9780061127922

Democracy in America

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780061127922

  • ISBN10:

    0061127922

  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 11/2/2009
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications

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Summary

The complete edition based on the revised and corrected text of the 1961 French edition Originally penned in the mid-eighteenth century by Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America remains the most penetrating and astute picture of American life, politics, and morals ever written, as relevant today as when it first appeared in print nearly two hundred years ago. This edition, meticulously edited by the distinguished de Tocqueville scholar J. P. Mayer, is widely recognized as the preeminent translation.

Table of Contents

AUTHOR'S INTRODUCTION 9(14)
PART I
1. PHYSICAL CONFIGURATION OF NORTH AMERICA
23(8)
2. CONCERNING THEIR POINT OF DEPARTURE AND ITS IMPORTANCE FOR THE FUTURE OF THE ANGLO-AMERICANS
31(19)
Reasons for Some Peculiarities in the Laws and Customs of the Anglo-Americans
48(2)
3. SOCIAL STATE OF THE ANGLO-AMERICANS
50(8)
The Striking Feature in the Social Condition of the Anglo-Americans Is That It Is Essentially Democratic 5o Political Consequences of the Social State of the Anglo-Americans
56(2)
4. THE PRINCIPLE OF THE SOVEREIGNTY OF THE PEOPLE IN AMERICA
58(3)
5. THE NEED TO STUDY WHAT HAPPENS IN THE STATES BEFORE DISCUSSING THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNION
61(38)
The American System of Townships
62(1)
Limits of the Township
63(1)
Powers of the New England Township
63(3)
Life in the Township
66(2)
Spirit of the Township in New England
68(2)
The New England County
70(1)
Administration in New England
71(9)
General Ideas Concerning Administration in the United States
80(4)
Of the State
84(1)
Legislative Power of the State
84(2)
The Executive Power of the State
86(1)
Political Effects of Administrative Decentralization in the United States
87(12)
6. JUDICIAL POWER IN THE UNITED STATES AND ITS EFFECT ON POLITICAL SOCIETY
99(7)
Other Powers Given to American Judges
104(2)
7. POLITICAL JURISDICTION IN THE UNITED STATES
106(6)
8. THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTION
112(61)
History of the Federal Constitution
112(2)
Summary of the Federal Constitution
114(1)
Prerogatives of the Federal Government
115(2)
Federal Powers
117(1)
Legislative Powers
117(3)
Another Difference Between the Senate and the House of Representatives
120(1)
The Executive Power
121(1)
How the Position of the President of the United States Differs from That of a Constitutional King in France
122(3)
Accidental Causes That May Increase the Influence of the Executive Power
125(1)
Why the President of the United States Has No Need, in Order to Direct Affairs, of a Majority in the Two Houses
126(1)
Election of the President
127(4)
Mode of Election
131(3)
Crisis of the Election
134(2)
Concerning the Reelection of the President
136(2)
The Federal Courts
138(3)
Means of Determining the Competence of the Federal Courts
141(2)
Different Cases of Jurisdiction
143(4)
Procedure of the Federal Courts
147(2)
High Standing of the Supreme Court Among the Great Authorities in the State
149(2)
The Superiority of the Federal Constitution over That of the States
151(4)
What Distinguishes the Federal Constitution of the United States of America from All Other Federal Constitutions
155(3)
Advantages of the Federal System in General and Its Special Usefulness in America
158(5)
Why the Federal System Is Not Within the Reach of All Nations and Why the Anglo-Americans Have Been Able to Adopt It
163(10)
PART II
1. WHY IT CAN STRICTLY BE SAID THAT THE PEOPLE GOVERN IN THE UNITED STATES
173(1)
2. PARTIES IN THE UNITED STATES
174(6)
Remains of the Aristocratic Party in the United States
178(2)
3. FREEDOM OF THE PRESS IN THE UNITED STATES
180(9)
4. POLITICAL ASSOCIATION IN THE UNITED STATES
189(7)
5. GOVERNMENT BY DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA
196
Universal Suffrage
196(1)
The People's Choice and the Instincts of American Democracy in Such Choices
197(2)
Elements Which May Provide a Partial Corrective to These Instincts of Democracy
199(3)
Influence of American Democracy upon Electoral Laws
202(1)
Public Officers Under the Rule of American Democracy
203(2)
The Arbitrary Power of Magistrates Under the Sway of American Democracy
205(2)
Administrative Instability in the United States
207(1)
Public Expenses Under the Rule of American Democracy
208(4)
The Instincts of American Democracy in Fixing the Salaries of Officials
212(2)
Difficulty of Discerning the Reasons That Incline the American Government Toward Economy
214(1)
Can the Public Expenditure of the United States Be Compared with That of France?
215(5)
Corruption and Vices of the Rulers in a Democracy and Consequent Effect on Public Morality
220(1)
The Efforts of Which Democracy Is Capable
221(3)
American Democracy's Power of Self-Control
224(2)
How American Democracy Conducts the External Affairs of the State
226
6. THE REAL ADVANTAGES DERIVED BY AMERICAN SOCIETY FROM DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT
23(223)
The General Tendency of Laws Under the Sway of American Democracy and the Instincts of Those Who Apply Them
231(4)
Public Spirit in the United States
235(2)
The Idea of Rights in the United States
237(3)
Respect for Law in the United States
240(1)
Activity Prevailing in All Parts of the Political Body in the United States; the Influence Thereby Exerted on Society
241(5)
7. THE OMNIPOTENCE OF THE MAJORITY IN THE UNITED STATES AND ITS EFFECTS
246(16)
How in America the Omnipotence of the Majority Increases the Legislative and Administrative Instability Natural to Democracies
248(2)
Tyranny of the Majority
250(3)
Effect of the Omnipotence of the Majority on the Arbitrary Power of American Public Officials
253(1)
The Power Exercised by the Majority in America over Thought
254(3)
Effects of the Majority's Tyranny on American National Character; the Courtier Spirit in the United States
257(2)
The Greatest Danger to the American Republics Comes from the Omnipotence of the Majority
259(3)
8. WHAT TEMPERS THE TYRANNY OF THE MAJORITY IN THE UNITED STATES
262(15)
Absence of Administrative Centralization
262(1)
The Temper of the American Legal Profession and How It Serves to Counterbalance Democracy
263(7)
The Jury in the United States Considered as a Political Institution
270(7)
9. THE MAIN CAUSES TENDING TO MAINTAIN A DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC IN THE UNITED STATES
277(39)
Accidental or Providential Causes Helping to Maintain a Democratic Republic in the United States
277(9)
Influence of the Laws upon the Maintenance of a Democratic Republic in the United States
286(1)
Influence of Mores upon the Maintenance of a Democratic Republic in the United States
287(1)
Religion Considered as a Political Institution and How It Powerfully Contributes to the Maintenance of a Democratic Republic Among the Americans
287(3)
Indirect Influence of Religious Beliefs upon Political Society in the United States
290(4)
The Main Causes That Make Religion Powerful in America
294(7)
How the Enlightenment, Habits, and Practical Experience of the Americans Contribute to the Success of Democratic Institutions
301(4)
The Laws Contribute More to the Maintenance of the Democratic Republic in the United States Than Do the Physical Circumstances of the Country, and Mores Do More Than the Laws
305(4)
Elsewhere Than in America, Would Laws and Mores Be Enough to Maintain Democratic Institutions?
309(2)
The Importance of the Foregoing in Relation to Europe
311(5)
10. SOME CONSIDERATIONS CONCERNING THE PRESENT STATE AND PROBABLE FUTURE OF THE THREE RACES THAT INHABIT THE TERRITORY OF THE UNITED STATES
316(92)
The Present State and the Probable Future of the Indian Tribes Inhabiting the Territory of the Union
321(19)
Situation of the Black Race in the United States; Dangers Entailed for the Whites by Its Presence
340(23)
What Are the Chances That the American Union Will Last? What Dangers Threaten It?
363(32)
Concerning the Republican Institutions of the United States and Their Chances of Survival
395(5)
Some Considerations Concerning the Causes of the Commercial Greatness of the United States
400(8)
CONCLUSION 408

Excerpts

Democracy in America

Chapter One

Physical Configuration
of North America

North America divided into two vast regions, one sloping toward the pole, the other toward the equator. Mississippi valley and its geology. The Atlantic coast and the foundation of the English colonies. Contrast between North and South America at the time of discovery. North American forests and prairies. Nomadic native tribes and their appearance, mores, and languages. Traces of an unknown people.

North America has striking geographical features which can be appreciated at first glance.

Land and water, mountains and valleys, seem to have been separated with systematic method, and the simple majesty of this design stands out amid the confusion and immense variety of the scene.

The continent is divided into two vast and almost equal regions.

One region is bounded by the North Pole and the great oceans to east and west, while to the south it stretches down in an irregular triangle to the Great Lakes of Canada.

The second starts where the other ends and covers the rest of the continent.

One region slopes gently toward the pole, the other toward the equator.

The lands to the north of the first region slope so imperceptibly that they may almost be described as plains, and there are no high mountains or deep valleys in the whole of this vast level expanse.

Chance seems to trace the serpentine courses of the streams; great rivers mingle, separate, and meet again; they get lost in a thousand marshes, meandering continually through the watery labyrinth they have formed, and only after innumerable detours do they finally reach the Arctic sea. The Great Lakes, which bring this region to an end, are not framed, as are most lakes in the Old World, by hills or rocks; their banks are level, hardly rising more than a few feet above the water. So each is like a huge cup filled to the brim. The slightest change of global structure would tilt their waters to the pole or to the tropics.

The second region is broken up more and is better suited as a permanent home for man. Two mountain chains run right across it; the Alleghenies parallel to the Atlantic, and the Rockies to the Pacific.

The area between these two mountain chains is 1,341,649 square miles, or about six times that of France.

But the whole of this vast territory is a single valley sloping down from the smooth summits of the Alleghenies and stretching up to the peaks of the Rocky Mountains, with no obstacles in the way.

An immense river flows along the bottom of this valley, and all the waters falling on the mountains on every side drain into it.

Formerly the French called it the St. Louis River, in memory of their distant fatherland, and the Indians in their grandiloquent tongue named it the Father of Waters, the Mississippi.

The Mississippi rises in the borderland between our two regions, not far from the highest point in the plain which links them.

Another river which rises nearby flows down into the polar seas. The Mississippi itself sometimes seems in doubt which way to go; it twists backward several times, and only after slowing down in lakes and marshes seems finally to make up its mind and meander on toward the south.

Sometimes gently flowing along the clay bed which nature has carved out for it, and sometimes swollen by storms; the Mississippi waters some twenty-five hundred square miles.

Thirteen hundred and sixty-four miles above its mouth, the river already has a mean depth of fifteen feet, and ships of three hundred tons can go over four hundred and fifty miles up it.

Fifty-seven large navigable rivers flow into it. Among the tributaries of the Mississippi are one river thirteen hundred leagues long, another of nine hundred leagues," another of six hundred, another of five hundred; there are four other rivers of two hundred leagues, not to mention the innumerable small stream on every side which augment its flood.

The valley watered by the Mississippi seems created for it alone; it dispenses good and evil at will like a local god. Near the river nature displays an inexhaustible fertility; the further you go from its banks, the sparser the vegetation and the poorer becomes the soil, and everything wilts or dies. Nowhere have the great convulsions of the world left more evident traces than in the valley of the Mississippi. The aspect of the whole countryside bears witness to the waters' work. Its sterility as well as its abundance is their work. Deep layers of fertile soil accumulated under the primeval ocean and had time to level out. On the right bank of the river there are huge plains as level as a rolled lawn. But nearer the mountains the land becomes more and more uneven and sterile; the soil is punctured in a thousand places by primitive rocks sticking out here and there like the bones of a skeleton when sinews and flesh have perished. The surface of the earth is covered with granitic sand and irregularly shaped stones, through which a few plants just manage to force their way; it looks like a fertile field covered by the ruins of some vast structure. Analysis of this sand and these rocks easily demonstrates that they are exactly like those on the bare and jagged peaks of the Rocky Mountains. No doubt the rains which washed all the soil down to the bottom of the valley, in the end brought portions of the rocks too; they were rolled down the neighboring slopes, and after they had been dashed one against another, were scattered at the base of the mountains from which they had fallen. (See Appendix I, A.)

All things considered, the valley of the Mississippi is the most magnificent habitation ever prepared by God for man, and yet one may say that it is still only a vast wilderness.

On the eastern slopes of the Alleghenies, between the mountains and the Atlantic, there is a long strip of rock and sand which seems to have been left behind by the retreating ocean. This strip is only forty-eight leagues broad on the average, but three hundred and ninety leagues long. The soil in this part of the American continent can be cultivated only with difficulty. The vegetation is scanty and uniform.

It was on that inhospital shore that the first efforts of human...

Democracy in America. Copyright © by Alexis de Tocqueville. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville
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