1 SOCAL STATE OF THE ANGLO-AMERCANS in civil matters; even more, should he have committed a punishable offense, he easily escapes the punishment that ought to reach him: after having furnished bail, he disappears. One can therefore say that for him, all penalties that the law inflicts are reduced to fines." What is more aristocratic than legislation like this? n America, however, it is the poor who make the law, and they habitually reserve for themselves the greatest advantages of society. t is in England that one must seek the explanation of this phenomenon: the laws speak of are English." The Americans have not changed them even though they are repugnant to the sum of their legislation and to the mass of their ideas. The thing that a people changes least, after its usages, is its civil legislation. Civil laws are familiar only to jurists, that is to say,to those who have a direct interest in maintaining them as they are, good or bad, for the reason that they know them. The bulk of the nation hardly knows them; it sees them act only in particular cases, grasps their tendency only with difficulty, and submits to them without thinking about it. have cited one example, could have pointed out many others. The picture that American society presents is, if can express myself so, covered with a democratic finish, beneath which from time to time one sees the old colors of aristocracy showing through. 4S Chapter 3 SOCAL STATE OF THE ANGLO-AMERCANS The social state is ordinarily the product of a fact, sometimes of laws, most often of these two causes united; but once it exists, one can consider it as the first cause of most of the laws, customs, and ideas that regulate the conduct of nations; what it does not produce, it modifies. n order to know the legislation and mores of a people, one must therefore begin by studying its social state. 42. There are doubtless crimes for which one does not receive bail, but they are very few in number. 43. See Blackstone [William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England (London, 1809) land Delolme (Jean Louis de Lolme, The Constitution of England (London, 1826)], bk. 1, chap. 10.
2 VOLUME ONE, PART ONE, CHAPTER THREE THAT THE SALENT PONT OF THE SOCAL STATE OF THE ANGLO-AMERCANS S TS BENG ESSENTALLY DEMOCRATC First emigrants of New England.-Equal among themselves.-aristocratic laws introduced in the South. Period of the Revolution.-Change in estate laws. *-Effects produced by this change.-equality pushed to its furthest limits in the new states of the West.-Equality in intelligence. One could make several important remarks about the social state of the Anglo-Americans, but there is one that dominates all others. The social state of the Americans is eminently democratic. t has had this character since the birth of the colonies; it has it even more in our day. said in the preceding chapter that a very great equality reigned among the emigrants who came to settle on the shores of New England. Not even the seed of aristocracy was ever deposited in this part of the Union. One could never found any but intellectual influences here. The people were in the habit of revering certain names as emblems of enlightenment and of virtues. The voices of some citizens obtained a power over them that one perhaps rightly would have called aristocratic if it could have been regularly transmitted from father to son. This took place east of the Hudson; to the southwest of this river and downward to Florida it was otherwise. n most of the states situated to the southwest of the Hudson, great English property owners had come to settle. Aristocratic principles, and with them English estate laws, had been imported. have made known the reasons that prevented anyone from ever being able to establish a powerful aristocracy in America. These reasons, while holding southwest of the Hudson, nevertheless had less power there than east of that river. To the south one man alone, with the aid of slaves, could cultivate a great extent ofland. One therefore saw wealthy landed property owners in this part of the continent; but their influence was not precisely aristocratic as it is understood in Europe since they possessed no privileges, and since cultivation by slaves gave them no tenant farmers and consequently no patronage. Still, the great proprietors to the south of the Hudson formed a superior class, having ideas and tastes of its own and generally concentrating political action within itself. t was a sort of aristocracy little different from the mass of the people, whose passions and interests it easily embraced, exciting neither love nor hate; in sum, weak and not lively. t was this class that, in the South, put itself at the head of the insurrection: to it the American Revolution owes its greatest men. * Lit.: "laws of succession." j
3 SOCAL STATE OF THE ANGLO-AMERCANS n this period the whole of society was shaken: the people in whose name they had fought-the people, become a power, conceived the desire to act by themselves; democratic instincts were awakened; in breaking the yoke of the mother country, they got a taste for every kind of independence: little by little individual influences ceased to make themselves felt; habits as well as laws began to march in accord toward the same goal. But it was estate law that made equality take its last step. am astonished that ancient and modern political writers have not attributed to estate laws1 a greater influence on the course of human affairs. These laws belong, it is true, to the civil order; but they ought to be placed at the head of all political institutions, for they have an incredible influence on the social state of peoples, of which political laws are only the expression. They have, in addition, a sure and uniform manner of operating on society; in a way, they take hold of generations before their birth. Man is armed by them with an almost divine power over the future of those like him. The legislator regulates the estates of citizens once and he rests for centuries: motion having been given to his work, he can withdraw his hand from it; the machine acts by its own force and is directed as if by itself toward a goal indicated in advance. Constituted in a certain manner, it gathers, it concentrates, and it groups around some head property and soon after power; in a way, it makes aristocracy shoot up from the soil. Guided by other principles and launched on another track, its action is more rapid still; it divides, it partitions, it disperses goods and power; sometimes then it happens that one is frightened by the rapidity of its advance; despairing of stopping its movement, one seeks at least to create difficulties and obstacles before it; one wants to counterbalance its action by contrary efforts: useless cares! t crushes or shatters all that comes across its path, it rises up and falls back incessantly on the earth until all that can be seen is a shifting and impalpable dust on which democracy sits. When estate law permits, and even more so when it orders equal partition of the father's goods among all the children, its effects are of two sorts; it is important to distinguish them carefully, although they tend to the same goal. By virtue of estate law, the death of each property owner brings a revolution in property; not only do goods change masters, but they change, so to speak, nature; they are constantly fragmented into smaller portions understand by estate laws all laws whose principal goal is to regulate the fate of goods after the death of the property owner. The law of entail [lit.: "law on substitutions") is among this number; it also has the result, it is true, of preventing the property owner from disposing of his goods before his death; but it imposes on him the obligation to preserve them only with a view to having them reach his inheritor intact. The principal goal of the law of entail is therefore to regulate the fate of goods after the death of the property owner. The rest is the means it employs.
4 VOLUME ONE, PART ONE, CHAPTER THREE That is the direct and in a way material effect of the law. n countries where legislation establishes equality of partition, goods and particularly territorial fortunes will therefore have a permanent tendency to diminish. Still, the effectsof this legislation would make themselves felt only in the long term if the law were abandoned to its own forces; for if ever the family is not composed of more than two children (and the average of families in a country populated like France, it is said, is only three), these children, in partitioning the fortune of their father and mother, will not be poorer than each of the latter individually. But the law of equal partition does not exert its influence only on the fate of goods; it acts on the very souls of property owners and calls their passions to its aid. t is its indirect effects that rapidly destroy great fortunes and above all great domains. n peoples where estate law is founded on the right of primogeniture, territorial domains pass most often from generation to generation without being divided. The result is that family spirit is in a way materialized in the land. The family represents the land, the land represents the family; it perpetuates its name, its origin, its glory, its power, its virtues. t is an imperishable witness to the past and a precious pledge of existence to come. When estate law establishes equal partition, it destroys the intimate connection that exists between the spirit of the family and preservation of the land; the land ceases to represent the family, for, since it cannot fail to be partitioned at the end of one or two generations, it is evident that it must constantly be diminished and in the end disappear entirely. The sons of a great landed property owner, if they are few in number, or if fortune is favorable to them, can indeed preserve the hope of being no less wealthy than their author, but not of possessing the same goods as he; their wealth will necessarilybe composed of other elements than his. Now,from the moment when you take away from landed property owners a great interest of sentiment, memories, pride, and ambition in preserving the land, you can be assured that sooner or later they will sell it, for they have a great pecuniary interest in selling it, since transferable assets produce more interest than others and lend themselves much more easily to satisfying passions of the moment. Once divided, great landed properties are no longer remade; for the small property owner draws more revenue from his field" proportionately than the great property owner from his; he therefore sells it much more dearly than 2. do not want to say that the small property owner cultivates better, but he cultivates with more ardor and care and regains by work what he lacks on the side of art.
5 t t f l! SOCAL STATE OF THE ANGLO-AMERCANS the latter. Thus the economic calculations that brought the rich man to sell vast properties will with greater reason prevent him from buying small ones to reconstitute the great ones. What is called family spirit is often founded on an illusion of individual selfishness. One seeks to perpetuate and in a way to immortalize oneself in one's remote posterity. Whenever the spirit of family ends, individual selfishness reenters into the reality of its penchants. As the family no longer presents itself to the mind as anything but vague, indeterminate, and uncertain, each concentrates on the comfort of the present; he dreams of the establishment of the generation that is going to follow, and nothing more. One therefore does not seek to perpetuate one's family, or at least one seeks to perpetuate it by other means than landed property. Thus not only does estate law make it difficult for families to preserve the same domains intact, but it takes away from them the desire to make the attempt, and it brings them in a way to cooperate with it in their own ruin. The law of equal partition proceeds on two tracks: in acting on the thing, it acts on the man; in acting on the man, it arrives at the thing. By these two manners it succeeds in profoundly attacking landed property and in making families as well as fortunes disappear with rapidity.' t is doubtless not for us, the French of the nineteenth century, daily witnesses to the political and social changes to which estate law gives birth, to put its power in doubt. Every day we see it pass and repass constantly over our soil, overturning the walls of our dwellings in its path and destroying the enclosures of our fields. But if estate law has already done so much among us, much still remains for it to do. Our memories, our opinions, and our habits pose powerful obstacles to it. n the United States, its work of destruction is nearly ended. t is there that one can study its principal results. English legislation on the transmission of goods was abolished in almost all the states in the period of the Revolution. 3. Land being the most solid property, from time to time one encounters rich men who are disposed to make great sacrifices to acquire it and who willingly lose a considerable portion of their revenue to secure the rest. But those are accidents. The love of landed property is no longer habitually found except among the poor. The small landed property owner, who has less enlightenment, less imagination, and fewer passions than the great, is generally preoccupied only with the desire to increase his domain, and it often happens that inheritances, marriages, or the opportunities of commerce furnish him, little by little, the means for it. Beside the tendency that brings men to divide land, therefore, there exists another that brings them to aggregate it. This tendency, which suffices to prevent properties from being divided infinitely, is not strong enough to create great territorial fortunes, nor above all to maintain them in the same families. 49
6 50 VOLUME ONE, PART ONE, CHAPTER THREE The law of entail was modified in such a manner as to hinder the free circulation of goods only in an imperceptible manner. * The first generation passed; lands began to be divided. The movement became more and more rapid as time advanced. Today, when hardly sixty years have elapsed, the aspect of society is already unrecognizable; the families of the great landed property owners have almost all been swallowed up within the common mass. n the state of New York, where one used to count a very great number of them, hardly two! float above the chasm ready to seize them. Today the sons of these opulent citizens are men of commerce, attorneys, doctors. Most have fallen into the most profound obscurity. The least trace of ranks and hereditary distinctions is destroyed; estate law has done its leveling everywhere. t is not that there are no rich in the United States as elsewhere; indeed, do not know a country where the love of money holds a larger place in the heart of man and where they profess a more profound scorn for the theory of the permanent equality of goods.' But fortune turns there with incredible rapidity and experience teaches that it is rare to see two generations collect its favors. However colored one supposes this picture, it still gives only an incomplete idea of what is taking place in the new states of the West and Southwest. At the end of the last century hardy adventurers began to penetrate the valleys of the Mississippi. That was almost a new discovery of America: soon the bulk of the emigration carne there; then one saw unknown societies issue all at once from the wilderness. States whose very names did not exist a few years before took their place within the American Union. n the West one can observe democracy reaching its furthest limit. n those states, improvised in a way by fortune, the inhabitants arrived only yesterday on the soil they occupy. They hardly know one another, and each is ignorant of the past of his closest neighbor. n that part of the American continent, the population therefore escapes not only the influence of great names and great wealth, but of that natural aristocracy that flows from enlightenment and virtue. No one there exercises the respectable power that men accord to the memory of an entire life occupied in doing good before one's eyes. The new states of the West already have inhabitants; society does not yet exist there. But it is not only fortunes that are equal in America; up to a certain point equality extends to intelligence itself. "See AT's note V, page n a marginal note, crossed out, AT specified the Livingstons and the Van Rensselaers. tapparentlya reference to the theories of the "Equalitarians" (as they were called in France in the 1830S), later called communists or socialists, and in France associated with the followers of Francois Babeuf ( ).
7 SOCAL STATE OF THE ANGLO-AMERCANS do not think that there is a country in the world where, in proportion to population, so few ignorant and fewer learned men are found than in America. Primary instruction there is within reach of each; higher instruction is within reach of almost no one. One understands this without difficulty, and it is so to speak the necessary result of what we advanced above. Almost all Americans are comfortable; they can therefore readily procure for themselves the first elements of human knowledge. n America there are few rich; almost all Americans therefore need to practice a profession. Now, every profession requires an apprenticeship. Americans, therefore, can only give the first years of life to the general cultivation of intelligence: at fifteen they enter into a career; thus their education most often ends in the period when ours begins. f it is pursued beyond this, it is then directed only toward a special and lucrative matter; one studies a science as one takes up a trade; and one takes from it only the applications whose present utility is recognized. n America most of the rich have begun by being poor; almost all the idle were, in their youth, employed; the result is that when one could have the taste for study, one does not have the time to engage in it; and when one has acquired the time to engage in it, one no longer has the taste for it. There does not exist in America, therefore, any class in which the penchant for intellectual pleasures is transmitted with comfort and inherited leisure, and which holds the works of the intellect in honor. Thus the will to engage in these works is lacking as much as is the power. n America a certain common level in human knowledge has been established. All minds have approached it; some by being raised to it, others by being lowered to it. One therefore encounters an immense multitude of individuals who have nearly the same number of notions in matters of religion, of history, of science, of political economy, of legislation, of government. ntellectual inequality comes directly from God, and man cannot prevent it from existing always. But it happens, at least from what we have just said, that intelligence, while remaining unequal as the Creator wished, finds equal means at its disposition. So, therefore, in our day in America the aristocratic element, always weak since its birth, is, if not destroyed, at least weakened, so that it is difficult to assign it any influence whatsoever in the course of affairs. Time, events, and the laws have, on the contrary, rendered the democratic element not only preponderant there, but so to speak unique. No influence
8 VOLUME ONE, PART ONE, CHAPTER THREE of family or corporation is allowed to be perceived; often one cannot even discover any individual influence however little lasting. America therefore presents the strangest phenomenon in its social state. Men show themselves to be more equal in their fortunes and in their intelligence or, in other terms, more equally strong than they are in any country in the world and than they have been in any century of which history keeps a memory. POLTCAL CONSEQUENCES OF THE SOCAL STATE OF THE ANGLO-AMERCANS The political consequences of such a social state are easy to deduce. t is impossible to understand how equality will not in the end penetrate the political world as elsewhere. One cannot conceive of men eternally unequal among themselves on one point alone, equal on all others; they will therefore arrive in a given time at being equal on all. Now know only two manners of making equality reign in the political world: rights must be given to each citizen or to no one. For peoples who have reached the same social state as the Anglo- Americans it is therefore very difficult to perceive a middle term between the sovereignty of all and the absolute power of one alone. One must not dissimulate the fact that the social state have just described lends itself almost as readily to the one as to the other of its two consequences. There is in fact a manly and legitimate passion for equality that incites men to want all to be strong and esteemed. This passion tends to elevate the small to the rank of the great; but one also encounters a depraved taste for equality in the human heart that brings the weak to want to draw the strong to their level and that reduces men to preferring equality in servitude to inequality in freedom. t is not that peoples whose social state is democratic naturally scorn freedom; on the contrary, they have an instinctive taste for it. But freedom is not the principal and continuous object of their desire; what they love with an eternal love is equality; they dash toward freedom with a rapid impulse and sudden efforts, and if they miss the goal they resign themselves; but nothing can satisfy them without equality, and they would sooner consent to perish than to lose it. On the other hand, when citizens are all nearly equal, it becomes difficult for them to defend their independence against the aggressions of power. Since no one among them is strong enough then to struggle alone to advantage, it is only the combination of the forces of all that can guarantee freedom. Now, such a combination is not always met with.
9 ON THE PRNCPLE OF THE SOVEREGNTY OF THE PEOPLE N AMERCA Peoples can therefore draw two great political consequences from the same social state: these consequences differ prodigiously between themselves, but they both issue from the same fact.. The first to be submitted to the formidable alternative that have just described, the Anglo-Americans have been happy enough to escape absolute power. Circumstances, origin, enlightenment, and above all mores have permitted them to found and maintain the sovereignty of the people. S3 Chapter 4 ON THE PRNCPLE OF THE SOVEREGNTY OF THE PEOPLE N AMERCA \ t dominates all of American society.-application that the Americans already made of this principle before their revolution.-development that their revolution gave to it.- Gradual and irresistible lowering of the property qualification. When one wants to speak of the political laws of the United States, it is always with the dogma of the sovereignty of the people that one must begin. The principle of the sovereignty of the people, which is always more or less at the foundation of almost all human institutions, ordinarily dwells there almost buried. One obeys it without recognizing it, or if sometimes it happens to be brought out in broad daylight for a moment, one soon hastens to plunge it back into the darkness of the sanctuary. National will is one of the terms that intriguers in all times and despots in all ages have most largely abused. Some have seen its expression in the bought suffrage of a few agents of power; others in the votes of an interested or fearful minority; there are even some who have discovered it fully expressed in the silence of peoples, and who have thought that from the fact of obedience arises the right for them to command. n America, the principle of the sovereignty of the people is not hidden or sterile as in certain nations; it is recognized by mores, proclaimed by the laws; it spreads with freedom and reaches its final consequences without obstacle. f there is a single country in the world where one can hope to appreciate the dogma of the sovereignty of the people at its just value, to study it in its application to the affairs of society, and to judge its advantages and its dangers, that country is surely America.
10 54 VOLUME ONE, PART ONE, CHAPTER FOUR said previously that from the origin, the principle of the sovereignty of the people was the generative principle of most of the English colonies of America. >- t was nevertheless very far from dominating the government of society then as it does in our day. Two obstacles, one external, the other internal, slowed its.pervasive advance. t could not come to light outwardly within the laws since the colonies were still constrained to obey the mother country; it was therefore reduced to hiding itself in provincial assemblies and above all in the township. There it spread in secret. American society then was not yet prepared to adopt it in all its consequences. As brought out in the preceding chapter, enlightenment in New England and wealth to the south of the Hudson long exerted a sort of aristocratic influence that tended to narrow into few hands the exercise of social powers. They were still very far from having all public officials elected and all citizens electors. Everywhere electoral rights were confined within certain limits and subordinated to the existence of a property qualification. That property qualification was very low in the North, more considerable in the South. The American Revolution broke out. The dogma of the sovereignty of the people came out from the township and took hold of the government; all classes committed themselves to its cause; they did combat and they triumphed in its name; it became the law of laws. A change almost as rapid was effected in the interior of society. Estate law served to break down local influences. At the moment when this effect of the laws and of the Revolution began to reveal itself to all eyes, victory had already been irrevocably pronounced in favor of democracy. Power was, in fact, in its hands. t was no longer permissible even to struggle against it. The upper classes therefore submitted without a murmur and without combat to an evil henceforth inevitable. What happens ordinarily to powers that fall happened to them: individual selfishness took hold in their members; as they could no longer tear force from the hands of the people and as they did not detest the multitude enough to take pleasure in defying it, they no longer dreamed of anything except gaining its good will at any price. The most democratic laws were therefore voted in a rivalry among the men whose interests they bruised the most. n this manner the upper classes did not excite popular passions against them; but they themselves hastened the triumph of the new order. Thus, a singular,.da 1.2.
11 ON THE PRNCPLE OF THE SOVEREGNTY OF THE PEOPLE N AMERCA 55 thing! One saw the democratic impulse more irresistible in states where aristocracy had the deepest roots. The state of Maryland, which had been founded by great lords, proclaimed universal suffrage' first and introduced into its entire government the most democratic forms. When a people begins to touch the electoral qualification, one can foresee that it will sooner or later make it disappear completely. That is one of the most invariable rules that govern societies. As one moves the limit of electoral rights back, one feels the need to move it back more; for after each new concession, the forces of democracy increase and its demands grow with its new power. The ambition of those who are left below the property qualification becomes irritated in proportion to the great number of those who are found above. The exception finally becomes the rule; concessions succeed each other relentlessly and there is no stopping until they have arrived at universal suffrage. n our day the principle of the sovereignty of the people has tried out all practical developments in the United States that the imagination can conceive. t has been disengaged from all the fictions with which one has taken care to surround it elsewhere; one sees it reclothed successively in all forms, according to the necessity of the case. Sometimes the people in a body makes the laws as at Athens; sometimes deputies whom universal suffrage has created represent it and act in its name under its almost immediate surveillance. There are countries where a power in a way external to the social body acts on it and forces it to march on a certain track. There are others where force is divided, placed at once in society and outside it. Nothing like this is seen in the United States; there society acts by itself and on itself. Power exists only within its bosom; almost no one is encountered who dares to conceive and above all to express the idea of seeking it elsewhere. The people participate in the drafting of laws by the choice of the legislators, in their application, by the election of the agents of the executive power; one can say that they govern themselves, so weak and restricted is the part left to the administration, so much does the latter feel its popular origin and obey the power from which it emanates. The people reign over the American political world as does God over the universe. They are the cause and the end of all things; everything comes out of them and everything is absorbed into them." * See AT's note V, page Amendments made to the constitution of Maryland in 1801 and 1809 [articles 12 and 14, ratified in 1810].