Toqueville on America and Democracy

by Alexis de Tocqueville

6 January 2005

[From Democracy in America]

- [T]he human heart also nourishes a debased taste for equality, which leads the weak to want to drag the strong down to their level and which induces men to prefer equality in servitude to inequality in freedom.

- There is no country where the law can foresee everything or where institutions should take the place of reason and mores.

- I know of no country in which, speaking generally, there is less independence of mind and true freedom of discussion than in America.

- Among the immense thrusting crowd of political aspirants I saw very few men who showed that virile candor and manly independence of thought which often marked the American of an earlier generation and which, wherever found, is the most salient feature in men of great character.

- There is hardly a political question in the United States which does not sooner or later turn into a judicial one.

- The lowest classes in these vast cities [Philadelphia and New York] are a rabble more dangerous even than that of European towns.

- Society is endangered not by the great profligacy of a few but by the laxity of all.

- Nowhere else to the citizens seem smaller than in a democratic nation.


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