Alexis de Tocqueville

“In the United States the sovereign authority is religious….There is no country in the whole world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility and of its conformity to human nature than that its influence is powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth.”  Alexis deTocqueville

“I studied the Koran a great deal.  I came away from that study with the conviction there have been few religions in the world as deadly to men as that of Mohammed.”  Alexis de Tocqueville

American Minute with Bill Federer

Apr. 16 – Alexis de Tocqueville,

French political writer visiting America

On APRIL 16, 1859, French historian Alexis de Tocqueville died.After nine months of traveling the United States, he wrote Democracy in America in 1835, which has been described as

“the most comprehensive…analysis of character and society in America ever written.”

 

Alexis de Tocqueville wrote:

“Upon my arrival in the United States the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention…

In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom marching in opposite directions. But in America I found they were intimately united and that they reigned in common over the same country…”

De Tocqueville continued:

“The 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…

They brought with them into the New World a form of Christianity which I cannot better describe than by styling it a democratic and republican religion.”

In Book Two of Democracy in America, de Tocqueville wrote:

“Christianity has therefore retained a strong hold on the public mind in America…

In the United States…Christianity itself is a fact so irresistibly established, that no one undertakes either to attack or to defend it.”

Alexis de Tocqueville visited Algeria and wrote to Arthur de Gobineau, October 22, 1843 (Tocqueville Reader, p. 229):

“I studied the Koran a great deal. I came away from that study with the conviction there have been few religions in the world as deadly to men as that of Mohammed.

So far as I can see, it is the principle cause of the decadence so visible today in the Muslim world and, though less absurd than the polytheism of old, its social and political tendencies are in my opinion to be feared, and I therefore regard it as a form of decadence rather than a form of progress in relation to paganism itself.”

 

In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote:

“In the United States the sovereign authority is religious…

There is no country in the whole world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility and of its conformity to human nature than that its influence is powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth.”

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2 thoughts on “Alexis de Tocqueville

  1. Tocqueville was quite right about 19th century America and the fundamental role the Christian religion played in its national life. He stumbled upon not only what was true of America at that time, but what has been true about freedom throughout the history of the western world: Christianity and freedom go intimately and inextricably together, as my friend M. Stanton Evans has pointed out so well and so memorably in his book The Theme is Freedom.

    But it makes one wonder, if Tocqueville were to come to America today, what would he find?

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