US History to 1865
Democracy in America Essay: Reconciling Equality and Liberty
Democracy in America was written out of Alexis De Tocqueville’s curiosity to see how a democracy was run effectively. In his native country, France, a democratic form of government was failed many times, so in turn he wanted to study a stable and prosperous democracy to gain insight on how it functioned. Although democracy still seemed somewhat inevitable to Tocqueville, he wanted to analyze the form of government to pinpoint its strengths and counteract its weaknesses. Tocqueville believed that aristocracies within governments were on a slow decline, because of the many benefits equality.
Alexis De Tocqueville, 26, and his partner Gustave de Beaumont, 29 set out on a journey to America on April 2, 1831. These two Frenchman planned on staying in America to study different institutions such as prisons, churches, cities, schools, and all of its inhabitants. Since this form of government was not very well known in France, they want to survey it, and have record of American history and character (Tocqueville 7).
Tocqueville’s key themes of work are religion, democracy and liberty. All of his observations while in America where based off these three central themes. “The relationship among religion, democracy, and liberty is especially critical to our understanding of what Tocqueville noticed, valued, and ultimately concluded about America (Tocqueville 16)”.
After several months of observation in America, Tocqueville begins to look at the make-up of society and the people inhabiting America. He believed that every nation had “national character and identity”, such as his native country France, England, Italy, and Scotland. With America, he noticed that there were many backgrounds that made up America culture. For that he often referred to “people that lived in the United States as “Anglo-Americans” (Tocqueville 20-21).