De Tocqueville - Causes

De Tocqueville - Causes - American Institutions and Their...

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American Institutions and Their Influence by Alexis de Tocqueville From CHAPTER XVIII REFLECTIONS ON THE CAUSES OF THE COMMERCIAL PROSPERITY OF THE UNITED STATES The Americans destined by Nature to be a great maritime People.—Extent of their Coasts.--Depth of their Ports.--Size of their Rivers.—The commercial Superiority of the Anglo- Saxons less attributable, however, to physical Circumstances than to moral and intellectual Causes.—Reason of this Opinion.--Future Destiny of the Anglo-Americans as a commercial Nation.--The Dissolution of the Union would not check the maritime Vigor of the States.-- Reason of this.--Anglo-Americans will naturally supply the Wants of the inhabitants of South America.--They will become, like the English, the Factors of a great portion of the World. The coast of the United States, from the bay of Fundy to the Sabine river in the gulf of Mexico, is more than two thousand miles in extent. These shores form an unbroken line, and they are all subject to the same government. No nation in the world possesses vaster, deeper, or more secure ports for shipping than the Americans. The inhabitants of the United States constitute a great civilized people, which fortune has placed in the midst of an uncultivated country, at a distance of three thousand miles from the central point of civilization. America consequently stands in daily need of European trade. The Americans will, no doubt, ultimately succeed in producing or manufacturing at home most of the articles which they require; but the two continents can never be independent of each other, so numerous are the natural ties which exist between their wants, their ideas, their habits, and their manners. The Union produces peculiar commodities which are now become necessary to us, but which cannot be cultivated, or can only be raised at an enormous expense, upon the soil of Europe. The Americans only consume a small portion of this produce, and they are willing to sell us the rest. Europe is therefore the market of America, as America is the market of Europe; and maritime commerce is no less necessary to enable the inhabitants of the United States to transport their raw materials to the ports of Europe, than it is to enable us to supply them with our manufactured produce. The United States were therefore necessarily reduced to the alternative of increasing the business of other maritime nations to a great extent, if they had themselves declined to enter into commerce, as the Spaniards of Mexico have hitherto done; or, in the second place, of becoming one of the first trading powers of the globe. The Anglo-Americans have always displayed a very decided taste for the sea. The declaration of independence broke the commercial restrictions which united them to England, and gave a fresh and powerful stimulus to their maritime genius. Ever since that time, the shipping of the Union has increased in almost the same rapid proportion as the number of its
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This note was uploaded on 09/29/2011 for the course IH 0852 taught by Professor Benin during the Fall '09 term at Temple.

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De Tocqueville - Causes - American Institutions and Their...

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