Observations by an astute observer of a promising new nation

Alexis Charles Henri Clérel, Viscount de Tocqueville (1805-1859) was a French diplomat, political scientist, and historian. He was best known for his works Democracy in America and The Old Regime and the Revolution.

His observations include:

o  The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.

o  The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.

o  Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.

o  History is a gallery of pictures in which there are few originals and many copies.

o  Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.

o  The health of a democratic society may be measured by the quality of functions performed by private citizens.

o  When the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness.

o  The main business of religions is to purify, control, and restrain that excessive and exclusive taste for well-being which men acquire in times of equality.

o  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?

o  The Americans combine the notions of religion and liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive of one without the other.

o  Americans are so enamored of equality that they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom.

o  Life is to be entered upon with courage.

o  I cannot help fearing that men may reach a point where they look on every new theory as a danger, every innovation as a toilsome trouble, every social advance as a first step toward revolution, and that they may absolutely refuse to move at all.

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