Alexis de Tocqueville - Democracy in America-The University of Chicago Press (2000).pdf

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Unformatted text preview: THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS, CHICAGO 60637 THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS, LTD., LONDON © 2000 BY THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. PUBLISHED 2000 PAPERBACK EDITION 2002 PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 15 14 13 12 11 10 09 08 07 11 12 13 14 ISBN: 0–226-80532–8 (CLOTH) ISBN: 0–226-80536–0 (PAPER) ISBN: 978–0–226–92456–4 (E-BOOK) LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA TOCQUEVILLE, ALEXIS DE, 1805–1859. [DE LA DÉMOCRATIE EN AMÉRIQUE. ENGLISH] DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA / TRANSLATED, EDITED, AND WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY HARVEY C. MANSFIELD AND DELBA WINTHROP. P. CM. INCLUDES BIBLIOGRAPHICAL REFERENCES AND INDEX. ISBN 0-226-80532-8 (HARDCOVER) 1. UNITED STATES—POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT. 2. UNITED STATES—SOCIAL CONDITIONS. 3. DEMOCRACY—UNITED STATES. I. MANSFIELD, HARVEY CLAFLIN, 1932– II. WINTHROP, DELBA. III. TITLE. JK216 .T713 2000B 320.473—DC21 00-008418 THE PAPER USED IN THIS PUBLICATION MEETS THE MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS OF THE AMERICAN NATIONAL STANDARD FOR INFORMATION SCIENCES—PERMANENCE OF PAPER FOR PRINTED LIBRARY MATERIALS, ANSI Z39.48–1992. Democracy in America Alexis de Tocqueville TRANSLATED, EDITED, AND WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY HARVEY C. MANSFIELD AND DELBA WINTHROP THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS • CHICAGO AND LONDON CONTENTS EDITORS’ INTRODUCTION SUGGESTED READINGS A NOTE ON THE TRANSLATION Volume One INTRODUCTION PART ONE 1 External Configuration of North America 2 On the Point of Departure and Its Importance for the Future of the AngloAmericans Reasons for Some Singularities That the Laws and Customs of the AngloAmericans Present 3 Social State of the Anglo-Americans That the Salient Point of the Social State of the Anglo-Americans Is Its Being Essentially Democratic Political Consequences of the Social State of the Anglo-Americans 4 On the Principle of the Sovereignty of the People in America 5 Necessity of Studying What Takes Place in the Particular States before Speaking of the Government of the Union On the Township System in America Size of the Township Powers of the Township in New England On Township Existence On the Spirit of the Township in New England On the County in New England On Administration in New England General Ideas about Administration in the United States On the State Legislative Power of the State On the Executive Power of the State On the Political Effects of Administrative Decentralization in the United States 6 On Judicial Power in the United States and Its Action on Political Society Other Powers Granted to American Judges 7 On Political Judgment in the United States 8 On the Federal Constitution History of the Federal Constitution Summary Picture of the Federal Constitution Prerogatives of the Federal Government Federal Powers Legislative Powers Another Difference between the Senate and the House of Representatives On the Executive Power How the Position of the President of the United States Differs from That of a Constitutional King in France Accidental Causes That Can Increase the Influence of the Executive Power Why the President of the United States Does Not Need to Have a Majority in the Houses in Order to Direct Affairs On the Election of the President Mode of Election Crisis of the Election On the Reelection of the President On the Federal Courts Manner of Settling the Competence of the Federal Courts Different Cases of Jurisdiction Manner of Proceeding of Federal Courts Elevated Rank Held by the Supreme Court among the Great Powers of the State How the Federal Constitution Is Superior to the Constitutions of the States What Distinguishes the Federal Constitution of the United States of America from All Other Federal Constitutions On the Advantages of the Federal System Generally, and Its Special Utility for America What Keeps the Federal System from Being within Reach of All Peoples, and What Has Permitted the Anglo-Americans to Adopt It PART TWO 1 How One Can Say Strictly That in the United States the People Govern 2 On Parties in the United States On the Remains of the Aristocratic Party in the United States 3 On Freedom of the Press in the United States 4 On Political Association in the United States 5 On the Government of Democracy in America On Universal Suffrage On the Choices of the People and the Instincts of American Democracy in Its Choices On the Causes That Can in Part Correct These Instincts of Democracy Influence That American Democracy Exerts on Electoral Laws On Public Officials under the Empire of American Democracy On the Arbitrariness of Magistrates under the Empire of American Democracy Administrative Instability in the United States On Public Costs under the Empire of American Democracy On the Instincts of American Democracy in Fixing the Salaries of Officials Difficulty of Discerning the Causes That Incline the American Government to Economy Can the Public Expenditures of the United States Be Compared to Those of France? On the Corruption and Vices of Those Who Govern in Democracy; On the Effects on Public Morality That Result Of What Efforts Democracy Is Capable On the Power That American Democracy Generally Exercises over Itself The Manner in Which American Democracy Conducts External Affairs of State 6 What Are the Real Advantages That American Society Derives from the Government of Democracy On the General Tendency of the Laws under the Empire of American Democracy, and on the Instinct of Those Who Apply Them On Public Spirit in the United States On the Idea of Rights in the United States On Respect for the Law in the United States Activity Reigning in All Parts of the Body Politic of the United States; Influence That It Exerts on Society 7 On the Omnipotence of the Majority in the United States and Its Effects How the Omnipotence of the Majority in America Increases the Legislative and Administrative Instability That Is Natural to Democracies Tyranny of the Majority Effects of the Omnipotence of the Majority on the Arbitrariness of American Officials On the Power That the Majority in America Exercises over Thought Effects of the Tyranny of the Majority on the National Character of the Americans; On the Spirit of a Court in the United States That the Greatest Danger of the American Republics Comes from the Omnipotence of the Majority 8 On What Tempers the Tyranny of the Majority in the United States Absence of Administrative Centralization On the Spirit of the Lawyer in the United States and How It Serves as a Counterweight to Democracy On the Jury in the United States Considered as a Political Institution 9 On the Principal Causes Tending to Maintain a Democratic Republic in the United States On the Accidental or Providential Causes Contributing to the Maintenance of a Democratic Republic in the United States On the Influence of the Laws on the Maintenance of a Democratic Republic in the United States On the Influence of Mores on the Maintenance of a Democratic Republic in the United States On Religion Considered as a Political Institution; How It Serves Powerfully the Maintenance of a Democratic Republic among the Americans Indirect Influence That Religious Beliefs Exert on Political Society in the United States On the Principal Causes That Make Religion Powerful in America How the Enlightenment, the Habits, and the Practical Experience of the Americans Contribute to the Success of Democratic Institutions That the Laws Serve to Maintain a Democratic Republic in the United States More than Physical Causes, and Mores More than Laws Would Laws and Mores Suffice to Maintain Democratic Institutions Elsewhere than in America? Importance of What Precedes in Relation to Europe 10 Some Considerations on the Present State and the Probable Future of the Three Races That Inhabit the Territory of the United States Present State and Probable Future of the Indian Tribes That Inhabit the Territory Possessed by the Union Position That the Black Race Occupies in the United States; Dangers Incurred by Whites from Its Presence What Are the Chances That the American Union Will Last? What Dangers Threaten It? On Republican Institutions in the United States; What Are Their Chances of Longevity? Some Considerations on the Causes of the Commercial Greatness of the United States Conclusion Volume Two NOTICE PART ONE INFLUENCE OF DEMOCRACY ON INTELLECTUAL MOVEMENT IN THE UNITED STATES 1 On the Philosophic Method of the Americans 2 On the Principal Source of Beliefs among Democratic Peoples 3 Why the Americans Show More Aptitude and Taste for General Ideas than Their English Fathers 4 Why the Americans Have Never Been as Passionate as the French for General Ideas in Political Matters 5 How, in the United States, Religion Knows How to Make Use of Democratic Instincts 6 On the Progress of Catholicism in the United States 7 What Makes the Mind of Democratic Peoples Lean toward Pantheism 8 How Equality Suggests to the Americans the Idea of the Indefinite Perfectibility of Man 9 How the Example of the Americans Does Not Prove That a Democratic People Can Have No Aptitude and Taste for the Sciences, Literature, and the Arts 10 Why the Americans Apply Themselves to the Practice of the Sciences Rather than to the Theory 11 In What Spirit the Americans Cultivate the Arts 12 Why the Americans at the Same Time Raise Such Little and Such Great Monuments 13 The Literary Face of Democratic Centuries 14 On the Literary Industry 15 Why the Study of Greek and Latin Literature Is Particularly Useful in Democratic Societies 16 How American Democracy Has Modified the English Language 17 On Some Sources of Poetry in Democratic Nations 18 Why American Writers and Orators Are Often Bombastic 19 Some Observations on the Theater of Democratic Peoples 20 On Some Tendencies Particular to Historians in Democratic Centuries 21 On Parliamentary Eloquence in the United States PART TWO INFLUENCE OF DEMOCRACY ON THE SENTIMENTS OF THE AMERICANS 1 Why Democratic Peoples Show a More Ardent and More Lasting Love for Equality than for Freedom 2 On Individualism in Democratic Countries 3 How Individualism Is Greater at the End of a Democratic Revolution than in Any Other Period 4 How the Americans Combat Individualism with Free Institutions 5 On the Use That the Americans Make of Association in Civil Life 6 On the Relation between Associations and Newspapers 7 Relations between Civil Associations and Political Associations 8 How the Americans Combat Individualism by the Doctrine of Self-Interest Well Understood 9 How the Americans Apply the Doctrine of Self-Interest Well Understood in the Matter of Religion 10 On the Taste for Material Well-Being in America 11 On the Particular Effects That the Love of Material Enjoyments Produces in Democratic Centuries 12 Why Certain Americans Display Such an Exalted Spiritualism 13 Why the Americans Show Themselves So Restive in the Midst of Their WellBeing 14 How the Taste for Material Enjoyments among Americans Is United with Love of Freedom and with Care for Public Affairs 15 How Religious Beliefs at Times Turn the Souls of the Americans toward Immaterial Enjoyments 16 How the Excessive Love of Well-Being Can Be Harmful to Well-Being 17 How in Times of Equality and Doubt It Is Important to Move Back the Object of Human Actions 18 Why among the Americans All Honest Professions Are Reputed Honorable 19 What Makes Almost All Americans Incline toward Industrial Professions 20 How Aristocracy Could Issue from Industry PART THREE INFLUENCE OF DEMOCRACY ON MORES PROPERLY SO-CALLED 1 How Mores Become Milder as Conditions Are Equalized 2 How Democracy Renders the Habitual Relations of the Americans Simpler and Easier 3 Why the Americans Have So Little Oversensitivity in Their Country and Show Themselves to Be So Oversensitive in Ours 4 Consequences of the Preceding Three Chapters 5 How Democracy Modifies the Relations of Servant and Master 6 How Democratic Institutions and Mores Tend to Raise the Price and Shorten the Duration of Leases 7 Influence of Democracy on Wages 8 Influence of Democracy on the Family 9 Education of Girls in the United States 10 How the Girl Is Found beneath the Features of the Wife 11 How Equality of Conditions Contributes to Maintaining Good Mores in America 12 How the Americans Understand the Equality of Man and Woman 13 How Equality Naturally Divides the Americans into a Multitude of Particular Little Societies 14 Some Reflections on American Manners 15 On the Gravity of the Americans and Why It Does Not Prevent Their Often Doing Ill-Considered Things 16 Why the National Vanity of the Americans Is More Restive and More Quarrelsome than That of the English 17 How the Aspect of Society in the United States Is at Once Agitated and Monotonous 18 On Honor in the United States and in Democratic Societies 19 Why One Finds So Many Ambitious Men in the United States and So Few Great Ambitions 20 On the Industry in Place-Hunting in Certain Democratic Nations 21 Why Great Revolutions Will Become Rare 22 Why Democratic Peoples Naturally Desire Peace and Democratic Armies Naturally [Desire] War 23 Which Is the Most Warlike and the Most Revolutionary Class in Democratic Armies 24 What Makes Democratic Armies Weaker than Other Armies When Entering into a Campaign and More Formidable When War Is Prolonged 25 On Discipline in Democratic Armies 26 Some Considerations on War in Democratic Societies PART FOUR ON THE INFLUENCE THAT DEMOCRATIC IDEAS AND SENTIMENTS EXERT ON POLITICAL SOCIETY 1 Equality Naturally Gives Men the Taste for Free Institutions 2 That the Ideas of Democratic Peoples in the Matter of Government Are Naturally Favorable to the Concentration of Powers 3 That the Sentiments of Democratic Peoples Are in Accord with Their Ideas to Bring Them to Concentrate Power 4 On Some Particular and Accidental Causes That Serve to Bring a Democratic People to Centralize Power or Turn It Away from That 5 That among European Nations of Our Day Sovereign Power Increases Although Sovereigns Are Less Stable 6 What Kind of Despotism Democratic Nations Have to Fear 7 Continuation of the Preceding Chapters 8 General View of the Subject AT’s NOTES END NOTES FOOTNOTES TO AT’s NOTES SOURCES CITED BY TOCQUEVILLE INDEX Map of the United States appearing in the first edition of Democracy in America (1835). Courtesy of the Department of Special Collections, Joseph Regenstein Library, University of Chicago. EDITORS’ INTRODUCTION Harvey C. Mansfield and Delba Winthrop Democracy in America is at once the best book ever written on democracy and the best book ever written on America. Tocqueville connects the two subjects in his Introduction, and in his title, by observing that America is the land of democracy. It is the country where democracy is least hindered and most perfected, where democracy is at its most characteristic and at its best. Today that claim might be contested, but it is at least arguable. If the twentieth century has been an American century, it is because the work of America—not altogether unsuccessful—has been to keep democracy strong where it is alive and to promote it where it is weak or nonexistent. Somehow, after 165 years, democracy is still in America. Tocqueville went to America, he said, to see what a great republic was like, and what struck him most was its equality of conditions, its democracy. Long ago began a democratic revolution, and it continues today, gathering speed as resistance to it declines. He sets forth the “point of departure” in Puritan America and the origin of self-government in the towns of New England. He analyzes the federal constitution that was meant to facilitate democratic self-government and keep it moderate. He shows that the people are sovereign, whether through the Constitution or despite it, and he warns of the tyranny of the majority. In the very long last chapter of the first volume he examines aspects of American democracy peculiar to America, especially the juxtaposition of the three races there, and he speculates about what these portend for America’s future. In the second volume Tocqueville turns the argument from the natural rise of democracy in America to the influence of democracy on America, beginning with its intellectual movements. Americans have a philosopher unknown to them—Descartes— whose precepts they follow and whose books they never read. Descartes endorses their reliance on their own judgment, which tells them they can do without his help. Americans suffer, consequently, from “individualism,” a lamentable condition—which Tocqueville was the first to depict—in which democratic men and women are thrown on their own resources and consequently come to feel themselves overpowered by impersonal, external forces. But individualism is not the fated consequence of democracy: there are remedies against it, above all the capability of Americans to associate with one another voluntarily in accordance with their own will and reason instead of relying on a centralized, “schoolmaster” government to take care of them. Tocqueville dubs this government an “immense being” and says that it brings on a “mild despotism,” which he describes with uncomfortably accurate foresight. To these few highlights one might easily add others, but let these suffice for a welcome to this marvelous work. Tocqueville’s book has acquired the authority of a classic. It is cited with approval by politicians—by all American presidents since Eisenhower—as well as by professors in many fields.1 Universal accord in its praise suggests that it has something for everyone. But it also suggests that readers tolerate, or perhaps simply overlook, the less welcome passages that their political and scholarly opponents are citing. It is quite striking that both Left and Right appeal to Democracy in America for support of their contrary policies. Tocqueville seems to have achieved the goal, expressed at the end of his Introduction, of standing above the parties of the day. Yet his widespread appeal should not mask the controversial and unsettling character of the work. When Tocqueville wrote his book, it was to speak reprovingly, and sometimes severely, to the partisans of his day for and against democracy. Although the Old Regime has now faded into unremembered history and everyone has followed Tocqueville’s advice to accept democracy, partisans remain within it, and they still divide over whether to restrain democracy or push it further. Tocqueville has something dismaying, but instructive, to say to both parties. He knows the extent of democracy in America because he sees better than we the resistances to it in America. He came to America to examine democracy up close and to be sure of what he thought he might find. Unlike other visitors he knew that America was not merely derivative of Europe. It was not behind but ahead of Europe and in that sense exceptional. Tocqueville takes the measure of America’s boast, repeated on the first page of The Federalist, to set an example for all mankind. He makes his ambition the study of America’s ambition, in both cases an ambition that leaves others free. It is open to any country to surpass America if it can, and it is possible that some writer, some day, will write a better book on democracy in America than this one. Before we survey the marvels of Democracy in America and the difficulties of interpreting what it means, let us look at Tocqueville the man to see from whence he came, the conditions of life imposed on him, and the influences he chose to accept. WHO WAS TOCQUEVILLE?2 Alexis de Tocqueville was born on July 29, 1805, and died in his fifty-fourth year on April 16, 1859: not a long life, and one often afflicted with ill health. He was born a French aristocrat and lived as one; and he was also a liberal who both rejected the old regime of aristocracy and doubted the revolution that overturned it. An aristocratic liberal he was, and if we knew everything contained in that difficult combination, we could stop here. But since we do not, the formula will serve as a beginning. In though...
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