Democracy in America
Throughout the course of history, mankind has been recorded to corrupt itself. Men have grown tired of simply surviving; they have had to take and conquer others. Absolute monarchies control wealth, land, and even lives of men. The conditions of the people were solely dependent on the conditions of the one who was in power in that particular place and time. History has proven that most men rule unwisely in their kingdoms. To avoid tyrannical rule, some make an attempt to set up a government in which the people ruled themselves. This form of government is called a democracy, or “rule of the people.” History has also revealed through the Greeks and the French Revolution, that a democracy that gives complete power to the people, “absolute democracy”, is nothing more than a short prelude to tyranny.
A new democracy was established in America with certain unique characteristics in its structure and establishment. America’s tyranny never came. America’s duration of holding to its original form of government, since the time of the Constitution, evolved from a near insignificant point in human history, to an era power not in a man, but rather in free men, every one in America for over 200 years. The question of every great historian then is this, “How has America’s democracy thrived when all others previous to it has failed?”1 A brilliant young historian from France devoted a major portion of his life to answer this world changing mystery. Alexis de Tocqueville revealed to Europe, which characteristics instilled in American democracy must be modeled in order to construct a proper institution of government in any nation. He did this in his work, Democracy in America.
Alexis de Tocqueville was born in Paris on July 29, 1805. Tocqueville’s father was a royalist prefect from Normandy who supported the Boubon monarchy, his great-grandfather was a liberal aristocrat killed in the French Revolution, and his mother was a devout Roman Catholic who strongly advocated a return on the Old Regime. In 1835, the first part of Democracy in America was published. A highly positive and optimistic account of American government and society, the book was very well received throughout Europe. “In 1840 the second part of Democracy in America was published. This volume was substantially more pessimistic than the first, warning of the dangers despotism and governmental centralization, and applying his ideas and criticisms more directly to France. As a result, it was not received as well as the first part, except in England where it was acclaimed highly.2
Tocqueville believes that history progresses with the inevitable growth of equality of conditions, and he sees America as the furthest progression of this growth. The extraordinary level of equality can be both a help and a hindrance to freedom. “On the one hand, one cannot have complete freedom. “As social conditions become more equal, the number increases who, although they...