Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) Democracy in America 1835
Alexis de Tocqueville • Born in Paris July 29, 1805 • Father was a royalist from Normandy, who supported the Bourbon Monarchy • Great Grandfather was a liberal aristocrat killed in the French Revolution • At age 16 began college to study philosophy • Began to have an uncertainty about the French Govt.
Alexis de Tocqueville • Finished College at age 18, then moved to Paris to study law. • Came to America to “study” prison reform, but really came to gain knowledge of American political development • Later visited England to study the British system of Govt. • Published 1st part of Democracy in America 1835, it was well accepted through Europe • Married Mary Motley, an Englishwoman, in 1835
Alexis de Tocqueville • Second part of Democracy was published 5 years later, and was not as accepted as his first , criticizing France. It was highly praised in England • Became Left-Winged, then New Left Winged • Rejected the idea of political agitation that the Left Wing rallied support for • Predicted The French Revolution
Democracy in America • Explains how the majority controls the political spectrum in the USA by • Majority electing members of the legislature “immediately, and for a very brief term, in order to subject them” • Majority also elects the President who tries to please the majority to get re-elected
Democracy in America • Tocqueville believes that if a legislative power that represents the majority exist, but does not follow the majority, this power will retain a degree of uncontrolled authority, and would still be free and democratic, without becoming a tyranny.
Democracy in America • Says that America is not really a land of free speech • “within these barriers an author may write whatever he pleases, but he will repent it if he ever step beyond them.” • “Before he published his opinions, he imagined that he held them in common with many others; but no sooner has he declared them openly, than he is loudly censured by his overbearing opponents, whilst those who think, without having the courage to speak, like him, abandon him in silence.”
Democracy in America • Believes that Lawyers are like nobles in America, because “the wealthy, the noble, and the prince are excluded from the government, they are sure to occupy the stations in their own right,”…”since they are the only men of information and sagacity, beyond the sphere of the people, who can be the object of the popular choice” • Believes that lawyers in America form the highest political classes, and will remain conservative.
Democracy in America • Believes that Americans are not as passionate for political gain, rather commercial gains • That the rich ( or when poor become rich) rather abide by the law, because with order comes prosperity.
Democracy in AmericaQuestions • What is the tyranny of the majority and how does it operate? • How can this tyranny be prevented? • Was the United States a real democracy in the 1830’s?