Skip to content

What Alexis de Tocqueville Said About America, The USA

November 2, 2016

It is interesting to think of what he observed in the mid 1800’s vs. the country we have in 2014.  Here are his comments based on a visit:

Upon my arrival in the United States, the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that stuck my attention; and the longer I stayed there, the more I perceived the great political consequences resulting from this new state of things.

In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of Freedom marching in opposite directions. But in America I found they were intimately united and that they reigned in common over the same country.

Religion in America…must be regarded as the foremost of the political institutions of that country; for if it does not impart a taste for freedom; it facilitates the use of it. Indeed, it is in this same point -of -view that the inhabitants of the United States themselves look upon religious belief.

I do not know whether all Americans have a sincere faith in their religion—for who can search the human heart?  But I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions. This opinion is not peculiar to a class of cities or a party, but it belongs to the whole nation and to every rank of society.

The sects that exist in the United States are innumerable. They all differ in respect to the worship which is due to the Creator; but they all agree in respect to the duties which are due from man to man.

Each sect adores the Deity in its own peculiar manner, but all sects preach the same moral law in the name of God.

Moreover, all sects of the United States are comprised within the great unity of Christianity and Christian morality is everywhere the same.

In the United States the sovereign authority is religions…there is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility and its conformity to human nature than that its influence is powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth.

In the United States, if a political character attacks a sect [denomination], this may not prevent even the partisans of that very sect, from supporting him; but if he attacks all the sects together [Christianity], everyone abandons him and remains alone.

I do not question that the great austerity of manners that is observable in the United States arises, in the first instance, from religious faith…its influence over the mind of woman is supreme, and women are the protectors of morals. There is certainly no country in the world where the tie of marriage is more respected than in America or where conjugal happiness is more highly or worthily appreciated.

In the United States, the influence of religion is not confined to the manners, but it extends to the intelligence of the people…

Christianity, therefore, reigns without obstacle, by universal consent; the consequence is, as I have before observed, that every principle of the moral world is fixed and determinate…

I sought for the key of greatness and genius of America in her harbors…; in her fertile fields and boundless forests; in her rich mines and vast world commerce; in her public school system and the institutions of learning. I sought for it in her democratic Congress and in her matchless Constitution.

Not until I went into the chutes of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power.

America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.

The safeguard of morality is religion, and morality is the best security of law as well as the surest pledge of freedom.

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

Christianity is the companion of liberty in all of its conflicts–the cradle of its infancy, and the divine source of its claims.

They brought with them…a form of Christianity, which I cannot better describe than by styling it in a democratic and republican religion…From the earliest settlement of the emigrants, politics and religion contracted an alliance which has never been dissolved.

The Christian nations of our age seem to me to present a most alarming spectacle; the impulse which is bearing them along is so strong that it cannot be stopped, but is not yet so rapid that it cannot be guided; their fate is in their hands; yet a little while and it may be no longer.

Read the rest of this PolitiChicks.tv article here: http://politichicks.tv/column/2014-alexis-de-tocqueville-esque-year-restoration/#5ulfUJKsDb9hcb3G.99

Advertisements
Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: