. In these same aristocratic ages, in which all the
sources of our history are to be traced, personal property was of small
importance, and those who possessed it were despised and weak:
the manufacturing class formed an exception in the midst of those
aristocratic communities; as it had no certain patronage, it was not
outwardly protected, and was often unable to protect itself.

Hence a habit sprung up of considering manufacturing property as
something of a peculiar nature, not entitled to the same deference,
and not worthy of the same securities as property in general; and
manufacturers were looked upon as a small class in the bulk of the
people, whose independence was of small importance, and who might with
propriety be abandoned to the disciplinary passions of princes. On
glancing over the codes of the middle ages, one is surprised to see,
in those periods of personal independence, with what incessant royal
regulations manufactures were hampered, even in their smallest details:
on this point centralization was as active and as minute as it can ever
be. Since that time a great revolution has taken place in the world;
manufacturing property, which was then only in the germ, has spread
till it covers Europe: the manufacturing class has been multiplied and
enriched by the remnants of all other ranks; it has grown and is still
perpetually growing in number, in importance, in wealth. Almost all
those who do not belong to it are connected with it at least on some one
point; after having been an exception in society, it threatens to
become the chief, if not the only, class; nevertheless the notions and
political precedents engendered by it of old still cling about it. These
notions and these precedents remain unchanged, because they are old,
and also because they happen to be in perfect accordance with the new
notions and general habits of our contemporaries. Manufacturing property
then does not extend its rights in the same ratio as its importance. The
manufacturing classes do not become less dependent, whilst they become
more numerous; but, on the contrary, it would seem as if despotism
lurked within them, and naturally grew with their growth. *e As a
nation becomes more engaged in manufactures, the want of roads, canals,
harbors, and other works of a semi-public nature, which facilitate the
acquisition of wealth, is more strongly felt; and as a nation becomes
more democratic, private individuals are less able, and the State more
able, to execute works of such magnitude. I do not hesitate to assert
that the manifest tendency of all governments at the present time is to
take upon themselves alone the execution of these undertakings; by which
means they daily hold in closer dependence the population which they

[Footnote e: I shall quote a few facts in corroboration of this remark.
Mines are the natural sources of manufacturing wealth: as manufactures
have grown up in Europe, as the produce of mines has become of more
general importance, and good mining more difficult from the subdivision
of property which is a consequence of the equality of conditions, most
governments have asserted a right of owning the soil in which the mines
lie, and of inspecting the works; which has never been the case with any
other kind of property. Thus mines, which were private property, liable
to the same obligations and sheltered by the same guarantees as all
other landed property, have fallen under the control of the State.
The State either works them or farms them; the owners of them are mere
tenants, deriving their rights from the State; and, moreover, the State
almost everywhere claims the power of directing their operations: it
lays down rules, enforces the adoption of particular methods, subjects
the mining adventurers to constant superintendence, and, if refractory,
they are ousted by a government court of justice, and the government
transfers their contract to other hands; so that the government not
only possesses the mines, but has all the adventurers in its power.
Nevertheless, as manufactures increase, the working of old mines
increases also; new ones are opened, the mining population extends and
grows up; day by day governments augment their subterranean dominions,
and people them with their agents.]

On the other hand, in proportion as the power of a State increases, and
its necessities are augmented, the State consumption of manufactured
produce is always growing larger, and these commodities are generally
made in the arsenals or establishments of the government. Thus, in every
kingdom, the ruler becomes the principal manufacturer; he collects
and retains in his service a vast number of engineers, architects,
mechanics, and handicraftsmen. Not only is he the principal
manufacturer, but he tends more and more to become the chief, or rather
the master of all other manufacturers. As private persons become
more powerless by becoming more equal, they can effect nothing in
manufactures without combination; but the government naturally seeks to
place these combinations under its own control.

It must be admitted that these collective beings, which are called
combinations, are stronger and more formidable than a private individual
can ever be, and that they have less of the responsibility of their own
actions; whence it seems reasonable that they should not be allowed to
retain so great an independence of the supreme government as might be
conceded to a private individual.

Rulers are the more apt to follow this line of policy, as their own
inclinations invite them to it. Amongst democratic nations it is only by
association that the resistance of the people to the government can ever
display itself: hence the latter always looks with ill-favor on those
associations which are not in its own power; and it is well worthy of
remark, that amongst democratic nations, the people themselves often
entertain a secret feeling of fear and jealousy against these
very associations, which prevents the citizens from defending the
institutions of which they stand so much in need. The power and the
duration of these small private bodies, in the midst of the weakness and
instability of the whole community, astonish and alarm the people;
and the free use which each association makes of its natural powers is
almost regarded as a dangerous privilege. All the associations which
spring up in our age are, moreover, new corporate powers, whose rights
have not been sanctioned by time; they come into existence at a
time when the notion of private rights is weak, and when the power of
government is unbounded; hence it is not surprising that they lose their
freedom at their birth. Amongst all European nations there are some
kinds of associations which cannot be formed until the State has
examined their by-laws, and authorized their existence. In several
others, attempts are made to extend this rule to all associations; the
consequences of such a policy, if it were successful, may easily be
foreseen. If once the sovereign had a general right of authorizing
associations of all kinds upon certain conditions, he would not be long
without claiming the right of superintending and managing them, in order
to prevent them from departing from the rules laid down by himself. In
this manner, the State, after having reduced all who are desirous of
forming associations into dependence, would proceed to reduce into the
same condition all who belong to associations already formed--that is
to say, almost all the men who are now in existence. Governments thus
appropriate to themselves, and convert to their own purposes, the
greater part of this new power which manufacturing interests have in
our time brought into the world. Manufacturers govern us--they govern

I attach so much importance to all that I have just been saying, that
I am tormented by the fear of having impaired my meaning in seeking
to render it more clear. If the reader thinks that the examples I have
adduced to support my observations are insufficient or ill-chosen--if
he imagines that I have anywhere exaggerated the encroachments of the
supreme power, and, on the other hand, that I have underrated the extent
of the sphere which still remains open to the exertions of individual
independence, I entreat him to lay down the book for a moment, and to
turn his mind to reflect for himself upon the subjects I have attempted
to explain. Let him attentively examine what is taking place in France
and in other countries--let him inquire of those about him--let him
search himself, and I am much mistaken if he does not arrive, without
my guidance, and by other paths, at the point to which I have sought
to lead him. He will perceive that for the last half-century,
centralization has everywhere been growing up in a thousand different
ways. Wars, revolutions, conquests, have served to promote it: all men
have labored to increase it. In the course of the same period, during
which men have succeeded each other with singular rapidity at the head
of affairs, their notions, interests, and passions have been infinitely
diversified; but all have by some means or other sought to centralize.
This instinctive centralization has been the only settled point amidst
the extreme mutability of their lives and of their thoughts.

If the reader, after having investigated these details of human affairs,
will seek to survey the wide prospect as a whole, he will be struck
by the result. On the one hand the most settled dynasties shaken or
overthrown--the people everywhere escaping by violence from the sway
of their laws--abolishing or limiting the authority of their rulers or
their princes--the nations, which are not in open revolution, restless
at least, and excited--all of them animated by the same spirit of
revolt: and on the other hand, at this very period of anarchy, and
amongst these untractable nations, the incessant increase of the
prerogative of the supreme government, becoming more centralized, more
adventurous, more absolute, more extensive--the people perpetually
falling under the control of the public administration--led
insensibly to surrender to it some further portion of their individual
independence, till the very men, who from time to time upset a throne
and trample on a race of kings, bend more and more obsequiously to the
slightest dictate of a clerk. Thus two contrary revolutions appear
in our days to be going on; the one continually weakening the supreme
power, the other as continually strengthening it: at no other period
in our history has it appeared so weak or so strong. But upon a more
attentive examination of the state of the world, it appears that these
two revolutions are intimately connected together, that they originate
in the same source, and that after having followed a separate course,
they lead men at last to the same result. I may venture once more to
repeat what I have already said or implied in several parts of this
book: great care must be taken not to confound the principle of equality
itself with the revolution which finally establishes that principle in
the social condition and the laws of a nation: here lies the reason of
almost all the phenomena which occasion our astonishment. All the old
political powers of Europe, the greatest as well as the least, were
founded in ages of aristocracy, and they more or less represented or
defended the principles of inequality and of privilege. To make the
novel wants and interests, which the growing principle of equality
introduced, preponderate in government, our contemporaries had to
overturn or to coerce the established powers. This led them to make
revolutions, and breathed into many of them, that fierce love of
disturbance and independence, which all revolutions, whatever be their
object, always engender. I do not believe that there is a single country
in Europe in which the progress of equality has not been preceded or
followed by some violent changes in the state of property and persons;
and almost all these changes have been attended with much anarchy and
license, because they have been made by the least civilized portion of
the nation against that which is most civilized. Hence proceeded the
two-fold contrary tendencies which I have just pointed out. As long as
the democratic revolution was glowing with heat, the men who were
bent upon the destruction of old aristocratic powers hostile to that
revolution, displayed a strong spirit of independence; but as the
victory or the principle of equality became more complete, they
gradually surrendered themselves to the propensities natural to that
condition of equality, and they strengthened and centralized their
governments. They had sought to be free in order to make themselves
equal; but in proportion as equality was more established by the aid
of freedom, freedom itself was thereby rendered of more difficult

These two states of a nation have sometimes been contemporaneous:
the last generation in France showed how a people might organize a
stupendous tyranny in the community, at the very time when they were
baffling the authority of the nobility and braving the power of all
kings--at once teaching the world the way to win freedom, and the way to
lose it. In our days men see that constituted powers are dilapidated
on every side--they see all ancient authority gasping away, all ancient
barriers tottering to their fall, and the judgment of the wisest is
troubled at the sight: they attend only to the amazing revolution which
is taking place before their eyes, and they imagine that mankind is
about to fall into perpetual anarchy: if they looked to the final
consequences of this revolution, their fears would perhaps assume a
different shape. For myself, I confess that I put no trust in the spirit
of freedom which appears to animate my contemporaries. I see well
enough that the nations of this age are turbulent, but I do not clearly
perceive that they are liberal; and I fear lest, at the close of
those perturbations which rock the base of thrones, the domination of
sovereigns may prove more powerful than it ever was before.

Chapter VI: What Sort Of Despotism Democratic Nations Have To Fear

I had remarked during my stay in the United States, that a democratic
state of society, similar to that of the Americans, might offer singular
facilities for the establishment of despotism; and I perceived, upon
my return to Europe, how much use had already been made by most of our
rulers, of the notions, the sentiments, and the wants engendered by this
same social condition, for the purpose of extending the circle of
their power. This led me to think that the nations of Christendom would
perhaps eventually undergo some sort of oppression like that which
hung over several of the nations of the ancient world. A more accurate
examination of the subject, and five years of further meditations, have
not diminished my apprehensions, but they have changed the object of
them. No sovereign ever lived in former ages so absolute or so powerful
as to undertake to administer by his own agency, and without the
assistance of intermediate powers, all the parts of a great empire: none
ever attempted to subject all his subjects indiscriminately to strict
uniformity of regulation, and personally to tutor and direct every
member of the community. The notion of such an undertaking never
occurred to the human mind; and if any man had conceived it, the want
of information, the imperfection of the administrative system, and above
all, the natural obstacles caused by the inequality of conditions, would
speedily have checked the execution of so vast a design. When the Roman
emperors were at the height of their power, the different nations of the
empire still preserved manners and customs of great diversity; although
they were subject to the same monarch, most of the provinces were
separately administered; they abounded in powerful and active
municipalities; and although the whole government of the empire was
centred in the hands of the emperor alone, and he always remained, upon
occasions, the supreme arbiter in all matters, yet the details of social
life and private occupations lay for the most part beyond his control.
The emperors possessed, it is true, an immense and unchecked power,
which allowed them to gratify all their whimsical tastes, and to employ
for that purpose the whole strength of the State. They frequently abused
that power arbitrarily to deprive their subjects of property or of life:
their tyranny was extremely onerous to the few, but it did not reach the
greater number; it was fixed to some few main objects, and neglected the
rest; it was violent, but its range was limited.

But it would seem that if despotism were to be established amongst the
democratic nations of our days, it might assume a different character;
it would be more extensive and more mild; it would degrade men without
tormenting them. I do not question, that in an age of instruction
and equality like our own, sovereigns might more easily succeed in
collecting all political power into their own hands, and might interfere
more habitually and decidedly within the circle of private interests,
than any sovereign of antiquity could ever do. But this same principle
of equality which facilitates despotism, tempers its rigor. We have seen
how the manners of society become more humane and gentle in proportion
as men become more equal and alike. When no member of the community has
much power or much wealth, tyranny is, as it were, without opportunities
and a field of action. As all fortunes are scanty, the passions of men
are naturally circumscribed--their imagination limited, their pleasures
simple. This universal moderation moderates the sovereign himself, and
checks within certain limits the inordinate extent of his desires.

Independently of these reasons drawn from the nature of the state of
society itself, I might add many others arising from causes beyond my
subject; but I shall keep within the limits I have laid down to myself.
Democratic governments may become violent and even cruel at certain
periods of extreme effervescence or of great danger: but these crises
will be rare and brief. When I consider the petty passions of our
contemporaries, the mildness of their manners, the extent of their
education, the purity of their religion, the gentleness of their
morality, their regular and industrious habits, and the restraint which
they almost all observe in their vices no less than in their virtues,
I have no fear that they will meet with tyrants in their rulers, but
rather guardians. *a I think then that the species of oppression by
which democratic nations are menaced is unlike anything which ever
before existed in the world: our contemporaries will find no prototype
of it in their memories. I am trying myself to choose an expression
which will accurately convey the whole of the idea I have formed of it,
but in vain; the old words "despotism" and "tyranny" are inappropriate:
the thing itself is new; and since I cannot name it, I must attempt to
define it.

[Footnote a: See Appendix Y.]

I seek to trace the novel features under which despotism may appear
in the world. The first thing that strikes the observation is
an innumerable multitude of men all equal and alike, incessantly
endeavoring to procure the petty and paltry pleasures with which they
glut their lives. Each of them, living apart, is as a stranger to the
fate of all the rest--his children and his private friends constitute to
him the whole of mankind; as for the rest of his fellow-citizens, he is
close to them, but he sees them not--he touches them, but he feels them
not; he exists but in himself and for himself alone; and if his kindred
still remain to him, he may be said at any rate to have lost his
country. Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power,
which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications, and
to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular,
provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent, if,
like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it
seeks on the contrary to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well
content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing
but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors,
but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that
happiness: it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their
necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal
concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and
subdivides their inheritances--what remains, but to spare them all
the care of thinking and all the trouble of living? Thus it every day
renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less
frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range, and
gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself. The principle of
equality has prepared men for these things: it has predisposed men to
endure them, and oftentimes to look on them as benefits.

After having thus successively taken each member of the community in
its powerful grasp, and fashioned them at will, the supreme power then
extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of
society with a net-work of small complicated rules, minute and uniform,
through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters
cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not
shattered, but softened, bent, and guided: men are seldom forced by it
to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting: such a power
does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but
it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till
each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and
industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd. I have
always thought that servitude of the regular, quiet, and gentle kind
which I have just described, might be combined more easily than is
commonly believed with some of the outward forms of freedom; and that
it might even establish itself under the wing of the sovereignty of the
people. Our contemporaries are constantly excited by two conflicting
passions; they want to be led, and they wish to remain free: as they
cannot destroy either one or the other of these contrary propensities,
they strive to satisfy them both at once. They devise a sole, tutelary,
and all-powerful form of government, but elected by the people. They
combine the principle of centralization and that of popular sovereignty;
this gives them a respite; they console themselves for being in tutelage
by the reflection that they have chosen their own guardians. Every man
allows himself to be put in leading-strings, because he sees that it is
not a person or a class of persons, but the people at large that holds
the end of his chain. By this system the people shake off their state
of dependence just long enough to select their master, and then relapse
into it again. A great many persons at the present day are quite
contented with this sort of compromise between administrative despotism
and the sovereignty of the people; and they think they have done enough
for the protection of individual freedom when they have surrendered
it to the power of the nation at large. This does not satisfy me:
the nature of him I am to obey signifies less to me than the fact of
extorted obedience.

I do not however deny that a constitution of this kind appears to me to
be infinitely preferable to one, which, after having concentrated
all the powers of government, should vest them in the hands of an
irresponsible person or body of persons. Of all the forms which
democratic despotism could assume, the latter would assuredly be
the worst. When the sovereign is elective, or narrowly watched by a
legislature which is really elective and independent, the oppression
which he exercises over individuals is sometimes greater, but it is
always less degrading; because every man, when he is oppressed and
disarmed, may still imagine, that whilst he yields obedience it is to
himself he yields it, and that it is to one of his own inclinations that
all the rest give way. In like manner I can understand that when the
sovereign represents the nation, and is dependent upon the people, the
rights and the power of which every citizen is deprived, not only serve
the head of the State, but the State itself; and that private persons
derive some return from the sacrifice of their independence which they
have made to the public. To create a representation of the people in
every centralized country, is therefore, to diminish the evil which
extreme centralization may produce, but not to get rid of it. I admit
that by this means room is left for the intervention of individuals in
the more important affairs; but it is not the less suppressed in the
smaller and more private ones. It must not be forgotten that it is
especially dangerous to enslave men in the minor details of life. For my
own part, I should be inclined to think freedom less necessary in great
things than in little ones, if it were possible to be secure of the one
without possessing the other. Subjection in minor affairs breaks out
every day, and is felt by the whole community indiscriminately. It does
not drive men to resistance, but it crosses them at every turn, till
they are led to surrender the exercise of their will. Thus their
spirit is gradually broken and their character enervated; whereas that
obedience, which is exacted on a few important but rare occasions, only
exhibits servitude at certain intervals, and throws the burden of it
upon a small number of men. It is in vain to summon a people, which has
been rendered so dependent on the central power, to choose from time to
time the representatives of that power; this rare and brief exercise of
their free choice, however important it may be, will not prevent them
from gradually losing the faculties of thinking, feeling, and acting for
themselves, and thus gradually falling below the level of humanity. *b
I add that they will soon become incapable of exercising the great and
only privilege which remains to them. The democratic nations which have
introduced freedom into their political constitution, at the very
time when they were augmenting the despotism of their administrative
constitution, have been led into strange paradoxes. To manage those
minor affairs in which good sense is all that is wanted--the people are
held to be unequal to the task, but when the government of the country
is at stake, the people are invested with immense powers; they are
alternately made the playthings of their ruler, and his masters--more
than kings, and less than men. After having exhausted all the different
modes of election, without finding one to suit their purpose, they are
still amazed, and still bent on seeking further; as if the evil they
remark did not originate in the constitution of the country far more
than in that of the electoral body. It is, indeed, difficult to conceive
how men who have entirely given up the habit of self-government should
succeed in making a proper choice of those by whom they are to be
governed; and no one will ever believe that a liberal, wise, and
energetic government can spring from the suffrages of a subservient
people. A constitution, which should be republican in its head and
ultra-monarchical in all its other parts, has ever appeared to me to
be a short-lived monster. The vices of rulers and the ineptitude of the
people would speedily bring about its ruin; and the nation, weary of its
representatives and of itself, would create freer institutions, or soon
return to stretch itself at the feet of a single master.

[Footnote b: See Appendix Z.]

Chapter VII: Continuation Of The Preceding Chapters

I believe that it is easier to establish an absolute and despotic
government amongst a people in which the conditions of society are
equal, than amongst any other; and I think that if such a government
were once established amongst such a people, it would not only oppress
men, but would eventually strip each of them of several of the highest
qualities of humanity. Despotism therefore appears to me peculiarly to
be dreaded in democratic ages. I should have loved freedom, I believe,
at all times, but in the time in which we live I am ready to worship
it. On the other hand, I am persuaded that all who shall attempt, in
the ages upon which we are entering, to base freedom upon aristocratic
privilege, will fail--that all who shall attempt to draw and to retain
authority within a single class, will fail. At the present day no ruler
is skilful or strong enough to found a despotism, by re-establishing
permanent distinctions of rank amongst his subjects: no legislator is
wise or powerful enough to preserve free institutions, if he does not
take equality for his first principle and his watchword. All those of
our contemporaries who would establish or secure the independence and
the dignity of their fellow-men, must show themselves the friends of
equality; and the only worthy means of showing themselves as such, is to
be so: upon this depends the success of their holy enterprise. Thus the
question is not how to reconstruct aristocratic society, but how to make
liberty proceed out of that democratic state of society in which God has
placed us.

These two truths appear to me simple, clear, and fertile in
consequences; and they naturally lead me to consider what kind of
free government can be established amongst a people in which social
conditions are equal. It results from the very constitution of
democratic nations and from their necessities, that the power of
government amongst them must be more uniform, more centralized, more
extensive, more searching, and more efficient than in other countries.
Society at large is naturally stronger and more active, individuals more
subordinate and weak; the former does more, the latter less; and this is
inevitably the case. It is not therefore to be expected that the range
of private independence will ever be as extensive in democratic as
in aristocratic countries--nor is this to be desired; for, amongst
aristocratic nations, the mass is often sacrificed to the individual,
and the prosperity of the greater number to the greatness of the few.
It is both necessary and desirable that the government of a democratic
people should be active and powerful: and our object should not be to
render it weak or indolent, but solely to prevent it from abusing its
aptitude and its strength.

The circumstance which most contributed to secure the independence of
private persons in aristocratic ages, was, that the supreme power did
not affect to take upon itself alone the government and administration
of the community; those functions were necessarily partially left to
the members of the aristocracy: so that as the supreme power was always
divided, it never weighed with its whole weight and in the same manner
on each individual. Not only did the government not perform everything
by its immediate agency; but as most of the agents who discharged its
duties derived their power not from the State, but from the circumstance
of their birth, they were not perpetually under its control. The
government could not make or unmake them in an instant, at pleasure,
nor bend them in strict uniformity to its slightest caprice--this was
an additional guarantee of private independence. I readily admit that
recourse cannot be had to the same means at the present time: but I
discover certain democratic expedients which may be substituted for
them. Instead of vesting in the government alone all the administrative
powers of which corporations and nobles have been deprived, a portion of
them may be entrusted to secondary public bodies, temporarily composed
of private citizens: thus the liberty of private persons will be more
secure, and their equality will not be diminished.

The Americans, who care less for words than the French, still designate
by the name of "county" the largest of their administrative districts:
but the duties of the count or lord-lieutenant are in part performed by
a provincial assembly. At a period of equality like our own it would be
unjust and unreasonable to institute hereditary officers; but there is
nothing to prevent us from substituting elective public officers to a
certain extent. Election is a democratic expedient which insures the
independence of the public officer in relation to the government,
as much and even more than hereditary rank can insure it amongst
aristocratic nations. Aristocratic countries abound in wealthy and
influential persons who are competent to provide for themselves, and
who cannot be easily or secretly oppressed: such persons restrain a
government within general habits of moderation and reserve. I am very
well aware that democratic countries contain no such persons naturally;
but something analogous to them may be created by artificial means. I
firmly believe that an aristocracy cannot again be founded in the world;
but I think that private citizens, by combining together, may constitute
bodies of great wealth, influence, and strength, corresponding to the
persons of an aristocracy. By this means many of the greatest political
advantages of aristocracy would be obtained without its injustice or
its dangers. An association for political, commercial, or manufacturing
purposes, or even for those of science and literature, is a powerful
and enlightened member of the community, which cannot be disposed of at
pleasure, or oppressed without remonstrance; and which, by defending its
own rights against the encroachments of the government, saves the common
liberties of the country.

In periods of aristocracy every man is always bound so closely to many
of his fellow-citizens, that he cannot be assailed without their coming
to his assistance. In ages of equality every man naturally stands alone;
he has no hereditary friends whose co-operation he may demand--no class
upon whose sympathy he may rely: he is easily got rid of, and he is
trampled on with impunity. At the present time, an oppressed member
of the community has therefore only one method of self-defence--he
may appeal to the whole nation; and if the whole nation is deaf to his
complaint, he may appeal to mankind: the only means he has of making
this appeal is by the press. Thus the liberty of the press is infinitely
more valuable amongst democratic nations than amongst all others; it is
the only cure for the evils which equality may produce. Equality sets
men apart and weakens them; but the press places a powerful weapon
within every man's reach, which the weakest and loneliest of them all
may use. Equality deprives a man of the support of his connections; but
the press enables him to summon all his fellow-countrymen and all his
fellow-men to his assistance. Printing has accelerated the progress of
equality, and it is also one of its best correctives.

I think that men living in aristocracies may, strictly speaking, do
without the liberty of the press: but such is not the case with those
who live in democratic countries. To protect their personal independence
I trust not to great political assemblies, to parliamentary privilege,
or to the assertion of popular sovereignty. All these things may, to
a certain extent, be reconciled with personal servitude--but that
servitude cannot be complete if the press is free: the press is the
chiefest democratic instrument of freedom.

Something analogous may be said of the judicial power. It is a part of
the essence of judicial power to attend to private interests, and to fix
itself with predilection on minute objects submitted to its observation;
another essential quality of judicial power is never to volunteer its
assistance to the oppressed, but always to be at the disposal of the
humblest of those who solicit it; their complaint, however feeble they
may themselves be, will force itself upon the ear of justice and claim
redress, for this is inherent in the very constitution of the courts
of justice. A power of this kind is therefore peculiarly adapted to the
wants of freedom, at a time when the eye and finger of the government
are constantly intruding into the minutest details of human actions, and
when private persons are at once too weak to protect themselves, and too
much isolated for them to reckon upon the assistance of their fellows.
The strength of the courts of law has ever been the greatest security
which can be offered to personal independence; but this is more
especially the case in democratic ages: private rights and interests are
in constant danger, if the judicial power does not grow more extensive
and more strong to keep pace with the growing equality of conditions.

Equality awakens in men several propensities extremely dangerous to
freedom, to which the attention of the legislator ought constantly to be
directed. I shall only remind the reader of the most important amongst
them. Men living in democratic ages do not readily comprehend the
utility of forms: they feel an instinctive contempt for them--I have
elsewhere shown for what reasons. Forms excite their contempt and often
their hatred; as they commonly aspire to none but easy and present
gratifications, they rush onwards to the object of their desires, and
the slightest delay exasperates them. This same temper, carried
with them into political life, renders them hostile to forms, which
perpetually retard or arrest them in some of their projects. Yet this
objection which the men of democracies make to forms is the very thing
which renders forms so useful to freedom; for their chief merit is to
serve as a barrier between the strong and the weak, the ruler and the
people, to retard the one, and give the other time to look about him.
Forms become more necessary in proportion as the government becomes
more active and more powerful, whilst private persons are becoming more
indolent and more feeble. Thus democratic nations naturally stand more
in need of forms than other nations, and they naturally respect them
less. This deserves most serious attention. Nothing is more pitiful
than the arrogant disdain of most of our contemporaries for questions
of form; for the smallest questions of form have acquired in our time an
importance which they never had before: many of the greatest interests
of mankind depend upon them. I think that if the statesmen of
aristocratic ages could sometimes contemn forms with impunity, and
frequently rise above them, the statesmen to whom the government of
nations is now confided ought to treat the very least among them
with respect, and not neglect them without imperious necessity. In
aristocracies the observance of forms was superstitious; amongst us they
ought to be kept with a deliberate and enlightened deference.

Another tendency, which is extremely natural to democratic nations and
extremely dangerous, is that which leads them ta despise and undervalue
the rights of private persons. The attachment which men feel to a right,
and the respect which they display for it, is generally proportioned to
its importance, or to the length of time during which they have enjoyed
it. The rights of private persons amongst democratic nations are
commonly of small importance, of recent growth, and extremely
precarious--the consequence is that they are often sacrificed without
regret, and almost always violated without remorse. But it happens that
at the same period and amongst the same nations in which men conceive
a natural contempt for the rights of private persons, the rights of
society at large are naturally extended and consolidated: in other
words, men become less attached to private rights at the very time at
which it would be most necessary to retain and to defend what little
remains of them. It is therefore most especially in the present
democratic ages, that the true friends of the liberty and the greatness
of man ought constantly to be on the alert to prevent the power of
government from lightly sacrificing the private rights of individuals
to the general execution of its designs. At such times no citizen is so
obscure that it is not very dangerous to allow him to be oppressed--no
private rights are so unimportant that they can be surrendered with
impunity to the caprices of a government. The reason is plain:--if the
private right of an individual is violated at a time when the human mind
is fully impressed with the importance and the sanctity of such rights,
the injury done is confined to the individual whose right is infringed;
but to violate such a right, at the present day, is deeply to corrupt
the manners of the nation and to put the whole community in jeopardy,
because the very notion of this kind of right constantly tends amongst
us to be impaired and lost.

There are certain habits, certain notions, and certain vices which are
peculiar to a state of revolution, and which a protracted revolution
cannot fail to engender and to propagate, whatever be, in other
respects, its character, its purpose, and the scene on which it takes
place. When any nation has, within a short space of time, repeatedly
varied its rulers, its opinions, and its laws, the men of whom it is
composed eventually contract a taste for change, and grow accustomed
to see all changes effected by sudden violence. Thus they naturally
conceive a contempt for forms which daily prove ineffectual; and they do
not support without impatience the dominion of rules which they have so
often seen infringed. As the ordinary notions of equity and morality no
longer suffice to explain and justify all the innovations daily begotten
by a revolution, the principle of public utility is called in, the
doctrine of political necessity is conjured up, and men accustom
themselves to sacrifice private interests without scruple, and
to trample on the rights of individuals in order more speedily to
accomplish any public purpose.

These habits and notions, which I shall call revolutionary, because all
revolutions produce them, occur in aristocracies just as much as amongst
democratic nations; but amongst the former they are often less powerful
and always less lasting, because there they meet with habits, notions,
defects, and impediments, which counteract them: they consequently
disappear as soon as the revolution is terminated, and the nation
reverts to its former political courses. This is not always the case
in democratic countries, in which it is ever to be feared that
revolutionary tendencies, becoming more gentle and more regular, without
entirely disappearing from society, will be gradually transformed into
habits of subjection to the administrative authority of the government.
I know of no countries in which revolutions re more dangerous than
in democratic countries; because, independently of the accidental and
transient evils which must always attend them, they may always create
some evils which are permanent and unending. I believe that there are
such things as justifiable resistance and legitimate rebellion: I do not
therefore assert, as an absolute proposition, that the men of democratic
ages ought never to make revolutions; but I think that they have
especial reason to hesitate before they embark in them, and that it is
far better to endure many grievances in their present condition than to
have recourse to so perilous a remedy.

I shall conclude by one general idea, which comprises not only all the
particular ideas which have been expressed in the present chapter, but
also most of those which it is the object of this book to treat of.
In the ages of aristocracy which preceded our own, there were private
persons of great power, and a social authority of extreme weakness. The
outline of society itself was not easily discernible, and constantly
confounded with the different powers by which the community was ruled.
The principal efforts of the men of those times were required to
strengthen, aggrandize, and secure the supreme power; and on the other
hand, to circumscribe individual independence within narrower limits,
and to subject private interests to the interests of the public. Other
perils and other cares await the men of our age. Amongst the greater
part of modern nations, the government, whatever may be its origin, its
constitution, or its name, has become almost omnipotent, and private
persons are falling, more and more, into the lowest stage of weakness
and dependence. In olden society everything was different; unity and
uniformity were nowhere to be met with. In modern society everything
threatens to become so much alike, that the peculiar characteristics of
each individual will soon be entirely lost in the general aspect of the
world. Our forefathers were ever prone to make an improper use of the
notion, that private rights ought to be respected; and we are naturally
prone on the other hand to exaggerate the idea that the interest of a
private individual ought always to bend to the interest of the many. The
political world is metamorphosed: new remedies must henceforth be sought
for new disorders. To lay down extensive, but distinct and settled
limits, to the action of the government; to confer certain rights on
private persons, and to secure to them the undisputed enjoyment of those
rights; to enable individual man to maintain whatever independence,
strength, and original power he still possesses; to raise him by the
side of society at large, and uphold him in that position--these appear
to me the main objects of legislators in the ages upon which we are now
entering. It would seem as if the rulers of our time sought only to use
men in order to make things great; I wish that they would try a little
more to make great men; that they would set less value on the work, and
more upon the workman; that they would never forget that a nation cannot
long remain strong when every man belonging to it is individually weak,
and that no form or combination of social polity has yet been devised,
to make an energetic people out of a community of pusillanimous and
enfeebled citizens.

I trace amongst our contemporaries two contrary notions which are
equally injurious. One set of men can perceive nothing in the principle
of equality but the anarchical tendencies which it engenders: they
dread their own free agency--they fear themselves. Other thinkers, less
numerous but more enlightened, take a different view: besides that track
which starts from the principle of equality to terminate in anarchy,
they have at last discovered the road which seems to lead men to
inevitable servitude. They shape their souls beforehand to this
necessary condition; and, despairing of remaining free, they already
do obeisance in their hearts to the master who is soon to appear. The
former abandon freedom, because they think it dangerous; the latter,
because they hold it to be impossible. If I had entertained the latter
conviction, I should not have written this book, but I should have
confined myself to deploring in secret the destiny of mankind. I have
sought to point out the dangers to which the principle of equality
exposes the independence of man, because I firmly believe that these
dangers are the most formidable, as well as the least foreseen, of all
those which futurity holds in store: but I do not think that they are
insurmountable. The men who live in the democratic ages upon which we
are entering have naturally a taste for independence: they are naturally
impatient of regulation, and they are wearied by the permanence even of
the condition they themselves prefer. They are fond of power; but they
are prone to despise and hate those who wield it, and they easily elude
its grasp by their own mobility and insignificance. These propensities
will always manifest themselves, because they originate in the
groundwork of society, which will undergo no change: for a long time
they will prevent the establishment of any despotism, and they will
furnish fresh weapons to each succeeding generation which shall struggle
in favor of the liberty of mankind. Let us then look forward to the
future with that salutary fear which makes men keep watch and ward
for freedom, not with that faint and idle terror which depresses and
enervates the heart.

Chapter VIII: General Survey Of The Subject

Before I close forever the theme that has detained me so long, I would
fain take a parting survey of all the various characteristics of modern
society, and appreciate at last the general influence to be exercised by
the principle of equality upon the fate of mankind; but I am stopped
by the difficulty of the task, and in presence of so great an object my
sight is troubled, and my reason fails. The society of the modern world
which I have sought to delineate, and which I seek to judge, has but
just come into existence. Time has not yet shaped it into perfect form:
the great revolution by which it has been created is not yet over: and
amidst the occurrences of our time, it is almost impossible to discern
what will pass away with the revolution itself, and what will survive
its close. The world which is rising into existence is still half
encumbered by the remains of the world which is waning into decay; and
amidst the vast perplexity of human affairs, none can say how much of
ancient institutions and former manners will remain, or how much will
completely disappear. Although the revolution which is taking place in
the social condition, the laws, the opinions, and the feelings of men,
is still very far from being terminated, yet its results already admit
of no comparison with anything that the world has ever before witnessed.
I go back from age to age up to the remotest antiquity; but I find no
parallel to what is occurring before my eyes: as the past has ceased to
throw its light upon the future, the mind of man wanders in obscurity.
Nevertheless, in the midst of a prospect so wide, so novel and so
confused, some of the more prominent characteristics may already be
discerned and pointed out. The good things and the evils of life are
more equally distributed in the world: great wealth tends to disappear,
the number of small fortunes to increase; desires and gratifications
are multiplied, but extraordinary prosperity and irremediable penury are
alike unknown. The sentiment of ambition is universal, but the scope
of ambition is seldom vast. Each individual stands apart in solitary
weakness; but society at large is active, provident, and powerful: the
performances of private persons are insignificant, those of the State
immense. There is little energy of character; but manners are mild, and
laws humane. If there be few instances of exalted heroism or of virtues
of the highest, brightest, and purest temper, men's habits are regular,
violence is rare, and cruelty almost unknown. Human existence becomes
longer, and property more secure: life is not adorned with brilliant
trophies, but it is extremely easy and tranquil. Few pleasures are
either very refined or very coarse; and highly polished manners are as
uncommon as great brutality of tastes. Neither men of great learning,
nor extremely ignorant communities, are to be met with; genius becomes
more rare, information more diffused. The human mind is impelled by the
small efforts of all mankind combined together, not by the strenuous
activity of certain men. There is less perfection, but more abundance,
in all the productions of the arts. The ties of race, of rank, and of
country are relaxed; the great bond of humanity is strengthened. If
I endeavor to find out the most general and the most prominent of all
these different characteristics, I shall have occasion to perceive, that
what is taking place in men's fortunes manifests itself under a thousand
other forms. Almost all extremes are softened or blunted: all that was
most prominent is superseded by some mean term, at once less lofty and
less low, less brilliant and less obscure, than what before existed in
the world.

When I survey this countless multitude of beings, shaped in each other's
likeness, amidst whom nothing rises and nothing falls, the sight of such
universal uniformity saddens and chills me, and I am tempted to regret
that state of society which has ceased to be. When the world was full of
men of great importance and extreme insignificance, of great wealth and
extreme poverty, of great learning and extreme ignorance, I turned aside
from the latter to fix my observation on the former alone, who gratified
my sympathies. But I admit that this gratification arose from my own
weakness: it is because I am unable to see at once all that is around
me, that I am allowed thus to select and separate the objects of my
predilection from among so many others. Such is not the case with that
almighty and eternal Being whose gaze necessarily includes the whole of
created things, and who surveys distinctly, though at once, mankind and
man. We may naturally believe that it is not the singular prosperity of
the few, but the greater well-being of all, which is most pleasing in
the sight of the Creator and Preserver of men. What appears to me to be
man's decline, is to His eye advancement; what afflicts me is acceptable
to Him. A state of equality is perhaps less elevated, but it is more
just; and its justice constitutes its greatness and its beauty. I would
strive then to raise myself to this point of the divine contemplation,
and thence to view and to judge the concerns of men.

No man, upon the earth, can as yet affirm absolutely and generally,
that the new state of the world is better than its former one; but it
is already easy to perceive that this state is different. Some vices
and some virtues were so inherent in the constitution of an aristocratic
nation, and are so opposite to the character of a modern people, that
they can never be infused into it; some good tendencies and some bad
propensities which were unknown to the former, are natural to the
latter; some ideas suggest themselves spontaneously to the imagination
of the one, which are utterly repugnant to the mind of the other. They
are like two distinct orders of human beings, each of which has its
own merits and defects, its own advantages and its own evils. Care
must therefore be taken not to judge the state of society, which is now
coming into existence, by notions derived from a state of society
which no longer exists; for as these states of society are exceedingly
different in their structure, they cannot be submitted to a just or fair
comparison. It would be scarcely more reasonable to require of our
own contemporaries the peculiar virtues which originated in the social
condition of their forefathers, since that social condition is itself
fallen, and has drawn into one promiscuous ruin the good and evil which
belonged to it.

But as yet these things are imperfectly understood. I find that a great
number of my contemporaries undertake to make a certain selection from
amongst the institutions, the opinions, and the ideas which originated
in the aristocratic constitution of society as it was: a portion of
these elements they would willingly relinquish, but they would keep the
remainder and transplant them into their new world. I apprehend that
such men are wasting their time and their strength in virtuous
but unprofitable efforts. The object is not to retain the peculiar
advantages which the inequality of conditions bestows upon mankind, but
to secure the new benefits which equality may supply. We have not to
seek to make ourselves like our progenitors, but to strive to work out
that species of greatness and happiness which is our own. For myself,
who now look back from this extreme limit of my task, and discover from
afar, but at once, the various objects which have attracted my more
attentive investigation upon my way, I am full of apprehensions and
of hopes. I perceive mighty dangers which it is possible to ward
off--mighty evils which may be avoided or alleviated; and I cling with
a firmer hold to the belief, that for democratic nations to be virtuous
and prosperous they require but to will it. I am aware that many of my
contemporaries maintain that nations are never their own masters
here below, and that they necessarily obey some insurmountable and
unintelligent power, arising from anterior events, from their race, or
from the soil and climate of their country. Such principles are false
and cowardly; such principles can never produce aught but feeble men
and pusillanimous nations. Providence has not created mankind entirely
independent or entirely free. It is true that around every man a fatal
circle is traced, beyond which he cannot pass; but within the wide
verge of that circle he is powerful and free: as it is with man, so with
communities. The nations of our time cannot prevent the conditions of
men from becoming equal; but it depends upon themselves whether the
principle of equality is to lead them to servitude or freedom, to
knowledge or barbarism, to prosperity or to wretchedness.

Part I.

Appendix A

For information concerning all the countries of the West which have
not been visited by Europeans, consult the account of two expeditions
undertaken at the expense of Congress by Major Long. This traveller
particularly mentions, on the subject of the great American desert, that
a line may be drawn nearly parallel to the 20th degree of longitude *a
(meridian of Washington), beginning from the Red River and ending at
the River Platte. From this imaginary line to the Rocky Mountains, which
bound the valley of the Mississippi on the west, lie immense plains,
which are almost entirely covered with sand, incapable of cultivation,
or scattered over with masses of granite. In summer, these plains are
quite destitute of water, and nothing is to be seen on them but herds of
buffaloes and wild horses. Some hordes of Indians are also found
there, but in no great numbers. Major Long was told that in travelling
northwards from the River Platte you find the same desert lying
constantly on the left; but he was unable to ascertain the truth of this
report. However worthy of confidence may be the narrative of Major Long,
it must be remembered that he only passed through the country of which
he speaks, without deviating widely from the line which he had traced
out for his journey.

[Footnote a: The 20th degree of longitude, according to the meridian of
Washington, agrees very nearly with the 97th degree on the meridian of

Appendix B

South America, in the region between the tropics, produces an incredible
profusion of climbing plants, of which the flora of the Antilles alone
presents us with forty different species. Among the most graceful of
these shrubs is the passion-flower, which, according to Descourtiz,
grows with such luxuriance in the Antilles, as to climb trees by means
of the tendrils with which it is provided, and form moving bowers of
rich and elegant festoons, decorated with blue and purple flowers, and
fragrant with perfume. The Mimosa scandens (Acacia a grandes gousses) is
a creeper of enormous and rapid growth, which climbs from tree to tree,
and sometimes covers more than half a league.

Appendix C

The languages which are spoken by the Indians of America, from the Pole
to Cape Horn, are said to be all formed upon the same model, and subject
to the same grammatical rules; whence it may fairly be concluded that
all the Indian nations sprang from the same stock. Each tribe of
the American continent speaks a different dialect; but the number of
languages, properly so called, is very small, a fact which tends to
prove that the nations of the New World had not a very remote origin.
Moreover, the languages of America have a great degree of regularity,
from which it seems probable that the tribes which employ them had not
undergone any great revolutions, or been incorporated voluntarily or
by constraint, with foreign nations. For it is generally the union of
several languages into one which produces grammatical irregularities. It
is not long since the American languages, especially those of the
North, first attracted the serious attention of philologists, when the
discovery was made that this idiom of a barbarous people was the product
of a complicated system of ideas and very learned combinations. These
languages were found to be very rich, and great pains had been taken
at their formation to render them agreeable to the ear. The grammatical
system of the Americans differs from all others in several points, but
especially in the following:--Some nations of Europe, amongst
others the Germans, have the power of combining at pleasure different
expressions, and thus giving a complex sense to certain words. The
Indians have given a most surprising extension to this power, so as to
arrive at the means of connecting a great number of ideas with a single
term. This will be easily understood with the help of an example quoted
by Mr. Duponceau, in the "Memoirs of the Philosophical Society of
America": A Delaware woman playing with a cat or a young dog, says
this writer, is heard to pronounce the word kuligatschis, which is thus
composed: k is the sign of the second person, and signifies "thou" or
"thy"; uli is a part of the word wulit, which signifies "beautiful,"
"pretty"; gat is another fragment, of the word wichgat, which means
"paw"; and, lastly, schis is a diminutive giving the idea of smallness.
Thus in one word the Indian woman has expressed "Thy pretty little paw."
Take another example of the felicity with which the savages of America
have composed their words. A young man of Delaware is called pilape.
This word is formed from pilsit, "chaste," "innocent"; and lenape,
"man"; viz., "man in his purity and innocence." This facility of
combining words is most remarkable in the strange formation of their
verbs. The most complex action is often expressed by a single verb,
which serves to convey all the shades of an idea by the modification
of its construction. Those who may wish to examine more in detail this
subject, which I have only glanced at superficially, should read:--

1. The correspondence of Mr. Duponceau and the Rev. Mr. Hecwelder
relative to the Indian languages, which is to be found in the first
volume of the "Memoirs of the Philosophical Society of America,"
published at Philadelphia, 1819, by Abraham Small; vol. i. p. 356-464.

2. The "Grammar of the Delaware or the Lenape Language," by Geiberger,
and the preface of Mr. Duponceau. All these are in the same collection,
vol. iii.

3. An excellent account of these works, which is at the end of the sixth
volume of the American Encyclopaedia.

Appendix D

See in Charlevoix, vol. i. p. 235, the history of the first war which
the French inhabitants of Canada carried on, in 1610, against the
Iroquois. The latter, armed with bows and arrows, offered a desperate
resistance to the French and their allies. Charlevoix is not a great
painter, yet he exhibits clearly enough, in this narrative, the contrast
between the European manners and those of savages, as well as the
different way in which the two races of men understood the sense of
honor. When the French, says he, seized upon the beaver-skins which
covered the Indians who had fallen, the Hurons, their allies, were
greatly offended at this proceeding; but without hesitation they set
to work in their usual manner, inflicting horrid cruelties upon the
prisoners, and devouring one of those who had been killed, which
made the Frenchmen shudder. The barbarians prided themselves upon a
scrupulousness which they were surprised at not finding in our nation,
and could not understand that there was less to reprehend in the
stripping of dead bodies than in the devouring of their flesh like wild
beasts. Charlevoix, in another place (vol. i. p. 230), thus describes
the first torture of which Champlain was an eyewitness, and the return
of the Hurons into their own village. Having proceeded about eight
leagues, says he, our allies halted; and having singled out one of
their captives, they reproached him with all the cruelties which he
had practised upon the warriors of their nation who had fallen into his
hands, and told him that he might expect to be treated in like manner;
adding, that if he had any spirit he would prove it by singing. He
immediately chanted forth his death-song, and then his war-song, and all
the songs he knew, "but in a very mournful strain," says Champlain, who
was not then aware that all savage music has a melancholy character. The
tortures which succeeded, accompanied by all the horrors which we shall
mention hereafter, terrified the French, who made every effort to put a
stop to them, but in vain. The following night, one of the Hurons having
dreamt that they were pursued, the retreat was changed to a real flight,
and the savages never stopped until they were out of the reach of
danger. The moment they perceived the cabins of their own village, they
cut themselves long sticks, to which they fastened the scalps which had
fallen to their share, and carried them in triumph. At this sight, the
women swam to the canoes, where they received the bloody scalps from the
hands of their husbands, and tied them round their necks. The warriors
offered one of these horrible trophies to Champlain; they also presented
him with some bows and arrows--the only spoils of the Iroquois which
they had ventured to seize--entreating him to show them to the King
of France. Champlain lived a whole winter quite alone among these
barbarians, without being under any alarm for his person or property.

Appendix E

Although the Puritanical strictness which presided over the
establishment of the English colonies in America is now much relaxed,
remarkable traces of it are still found in their habits and their laws.
In 1792, at the very time when the anti-Christian republic of France
began its ephemeral existence, the legislative body of Massachusetts
promulgated the following law, to compel the citizens to observe the
Sabbath. We give the preamble and the principal articles of this
law, which is worthy of the reader's attention: "Whereas," says the
legislator, "the observation of the Sunday is an affair of public
interest; inasmuch as it produces a necessary suspension of labor, leads
men to reflect upon the duties of life, and the errors to which human
nature is liable, and provides for the public and private worship of
God, the creator and governor of the universe, and for the performance
of such acts of charity as are the ornament and comfort of Christian
societies:--Whereas irreligious or light-minded persons, forgetting the
duties which the Sabbath imposes, and the benefits which these duties
confer on society, are known to profane its sanctity, by following their
pleasures or their affairs; this way of acting being contrary to their
own interest as Christians, and calculated to annoy those who do not
follow their example; being also of great injury to society at large, by
spreading a taste for dissipation and dissolute manners; Be it enacted
and ordained by the Governor, Council, and Representatives convened in
General Court of Assembly, that all and every person and persons shall
on that day carefully apply themselves to the duties of religion
and piety, that no tradesman or labourer shall exercise his ordinary
calling, and that no game or recreation shall be used on the Lord's Day,
upon pain of forfeiting ten shillings.

"That no one shall travel on that day, or any part thereof, under pain
of forfeiting twenty shillings; that no vessel shall leave a harbour of
the colony; that no persons shall keep outside the meeting-house during
the time of public worship, or profane the time by playing or talking,
on penalty of five shillings.

"Public-houses shall not entertain any other than strangers or lodgers,
under penalty of five shillings for every person found drinking and
abiding therein.

"Any person in health, who, without sufficient reason, shall omit to
worship God in public during three months, shall be condemned to a fine
of ten shillings.

"Any person guilty of misbehaviour in a place of public worship, shall
be fined from five to forty shillings.

"These laws are to be enforced by the tything-men of each township, who
have authority to visit public-houses on the Sunday. The innkeeper who
shall refuse them admittance, shall be fined forty shillings for such

"The tything-men are to stop travellers, and require of them their
reason for being on the road on Sunday; anyone refusing to answer, shall
be sentenced to pay a fine not exceeding five pounds sterling. If
the reason given by the traveller be not deemed by the tything-man
sufficient, he may bring the traveller before the justice of the peace
of the district." (Law of March 8, 1792; General Laws of Massachusetts,
vol. i. p. 410.)

On March 11, 1797, a new law increased the amount of fines, half of
which was to be given to the informer. (Same collection, vol. ii. p.
525.) On February 16, 1816, a new law confirmed these same measures.
(Same collection, vol. ii. p. 405.) Similar enactments exist in the
laws of the State of New York, revised in 1827 and 1828. (See Revised
Statutes, Part I. chapter 20, p. 675.) In these it is declared that no
one is allowed on the Sabbath to sport, to fish, to play at games, or to
frequent houses where liquor is sold. No one can travel, except in
case of necessity. And this is not the only trace which the religious
strictness and austere manners of the first emigrants have left behind
them in the American laws. In the Revised Statutes of the State of New
York, vol. i. p. 662, is the following clause:--

"Whoever shall win or lose in the space of twenty-four hours, by gaming
or betting, the sum of twenty-five dollars, shall be found guilty of a
misdemeanour, and upon conviction shall be condemned to pay a fine equal
to at least five times the value of the sum lost or won; which shall
be paid to the inspector of the poor of the township. He that loses
twenty-five dollars or more may bring an action to recover them; and if
he neglects to do so the inspector of the poor may prosecute the winner,
and oblige him to pay into the poor's box both the sum he has gained and
three times as much besides."

The laws we quote from are of recent date; but they are unintelligible
without going back to the very origin of the colonies. I have no doubt
that in our days the penal part of these laws is very rarely applied.
Laws preserve their inflexibility, long after the manners of a nation
have yielded to the influence of time. It is still true, however, that
nothing strikes a foreigner on his arrival in America more forcibly
than the regard paid to the Sabbath. There is one, in particular, of
the large American cities, in which all social movements begin to be
suspended even on Saturday evening. You traverse its streets at the hour
at which you expect men in the middle of life to be engaged in business,
and young people in pleasure; and you meet with solitude and silence.
Not only have all ceased to work, but they appear to have ceased to
exist. Neither the movements of industry are heard, nor the accents of
joy, nor even the confused murmur which arises from the midst of a great
city. Chains are hung across the streets in the neighborhood of the
churches; the half-closed shutters of the houses scarcely admit a ray
of sun into the dwellings of the citizens. Now and then you perceive a
solitary individual who glides silently along the deserted streets and
lanes. Next day, at early dawn, the rolling of carriages, the noise of
hammers, the cries of the population, begin to make themselves heard
again. The city is awake. An eager crowd hastens towards the resort of
commerce and industry; everything around you bespeaks motion, bustle,
hurry. A feverish activity succeeds to the lethargic stupor of
yesterday; you might almost suppose that they had but one day to acquire
wealth and to enjoy it.

Appendix F

It is unnecessary for me to say, that in the chapter which has just been
read, I have not had the intention of giving a history of America. My
only object was to enable the reader to appreciate the influence which
the opinions and manners of the first emigrants had exercised upon the
fate of the different colonies, and of the Union in general. I have
therefore confined myself to the quotation of a few detached fragments.
I do not know whether I am deceived, but it appears to me that, by
pursuing the path which I have merely pointed out, it would be easy to
present such pictures of the American republics as would not be unworthy
the attention of the public, and could not fail to suggest to the
statesman matter for reflection. Not being able to devote myself to this
labor, I am anxious to render it easy to others; and, for this purpose,
I subjoin a short catalogue and analysis of the works which seem to me
the most important to consult.

At the head of the general documents which it would be advantageous to
examine I place the work entitled "An Historical Collection of State
Papers, and other authentic Documents, intended as Materials for a
History of the United States of America," by Ebenezer Hasard. The first
volume of this compilation, which was printed at Philadelphia in 1792,
contains a literal copy of all the charters granted by the Crown of
England to the emigrants, as well as the principal acts of the colonial
governments, during the commencement of their existence. Amongst other
authentic documents, we here find a great many relating to the affairs
of New England and Virginia during this period. The second volume is
almost entirely devoted to the acts of the Confederation of 1643. This
federal compact, which was entered into by the colonies of New England
with the view of resisting the Indians, was the first instance of
union afforded by the Anglo-Americans. There were besides many other
confederations of the same nature, before the famous one of 1776, which
brought about the independence of the colonies.

Each colony has, besides, its own historic monuments, some of which are
extremely curious; beginning with Virginia, the State which was first
peopled. The earliest historian of Virginia was its founder, Captain
John Smith. Captain Smith has left us an octavo volume, entitled "The
generall Historie of Virginia and New England, by Captain John Smith,
sometymes Governor in those Countryes, and Admirall of New England";
printed at London in 1627. The work is adorned with curious maps and
engravings of the time when it appeared; the narrative extends from the
year 1584 to 1626. Smith's work is highly and deservedly esteemed.
The author was one of the most celebrated adventurers of a period of
remarkable adventure; his book breathes that ardor for discovery, that
spirit of enterprise, which characterized the men of his time, when
the manners of chivalry were united to zeal for commerce, and made
subservient to the acquisition of wealth. But Captain Smith is
most remarkable for uniting to the virtues which characterized his
contemporaries several qualities to which they were generally strangers;
his style is simple and concise, his narratives bear the stamp of truth,
and his descriptions are free from false ornament. This author throws
most valuable light upon the state and condition of the Indians at the
time when North America was first discovered.

The second historian to consult is Beverley, who commences his narrative
with the year 1585, and ends it with 1700. The first part of his book
contains historical documents, properly so called, relative to the
infancy of the colony. The second affords a most curious picture of the
state of the Indians at this remote period. The third conveys very clear
ideas concerning the manners, social conditions, laws, and political
customs of the Virginians in the author's lifetime. Beverley was a
native of Virginia, which occasions him to say at the beginning of
his book, that he entreats his readers not to exercise their critical
severity upon it, since, having been born in the Indies, he does not
aspire to purity of language. Notwithstanding this colonial modesty, the
author shows throughout his book the impatience with which he endures
the supremacy of the mother-country. In this work of Beverley are also
found numerous traces of that spirit of civil liberty which animated the
English colonies of America at the time when he wrote. He also shows the
dissensions which existed among them, and retarded their independence.
Beverley detests his Catholic neighbors of Maryland even more than
he hates the English government: his style is simple, his narrative
interesting, and apparently trustworthy.

I saw in America another work which ought to be consulted, entitled "The
History of Virginia," by William Stith. This book affords some curious
details, but I thought it long and diffuse. The most ancient as well as
the best document to be consulted on the history of Carolina, is a work
in small quarto, entitled "The History of Carolina," by John Lawson,
printed at London in 1718. This work contains, in the first part, a
journey of discovery in the west of Carolina; the account of which,
given in the form of a journal, is in general confused and superficial;
but it contains a very striking description of the mortality caused
among the savages of that time both by the smallpox and the immoderate
use of brandy; with a curious picture of the corruption of manners
prevalent amongst them, which was increased by the presence of
Europeans. The second part of Lawson's book is taken up with a
description of the physical condition of Carolina, and its productions.
In the third part, the author gives an interesting account of the
manners, customs, and government of the Indians at that period. There is
a good deal of talent and originality in this part of the work.
Lawson concludes his history with a copy of the charter granted to the
Carolinas in the reign of Charles II. The general tone of this work is
light, and often licentious, forming a perfect contrast to the solemn
style of the works published at the same period in New England. Lawson's
history is extremely scarce in America, and cannot be procured in
Europe. There is, however, a copy of it in the Royal Library at Paris.

From the southern extremity of the United States, I pass at once to the
northern limit; as the intermediate space was not peopled till a later
period. I must first point out a very curious compilation, entitled
"Collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society," printed for the
first time at Boston in 1792, and reprinted in 1806. The collection of
which I speak, and which is continued to the present day, contains a
great number of very valuable documents relating to the history of the
different States in New England. Among them are letters which have never
been published, and authentic pieces which had been buried in provincial
archives. The whole work of Gookin, concerning the Indians, is inserted

I have mentioned several times in the chapter to which this note
relates, the work of Nathaniel Norton entitled "New England's Memorial";
sufficiently, perhaps, to prove that it deserves the attention of those
who would be conversant with the history of New England. This book is in
octavo, and was reprinted at Boston in 1826.

The most valuable and important authority which exists upon the
history of New England, is the work of the Rev. Cotton Mather, entitled
"Magnalia Christi Americana, or the Ecclesiastical History of New
England, 1620-1698, 2 vols. 8vo, reprinted at Hartford, United States,
in 1820." *b The author divided his work into seven books. The first
presents the history of the events which prepared and brought about the
establishment of New England. The second contains the lives of the first
governors and chief magistrates who presided over the country. The third
is devoted to the lives and labors of the evangelical ministers who,
during the same period, had the care of souls. In the fourth the author
relates the institution and progress of the University of Cambridge
(Massachusetts). In the fifth he describes the principles and the
discipline of the Church of New England. The sixth is taken up in
retracing certain facts, which, in the opinion of Mather, prove the
merciful interposition of Providence in behalf of the inhabitants of
New England. Lastly, in the seventh, the author gives an account of
the heresies and the troubles to which the Church of New England was
exposed. Cotton Mather was an evangelical minister who was born at
Boston, and passed his life there. His narratives are distinguished by
the same ardor and religious zeal which led to the foundation of the
colonies of New England. Traces of bad taste sometimes occur in his
manner of writing; but he interests, because he is full of enthusiasm.
He is often intolerant, still oftener credulous, but he never betrays
an intention to deceive. Sometimes his book contains fine passages, and
true and profound reflections, such as the following:--

"Before the arrival of the Puritans," says he (vol. i. chap. iv.),
"there were more than a few attempts of the English to people and
improve the parts of New England which were to the northward of New
Plymouth; but the designs of those attempts being aimed no higher
than the advancement of some worldly interests, a constant series of
disasters has confounded them, until there was a plantation erected upon
the nobler designs of Christianity: and that plantation though it
has had more adversaries than perhaps any one upon earth, yet, having
obtained help from God, it continues to this day." Mather occasionally
relieves the austerity of his descriptions with images full of tender
feeling: after having spoken of an English lady whose religious ardor
had brought her to America with her husband, and who soon after sank
under the fatigues and privations of exile, he adds, "As for her
virtuous husband, Isaac Johnson,

     He tryed
     To live without her, liked it not, and dyed."

[Footnote b: A folio edition of this work was published in London in

Mather's work gives an admirable picture of the time and country which
he describes. In his account of the motives which led the Puritans to
seek an asylum beyond seas, he says:--"The God of Heaven served, as it
were, a summons upon the spirits of his people in the English nation,
stirring up the spirits of thousands which never saw the faces of each
other, with a most unanimous inclination to leave all the pleasant
accommodations of their native country, and go over a terrible
ocean, into a more terrible desert, for the pure enjoyment of all his
ordinances. It is now reasonable that, before we pass any further,
the reasons of his undertaking should be more exactly made known
unto posterity, especially unto the posterity of those that were the
undertakers, lest they come at length to forget and neglect the true
interest of New England. Wherefore I shall now transcribe some of them
from a manuscript, wherein they were then tendered unto consideration:

"General Considerations for the Plantation of New England

"First, It will be a service unto the Church of great consequence, to
carry the Gospel unto those parts of the world, and raise a bulwark
against the kingdom of Antichrist, which the Jesuits labour to rear up
in all parts of the world.

"Secondly, All other Churches of Europe have been brought under
desolations; and it may be feared that the like judgments are coming
upon us; and who knows but God hath provided this place to be a refuge
for many whom he means to save out of the general destruction?

"Thirdly, The land grows weary of her inhabitants, insomuch that man,
which is the most precious of all creatures, is here more vile and
base than the earth he treads upon; children, neighbours, and friends,
especially the poor, are counted the greatest burdens, which, if things
were right, would be the chiefest of earthly blessings.

"Fourthly, We are grown to that intemperance in all excess of riot, as
no mean estate almost will suffice a man to keep sail with his equals,
and he that fails in it must live in scorn and contempt: hence it comes
to pass, that all arts and trades are carried in that deceitful manner
and unrighteous course, as it is almost impossible for a good upright
man to maintain his constant charge and live comfortably in them.

"Fifthly, The schools of learning and religion are so corrupted, as
(besides the unsupportable charge of education) most children, even the
best, wittiest, and of the fairest hopes, are perverted, corrupted,
and utterly overthrown by the multitude of evil examples and licentious
behaviours in these seminaries.

"Sixthly, The whole earth is the Lord's garden, and he hath given it to
the sons of Adam, to be tilled and improved by them: why, then, should
we stand starving here for places of habitation, and in the meantime
suffer whole countries, as profitable for the use of man, to lie waste
without any improvement?

"Seventhly, What can be a better or nobler work, and more worthy of a
Christian, than to erect and support a reformed particular Church in its
infancy, and unite our forces with such a company of faithful people, as
by timely assistance may grow stronger and prosper; but for want of it,
may be put to great hazards, if not be wholly ruined?

"Eighthly, If any such as are known to be godly, and live in wealth
and prosperity here, shall forsake all this to join with this reformed
Church, and with it run the hazard of an hard and mean condition, it
will be an example of great use, both for the removing of scandal and to
give more life unto the faith of God's people in their prayers for the
plantation, and also to encourage others to join the more willingly in

Further on, when he declares the principles of the Church of New England
with respect to morals, Mather inveighs with violence against the
custom of drinking healths at table, which he denounces as a pagan and
abominable practice. He proscribes with the same rigor all ornaments for
the hair used by the female sex, as well as their custom of having the
arms and neck uncovered. In another part of his work he relates several
instances of witchcraft which had alarmed New England. It is plain that
the visible action of the devil in the affairs of this world appeared to
him an incontestable and evident fact.

This work of Cotton Mather displays, in many places, the spirit of civil
liberty and political independence which characterized the times in
which he lived. Their principles respecting government are discoverable
at every page. Thus, for instance, the inhabitants of Massachusetts, in
the year 1630, ten years after the foundation of Plymouth, are found to
have devoted Pound 400 sterling to the establishment of the University
of Cambridge. In passing from the general documents relative to the
history of New England to those which describe the several States
comprised within its limits, I ought first to notice "The History of
the Colony of Massachusetts," by Hutchinson, Lieutenant-Governor of the
Massachusetts Province, 2 vols. 8vo. The history of Hutchinson, which
I have several times quoted in the chapter to which this note relates,
commences in the year 1628, and ends in 1750. Throughout the work there
is a striking air of truth and the greatest simplicity of style: it
is full of minute details. The best history to consult concerning
Connecticut is that of Benjamin Trumbull, entitled "A Complete History
of Connecticut, Civil and Ecclesiastical," 1630-1764, 2 vols. 8vo,
printed in 1818 at New Haven. This history contains a clear and calm
account of all the events which happened in Connecticut during the
period given in the title. The author drew from the best sources, and
his narrative bears the stamp of truth. All that he says of the
early days of Connecticut is extremely curious. See especially the
Constitution of 1639, vol. i. ch. vi. p. 100; and also the Penal Laws of
Connecticut, vol. i. ch. vii. p. 123.

"The History of New Hampshire," by Jeremy Belknap, is a work held in
merited estimation. It was printed at Boston in 1792, in 2 vols.
8vo. The third chapter of the first volume is particularly worthy of
attention for the valuable details it affords on the political and
religious principles of the Puritans, on the causes of their emigration,
and on their laws. The following curious quotation is given from a
sermon delivered in 1663:--"It concerneth New England always to remember
that they are a plantation religious, not a plantation of trade. The
profession of the purity of doctrine, worship, and discipline, is
written upon her forehead. Let merchants, and such as are increasing
cent. per cent., remember this, that worldly gain was not the end and
design of the people of New England, but religion. And if any man among
us make religion as twelve, and the world as thirteen, such an one hath
not the spirit of a true New Englishman." The reader of Belknap will
find in his work more general ideas, and more strength of thought, than
are to be met with in the American historians even to the present day.

Among the Central States which deserve our attention for their remote
origin, New York and Pennsylvania are the foremost. The best history
we have of the former is entitled "A History of New York," by William
Smith, printed at London in 1757. Smith gives us important details of
the wars between the French and English in America. His is the best
account of the famous confederation of the Iroquois.

With respect to Pennsylvania, I cannot do better than point out the
work of Proud, entitled "The History of Pennsylvania, from the original
Institution and Settlement of that Province, under the first Proprietor
and Governor, William Penn, in 1681, till after the year 1742," by
Robert Proud, 2 vols. 8vo, printed at Philadelphia in 1797. This work is
deserving of the especial attention of the reader; it contains a mass of
curious documents concerning Penn, the doctrine of the Quakers, and
the character, manners, and customs of the first inhabitants of
Pennsylvania. I need not add that among the most important documents
relating to this State are the works of Penn himself, and those of

Part II.

Appendix G

We read in Jefferson's "Memoirs" as follows:--

"At the time of the first settlement of the English in Virginia, when
land was to be had for little or nothing, some provident persons having
obtained large grants of it, and being desirous of maintaining
the splendor of their families, entailed their property upon their
descendants. The transmission of these estates from generation to
generation, to men who bore the same name, had the effect of raising up
a distinct class of families, who, possessing by law the privilege of
perpetuating their wealth, formed by these means a sort of patrician
order, distinguished by the grandeur and luxury of their establishments.
From this order it was that the King usually chose his councillors of
state." *c

[Footnote c: This passage is extracted and translated from M. Conseil's
work upon the life of Jefferson, entitled "Melanges Politiques et
Philosophiques de Jefferson."]

In the United States, the principal clauses of the English law
respecting descent have been universally rejected. The first rule that
we follow, says Mr. Kent, touching inheritance, is the following:--If a
man dies intestate, his property goes to his heirs in a direct line.
If he has but one heir or heiress, he or she succeeds to the whole. If
there are several heirs of the same degree, they divide the inheritance
equally amongst them, without distinction of sex. This rule was
prescribed for the first time in the State of New York by a statute of
February 23, 1786. (See Revised Statutes, vol. iii. Appendix, p. 48.) It
has since then been adopted in the Revised Statutes of the same State.
At the present day this law holds good throughout the whole of the
United States, with the exception of the State of Vermont, where the
male heir inherits a double portion. (Kent's "Commentaries," vol. iv. p.
370.) Mr. Kent, in the same work, vol. iv. p. 1-22, gives a historical
account of American legislation on the subject of entail: by this
we learn that, previous to the Revolution, the colonies followed the
English law of entail. Estates tail were abolished in Virginia in 1776,
on a motion of Mr. Jefferson. They were suppressed in New York in 1786,
and have since been abolished in North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee,
Georgia, and Missouri. In Vermont, Indiana, Illinois, South Carolina,
and Louisiana, entail was never introduced. Those States which thought
proper to preserve the English law of entail, modified it in such a
way as to deprive it of its most aristocratic tendencies. "Our general
principles on the subject of government," says Mr. Kent, "tend to favor
the free circulation of property."

It cannot fail to strike the French reader who studies the law
of inheritance, that on these questions the French legislation is
infinitely more democratic even than the American. The American law
makes an equal division of the father's property, but only in the case
of his will not being known; "for every man," says the law, "in the
State of New York (Revised Statutes, vol. iii. Appendix, p. 51), has
entire liberty, power, and authority, to dispose of his property by
will, to leave it entire, or divided in favor of any persons he chooses
as his heirs, provided he do not leave it to a political body or any
corporation." The French law obliges the testator to divide his property
equally, or nearly so, among his heirs. Most of the American republics
still admit of entails, under certain restrictions; but the French law
prohibits entail in all cases. If the social condition of the Americans
is more democratic than that of the French, the laws of the latter are
the most democratic of the two. This may be explained more easily than
at first appears to be the case. In France, democracy is still occupied
in the work of destruction; in America, it reigns quietly over the ruins
it has made.

Appendix H

Summary Of The Qualifications Of Voters In The United States As They
Existed In 1832

All the States agree in granting the right of voting at the age of
twenty-one. In all of them it is necessary to have resided for a certain
time in the district where the vote is given. This period varies from
three months to two years.

As to the qualification: in the State of Massachusetts it is necessary
to have an income of Pound 3 or a capital of Pound 60. In Rhode Island,
a man must possess landed property to the amount of $133.

In Connecticut, he must have a property which gives an income of $17. A
year of service in the militia also gives the elective privilege.

In New Jersey, an elector must have a property of Pound 50 a year.

In South Carolina and Maryland, the elector must possess fifty acres of

In Tennessee, he must possess some property.

In the States of Mississippi, Ohio, Georgia, Virginia, Pennsylvania,
Delaware, New York, the only necessary qualification for voting is that
of paying the taxes; and in most of the States, to serve in the militia
is equivalent to the payment of taxes. In Maine and New Hampshire any
man can vote who is not on the pauper list.

Lastly, in the States of Missouri, Alabama, Illinois, Louisiana,
Indiana, Kentucky, and Vermont, the conditions of voting have no
reference to the property of the elector.

I believe there is no other State besides that of North Carolina in
which different conditions are applied to the voting for the Senate and
the electing the House of Representatives. The electors of the former,
in this case, should possess in property fifty acres of land; to vote
for the latter, nothing more is required than to pay taxes.

Appendix I

The small number of custom-house officers employed in the United States,
compared with the extent of the coast, renders smuggling very easy;
notwithstanding which, it is less practised than elsewhere, because
everybody endeavors to repress it. In America there is no police for
the prevention of fires, and such accidents are more frequent than in
Europe; but in general they are more speedily extinguished, because the
surrounding population is prompt in lending assistance.

Appendix K

It is incorrect to assert that centralization was produced by the French
Revolution; the revolution brought it to perfection, but did not create
it. The mania for centralization and government regulations dates from
the time when jurists began to take a share in the government, in the
time of Philippele-Bel; ever since which period they have been on the
increase. In the year 1775, M. de Malesherbes, speaking in the name of
the Cour des Aides, said to Louis XIV:-- *d

[Footnote d: See "Memoires pour servir a l'Histoire du Droit Public de
la France en matiere d'impots," p. 654, printed at Brussels in 1779.]

". . . Every corporation and every community of citizens retained the
right of administering its own affairs; a right which not only forms
part of the primitive constitution of the kingdom, but has a
still higher origin; for it is the right of nature, and of reason.
Nevertheless, your subjects, Sire, have been deprived of it; and we
cannot refrain from saying that in this respect your government has
fallen into puerile extremes. From the time when powerful ministers
made it a political principle to prevent the convocation of a national
assembly, one consequence has succeeded another, until the deliberations
of the inhabitants of a village are declared null when they have not
been authorized by the Intendant. Of course, if the community has an
expensive undertaking to carry through, it must remain under the control
of the sub-delegate of the Intendant, and, consequently, follow the
plan he proposes, employ his favorite workmen, pay them according to his
pleasure; and if an action at law is deemed necessary, the Intendant's
permission must be obtained. The cause must be pleaded before this first
tribunal, previous to its being carried into a public court; and if the
opinion of the Intendant is opposed to that of the inhabitants, or if
their adversary enjoys his favor, the community is deprived of the
power of defending its rights. Such are the means, Sire, which have been
exerted to extinguish the municipal spirit in France; and to stifle, if
possible, the opinions of the citizens. The nation may be said to lie
under an interdict, and to be in wardship under guardians." What could
be said more to the purpose at the present day, when the Revolution has
achieved what are called its victories in centralization?

In 1789, Jefferson wrote from Paris to one of his friends:--"There is
no country where the mania for over-governing has taken deeper root than
in France, or been the source of greater mischief." (Letter to Madison,
August 28, 1789.) The fact is, that for several centuries past the
central power of France has done everything it could to extend central
administration; it has acknowledged no other limits than its own
strength. The central power to which the Revolution gave birth made more
rapid advances than any of its predecessors, because it was stronger
and wiser than they had been; Louis XIV committed the welfare of such
communities to the caprice of an intendant; Napoleon left them to
that of the Minister. The same principle governed both, though its
consequences were more or less remote.

Appendix L

The immutability of the constitution of France is a necessary
consequence of the laws of that country. To begin with the most
important of all the laws, that which decides the order of succession to
the throne; what can be more immutable in its principle than a political
order founded upon the natural succession of father to son? In 1814,
Louis XVIII had established the perpetual law of hereditary succession
in favor of his own family. The individuals who regulated the
consequences of the Revolution of 1830 followed his example; they merely
established the perpetuity of the law in favor of another family. In
this respect they imitated the Chancellor Meaupou, who, when he erected
the new Parliament upon the ruins of the old, took care to declare in
the same ordinance that the rights of the new magistrates should be as
inalienable as those of their predecessors had been. The laws of 1830,
like those of 1814, point out no way of changing the constitution: and
it is evident that the ordinary means of legislation are insufficient
for this purpose. As the King, the Peers, and the Deputies, all derive
their authority from the constitution, these three powers united cannot
alter a law by virtue of which alone they govern. Out of the pale of the
constitution they are nothing: where, when, could they take their stand
to effect a change in its provisions? The alternative is clear: either
their efforts are powerless against the charter, which continues to
exist in spite of them, in which case they only reign in the name of the
charter; or they succeed in changing the charter, and then, the law by
which they existed being annulled, they themselves cease to exist.
By destroying the charter, they destroy themselves. This is much more
evident in the laws of 1830 than in those of 1814. In 1814, the royal
prerogative took its stand above and beyond the constitution; but in
1830, it was avowedly created by, and dependent on, the constitution. A
part, therefore, of the French constitution is immutable, because it is
united to the destiny of a family; and the body of the constitution is
equally immutable, because there appear to be no legal means of changing
it. These remarks are not applicable to England. That country having no
written constitution, who can assert when its constitution is changed?

Appendix M

The most esteemed authors who have written upon the English Constitution
agree with each other in establishing the omnipotence of the Parliament.
Delolme says: "It is a fundamental principle with the English lawyers,
that Parliament can do everything except making a woman a man, or a
man a woman." Blackstone expresses himself more in detail, if not more
energetically, than Delolme, in the following terms:--"The power and
jurisdiction of Parliament, says Sir Edward Coke (4 Inst. 36), 'is so
transcendent and absolute that it cannot be confined, either for causes
or persons, within any bounds.' And of this High Court, he adds, may be
truly said, 'Si antiquitatem spectes, est vetustissima; si dignitatem,
est honoratissima; si jurisdictionem, est capacissima.' It hath
sovereign and uncontrollable authority in the making, confirming,
enlarging, restraining, abrogating, repealing, reviving, and
expounding of laws, concerning matters of all possible denominations;
ecclesiastical or temporal; civil, military, maritime, or criminal; this
being the place where that absolute despotic power which must, in all
governments, reside somewhere, is intrusted by the constitution of these
kingdoms. All mischiefs and grievances, operations and remedies, that
transcend the ordinary course of the laws, are within the reach of this
extraordinary tribunal. It can regulate or new-model the succession to
the Crown; as was done in the reign of Henry VIII and William III. It
can alter the established religion of the land; as was done in a variety
of instances in the reigns of King Henry VIII and his three children. It
can change and create afresh even the constitution of the kingdom,
and of parliaments themselves; as was done by the Act of Union and the
several statutes for triennial and septennial elections. It can, in
short, do everything that is not naturally impossible to be done; and,
therefore some have not scrupled to call its power, by a figure rather
too bold, the omnipotence of Parliament."

Appendix N

There is no question upon which the American constitutions agree more
fully than upon that of political jurisdiction. All the constitutions
which take cognizance of this matter, give to the House of Delegates the
exclusive right of impeachment; excepting only the constitution of North
Carolina, which grants the same privilege to grand juries. (Article 23.)
Almost all the constitutions give the exclusive right of pronouncing
sentence to the Senate, or to the Assembly which occupies its place.

The only punishments which the political tribunals can inflict are
removal, or the interdiction of public functions for the future. There
is no other constitution but that of Virginia (p. 152), which enables
them to inflict every kind of punishment. The crimes which are subject
to political jurisdiction are, in the federal constitution (Section 4,
Art. 1); in that of Indiana (Art. 3, paragraphs 23 and 24); of New York
(Art. 5); of Delaware (Art. 5), high treason, bribery, and other high
crimes or offences. In the Constitution of Massachusetts (Chap. I,
Section 2); that of North Carolina (Art. 23); of Virginia (p. 252),
misconduct and maladministration. In the constitution of New Hampshire
(p. 105), corruption, intrigue, and maladministration. In Vermont (Chap.
2, Art. 24), maladministration. In South Carolina (Art. 5); Kentucky
(Art. 5); Tennessee (Art. 4); Ohio (Art. 1, 23, 24); Louisiana (Art.
5); Mississippi (Art. 5); Alabama (Art. 6); Pennsylvania (Art. 4),
crimes committed in the non-performance of official duties. In the
States of Illinois, Georgia, Maine, and Connecticut, no particular
offences are specified.

Appendix O

It is true that the powers of Europe may carry on maritime wars with
the Union; but there is always greater facility and less danger in
supporting a maritime than a continental war. Maritime warfare only
requires one species of effort. A commercial people which consents to
furnish its government with the necessary funds, is sure to possess a
fleet. And it is far easier to induce a nation to part with its money,
almost unconsciously, than to reconcile it to sacrifices of men and
personal efforts. Moreover, defeat by sea rarely compromises the
existence or independence of the people which endures it. As for
continental wars, it is evident that the nations of Europe cannot be
formidable in this way to the American Union. It would be very difficult
to transport and maintain in America more than 25,000 soldiers; an army
which may be considered to represent a nation of about 2,000,000 of men.
The most populous nation of Europe contending in this way against the
Union, is in the position of a nation of 2,000,000 of inhabitants at war
with one of 12,000,000. Add to this, that America has all its resources
within reach, whilst the European is at 4,000 miles distance from his;
and that the immensity of the American continent would of itself present
an insurmountable obstacle to its conquest.

Appendix P

The first American journal appeared in April, 1704, and was published
at Boston. See "Collection of the Historical Society of Massachusetts,"
vol. vi. p. 66. It would be a mistake to suppose that the periodical
press has always been entirely free in the American colonies: an
attempt was made to establish something analogous to a censorship and
preliminary security. Consult the Legislative Documents of Massachusetts
of January 14, 1722. The Committee appointed by the General Assembly
(the legislative body of the province) for the purpose of examining into
circumstances connected with a paper entitled "The New England Courier,"
expresses its opinion that "the tendency of the said journal is to turn
religion into derision and bring it into contempt; that it mentions
the sacred writers in a profane and irreligious manner; that it puts
malicious interpretations upon the conduct of the ministers of the
Gospel; and that the Government of his Majesty is insulted, and the
peace and tranquillity of the province disturbed by the said journal.
The Committee is consequently of opinion that the printer and publisher,
James Franklin, should be forbidden to print and publish the said
journal or any other work in future, without having previously submitted
it to the Secretary of the province; and that the justices of the peace
for the county of Suffolk should be commissioned to require bail of the
said James Franklin for his good conduct during the ensuing year." The
suggestion of the Committee was adopted and passed into a law, but the
effect of it was null, for the journal eluded the prohibition by putting
the name of Benjamin Franklin instead of James Franklin at the bottom of
its columns, and this manoeuvre was supported by public opinion.

Appendix Q

The Federal Constitution has introduced the jury into the tribunals of
the Union in the same way as the States had introduced it into their own
several courts; but as it has not established any fixed rules for the
choice of jurors, the federal courts select them from the ordinary jury
list which each State makes for itself. The laws of the States must
therefore be examined for the theory of the formation of juries.
See Story's "Commentaries on the Constitution," B. iii. chap. 38, p.
654-659; Sergeant's "Constitutional Law," p. 165. See also the Federal
Laws of the years 1789, 1800, and 1802, upon the subject. For the
purpose of thoroughly understanding the American principles with respect
to the formation of juries, I examined the laws of States at a distance
from one another, and the following observations were the result of
my inquiries. In America, all the citizens who exercise the elective
franchise have the right of serving upon a jury. The great State of New
York, however, has made a slight difference between the two privileges,
but in a spirit quite contrary to that of the laws of France; for in the
State of New York there are fewer persons eligible as jurymen than there
are electors. It may be said in general that the right of forming part
of a jury, like the right of electing representatives, is open to
all the citizens: the exercise of this right, however, is not put
indiscriminately into any hands. Every year a body of municipal or
county magistrates--called "selectmen" in New England, "supervisors"
in New York, "trustees" in Ohio, and "sheriffs of the parish" in
Louisiana--choose for each county a certain number of citizens who have
the right of serving as jurymen, and who are supposed to be capable
of exercising their functions. These magistrates, being themselves
elective, excite no distrust; their powers, like those of most
republican magistrates, are very extensive and very arbitrary, and they
frequently make use of them to remove unworthy or incompetent jurymen.
The names of the jurymen thus chosen are transmitted to the County
Court; and the jury who have to decide any affair are drawn by lot from
the whole list of names. The Americans have contrived in every way to
make the common people eligible to the jury, and to render the service
as little onerous as possible. The sessions are held in the chief town
of every county, and the jury are indemnified for their attendance
either by the State or the parties concerned. They receive in general a
dollar per day, besides their travelling expenses. In America, the being
placed upon the jury is looked upon as a burden, but it is a burden
which is very supportable. See Brevard's "Digest of the Public Statute
Law of South Carolina," vol. i. pp. 446 and 454, vol. ii. pp. 218
and 338; "The General Laws of Massachusetts, revised and published by
authority of the Legislature," vol. ii. pp. 187 and 331; "The Revised
Statutes of the State of New York," vol. ii. pp. 411, 643, 717, 720;
"The Statute Law of the State of Tennessee," vol. i. p. 209; "Acts of
the State of Ohio," pp. 95 and 210; and "Digeste general des Actes de la
Legislature de la Louisiane."

Appendix R

If we attentively examine the constitution of the jury as introduced
into civil proceedings in England, we shall readily perceive that the
jurors are under the immediate control of the judge. It is true that the
verdict of the jury, in civil as well as in criminal cases, comprises
the question of fact and the question of right in the same reply;
thus--a house is claimed by Peter as having been purchased by him: this
is the fact to be decided. The defendant puts in a plea of incompetency
on the part of the vendor: this is the legal question to be resolved.
But the jury do not enjoy the same character of infallibility in civil
cases, according to the practice of the English courts, as they do in
criminal cases. The judge may refuse to receive the verdict; and even
after the first trial has taken place, a second or new trial may be
awarded by the Court. See Blackstone's "Commentaries," book iii. ch. 24.

Appendix S

I find in my travelling journal a passage which may serve to convey a
more complete notion of the trials to which the women of America, who
consent to follow their husbands into the wilds, are often subjected.
This description has nothing to recommend it to the reader but its
strict accuracy:

". . . From time to time we come to fresh clearings; all these places
are alike; I shall describe the one at which we have halted to-night,
for it will serve to remind me of all the others.

"The bell which the pioneers hang round the necks of their cattle,
in order to find them again in the woods, announced our approach to a
clearing, when we were yet a long way off; and we soon afterwards heard
the stroke of the hatchet, hewing down the trees of the forest. As we
came nearer, traces of destruction marked the presence of civilized
man; the road was strewn with shattered boughs; trunks of trees, half
consumed by fire, or cleft by the wedge, were still standing in the
track we were following. We continued to proceed till we reached a wood
in which all the trees seemed to have been suddenly struck dead; in the
height of summer their boughs were as leafless as in winter; and upon
closer examination we found that a deep circle had been cut round the
bark, which, by stopping the circulation of the sap, soon kills the
tree. We were informed that this is commonly the first thing a pioneer
does; as he cannot in the first year cut down all the trees which cover
his new parcel of land, he sows Indian corn under their branches, and
puts the trees to death in order to prevent them from injuring his crop.
Beyond this field, at present imperfectly traced out, we suddenly came
upon the cabin of its owner, situated in the centre of a plot of ground
more carefully cultivated than the rest, but where man was still waging
unequal warfare with the forest; there the trees were cut down, but
their roots were not removed, and the trunks still encumbered the ground
which they so recently shaded. Around these dry blocks, wheat, suckers
of trees, and plants of every kind, grow and intertwine in all the
luxuriance of wild, untutored nature. Amidst this vigorous and various
vegetation stands the house of the pioneer, or, as they call it, the
log house. Like the ground about it, this rustic dwelling bore marks of
recent and hasty labor; its length seemed not to exceed thirty feet,
its height fifteen; the walls as well as the roof were formed of rough
trunks of trees, between which a little moss and clay had been inserted
to keep out the cold and rain.

"As night was coming on, we determined to ask the master of the log
house for a lodging. At the sound of our footsteps, the children who
were playing amongst the scattered branches sprang up and ran towards
the house, as if they were frightened at the sight of man; whilst two
large dogs, almost wild, with ears erect and outstretched nose, came
growling out of their hut, to cover the retreat of their young masters.
The pioneer himself made his appearance at the door of his dwelling;
he looked at us with a rapid and inquisitive glance, made a sign to the
dogs to go into the house, and set them the example, without betraying
either curiosity or apprehension at our arrival.

"We entered the log house: the inside is quite unlike that of
the cottages of the peasantry of Europe: it contains more than is
superfluous, less than is necessary. A single window with a muslin
blind; on a hearth of trodden clay an immense fire, which lights the
whole structure; above the hearth a good rifle, a deer's skin, and
plumes of eagles' feathers; on the right hand of the chimney a map of
the United States, raised and shaken by the wind through the crannies in
the wall; near the map, upon a shelf formed of a roughly hewn plank, a
few volumes of books--a Bible, the six first books of Milton, and two of
Shakespeare's plays; along the wall, trunks instead of closets; in the
centre of the room a rude table, with legs of green wood, and with the
bark still upon them, looking as if they grew out of the ground on which
they stood; but on this table a tea-pot of British ware, silver spoons,
cracked tea-cups, and some newspapers.

"The master of this dwelling has the strong angular features and lank
limbs peculiar to the native of New England. It is evident that this man
was not born in the solitude in which we have met with him: his physical
constitution suffices to show that his earlier years were spent in
the midst of civilized society, and that he belongs to that restless,
calculating, and adventurous race of men, who do with the utmost
coolness things only to be accounted for by the ardor of the passions,
and who endure the life of savages for a time, in order to conquer and
civilize the backwoods.

"When the pioneer perceived that we were crossing his threshold, he came
to meet us and shake hands, as is their custom; but his face was quite
unmoved; he opened the conversation by inquiring what was going on in
the world; and when his curiosity was satisfied, he held his peace,
as if he were tired by the noise and importunity of mankind. When we
questioned him in our turn, he gave us all the information we required;
he then attended sedulously, but without eagerness, to our personal
wants. Whilst he was engaged in providing thus kindly for us, how came
it that in spit of ourselves we felt our gratitude die upon our lips? It
is that our host whilst he performs the duties of hospitality, seems to
be obeying an irksome necessity of his condition: he treats it as a duty
imposed upon him by his situation, not as a pleasure. By the side of
the hearth sits a woman with a baby on her lap: she nods to us without
disturbing herself. Like the pioneer, this woman is in the prime of
life; her appearance would seem superior to her condition, and her
apparel even betrays a lingering taste for dress; but her delicate
limbs appear shrunken, her features are drawn in, her eye is mild and
melancholy; her whole physiognomy bears marks of a degree of religious
resignation, a deep quiet of all passions, and some sort of natural and
tranquil firmness, ready to meet all the ills of life, without fearing
and without braving them. Her children cluster about her, full
of health, turbulence, and energy: they are true children of the
wilderness; their mother watches them from time to time with mingled
melancholy and joy: to look at their strength and her languor, one might
imagine that the life she has given them has exhausted her own, and
still she regrets not what they have cost her. The house inhabited by
these emigrants has no internal partition or loft. In the one chamber
of which it consists, the whole family is gathered for the night. The
dwelling is itself a little world--an ark of civilization amidst an
ocean of foliage: a hundred steps beyond it the primeval forest spreads
its shades, and solitude resumes its sway."

Appendix T

It is not the equality of conditions which makes men immoral and
irreligious; but when men, being equal, are at the same time immoral and
irreligious, the effects of immorality and irreligion easily manifest
themselves outwardly, because men have but little influence upon each
other, and no class exists which can undertake to keep society in order.
Equality of conditions never engenders profligacy of morals, but it
sometimes allows that profligacy to show itself.

Appendix U

Setting aside all those who do not think at all, and those who dare not
say what they think, the immense majority of the Americans will still be
found to appear satisfied with the political institutions by which they
are governed; and, I believe, really to be so. I look upon this state
of public opinion as an indication, but not as a demonstration, of
the absolute excellence of American laws. The pride of a nation, the
gratification of certain ruling passions by the law, a concourse of
circumstances, defects which escape notice, and more than all the rest,
the influence of a majority which shuts the mouth of all cavillers, may
long perpetuate the delusions of a people as well as those of a man.
Look at England throughout the eighteenth century. No nation was ever
more prodigal of self-applause, no people was ever more self-satisfied;
then every part of its constitution was right--everything, even to its
most obvious defects, was irreproachable: at the present day a vast
number of Englishmen seem to have nothing better to do than to
prove that this constitution was faulty in many respects. Which was
right?--the English people of the last century, or the English people of
the present day?

The same thing has occurred in France. It is certain that during the
reign of Louis XIV the great bulk of the nation was devotedly attached
to the form of government which, at that time, governed the community.
But it is a vast error to suppose that there was anything degraded in
the character of the French of that age. There might be some sort of
servitude in France at that time, but assuredly there was no servile
spirit among the people. The writers of that age felt a species of
genuine enthusiasm in extolling the power of their king; and there was
no peasant so obscure in his hovel as not to take a pride in the glory
of his sovereign, and to die cheerfully with the cry "Vive le Roi!" upon
his lips. These very same forms of loyalty are now odious to the French
people. Which are wrong?--the French of the age of Louis XIV, or their
descendants of the present day?

Our judgment of the laws of a people must not then be founded Future
Condition Of Three Races In The United States exclusively upon its
inclinations, since those inclinations change from age to age; but upon
more elevated principles and a more general experience. The love which a
people may show for its law proves only this:--that we should not be in
too great a hurry to change them.

Appendix V

In the chapter to which this note relates I have pointed out one source
of danger: I am now about to point out another kind of peril, more rare
indeed, but far more formidable if it were ever to make its appearance.
If the love of physical gratification and the taste for well-being,
which are naturally suggested to men by a state of equality, were to
get entire possession of the mind of a democratic people, and to fill it
completely, the manners of the nation would become so totally opposed to
military tastes, that perhaps even the army would eventually acquire
a love of peace, in spite of the peculiar interest which leads it to
desire war. Living in the midst of a state of general relaxation, the
troops would ultimately think it better to rise without efforts, by
the slow but commodious advancement of a peace establishment, than
to purchase more rapid promotion at the cost of all the toils and
privations of the field. With these feelings, they would take up arms
without enthusiasm, and use them without energy; they would allow
themselves to be led to meet the foe, instead of marching to attack him.
It must not be supposed that this pacific state of the army would render
it adverse to revolutions; for revolutions, and especially military
revolutions, which are generally very rapid, are attended indeed with
great dangers, but not with protracted toil; they gratify ambition at
less cost than war; life only is at stake, and the men of democracies
care less for their lives than for their comforts. Nothing is more
dangerous for the freedom and the tranquillity of a people than an army
afraid of war, because, as such an army no longer seeks to maintain its
importance and its influence on the field of battle, it seeks to assert
them elsewhere. Thus it might happen that the men of whom a democratic
army consists should lose the interests of citizens without acquiring
the virtues of soldiers; and that the army should cease to be fit for
war without ceasing to be turbulent. I shall here repeat what I have
said in the text: the remedy for these dangers is not to be found in the
army, but in the country: a democratic people which has preserved the
manliness of its character will never be at a loss for military prowess
in its soldiers.

Appendix W

Men connect the greatness of their idea of unity with means, God with
ends: hence this idea of greatness, as men conceive it, leads us into
infinite littleness. To compel all men to follow the same course towards
the same object is a human notion;--to introduce infinite variety of
action, but so combined that all these acts lead by a multitude of
different courses to the accomplishment of one great design, is a
conception of the Deity. The human idea of unity is almost always
barren; the divine idea pregnant with abundant results. Men think they
manifest their greatness by simplifying the means they use; but it is
the purpose of God which is simple--his means are infinitely varied.

Appendix X

A democratic people is not only led by its own tastes to centralize
its government, but the passions of all the men by whom it is governed
constantly urge it in the same direction. It may easily be foreseen that
almost all the able and ambitious members of a democratic community will
labor without 2 ceasing to extend the powers of government, because they
all hope at some time or other to wield those powers. It is a waste
of time to attempt to prove to them that extreme centralization may
be injurious to the State, since they are centralizing for their own
benefit. Amongst the public men of democracies there are hardly any but
men of great disinterestedness or extreme mediocrity who seek to oppose
the centralization of government: the former are scarce, the latter

Appendix Y

I have often asked myself what would happen if, amidst the relaxation of
democratic manners, and as a consequence of the restless spirit of the
army, a military government were ever to be founded amongst any of the
nations of the present age. I think that even such a government would
not differ very much from the outline I have drawn in the chapter to
which this note belongs, and that it would retain none of the fierce
characteristics of a military oligarchy. I am persuaded that, in such a
case, a sort of fusion would take place between the habits of official
men and those of the military service. The administration would assume
something of a military character, and the army some of the usages of
the civil administration. The result would be a regular, clear,
exact, and absolute system of government; the people would become the
reflection of the army, and the community be drilled like a garrison.

Appendix Z

It cannot be absolutely or generally affirmed that the greatest danger
of the present age is license or tyranny, anarchy or despotism. Both
are equally to be feared; and the one may as easily proceed as the other
from the selfsame cause, namely, that "general apathy," which is the
consequence of what I have termed "individualism": it is because this
apathy exists, that the executive government, having mustered a few
troops, is able to commit acts of oppression one day, and the next day a
party, which has mustered some thirty men in its ranks, can also commit
acts of oppression. Neither one nor the other can found anything to
last; and the causes which enable them to succeed easily, prevent them
from succeeding long: they rise because nothing opposes them, and they
sink because nothing supports them. The proper object therefore of our
most strenuous resistance, is far less either anarchy or despotism than
the apathy which may almost indifferently beget either the one or the

Constitution Of The United States Of America

We The People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect
Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the
common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings
of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this
Constitution for the United States of America:

Article I

Section 1. All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a
Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House
of Representatives.

Section 2. The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members of
chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the
Electors in each States shall have the Qualifications requisite for
Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the
Age of twenty-five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United
States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State
in which he shall be chosen.

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several
States which may be included within this Union, according to their
respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole
Number of free Persons, including those bound to service for a Term
of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other
Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after
the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within
every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law
direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every
thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative;
and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire
shall be entitled to choose three, Massachusetts, eight, Rhode-Island
and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New York six, New
Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia
ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the
Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such

The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other
Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment. Section 3. The
Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from
each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each
Senator shall have one Vote.

Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first
Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes.
The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the
Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the expiration of
the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the expiration of the
sixth Year, so that one-third may be chosen every second Year; and if
Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of
the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary
Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then
fill such Vacancies.

No person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of
thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and
who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he
shall be chosen.

The Vice-President of the United States shall be President of the
Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided. The
Senate shall choose their other Officers, and also a President pro
tempore, in the Absence of the Vice-President, or when he shall exercise
the Office of President of the United States.

The Senate shall have the sole power to try all Impeachments. When
sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When
the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall
preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of
two-thirds of the Members present. Judgment in cases of Impeachment
shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and
disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of Honor, Trust, or Profit
under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless
be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment, and Punishment
according to Law.

Section 4. The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for
Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the
Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or
alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of choosing Senators.

The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such
Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by
Law appoint a different Day.

Section 5. Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns
and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall
constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn
from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of
Absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House
may provide.

Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its
Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with a Concurrence of two-thirds,
expel a Member.

Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to
time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment
require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House
on any question shall, at the Desire of one-fifth of those present, be
entered on the Journal.

Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the
Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other
Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.

Section 6. The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation
for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the
Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason,
Felony, and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their
attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to
and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either
House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was
elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the
United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof
shall have been increased during such time; and no Person holding any
Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during
his Continuance in Office.

Section 7. All Bills for Raising Revenue shall originate in the House of
Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as
on other Bills.

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the
Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of
the United States; if he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall
return it, with his Objections, to that House in which it shall have
originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal,
and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two-thirds
of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together
with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise
be reconsidered, and if approved by two-thirds of that House, it shall
become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be
determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for
and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House
respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within
ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him,
the Same shall be a Law, in like manner as if he had signed it, unless
the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it
shall not be a Law.

Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate
and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of
Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States;
and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or
being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two-thirds of the Senate
and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations
prescribed in the case of a Bill.

Section 8. The Congress shall have Power to lay and collect Taxes,
Duties, Imposts, and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the
common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties,
Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States,
and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an Uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the
subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States; To coin Money,
regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of
Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and
current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for
limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their
respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court; To define and
punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences
against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules
concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use
shall be for a longer Term than two years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the
Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and
for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the
United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of
the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the
discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over
such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of
particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress become the Seat of the
Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all
Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in
which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals,
Dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;--And To make all Laws which
shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing
Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the
Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer

Section 9. The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the
States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited
by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight,
but a tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten
dollars for each Person.

The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended,
unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may
require it.

No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed. No
Capitation, or other direct Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to
the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

No preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue
to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound
to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in

No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in consequence of
Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the
Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from
time to time.

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no
Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without
the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office,
or Title of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

Section 10. No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or
Confederation; grant Letters of Marque or Reprisal; coin Money; emit
Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in
Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law
impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or
Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary
for executing its inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and
Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports shall be for the Use of
the Treasury of the United States; and all such laws shall be subject to
the Revision and Control of the Congress.

No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of
Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any
Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or
engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as
will not admit of delay.

Article II

Section 1. The Executive Power shall be vested in a President of the
United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of
four Years, and, together with the Vice-President, chosen for the same
Term, be elected as follows:

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may
direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and
Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but
no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or
Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

[The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot
for two persons, of whom one at least shall not be an inhabitant of
the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the
Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List
they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the
Government of the United States, directed to the President of the
Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate
and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes
shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes
shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number
of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such
Majority, and have an equal number of Votes, then the House of
Representatives shall immediately choose by Ballot one of them for
President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest
on the List the said House shall in like Manner choose the President.
But in choosing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States,
the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this
Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two-thirds of the
States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice.
In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the
greatest number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice-President.
But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate
shall choose from them by Ballot the Vice-President.]*d

[Footnote *d: This clause is superseded by Article XII, Amendments. See
page 396.]

The Congress may determine the Time of choosing the Electors, and the
Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same
throughout the United States.

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United
States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be
eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be
eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of
thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United

In case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death,
Resignation or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said
Office, the same shall devolve on the Vice-president, and the Congress
may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or
Inability, both of the President and Vice-President, declaring what
Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act
accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be

The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a
Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the
Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive
within that period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the
following Oath or Affirmation:--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that
I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States,
and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect, and defend the
Constitution of the United States."

Section 2. The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and
Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States,
when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may
require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the
executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their
respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and
Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate,
to make Treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur;
and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the
Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls,
Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United
States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and
which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest
the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the
President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The President shall have Power to fill up all vacancies that may happen
during the recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall
expire at the End of their next Session.

Section 3. He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information
of the state of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration
such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on
extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and
in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of
Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper;
he shall receive Ambassadors and other Public Ministers; he shall take
Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the
Officers of the United States.

Section 4. The President, Vice-President and all civil Officers of the
United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and
Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Article III

Section 1. The judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in
one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from
time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the Supreme and
inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and
shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation,
which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

Section 2. The judicial Power shall extend to all cases, in Law and
Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States,
and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;--to
all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;--to
all cases of Admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction; to Controversies to
which the United States shall be a Party;--to Controversies between two
or more States;--between a State and Citizens of another State; between
Citizens of different States,--between Citizens of the same State
claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or
the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls,
and those in which a State shall be Party, the Supreme Court shall have
original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the
Supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and
Fact, with such Exceptions and under such Regulations as the Congress
shall make.

The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by
Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes
shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the
Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have

Section 3. Treason against the United States shall consist only in
levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them
Aid and Comfort. No person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the
Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in
open Court.

The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but
no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood or Forfeiture
except during the life of the person attainted.

Article IV

Section 1. Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the
Public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State.
And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such
Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

Section 2. The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all
Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States. A person
charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall
flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the
executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to
be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.

No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws
thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any Law or
Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall
be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may
be due.

Section 3. New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union;
but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of
any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more
States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of
the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules
and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging
to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so
construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any
particular State.

Section 4. The United States shall guarantee to every State in this
Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them
against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the
Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic

Article V

The Congress, whenever two-thirds of both Houses shall deem it
necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the
Application of the Legislatures of two-thirds of the several States,
shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either
Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this
Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three-fourths of the
several States, or by Conventions in three-fourths thereof, as the
one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress;
Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One
thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first
and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that
no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage
in the Senate.

Article VI

All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption
of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under
this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made
in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made,
under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of
the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby,
any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the contrary

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of
the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers,
both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by
Oath or Affirmation to support this Constitution; but no religious test
shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust
under the United States.

Article VII

The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States shall be sufficient
for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so
ratifying the Same.

Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the
Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of Our Lord One thousand seven
hundred and eighty-seven and of the Independence of the United States of
America the Twelfth. In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our

     Geo. Washington
     Presidt. and deputy from Virginia.

     New Hampshire
     John Langdon
     Nicholas Gilman

     Nathaniel Gorham
     Rufus King

     Wm. Saml. Johnson
     Roger Sherman

     New York
     Alexander Hamilton

     New Jersey
     Wil. Livingston.
     David Brearley.
     Wm. Paterson.
     Jona. Dayton

     B Franklin
     Thomas Mifflin
     Robt. Morris.
     Geo. Clymer
     Thos. Fitzsimons
     Jared Ingersoll
     James Wilson
     Gouv. Morris

     Geo. Read
     Gunning Bedford Jun
     John Dickinson
     Richard Bassett
     Jaco. Broom

     James McHenry
     Dan of St Thos. Jenifer
     Danl. Carroll

     John Blair--
     James Madison Jr.

     North Carolina
     Wm. Blount
     Richd. Dobbs Spaight
     Hu. Williamson

     South Carolina
     J. Rutledge
     Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
     Charles Pinckney
     Peirce Butler.

     William Few
     Abr. Baldwin

     Attest. William Jackson, Secretary

The Word 'the,' being interlined between the seventh and eighth Lines of
the first Page, The word 'Thirty' being partly written on an Erasure
in the fifteenth Line of the first Page, The Words 'is tried' being
interlined between the thirty-second and thirty-third Lines of the first
Page, and the Word 'the' being interlined between the forty-third and
forty-fourth Lines of the second page.

[Note by the Department of State.--The foregoing explanation in the
original instrument is placed on the left of the paragraph beginning
with the words, 'Done in Convention,' and therefore precedes the
signatures. The interlined and rewritten words, mentioned in it, are in
this edition printed in their proper places in the text.]

Bill Of Rights

In addition to, and amendment of, the Constitution of the United States
of America, proposed by Congress and ratified by the Legislatures of
the several States, pursuant to the Fifth Article of the original

Article I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,
or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom
of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to
assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Article II

A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free
State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be

Article III

No Soldier shall in time of peace be quartered in any house without
the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be
prescribed by law.

Article IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers,
and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not
be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause,
supported by Oath or Affirmation, and particularly describing the place
to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Article V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous
crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in
cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in
actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person
be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life
or limb; nor shall be compelled in any Criminal Case to be a witness
against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without
due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use,
without just compensation.

Article VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a
speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district
wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have
been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature
and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against
him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favour,
and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Article VII

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed
twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no
fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the
United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Article VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor
cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Article IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be
construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Article X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor
prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively,
or to the people.

Article XI

The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend
to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the
United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects
of any Foreign State.

Article XII

The electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by ballot
for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an
inhabitant of the same State with themselves; they shall name in their
ballots the person voted for as President; and in distinct ballots the
person voted for as Vice-President; and they shall make distinct lists
of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as
Vice President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists
they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the
government of the United States, directed to the President of the
Senate;--The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the
Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the
votes shall then be counted;--The person having the greatest number
of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a
majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person
have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not
exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of
Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President.
But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by States,
the representation from each State having one vote; a quorum for this
purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the
States, and a majority of all the States shall be necessary to a
choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President
whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth
day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act
as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional
disability of the President. The person having the greatest number of
votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such a number
be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no
person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list,
the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose
shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a
majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no
person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be
eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.

Article XIII

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a
punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted,
shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by
appropriate legislation.

Article XIV

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and
subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States
and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any
law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the
United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty,
or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within
its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States
according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of
persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right
to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and
Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress,
the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the
Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such
State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States,
or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other
crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the
proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the
whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress,
or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil
or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having
previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of
the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an
executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution
of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion
against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.
But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States,
authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and
bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall
not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall
assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection
or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or
emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims
shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate
legislation, the provisions of this article.

Article XV

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not
be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of
race, colour, or previous condition of servitude.

Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by
appropriate legislation.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Democracy in America — Volume 2" ***

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