Alexis de Tocqueville

Literary Birthday – 29 July – Alexis de Tocqueville

Alexis de Tocqueville was born 29 July 1805 and died 16 April 1859.

Nine Quotes

  1. Patriotism is most often nothing more but an extension of individual egoism.
  2. America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.
  3. There are many men of principle in both parties in America, but there is no party of principle.
  4. It is indeed difficult to imagine how men who have entirely renounced the habit of managing their own affairs could be successful in choosing those who ought to lead them. It is impossible to believe that a liberal, energetic, and wise government can ever emerge from the ballots of a nation of servants.
  5. The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.
  6. Every nation that has ended in tyranny has come to that end by way of good order. It certainly does not follow from this that peoples should scorn public peace, but neither should they be satisfied with that and nothing more. A nation that asks nothing of government but the maintenance of order is already a slave in the depths of its heart; it is a slave of its well-being, ready for the man who will put it in chains.
  7. History is a gallery of pictures in which there are few originals and many copies.
  8. Society will develop a new kind of servitude which covers the surface of society with a network of complicated rules, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate. It does not tyrannise but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.
  9. As one digs deeper into the national character of the Americans, one sees that they have sought the value of everything in this world only in the answer to this single question: how much money will it bring in?

Alexis de Tocqueville was a French diplomat, political scientist, and historian. He was best known for his works Democracy in America (appearing in two volumes: 1835 and 1840) and The Old Regime and the Revolution (1856).

Source for image: Théodore Chassériau, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 29th July 2015