His grandson, Col. Boone, of Colorado, was a power among the Indians of the Rocky Mountains, and was appointed an agent by the Government. Generally, in all the western settlements, three classes, like the waves of the ocean, have rolled one after the other. It is quite immaterial whether he ever becomes the owner of the soil. He builds his cabin, gathers around him a few other families of similar tastes and habits, and occupies till the range is somewhat subdued, and hunting a little precarious, or, which is more frequently the case, till the neighbors crowd around, roads, bridges, and fields annoy him, and he lacks elbow room.
The next class of emigrants purchase the lands, add field to field, clear out the roads, throw rough bridges over the streams, put up hewn log houses with glass windows and brick or stone chimneys, occasionally plant orchards, build mills, schoolhouses, court-houses, etc. Another wave rolls on.
The men of capital and enterprise come. The settler is ready to sell out and take the advantage of the rise in property, push farther into the interior and become, himself, a man of capital and enterprise in turn. The small village rises to a spacious town or city; substantial edifices of brick, extensive fields, orchards, gardens, colleges, and churches are seen. Broadcloths, silks, leghorns, crapes, and all the refinements, luxuries, elegancies, frivolities, and fashions are in vogue.
Thus wave after wave is rolling westward; the real Eldorado is still farther on. A portion of the two first classes remain stationary amidst the general movement, improve their habits and condition, and rise in the scale of society. The writer has traveled much amongst the first class, the real pioneers. He has lived many years in connection with the second grade; and now the third wave is sweeping over large districts of Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri.
Migration has become almost a habit in the west. Hundreds of men can be found, not over 50 years of age, who have settled for the fourth, fifth, or sixth time on a new spot. To sell out and remove only a few hundred miles makes up a portion of the variety of backwoods life and manners.
Omitting those of the pioneer farmers who move from the love of adventure, the advance of the more steady farmer is easy to understand. Obviously the immigrant was attracted by the cheap lands of the frontier, and even the native farmer felt their influence strongly.
Year by year the farmers who lived on soil whose returns were diminished by unrotated crops were offered the virgin soil of the frontier at nominal prices. Their growing families demanded more lands, and these were dear. The competition of the unexhausted, cheap, and easily tilled prairie lands compelled the farmer either to go west and continue the exhaustion of the soil on a new frontier, or to adopt intensive culture. Thus the census of shows, in the Northwest, many counties in which there is an absolute or a relative decrease of population.
These States have been sending farmers to advance the frontier on the plains, and have themselves begun to turn to intensive farming and to manufacture. A decade before this, Ohio had shown the same transition stage. Thus the demand for land and the love of wilderness freedom drew the frontier ever onward. Having now roughly outlined the various kinds of frontiers, and their modes of advance, chiefly from the point of view of the frontier itself, we may next inquire what were the influences on the East and on the Old World.
A rapid enumeration of some of the more noteworthy effects is all that I have time for. First, we note that the frontier promoted the formation of a composite nationality for the American people. The coast was preponderantly English, but the later tides of continental immigration flowed across to the free lands.
This was the case from the early colonial days. With these peoples were also the freed indented servants, or redemptioners, who at the expiration of their time of service passed to the frontier. In the crucible of the frontier the immigrants were Americanized, liberated, and fused into a mixed race, English in neither nationality or characteristics. The process has gone on from the early days to our own. In the middle of the present century the German element in Wisconsin was already so considerable that leading publicists looked to the creation of a German state out of the commonwealth by concentrating their colonization.
In another way the advance of the frontier decreased our dependence on England. The coast, particularly of the South, lacked diversified industries, and was dependent on England for the bulk of its supplies. In the South there was even a dependence on the Northern colonies for articles of food.
This no doubt diminishes the number of shipping and the appearance of our trade, but it is far from being a detriment to us. The legislation which most developed the powers of the National Government, and played the largest part in its activity, was conditioned on the frontier. Writers have discussed the subjects of tariff, land, and internal improvement, as subsidiary to the slavery question. But when American history comes to be rightly viewed it will be seen that the slavery question is an incident.
In the period from the end of the first half of the present century to the close of the civil war slavery rose to primary, but far from exclusive, importance.
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But this does not justify Dr. Even so recent a writer as Rhodes, in his History of the United States since the compromise of , has treated the legislation called out by the western advance as incidental to the slavery struggle. This is a wrong perspective. The pioneer needed the goods of the coast, and so the grand series of internal improvement and railroad legislation began, with potent nationalizing effects. Over internal improvements occurred great debates, in which grave constitutional questions were discussed. Sectional groupings appear in the votes, profoundly significant for the historian.
Loose construction increased as the nation marched westward. The disposition of the public lands was a third important subject of national legislation influenced by the frontier. The public domain has been a force of profound importance in the nationalization and development of the Government.
The effects of the struggle of the landed and the landless States, and of the ordinance of , need no discussion. The purchase of Louisiana was perhaps the constitutional turning point in the history of the Republic, inasmuch as it afforded both a new area for national legislation and the occasion of the downfall of the policy of strict construction. But the purchase of Louisiana was called out by frontier needs and demands.
As frontier States accrued to the Union the national power grew. In a speech on the dedication of the Calhoun monument Mr. When we consider the public domain from the point of view of the sale and disposal of the public lands we are again brought face to face with the frontier. The policy of the United States in dealing with its lands is in sharp contrast with the European system of scientific administration. Efforts to make this domain a source of revenue, and to withhold it from emigrants in order that settlement might be compact, were in vain.
The jealousy and the fears of the East were powerless in the face of the demands of the frontiersmen. Benton was the author of this system, which he brought forward as a substitute for the American system of Mr. Clay, and to supplant him as the leading statesman of the West.
Clay, by his tariff compromise with Mr. Calhoun, abandoned his own American system.
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At the same time he brought forward a plan for distributing among all the States of the Union the proceeds of the sales of the public lands. His bill for that purpose passed both Houses of Congress, but was vetoed by President Jackson, who, in his annual message of December, , formally recommended that all public lands should be gratuitously given away to individual adventurers and to the States in which the lands are situated. But this legislation was framed under frontier influences, and under the lead of Western statesmen like Benton and Jackson.
It is safe to say that the legislation with regard to land, tariff, and internal improvements—the American system of the nationalizing Whig party—was conditioned on frontier ideas and needs. But it was not merely in legislative action that the frontier worked against the sectionalism of the coast. The economic and social characteristics of the frontier worked against sectionalism. The men of the frontier had closer resemblances to the Middle region than to either of the other sections.
Pennsylvania had been the seed-plot of frontier emigration, and, although she passed on her settlers along the Great Valley into the west of Virginia and the Carolinas, yet the industrial society of these Southern frontiersmen was always more like that of the Middle region than like that of the tide-water portion of the South, which later came to spread its industrial type throughout the South.
The Middle region, entered by New York harbor, was an open door to all Europe. The tide-water part of the South represented typical Englishmen, modified by a warm climate and servile labor, and living in baronial fashion on great plantations; New England stood for a special English movement—Puritanism. The Middle region was less English than the other sections. It had a wide mixture of nationalities, a varied society, the mixed town and county system of local government, a varied economic life, many religious sects. It represented that composite nationality which the contemporary United States exhibits, that juxtaposition of non-English groups, occupying a valley or a little settlement, and presenting reflections of the map of Europe in their variety.
It was typical of the modern United States. It was least sectional, not only because it lay between North and South, but also because with no barriers to shut out its frontiers from its settled region, and with a system of connecting waterways, the Middle region mediated between East and West as well as between North and South. Thus it became the typically American region. Even the New Englander, who was shut out from the frontier by the Middle region, tarrying in New York or Pennsylvania on his westward march, lost the acuteness of his sectionalism on the way.
Before this process revealed its results the western portion of the South, which was akin to Pennsylvania in stock, society, and industry, showed tendencies to fall away from the faith of the fathers into internal improvement legislation and nationalism. In the Virginia convention of —30, called to revise the constitution, Mr. Leigh, of Chesterfield, one of the tide-water counties, declared:. One of the main causes of discontent which led to this convention, that which had the strongest influence in overcoming our veneration for the work of our fathers, which taught us to contemn the sentiments of Henry and Mason and Pendleton, which weaned us from our reverence for the constituted authorities of the State, was an overweening passion for internal improvement.
I say this with perfect knowledge, for it has been avowed to me by gentlemen from the West over and over again. And let me tell the gentleman from Albemarle Mr. Gordon that it has been another principal object of those who set this ball of revolution in motion, to overturn the doctrine of State rights, of which Virginia has been the very pillar, and to remove the barrier she has interposed to the interference of the Federal Government in that same work of internal improvement, by so reorganizing the legislature that Virginia, too, may be hitched to the Federal car.
It was this nationalizing tendency of the West that transformed the democracy of Jefferson into the national republicanism of Monroe and the democracy of Andrew Jackson. The West of the war of , the West of Clay, and Benton, and Harrison, and Andrew Jackson, shut off by the Middle States and the mountains from the coast sections, had a solidarity of its own with national tendencies.
Interstate migration went steadily on—a process of cross-fertilization of ideas and institutions. The fierce struggle of the sections over slavery on the western frontier does not diminish the truth of this statement; it proves the truth of it. Slavery was a sectional trait that would not down, but in the West it could not remain sectional. It will become all of one thing or all of the other.
Mobility of population is death to localism, and the western frontier worked irresistibly in unsettling population. The effects reached back from the frontier and affected profoundly the Atlantic coast and even the Old World. But the most important effect of the frontier has been in the promotion of democracy here and in Europe. As has been indicated, the frontier is productive of individualism. Complex society is precipitated by the wilderness into a kind of primitive organization based on the family.
The tendency is anti-social. It produces antipathy to control, and particularly to any direct control. The tax-gatherer is viewed as a representative of oppression. Osgood, in an able article,  has pointed out that the frontier conditions prevalent in the colonies are important factors in the explanation of the American Revolution, where individual liberty was sometimes confused with absence of all effective government.
The same conditions aid in explaining the difficulty of instituting a strong government in the period of the confederacy. The frontier individualism has from the beginning promoted democracy. The frontier States that came into the Union in the first quarter of a century of its existence came in with democratic suffrage provisions, and had reactive effects of the highest importance upon the older States whose peoples were being attracted there. An extension of the franchise became essential. It was western New York that forced an extension of suffrage in the constitutional convention of that State in ; and it was western Virginia that compelled the tide-water region to put a more liberal suffrage provision in the constitution framed in , and to give to the frontier region a more nearly proportionate representation with the tide-water aristocracy.
The rise of democracy as an effective force in the nation came in with western preponderance under Jackson and William Henry Harrison, and it meant the triumph of the frontier—with all of its good and with all of its evil elements. A representative from western Virginia declared:. But, sir, it is not the increase of population in the West which this gentleman ought to fear. It is the energy which the mountain breeze and western habits impart to those emigrants. They are regenerated, politically I mean, sir. They soon become working politicians; and the difference, sir, between a talking and a working politician is immense.
The Old Dominion has long been celebrated for producing great orators; the ablest metaphysicians in policy; men that can split hairs in all abstruse questions of political economy. But at home, or when they return from Congress, they have negroes to fan them asleep. But a Pennsylvania, a New York, an Ohio, or a western Virginia statesman, though far inferior in logic, metaphysics, and rhetoric to an old Virginia statesman, has this advantage, that when he returns home he takes off his coat and takes hold of the plow.
This gives him bone and muscle, sir, and preserves his republican principles pure and uncontaminated. So long as free land exists, the opportunity for a competency exists, and economic power secures political power. But the democracy born of free land, strong in selfishness and individualism, intolerant of administrative experience and education, and pressing individual liberty beyond its proper bounds, has its dangers as well as it benefits. Individualism in America has allowed a laxity in regard to governmental affairs which has rendered possible the spoils system and all the manifest evils that follow from the lack of a highly developed civic spirit.
In this connection may be noted also the influence of frontier conditions in permitting lax business honor, inflated paper currency and wild-cat banking. The colonial and revolutionary frontier was the region whence emanated many of the worst forms of an evil currency. Thus each one of the periods of lax financial integrity coincides with periods when a new set of frontier communities had arisen, and coincides in area with these successive frontiers, for the most part.
The recent Populist agitation is a case in point. Many a State that now declines any connection with the tenets of the Populists, itself adhered to such ideas in an earlier stage of the development of the State. A primitive society can hardly be expected to show the intelligent appreciation of the complexity of business interests in a developed society. The continual recurrence of these areas of paper-money agitation is another evidence that the frontier can be isolated and studied as a factor in American history of the highest importance.
The East has always feared the result of an unregulated advance of the frontier, and has tried to check and guide it. If you stopped your grants, what would be the consequence? The people would occupy without grants. They have already so occupied in many places. You cannot station garrisons in every part of these deserts. If you drive the people from one place, they will carry on their annual tillage and remove with their flocks and herds to another. Many of the people in the back settlements are already little attached to particular situations.
Already they have topped the Appalachian mountains. From thence they behold before them an immense plain, one vast, rich, level meadow; a square of five hundred miles. Over this they would wander without a possibility of restraint; they would change their manners with their habits of life; would soon forget a government by which they were disowned; would become hordes of English Tartars; and, pouring down upon your unfortified frontiers a fierce and irresistible cavalry, become masters of your governors and your counselers, your collectors and comptrollers, and of all the slaves that adhered to them.
But the English Government was not alone in its desire to limit the advance of the frontier and guide its destinies. Tidewater Virginia  and South Carolina  gerrymandered those colonies to insure the dominance of the coast in their legislatures. Washington desired to settle a State at a time in the Northwest; Jefferson would reserve from settlement the territory of his Louisiana purchase north of the thirty-second parallel, in order to offer it to the Indians in exchange for their settlements east of the Mississippi.
When the Oregon question was under debate, in , Smyth, of Virginia, would draw an unchangeable line for the limits of the United States at the outer limit of two tiers of States beyond the Mississippi, complaining that the seaboard States were being drained of the flower of their population by the bringing of too much land into market.
Steadily the frontier of settlement advanced and carried with it individualism, democracy, and nationalism, and powerfully affected the East and the Old World. The most effective efforts of the East to regulate the frontier came through its educational and religious activity, exerted by interstate migration and by organized societies. Speaking in , Dr. And so various are the opinions and habits, and so recent and imperfect is the acquaintance, and so sparse are the settlements of the West, that no homogeneous public sentiment can be formed to legislate immediately into being the requisite institutions.
And yet they are all needed immediately in their utmost perfection and power. It must not be permitted. With the appeal to the conscience of New England, he adds appeals to her fears lest other religious sects anticipate her own. The New England preacher and school-teacher left their mark on the West. While we sympathize in whatever tends to increase the physical resources and prosperity of our country, we can not forget that with all these dispersions into remote and still remoter corners of the land the supply of the means of grace is becoming relatively less and less. As seaboard cities like Philadelphia, New York, and Baltimore strove for the mastery of Western trade, so the various denominations strove for the possession of the West.
Thus an intellectual stream from New England sources fertilized the West. Other sections sent their missionaries; but the real struggle was between sects. The contest for power and the expansive tendency furnished to the various sects by the existence of a moving frontier must have had important results on the character of religious organization in the United States.
The multiplication of rival churches in the little frontier towns had deep and lasting social effects. The religious aspects of the frontier make a chapter in our history which needs study. From the conditions of frontier life came intellectual traits of profound importance. The works of travelers along each frontier from colonial days onward describe certain common traits, and these traits have, while softening down, still persisted as survivals in the place of their origin, even when a higher social organization succeeded.
The result is that to the frontier the American intellect owes its striking characteristics. That coarseness and strength combined with acuteness and inquisitiveness; that practical, inventive turn of mind, quick to find expedients; that masterful grasp of material things, lacking in the artistic but powerful to effect great ends; that restless, nervous energy;  that dominant individualism, working for good and for evil, and withal that buoyancy and exuberance which comes with freedom—these are traits of the frontier, or traits called out elsewhere because of the existence of the frontier.
Since the days when the fleet of Columbus sailed into the waters of the New World, America has been another name for opportunity, and the people of the United States have taken their tone from the incessant expansion which has not only been open but has even been forced upon them.
He would be a rash prophet who should assert that the expansive character of American life has now entirely ceased. Movement has been its dominant fact, and, unless this training has no effect upon a people, the American energy will continually demand a wider field for its exercise. But never again will such gifts of free land offer themselves. For a moment, at the frontier, the bonds of custom are broken and unrestraint is triumphant. There is not tabula rasa. The stubborn American environment is there with its imperious summons to accept its conditions; the inherited ways of doing things are also there; and yet, in spite of environment, and in spite of custom, each frontier did indeed furnish a new field of opportunity, a gate of escape from the bondage of the past; and freshness, and confidence, and scorn of older society, impatience of its restraints and its ideas, and indifference to its lessons, have accompanied the frontier.
What the Mediterranean Sea was to the Greeks, breaking the bond of custom, offering new experiences, calling out new institutions and activities, that, and more, the ever retreating frontier has been to the United States directly, and to the nations of Europe more remotely. And now, four centuries from the discovery of America, at the end of a hundred years of life under the Constitution, the frontier has gone, and with its going has closed the first period of American history.
Since the meeting of the American Historical Association, this paper has also been given as an address to the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, December 14, I have to thank the Secretary of the Society, Mr. Reuben G. Thwaites, for securing valuable material for my use in the preparation of the paper. Abridgment of Debates of Congress, v. Bancroft ed. Monette, Mississippi Valley, I, p. Auburn, N. Grund, Americans, II, p.
Peck, New Guide to the West Cincinnati, , ch. S, Senate, December 16, A writer in The Home Missionary , p. What an example, to come from the very frontiers of civilization! Bancroft H. See the suggestive paper by Prof. Shinn, Mining Camps. See pages , , , post, for illustrations of the political accompaniments of changed industrial conditions. But Lewis and Clarke were the first to explore the route from the Missouri to the Columbia.
Lodge, English Colonies, p. Flint, Recollections, p. See Monette, Mississippi, I, p. Hehn, Das Salz Berlin, Records of N. Hale, Daniel Boone pamphlet. Weston, Documents connected with History of South Carolina, p. See, for example, the speech of Clay, in the House of Representatives, January 30, See the admirable monograph by Prof. Adams Memoirs, IX, pp. Compare Roosevelt, Thomas Benton, ch. There is not only equality in wealth, but also equality in education. None are totally ignorant, and few are highly educated.
There is no class with both the taste and leisure for intellectual pleasures. This state of affairs creates a "middling standard. For equality in the political sphere, either every citizen or no citizen can have rights. The passion for equality often overrides the desire for freedom; consequently people often surrender freedom for the sake of equality. This chapter essentially continues to explain the equality that exists in America and the tension between equality and freedom. A negative element of equality which Tocqueville mentions briefly is its tendency to act as a leveler, bringing down those who would, in a more aristocratic society, become outstanding individuals.
While Tocqueville is saddened by this loss, he sees it as inevitable. The second, more serious danger of the democratic passion for equality is its tendency to be pursued at the cost of liberty. Tocqueville will speak later on in the book about the specific dangers of the tyranny of the majority and democratic despotism. The sovereignty of the people is recognized by both mores and laws in America. In the colonies, this principle spread secretly within the provincial assemblies.
With the advent of the Revolution, the dogma of the sovereignty of the people took possession of the government and was coded into law. The upper classes acquiesced to this principle in order to gain the goodwill of the people and enacted legislation which strengthened it. Voting qualifications were progressively eradicated. In America , the people really do rule. Recognizing the sovereignty of the people is essential for a democratic government.
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The Americans have done this and followed this principle to its logical conclusions to an extraordinary degree, largely as a result of their strong passion for equality. This principle can become dangerous, however, in that it may lead to a tyranny of the majority.
There are really two separate governments in America, the state government and the federal government, even to the extent that there almost seem to be twenty-four little sovereign nations. Because of the limited and specific scope of action of the federal government, the state government is the normal authority. The states were the original center of power and the place where American political principles were formed. There are three centers of power in the state: the township, the country, and the state. The township is rooted in nature and in man's natural sociability.
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But local freedom is rare, hard to establish and highly vulnerable to being lost. To survive, freedom needs to be entrenched in mores. This type of freedom is very elusive. No one in Europe understands it. Yet this freedom is absolutely essential and is the people's strength. The only means for a nation to have true freedom is through local institutions.
New England is an excellent example because it has local liberties which are deeply rooted in tradition, law and mores. The township is the place where the people most directly exercise power to rule. Administrative duties are in the hands of a few men, called "selectmen," elected on a yearly basis. Selectmen generally act on already established principles agreed upon by the majority. To change anything they need summon all the voters by calling a town meeting. Many other municipal officials are elected to perform the various town duties.
There are nineteen main officials, and all citizens are bound to accept these positions if elected. In America the principles of sovereignty and equality of the people are supreme. An American obeys society because union with others is useful and he recognizes that authority is necessary for this union.
But in personal matters a person does what he wants. Municipality liberty derives from principle of sovereignty of the people. Just as a person is sovereign in all private matter, a township is sovereign in all matters only affecting the township. The township has independence and power over its own sphere. Because of its power and strength it wins the affection of its inhabitants. Taking away this local self-governance will give a country docile subjects but not citizens.
People are unwilling generally to work for matters that do not affect their private interest. As a result. Therefore, since practical service is necessary to maintain patriotism, giving people the responsibility to govern in areas directly related to their interest is necessary for the fostering of a sense of civic duty. In the townships the government really emanates from the governed, so people are proud of and respect it. This practice of governing in the township acts as civic education, giving citizen clear ideas of duties and rights. The administration is almost invisible in America.
Europeans think that weakening authority by taking away rights of society is the way to achieve liberty, but in America, through the division of power, authority is kept in check without diminishing its effectiveness. In the United States, the revolution was guided by mature desire for freedom. While the law has much force, no one person has extreme power.
For example, in a small township there are nineteen officials, each with limited sphere of authority. The Americans solve the problem of making the elected officials obey the central government by making the official subject to the courts. Justices of the peace serve an administrative function, and the sheriff makes sure the township obeys laws of state.
If an official commits a crime, he is tried in ordinary court. The weakness in the system is that the administrative tribunal doesn't have the right to supervise officials, and must rely on reports of misconduct or negligence. The reasoning for this is that in America legislators appeal to private interest to ensure the execution of laws. The problem is that in some cases no one may be so directly effected as to want to complain. As one goes farther from New England one sees the diminishing power of the township and the increasing power of the county. The main governing principle that underlies the organization of the township and county is that each is the best judge of his own interest and is best able to provide for his own needs.
Tocqueville summarizes his description municipal government in America by stating: "Election of administrative officers, irremovability from office, absence of administrative hierarchy, and the use of judicial weapons to control secondary authorities are the chief characteristics of American administration from Maine to the Floridas".
The most striking feature of the government is its decentralization. Tocqueville will speak only briefly on this subject because the constitution is based on familiar, simple, rational theory which most constitutional governments have in common. There are two legislative bodies, the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate exists to strengthen authority and the House to ensure representation of interests.
The advantages deriving from a bicameral legislature are slowing down the movement of assemblies and providing a means for revision of laws. Americans are convinced that the division of powers is of utmost necessity. The governor is the representative of executive power in the state.
He is head of the military, and is responsible for keeping order and for seeing that laws are executed. Because his term in office is short, he is highly dependent on his constituents. There are two types of centralization: governmental dealing with nation-wide interests and administrative dealing with more specialized concerns. Government centralization is necessary for the country, but administrative centralization diminishes civic spirit.
In the United States there is no administrative centralization but high government centralization. The strength of government centralization can be a danger because it can lead to a tyranny of the majority. Administrative decentralization is beneficial because the citizens are better able to handle their own affairs than the government, since the central power can not see all the small details of daily life.
In contrast with France, uniform rules are absent but this absence is good because it allows for freedom. The problem in Europe is that people have no control over or no interest in management of local affairs. As a result they become dependent on the government to come to their aid for everything; they are subjects but not citizens. The only solid and lasting foundation for a state's power is the free agreement of citizens, going forward toward the same goal. The two things that can provide such a consensus are religion and patriotism.
Tocqueville admires the political effects of decentralization, because it makes people care personally about the country's interests. In the United States, as opposed to Europe, the people do not obey men; they obey justice or law. Crime is almost always punished in America although power to investigate and to arrest is small, because people see crime as a public offense and all try to contribute to catching the criminal. A country and its citizens need liberty in small matters in order to be able to exercise it in larger ones. The lack of these small liberties was a key factor in the failure of the French Revolution.
The French Revolution had two tendencies, one toward freedom and the other toward despotism. Its centralizing tendencies made falling into tyranny easy. While Americans disagree on almost everything, they are unanimous in their love of provincial freedom. This chapter is one of the most essential parts of the book for understanding Tocqueville's views on the nature of liberty and how to preserve it.
Tocqueville's definition of liberty is highly ambivalent. On the one hand, there is his relatively straightforward characterization of liberty as the ability to govern oneself as much as possible through the administration of local affairs. Yet along this political definition of liberty there is always a mention of how mysterious and elusive freedom is, and how only a few noble souls can really appreciate freedom enough to make the sacrifices necessary to preserve it.
This idea is brought to the forefront in The Old Regime and the French Revolution, a work which is thematically complementary to Democracy in America. In a striking passage of The Old Regime, Tocqueville writes about freedom's "intrinsic glamour," and calls it a "lofty aspiration which. It is a privilege of noble minds which God has fitted to receive it, and it inspires them with a generous fervor.