Front Page Titles (by Subject) Of the County in New England - Democracy in America: Historical-Critical Edition, vol. 1
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Of the County in New England - Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America: Historical-Critical Edition, vol. 1 
Democracy in America: Historical-Critical Edition of De la démocratie en Amérique, ed. Eduardo Nolla, translated from the French by James T. Schleifer. A Bilingual French-English editions, (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2010). Vol. 1.
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This bilingual edition of Tocqueville’s work contains a new English translation of the French critical edition published in 1990. The copyright to the French version is held by J. Vrin and it is not available online. The copyright to the English translation, the translator’s note, and index is held by Liberty Fund.
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Of the County in New England
The county in New England, analogous to the arrondissement in France.—Created for a purely administrative interest.—Has no representation.—Administered by non-elective officials.
The American county is very analogous to the French arrondissement. As for the latter, an arbitrary circumscription was drawn for the former; it forms a body whose different parts have no necessary bonds with each other and for whom neither affection nor memory nor shared existence serve as attachments. It is created only for a purely administrative interest.
The town was too limited in area ever to contain the administration of justice. The county is, therefore, the primary judicial center. Each county has a court of justice,10 a sheriff to execute the decisions of the courts, a prison that must hold the criminals.
There are needs that are felt in a more or less equal way by all the towns of a county; it was natural that a central authority was charged with providing for them. In Massachusetts, this authority resides in the hands of a certain number of magistrates, appointed by the Governor of the state, with the advice11 of his council.12
The county administrators have only a limited and exceptional power that applies only to a very small number of cases provided for in advance. The state and the town are sufficient for the ordinary course of things. These administrators only prepare the county budget; the legislature votes it.13 There is no assembly that, directly or indirectly, represents the county.
So truly speaking, the county has no political existence.x
A double tendency is noticeable in most American constitutions, which leads the law-makers to divide executive power and to concentrate legislative power. The New England town by itself has a principle of existence that is not stripped away from it. But this existence would have to be created artificially in the county, and the usefulness of doing so has not been felt. All the towns united together have only a single representative, the state,y center of all national powers;z apart from town and national action, you could say that there are only individual powers.
[10. ] See the law of 14 February 1821, Laws of Massachusetts, vol. II, p. 551.
[11. ] See the law of 20 February 1819, Laws of Massachusetts, vol. II, p. 494.
[12. ] The Governor’s Council is an elected body.
[13. ] See the law of 2 November 1781, Laws of Massachusetts, vol. I, p. 61.
[x. ] In a working note for the draft of Ireland, Beaumont will write:
“—In Ireland political life is in the county, because Ireland is aristocratic.
—In America, in the town, because America is democratic.
—Among us, in the State, because France, still monarchical” (Beaumont, YTC, CX).
[y. ] In a first draft, this section was followed by that which treats the state.
[z. ] The style of the last three sentences had been modified following remarks by Beaumont (YTC, CIIIb, 2, p. 70).