Front Page Titles (by Subject) Of the Executive Power of the State - Democracy in America: Historical-Critical Edition, vol. 1
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Of the Executive Power of the State - 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 Executive Power of the State
What the Governor is in an American state.—What position he occupies vis-à-vis the legislature.—What his rights and duties are.—His dependency on the people.
The executive power of the state is represented by the Governor.[*] [≠Not only is the Governor of each state an elected magistrate, but also he is generally elected only for a year; in this way he is tied by the shortest possible chain to the body from which he emanates.≠]
It is not by chance that I have used the word represents. The Governor of the state in effect represents the executive power; but he exercises only some of its rights.
The supreme magistrate, who is called the Governor, is placed alongside the legislature as a moderator and adviser. He is armed with a qualified veto that allows him to stop or at least to slow the legislature’s movements as he wishes. To the legislative body, he sets forth the needs of the country and makes known the means that he judges useful to provide for those needs; for all enterprises that interest the entire nation [sic: state], he is the natural executor of its will.47 In the absence of the legislature, he must take all proper measures to protect the state from violent shocks and unforeseen dangers.
The Governor combines in his hands all of the military power of the state. He is the commander of the militia and chief of the armed forces.
When the power of opinion, which men have agreed to grant to the law, is not recognized, the Governor advances at the head of the physical force of the state; he breaks down resistance and reestablishes customary order.
The Governor, moreover, does not get involved in the administration of the towns and counties, or at least he participates only very indirectly by the appointment of the justices of the peace whom he cannot thereafter remove.48
[[*]. ] See the Constitution of Massachusetts, chap. I, part II, chap 11.
[47. ] In practice, it is not always the Governor who carries out the enterprises conceived by the legislature; often, at the same time that the latter votes a principle, it names special agents to oversee its execution.
[48. ] In several states, the justices of the peace are not appointed by the Governor.
[a. ] The manuscript says: “. . . he is tied by the shortest possible chain to the body from which he emanates.”
Édouard de Tocqueville: “This sentence is absolutely unintelligible. Why? What do you mean by the body from which he emanates? From what body does he emanate? And how is he tied to this body by the shortest possible chain by the fact that he is named for only two years? I repeat, I do not understand this paragraph at all” (YTC, CIIIb, 2 p. 112).
[b. ] In the manuscript, at the end of the first chapter, is a cover sheet with the title: Of the real influence that the President exercises in the conduct of public affairs [in the margin: Real and habitual influence in foreign affairs, almost entirely personal influence in domestic affairs./Study to do.]; in it, the following fragment on the Governor is found:
[The beginning is missing] The first of these two obligations is marked out in a clear and precise manner.
The second depends essentially on the circumstances that give it birth.
Among most nations, the same man or at least the same authority is charged with fulfilling these two obligations. He sees to it by himself or through his agents that order reigns, and when order begins to be disturbed, by some violent shock, some unforeseen event, he is still the one who temporarily takes the place of the missing national will and takes charge of remedying the evil.
In America, it is rarely so; the Governor is only occasionally charged with the peaceful execution of the laws. His functions consist, above all, of overseeing in a general manner the state of society, of enlightening the legislative body with his advice and of providing for the accidental needs of the state.
[In the margin: in a way, the Governor participates in legislative power by the veto.
In executive power by the administrative council.
In France it is the same man who is charged.
Start with the extreme concentration of powers.
There are some countries where the legislative, administrative and judicial powers are united.
There are some others where the legislative power is separate from the other two.
There are still others.]
Thus, it is not the Governor who is charged with using his authority to see that the towns execute their duties faithfully and punctually. If the legislature orders the opening of a canal or road, it is not generally the Governor who is charged with supervising the projects. The legislative power, at the same time it votes the principle, appoints special agents to supervise the execution.
But if an unforeseen danger emerges, if an enemy appears, if an armed revolt breaks out, then the Governor truly represents the executive power of the State. He commands and directs the police force.
In the accidental cases that I have just enumerated, the concentration of power on a single head is an indispensable condition for the existence of societies; thus the Governor of a state in America is the sole and absolute leader of the armed force.
But as for the daily, peaceful execution of the laws, powers are still divided to a degree that our imagination can scarcely conceive.
[In the margin: Only it is not judicial strength that comes to add to administrative strength. It is administrative strength that comes to join with judicial strength; now, liberty never has to fear judicial strength./
Concentration of powers and administrative hierarchy are two synonymous words, for where there is hierarchy you necessarily arrive at unity by moving upward.
Concentration of power is not a necessity so absolute./
I am beginning to believe that it is definitively the judicial power that administers. In America, therefore, you arrive, in a round about way, at the union of administrative and judicial powers.]
In order to understand this part of my subject well, I take the most robust individual with whom the state would have to deal, that is to say the town, and I ask how the town is made to obey the laws.
Here reread my town notes.