De Tocqueville Quotes – Insights from a Visionary

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

A decline of public morals in the United States will probably be marked by the abuse of the power of impeachment as a means of crushing political adversaries or ejecting them from office. – Alexis de Tocqueville

There is hardly a political question in the United States which does not sooner or later turn into a judicial one. – Alexis de Tocqueville

In democracy, each new generation is a new people. – Alexis de Tocqueville

In order to enjoy the pleasures of being independent, democratic nations must learn how to support their own freedom. – Alexis de Tocqueville

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. – Alexis de Tocqueville

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

The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults. – Alexis de Tocqueville

The power of secret is greater than the power of the open. – Alexis de Tocqueville

Despotism may govern without faith, but freedom cannot. How is it possible that society should escape destruction if the moral tie is not strengthened in proportion as the political tie is relaxed? – Alexis de Tocqueville

Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought. – Alexis de Tocqueville

The weakness of the American people is that they are too easily swayed by fear. – Alexis de Tocqueville

I do not think that any punishment would be too severe for the man who should make me live in society by the side of my fellow-citizens, and yet be unable to converse with them. – Alexis de Tocqueville

The Americans have taken the word ‘party’ to mean something altogether different from what it usually means in Europe. – Alexis de Tocqueville

It may be believed that laws made in such circumstances would irrevocably destroy the rights of property, and that the fate of the tenant would be so uncertain and precarious that even the rich would prefer to possess an entirely freehold estate. – Alexis de Tocqueville

The inhabitants of the United States may be divided into two great parties: the expression of their different political tenets are to be found in the bodies of their partisans, and this is the most palpable, the most permanent, and the most easy to be recognised amongst the causes which operate upon the mind of the Americans. – Alexis de Tocqueville

I came to visit the sites of a great revolution, and I imagined that I was going to find a nation of heroes. Soldiers, when passing through Antibes or Frejus, I would fain have saluted the cannon in Napoleon’s fleet, and running from one end of the empire to the other, I thought I should bind to the same homages of my admiration the old and decrepit remains of the ancient aristocracy and the vigorous state of these young republicans. – Alexis de Tocqueville

I am not afraid that the people of the South, in all this matter, are less favorable to liberty than the people of the North. The one great evil now existing in America, which no one has attempted to mitigate, is the enormous influence of women. – Alexis de Tocqueville

Holding powers accountable and protecting individual rights are not contrary to an effective government; they are essential to it. – Alexis de Tocqueville

In order to enjoy the inestimable benefits that the freedom of the press ensures, it is necessary to submit to the inevitable evils it creates. – Alexis de Tocqueville

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

Men are not equal but should be respected equally. – Alexis de Tocqueville

The best laws cannot make a constitution work in spite of morals; morals can turn the worst laws to advantage. That is a commonplace truth, but one to which my studies are always bringing me back. – Alexis de Tocqueville

The power of the periodical press is second only to that of the people. – Alexis de Tocqueville

There is no country in the whole world in which the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America. – Alexis de Tocqueville

It is the dissimilarities and inequalities among men which give rise to the notion of honor; those who have nothing to distinguish them soon perceive that they are esteemed for nothing, and they are willing to procure for themselves the pleasures which fortune has placed beyond their reach. – Alexis de Tocqueville

When a man begins to feel that he has some power over others and thinks he should use it, the devil takes over. – Alexis de Tocqueville

I entirely agree with you as to the injurious consequences of the on public education that prevails in the North. – Alexis de Tocqueville

When the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness. – Alexis de Tocqueville

Is it not strange that the tendency of liberalism should be to destroy liberty? I am not saying this from a party standpoint. I mean that it tends to destroy human personality based on quality. – Alexis de Tocqueville

The Revolution of the United States was the result of a mature reflection and no mistake. – Alexis de Tocqueville

I know of no country, indeed, where the love of money has taken stronger hold on the affections of men, and where the profounder contempt is expressed for the theory of the permanent equality of property. – Alexis de Tocqueville

Everything I have said and done in these last years is relativism by intuition . . . If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories and men who claim to be bearers of an objective, immortal truth . . . then there is nothing more relativistic than fascistic attitudes and activity . . . – Alexis de Tocqueville

I am convinced that the greatest punishment ever inflicted upon man is by himself. – Alexis de Tocqueville

The influence of religion extends beyond the public habits of a community to the shifting and varying thoughts of each individual. – Alexis de Tocqueville

No one was less of a woman-hater than Alexis de Tocqueville, but to see what he thought of women as politicians you have only to read his account of the portrait and the death of Queen Christina of Sweden. – Alexis de Tocqueville

At the approach of general suffrage, the class which watches a democracy with a feeling of dread as the future of equal fortunes becomes more and more inevitable is the middle class. At this moment this class is at war with itself because it is divided between two contradictory interests. – Alexis de Tocqueville

Despotism itself is responsible to heaven. I make my excuse to human reason, but to tyranny I owe none. – Alexis de Tocqueville

In our time, freedom of speech is lost to the followers of two false dispositions: the intellectuals and the masses. – Alexis de Tocqueville

The excellence of the American constitution consists in its providing gracefully for a man President of the United States in fraternal agreement with 28 separate governments. – Alexis de Tocqueville

The vices are always more costly than the virtues. – Alexis de Tocqueville

Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. – Alexis de Tocqueville

Democratic institutions awaken and foster a passion for equality which they can never entirely satisfy. – Alexis de Tocqueville

Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude. – Alexis de Tocqueville

In a democracy, the majority of the citizens is capable of exercising the most cruel oppressions upon the minority. – Alexis de Tocqueville

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