Democracy in America | Study Guide

Alexis de Tocqueville

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Democracy in America | Glossary


Anglo-Americans: (n) the first European settlers of North America, who traveled there from England in the early 17th century

aristocracy: (n) rule of the state by the nobility, or "the best." In France before the Revolution of 1789–95, the aristocracy played a leading role in the society of the "old régime."

association: (n) volunteer group in American society, devoted to social, political, or recreational interests

bourgeoisie: (n) middle class in society, predominantly focused on commerce

centralization: (n) concentration of power or authority in one official or a small group

county: (n) level of government between the township and the state

decentralization: (n) wide distribution or dispersion of administrative or political authority

democracy: (n) rule by the people

Democratic-Republicans: (n) American political party in opposition to a strong central government

equality: (n) political and social principle equating the ultimate worth and the political participation of every individual in society

Federalists: (n) American political party supporting a strong central government

individualism: (n) assertion of a person's will or convictions

interest: (n) in Tocqueville's analysis, more precisely "self-interest," or the perception by one or more individuals of their own advantage or profit. For Tocqueville, "self-interest well understood" commonly leads to an advantageous and mutually beneficial outcome for the individuals who practice it.

majority: (n) the prevailing force of more than 50 percent of an electorate or of public opinion

monarchy: (n) In France, the Revolution of 1789 deposed and then executed King Louis XVI. However, France reverted to monarchy, or rule of the state by a king or queen, at several times during the 19th century.

mores: (n) customs, norms, or moral or ethical practices. By its origin, mores is a Latin word that may be translated into the French noun moeurs.

party: (n) a political association or group, containing like-minded members who pursue a common program or electoral objective

township: (n) for Tocqueville, the most local and practical level of democratic government in practice in America, particularly in the New England states. In Tocqueville's time, a township typically had a population of two to three thousand people.

tyranny: (n) autocratic or authoritarian rule

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