Alexis de Tocqueville

Alexis de Tocqueville

Alexis Charles Henri Clérel, Viscount de Tocqueville (29 July 1805 – 16 April 1859) 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).

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I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America.

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

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.

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

No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a democratic country.

A democratic government is the only one in which those who vote for a tax can escape the obligation to pay it.

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

What is most important for democracy is not that great fortunes should not exist but that great fortunes should not remain in the same hands. In that way there are rich men but they do not form a class.

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

All those who seek to destroy the liberties of a democratic nation ought to know that war is the surest and shortest means to accomplish it.

In a revolution as in a novel the most difficult part to invent is the end.

There are many men of principle in both parties in America but there is no party of principle.

There is hardly a pioneer's hut which does not contain a few odd volumes of Shakespeare. I remember reading the feudal drama of Henry V for the first time in a log cabin.

In no other country in the world is the love of property keener or more alert than in the United States and nowhere else does the majority display less inclination toward doctrines which in any way threaten the way property is owned.

He was as great as a man can be without morality.

Nothing seems at first sight less important than the outward form of human actions yet there is nothing upon which men set more store: they grow used to everything except to living in a society which has not their own manners.

The debates of that great assembly are frequently vague and perplexed seeming to be dragged rather than to march to the intended goal. Something of this sort must I think always happen in public democratic assemblies.

Life is to be entered upon with courage.

The whole life of an American is passed like a game of chance a revolutionary crisis or a battle.

It is the dissimilarities and inequalities among men which give rise to the notion of honor, as such differences become less it grows feeble, and when they disappear it will vanish too.

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