Tocqueville democracy in america essay

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Essay about Alexis de Tocqueville: Democracy in America

Check if you have access via personal or institutional login. Log in Register. I, who am half Yankee. Tocqueville , Export citation Request permission. Jennings bham. References Hide All. Paris : Fayard. Beaumont Gustave de. Marie or Slavery in the United States. Brogan Hugh. Brian Holden Reid and John White. New York : St.

Martin's Press , 83 — Carrel Armand. Untitled article. Le National , May Ceaser James W. Hector St. John de Letters from an American Farmer. New York : Dutton.

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Eisenstadt Abraham S. Reconsidering Tocqueville's Democracy in America.


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Jacquemont Victor. Janara Laura. Tocqueville: A Biography. New York : Farrar, Straus, Giroux. Lamberti Jean-Claude. Masugi Ken , ed. Interpreting Tocqueville's Democracy in America. Mathy Jean-Paul. Mitchell Harvey. America after Tocqueville: Democracy against Difference. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press. Pierson George Wilson. Tocqueville and Beaumont in America. Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press.

Paris : Armand Colin. Roger Philippe. Paris : Seuil. Saint-Victor Jacques Benjamin. Schleifer James T.

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The Making of Democracy in America , 2nd rev. Indianapolis : Liberty Fund. Smith Rogers M. Civic Ideals. Considerations on the Principal Events of the French Revolution. London : Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy. On Love. Gilbert Sale and Suzanne Sale.

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London : Penguin. Tocqueville Alexis de. Alexis de Tocqueville , a French civil servant from an aristocratic family, wrote Democracy in America following a nine month visit to the United States in Tocqueville journeyed to the United States with a fellow governmental employee, Gustave de Beaumont. Their stated reason for the trip was to study the American penal system, but Kramnick asserts that Tocqueville had a larger goal in mind—one with great personal significance.

Beaumont and Tocqueville saw the journey as a career-creating opportunity. Tocqueville, in particular, had begun to contemplate a political career, and. Beaumont assumed the task of writing and publishing the study of the penal system. Tocqueville's primary contribution from the trip, however, was the study that became Democracy in America , published in two volumes in and While Democracy in America is not a founding document of the United States, it was highly influential from the time of its publication through Tocqueville's death in A renaissance began in , on the occasion of the centennial of its publication.

That modern interest has continued through the present; it includes several English translations, and the application of Tocqueville's observations to such events as the threat of totalitarianism during World War II, the Cold War, and contemporary American electoral politics. It has been used as a manifesto by politicians and social philosophers on both the political left and right Kramnick , xli-xlvii.

Tocqueville does not use the word "philanthropy " which means literally, "the love of people. It is in this discussion of associations that the modern student may understand how Tocqueville's observations relate to philanthropy—now understood to mean the contribution of financial support and volunteer resources to the not-for-profit, non-governmental organizations which aim to serve the public good and improve the quality of human lives.

Tocqueville's description of associations is an enduring impact of Democracy in America. Tocqueville's extensive analysis of the role associations play in strengthening and moderating democracy are widely cited, and highly influential on the structure of American philanthropy.

Tocqueville viewed the proliferation of associations as a unique response that was not only critical to the success of the experiment of democratic government, but also served to provide for the well-being of all of its citizens in accordance with a sense of equality that was previously unknown Tocqueville From that moment, they are no longer isolated but have become a power seen from afar whose activities serve as an example and whose words are heeded" Tocqueville , As a son of aristocrats but an advocate of reform in his own country, Tocqueville served not only as a governmental employee, but also as a student of civil society.

He gave serious consideration to his country's options for governing itself, and in researching Democracy in America , became an advocate of both democracy elected representative government and federalism power distributed among the national government, its states, and their municipalities. As France moved toward eventual democratic rule and struggled with defining the role of the monarchy and nobility, Tocqueville "saw the decline of the aristocracy as irreversible" and "thought federalism a more promising antidote to centralization" Kramnick , xv.

Again, Kramnick suggests that studying the young American democracy was the real purpose of the trip. In his study of democracy and federalism, Tocqueville found that Americans had embraced the idea of associations with a zeal unknown in the aristocracies of France and England. He believed that associations extended democracy beyond the scope of elected offices, to the level of people who share a common interest around which they effect action for large groups of people. By forming and joining associations, Americans are casting a sort of ballot about the issues which are important to them, their families, and their communities.

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In linking the ideals of democracy with formal associations, Tocqueville showed that America's success as a non-aristocracy relies on philanthropy to provide for its people Kramnick , xxiv. In aristocratic societies men feel no need to act in groups because they are strongly held together. A nation in which individuals lost the capacity to achieve great things single-handed without acquiring the means of doing them in a shared enterprise would quickly revert to barbarism" Tocqueville , Likewise, Tocqueville accurately foresaw the importance of charitable organizations in providing for the common welfare of people.

The tasks of government will therefore constantly increase and its very exertions must daily extend its scope. The only way opinions and ideas can be renewed, hearts enlarged, and human minds developed is through the reciprocal influence of men upon each other. Thus, they have to be created artificially, which is what associations alone can achieve" Tocqueville , It is unlikely that Tocqueville would have predicted the enormous growth in the number of not-for-profit associations; today there are some , Marsicano.

But he did believe that the ability of the economy to expand to a capacity that satisfies the needs of people of all economic strata was dependent upon the non-profit sector. The most enlightened inhabitants of each district constantly use their knowledge to make new discoveries to increase the general prosperity, which, when made, they pass eagerly to the mass of the people" Tocqueville , Tocqueville notes that Americans form associations for many different purposes.

They establish hospitals, prisons, schools by the same method. Finally, if they wish to highlight a truth or develop an opinion by the encouragement of a great example, they form an association" Tocqueville , Michael Marsicano, CEO and president of the Foundation for the Carolinas, provides a contemporary perspective on the interrelated roles of associations, philanthropy, and government in the United States that validates Tocqueville's analysis.

When we as individuals, however, volunteer our hard-earned dollars to advance society by freely giving from our own pockets, government taxes us less. The government gives us a tax deduction. As a matter of public policy, the law of the land rewards us for taking a personal role in the advancement of society.

We are able to give less to Caesar when we give more to others. This is uniquely American and profoundly important.


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In America, government sees philanthropy as a partner. And you can even use your tax deduction to contradict government. If you believe the direction headed by Caesar is wrong, he will still give you a tax deduction when you freely finance the opposite direction. These individuals have been empowered to spend what otherwise would have been Caesar's to spend" Marsicano Tocqueville understood democracy from two perspectives.

Tocqueville drew a connection between the formation and effectiveness of associations in solving social problems, and the availability of a free press. While he wrote specifically of newspapers, the only mass medium of his day, his comments are equally appropriate today as the press has expanded to include broadcast, cable, satellite, and Internet delivered media.

Then a newspaper appears to publish the opinion or idea which had occurred simultaneously but separately to each of them. The newspaper has brought them together and continues to be necessary to keep them together" Tocqueville , Tocqueville observed that associating with other like-minded people to improve the common welfare requires personal sacrifice. Tocqueville did not pretend, however, that associating for the common good is done without concern for one's own self interest.