A look at american states and federal government in democracy in america by alexis de tocqueville

George Lawrencetranslated in with an introduction by J.

democracy in america alexis de tocqueville

But all the States which I have considered as independent are forced to submit, in certain cases, to the supreme authority of the Union. In the States the executive power is vested in the hands of a magistrate, who is apparently placed upon a level with the Legislature, but who is in reality nothing more than the blind agent and the passive instrument of its decisions.

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Moreover, as the sea is not included within the limits of any peculiar jurisdiction, the national courts can only hear causes which originate in maritime affairs. American Equality During his travels which took him from the East Coast to the Mississippi River, de Tfocqueville filled 14 notebooks with his observations, thoughts, and interviews with over Americans.

Alexis de tocqueville democracy in america quotes

De Tocqueville observed a "constant agitation of parties," each attempting to draw voters over to its side. When the two parties are not private individuals, but States, an important political consideration is added to the same motive of equity. Every government, whatever may be its constitution, requires the means of constraining its subjects to discharge their obligations, and of protecting its privileges from their assaults. Has such been the fate of the centuries which have preceded our own? Existence Of The Township Every one the best judge of his own interest — Corollary of the principle of the sovereignty of the people — Application of those doctrines in the townships of America — The township of New England is sovereign in all that concerns itself alone: subject to the State in all other matters — Bond of the township and the State — In France the Government lends its agent to the Commune — In America the reverse occurs. In no country in the world do the citizens make such exertions for the common weal; and I am acquainted with no people which has established schools as numerous and as efficacious, places of public worship better suited to the wants of the inhabitants, or roads kept in better repair. To concentrate the whole social force in the hands of the legislative body is the natural tendency of democracies; for as this is the power which emanates the most directly from the people, it is made to participate most fully in the preponderating authority of the multitude, and it is naturally led to monopolize every species of influence. The criminal police of the United States cannot be compared to that of France; the magistrates and public prosecutors are not numerous, and the examinations of prisoners are rapid and oral.

Two long chains of mountains divide it from one extreme to the other; the Alleghany ridge takes the form of the shores of the Atlantic Ocean; the other is parallel with the Pacific. As the noble never suspected that anyone would attempt to deprive him of the privileges which he believed to be legitimate, and as the serf looked upon his own inferiority as a consequence of the immutable order of nature, it is easy to imagine that a mutual exchange of good-will took place between two classes so differently gifted by fate.

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In the introduction to his translation of the book, Harvard Professor Harvey C. But I am of opinion that a central administration enervates the nations in which it exists by incessantly diminishing their public spirit.

A highly civilized community spurns the attempts of a local independence, is disgusted at its numerous blunders, and is apt to despair of success before the experiment is completed.

A look at american states and federal government in democracy in america by alexis de tocqueville

If the men of our time were led by attentive observation and by sincere reflection to acknowledge that the gradual and progressive development of social equality is at once the past and future of their history, this solitary truth would confer the sacred character of a Divine decree upon the change. I perceive that we have destroyed those independent beings which were able to cope with tyranny single-handed; but it is the Government that has inherited the privileges of which families, corporations, and individuals have been deprived; the weakness of the whole community has therefore succeeded that influence of a small body of citizens, which, if it was sometimes oppressive, was often conservative. It is true that the power of the Crown in France or in Spain was always able to obtain by force whatever the Constitution of the country denied, and that the ultimate result was consequently the same; but I am here discussing the theory of the Constitution. De Tocqueville could now search for a law that would negative this provision in its effect upon social equality, he would fail to find it. The President is chosen for four years, and he may be reelected; so that the chances of a prolonged administration may inspire him with hopeful undertakings for the public good, and with the means of carrying them into execution. Thus until the independence of townships is amalgamated with the manners of a people it is easily destroyed, and it is only after a long existence in the laws that it can be thus amalgamated. When the Europeans first landed on the shores of the West Indies, and afterwards on the coast of South America, they thought themselves transported into those fabulous regions of which poets had sung. Chapter VIII: The Federal Constitution — Part III Re-election Of The President When the head of the executive power is re-eligible, it is the State which is the source of intrigue and corruption — The desire of being re-elected the chief aim of a President of the United States — Disadvantage of the system peculiar to America — The natural evil of democracy is that it subordinates all authority to the slightest desires of the majority — The re-election of the President encourages this evil.

The only difference which exists between them is, that the term for which the Senate is chosen is in general longer than that of the House of Representatives. On the eastern side of the Alleghanies, between the base of these mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, there lies a long ridge of rocks and sand, which the sea appears to have left behind as it retired.

Upon this principle the introduction of the influence of the States into the mechanism of the Federal Government was by no means to be wondered at, since it only attested the existence of an acknowledged power, which was to be humored and not forcibly checked.

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Of course the lesser States could not subscribe to the application of this doctrine without, in fact, abdicating their existence in relation to the sovereignty of the Confederation; since they would have passed from the condition of a co-equal and co-legislative authority to that of an insignificant fraction of a great people. He will better understand the reasons for certain additions and deletions. The Revolution declared itself the enemy of royalty and of provincial institutions at the same time; it confounded all that had preceded it -despotic power and the checks to its abuses — in indiscriminate hatred, and its tendency was at once to overthrow and to centralize. But if the representative of the executive descends into the combat, the cares of government dwindle into second-rate importance, and the success of his election is his first concern. These rules differed in several points from such as had been observed to govern the origin of language. The real cause of this danger, however, does not lie in the constitution of the tribunal, but in the very nature of Federal Governments. But if any change is to be introduced in the existing state of things, or if they wish to undertake any new enterprise, they are obliged to refer to the source of their power. The consequence of this arrangement is, that at every new election the fate of all the Federal public officers is in suspense. Supplementary sheets are added at the end of each chapter, small pieces of paper are glued over the original, and sometimes other papers are even Edition: current; Page: [xxxiv] stuck to the first ones.

In America this theory has been actually put in practice, and the Supreme Court of the United States is the sole tribunal of the nation. In Spain certain provinces had the right of establishing a system of custom-house duties peculiar to themselves, although that privilege belongs, by its very nature, to the national sovereignty.

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Democracy in America