Front Page Titles (by Subject) What Keeps the Federal System from Being within the Reach of All Peoples; And What Has Allowed the Anglo-Americans to Adopt It - Democracy in America: Historical-Critical Edition, vol. 1
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
What Keeps the Federal System from Being within the Reach of All Peoples; And What Has Allowed the Anglo-Americans to Adopt It - 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.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
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.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
What Keeps the Federal System from Being within the Reach of All Peoples; And What Has Allowed the Anglo-Americans to Adopt It
There are, in all federal systems, inherent vices that the law-maker cannot fight.—Complication of all federal systems.—It requires from the governed the daily use of their intelligence.—Practical knowledge of the Americans in the matter of government.—Relative weakness of the government of the Union, another vice inherent in the federal system.—The Americans have made it less serious, but have not been able to destroy it.—The sovereignty of the individual states weaker in appearance, stronger in reality than that of the Union.—Why.—So among confederated peoples, there must be natural causes of union, apart from the laws.—What these causes are among the Anglo-Americans.—Maine and Georgia, 400 leagues apart, more naturally united than Normandy and Brittany.—That war is the principal danger to confederations.—This proved by the very example of the United States.—The Union has no great wars to fear.—Why.—Dangers that the peoples of Europe would run by adopting the federal system of the Americans.
[Of all beings, man is assuredly the one best known; and yet his prosperity or miseries are the product of unknown laws of which only a few isolated and incomplete fragments come into our view. Absolute truth is hidden and perhaps will always remain hidden.] The law-maker sometimes succeeds, after a thousand efforts, in exercising an indirect influence on the destiny of nations, and then his genius is celebrated. While often, the geographic position of the country, over which he has no influence; a social state that was created without his support; mores and ideas, whose origin is unknown to him; a point of departure that he does not know, impart to society irresistible movements that he struggles against in vain and that carry him along as well.
The law-maker resembles a man who plots his route in the middle of the sea. He too can navigate the ship that carries him, but he cannot change its structure, raise the wind, or prevent the ocean from heaving under his feet.
I have shown what advantages the Americans gain from the federal system. It remains for me to explain what allowed them to adopt this system; for not all peoples are able to enjoy its benefits.
Accidental vices arising from the laws are found in the federal system; these can be corrected by law-makers. Others are encountered that are inherent in the system; these could not be destroyed by the peoples who adopt it. So these peoples must find within themselves the strength to withstand the natural imperfections of their government.
Among the vices inherent to all federal systems, the most visible of all is the complication of means that they use. This system necessarily brings two sovereignties face to face. The law-maker succeeds in making the movements of these two sovereignties as simple and as equal as possible, and he can enclose both of them within clearly defined spheres of action. But he cannot make it so that there is only one of them, nor prevent them from being in contact at some point.
[The federal system of the United States consists of combining two governments: one, provincial; the other, national.
It is already not so easy to find a people who have the taste and, above all, the habit of provincial government. I have already remarked earlier that, among enterprises that can be attempted, certainly one of the most difficult was to persuade men to attend to their own affairs. It follows that the federal system is hardly ever established except among nations who, independent of one another for a long time, have naturally contracted this taste and these habits to a high degree. Notably, this is what happened in the United States. Before the Revolution, they all recognized the authority of the mother country, but each of them had its individual government as well and did not depend on its neighbor.
Nonetheless, the great difficulty is not finding some peoples who know how to run their own affairs, but finding some who can understand federal sovereignty and submit to it.]
So no matter what is done, the federal system rests on a complicated theory whose application requires, in the governed, the daily use of the light of their reason.z
In general, only simple conceptions take hold of the mind of the people. An idea that is false, but clear and precise, will always have more power in the world than a true, but complicated, idea. It follows that parties, which are like small nations within a large one, are always quick to adopt, as a symbol, a name or a principle that often represents only very incompletely the end that they propose and the means that they employ. But without this symbol, they would be able neither to subsist nor to stir. Governments that rest only on a single idea or single sentiment, easy to define, are perhaps not the best, but they are assuredly the strongest and the most durable.
On the contrary, when you examine the Constitution of the United States, the most perfect of all known federal constitutions, you are alarmed by the many varieties of knowledge and by the discernment that it assumes among those whom it must govern. The government of the Union rests almost entirely on legal fictions. The Union is an ideal nation that exists only in the mind so to speak; intelligence alone reveals its extent and its limits.
Once the general theory is well understood, the difficulties of application remain; they are innumerable, for the sovereignty of the Union is so entangled with the sovereignty of the states that it is impossible at first glance to perceive their limits. Everything is by convention and by artifice in such a government, and it can only suit a people accustomed, for a long time, to running their own affairs, a people among whom political knowledge has penetrated to the lowest levels of society. I have never admired the good sense and practical intelligence of the Americans more than in the way in which they escape the innumerable difficulties that arise from their federal constitution. I almost never met a common man in America who did not, with surprising ease, discriminate between the obligations arising from the laws of Congress and those originating in the laws of his state, and who, after distinguishing the matters that were among the general attributions of the Union from those that the local legislature had to regulate, could not indicate the point at which the jurisdiction of the federal courts began and the limit at which that of the state courts ended.
The Constitution of the United States resembles those beautiful creations of human industry that shower glory and wealth on those who invent them, but that remain sterile in other hands.
This is what Mexico has demonstrated in our times.
The inhabitants of Mexico, wanting to establish the federal system, took as a model and almost completely copied the federal constitution of the Anglo-Americans, their neighbors.39 But while importing the letter of the law, they could not at the same time import the spirit that gives it life. So they are seen constantly encumbered by the mechanism of their double government. The sovereignty of the states and that of the Union, leaving the circle that the constitution had drawn, penetrate each other daily. Still today, Mexico is constantly dragged from anarchy to military despotism, and from military despotism to anarchy.
[But even if a people were advanced enough in civilization and versed enough in the art of government to submit intelligently to so complicated a political theory, it would still not mean that the federal system could meet all their needs.
There is, in fact, a vice inherent in this system that will manifest itself no matter what is done. That is the relative weakness of the government of the Union.]
The second and more destructive of all the vices, which I regard as inherent in the federal system itself, is the relative weakness of the government of the Union.
The principle on which all confederations rest is the division of sovereignty. Law-makers make this division hardly noticeable; they even hide it from view for awhile, but they cannot keep it from existing. Now, divided sovereignty will always be weaker than complete sovereignty.
In the account of the Constitution of the United States, we saw how artfully the Americans, while enclosing the power of the Union within the limited circle of federal governments, succeeded in giving it the appearance and, to a certain extent, the strength of a national government.
By acting in this way, the law-makers of the Union reduced the natural danger of confederations; but they were not able to make it disappear entirely.
The American government, it is said, does not address itself to the states; it applies its injunctions directly to the citizens and bends them, separately, to the work of the common will.
But if federal law collided with the interests and prejudices of a state, should it not be feared that each of the citizens of this state would believe himself interested in the cause of the man who refuses to obey? When all the citizens of the state found themselves thus harmed at the same time and in the same way by the authority of the Union, the federal government would seek in vain to isolate them in order to combat them. They would instinctively feel that they must unite to defend themselves, and in the portion of sovereignty left for their state to enjoy, they would find an organization already prepared. Fiction would then disappear and give way to reality, and you would be able to see the organized power of one part of the territory joining battle with the central authority.
[This is, moreover, the spectacle most recently presented by South Carolina. The regulations of the United States concerning the tariff had become completely unpopular in Carolina; the state legislature took the initiative and suspended the enforcement of the federal law. This result is inevitable. When the interest or passions of men are left a powerful means of satisfaction, you can be assured that legal fictions will not long prevent them from noticing and making use of that means. ≠This is so well understood even in America that, no matter how large certain states already are, care has been taken not to create district assemblies that could represent a collective resistance. The legislature never has to make anything obey, other than towns, without links to each other.≠
Former federal constitutions obliged the states to act. The Constitution of the United States only obliges them to allow action, an essential difference that makes resistance very rare; for it is very much easier to refuse to act than to prevent someone else from acting. But once what you resolved simply to endure reaches a certain level of pain, the reluctance that men have to take initiative does not take long to disappear, and the precaution of the law-maker is found wanting.
The principle of federal law is that the Court of the United States must endeavor to judge only individuals. In this way, it does [not (ed.)] generally attack the laws of the states, which reduces the danger of a collision between the two sovereignties. But if, in a particular interest, it violates an important state law, or harms a general state principle or interest, the precautions of the law-maker are again useless; and the struggle, real if not obvious, is between the harmed state, represented by a citizen, and the Union, represented by its courts. The Constitution gives the Union . . . [text of note 40 (ed.)].
It is enough, moreover, to see in what a persuading and conciliatory manner the federal government calls for the execution of laws, in order to judge that, despite appearances and the efforts of the law-maker, the federal government constantly finds itself facing not individuals, but sovereigns.
It is even easy to go further, and it must be said with the famous Hamilton in the Federalist that of the two sovereignties, the stronger is assuredly the sovereignty of the state.
You can even go further . . . [cf. infra (ed.)] . . .]
I will say as much about the federal judicial system. If, in a particular trial, the courts of the Union violated an important state law, the real, if not obvious, struggle would be between the harmed state, represented by a citizen, and the Union, represented by its courts.40
You must have little experience in the ways of this world to imagine that, after leaving the passions of men a means of satisfaction, you will always prevent them, with the aid of legal fictions, from noticing and making use of that means.
So the American law-makers, while making the struggle between the sovereignties less probable, did not destroy the causes.
You can even go further and say that they were not able to secure preponderance to the federal power in case of conflict.a
They gave the Union money and soldiers, but the states retain the love and the prejudices of the people.
The sovereignty of the Union is an abstract thing connected to only a small number of external matters. The sovereignty of the states is felt by all the senses; it is understood without difficulty; every moment, it is seen in action. One is new; the other was born with the people themselves.
The sovereignty of the Union is a work of art. The sovereignty of the states is natural; it exists by itself, without effort, like the authority of the father of a family.
The sovereignty of the Union touches men only through a few general interests; it represents an immense and distant country, a vague and indefinite sentiment. The sovereignty of the states envelops each citizen in a way and catches him every day by details. It is the state that takes responsibility for guaranteeing his prosperity, his liberty, his life; at every moment, it influences his well-being or his misery. The sovereignty of the states rests on memories, on habits, on local prejudices, on the egoism of province and of family; in a word, on all the things that make the instinct for native land so powerful in the heart of man. How can its advantages be doubted?
Since the law-makers cannot prevent the occurrence of dangerous collisions between the two sovereignties that are brought face to face by the federal system, their efforts to turn confederated peoples away from war must be joined with particular dispositions that carry them toward peace.
It follows that the federal pact cannot exist for long if, among the peoples to whom it applies, a certain number of conditions for union are not found that make this common life easy for them and facilitate the task of government.
Thus, to succeed, the federal system needs not only good laws, but also favorable circumstances.
All peoples who have been seen to form a confederation have had a certain number of common interests that serve as the intellectual bonds of the association.
But beyond material interests, man still has ideas and sentiments. For a confederation to last for a long time, there must be no less homogeneity in the civilization than in the needs of the diverse peoples who constitute it. The civilization of a canton in Vaud compared with that of a canton in Uri is like the XIXth century compared with the XVth; so Switzerland has never truly had a federal government. The union among the different cantons exists only on the map; and that would be clearly seen if a central authority wanted to apply the same laws over the whole territory.b
[There are men who pretend that one of the advantages of federal constitutions is to allow each portion of the same empire to live entirely in its own way, without ceasing to be united. That is true, if confederation means a kind of offensive and defensive league, by means of which different peoples unite to repel a common danger and remain strangers to each other for everything else. But if, among confederated peoples, you want to create a common existence and a true national government, it is absolutely necessary that their civilization be homogeneous in nature. This necessity makes itself felt even much more in confederations than in monarchies, because in order to be obeyed, government has much more need for the support of the governed in the first than in the second.
The federal system allows and favors diversity in laws dealing with specifics, which is a great good; but it often resists uniformity in general laws, which is a great evil.]
In the United States there is a fact that admirably facilitates the existence of the federal government. The different states not only have more or less the same interests, the same origin and the same language, but also the same degree of civilization; this almost always makes agreement among them easy. I do not know if there exists any European nation, however small, that, in its different parts, does not present a less homogeneous face than the American people whose territory is as large as half of Europe.
From the state of Maine to the state of Georgia, there are about four hundred leagues. However, less difference exists between the civilization of Maine and that of Georgia than between the civilization of Normandy and that of Brittany. So Maine and Georgia, placed at two extremities of a vast empire, naturally find more real ease in forming a confederation, than Normandy and Brittany, which are separated only by a stream.
With these opportunities, which the mores and habits of a people offer to the American law-makers, are joined others that arise from the geographic position of the country. It is principally to the latter that the adoption and maintenance of the federal system must be attributed.c
[Despite all these obstacles, I believe federal governments still more appropriate for maintaining internal peace and for favoring, over a vast empire, the peaceful development of social well-being, than for struggling with advantage against foreign enemies.
It is the difficulty that confederations find in sustaining great wars that makes so many peoples incapable of enduring federal government.]
The most important of all the actions that can mark the life of a people is war. In war, a people acts as a single individual vis-à-vis foreign peoples; it fights for its very existence.
As long as it is only a question of maintaining peace within the interior of a country and of favoring prosperity, skill in the government, reason among the governed, and a certain natural attachment that men almost always have for their country can easily suffice. But for a nation to be able to wage a great war, the citizens must impose numerous and painful sacrifices on themselves. To believe that a large number of men will be capable of submitting themselves to such social exigencies, is to know humanity very badly. [Were the necessity of war to be universally acknowledged, the natural inclination of the human mind is to reject the annoying consequences of the principle that it previously accepted. So once the principle of war is accepted, an authority capable of forcing individuals to bear its consequences must be found somewhere.]
It follows that all peoples who have had to wage great wars have been led, almost despite themselves, to augment the forces of the government. Those who have not been able to succeed in doing so have been conquered. A long war almost always puts nations in this sad alternative; their defeat delivers them to destruction, and their triumph, to despotism.
[There is a great nation in Europe where the forces of society [v: governmental forces] are centralized in such a way that in case of war, a drumbeat assembles the entire nation, so to speak, around its leader, like the inhabitants of a village. This nation, apart from its courage, must have a great advantage over others for waging war; on several occasions, therefore, we have seen it dominate all of Europe by force of arms.
The fact is that to draw from people the enormous sacrifices of men and money that war requires and to concentrate, in one place and at a given time, all national forces, nothing less is required than the efforts of complete sovereignty.
Now, the inevitable evil of confederations, I have already said, is the division of sovereignty. In the federal system, not only is there no administrative centralization or anything approaching it, but also governmental centralization itself exists only very incompletely. That is always a great cause of weakness when it is a question of defense against peoples among whom governmental centralization exists.
In the federal Constitution of the United States . . . [cf. infra (ed.).]]
So, in general, it is during a war that the weakness of a government is revealed in a most visible and dangerous manner; and I have shown that the inherent vice of federal governments was to be very weak.
In the federal system, not only is there no administrative centralization or anything approaching it, but also governmental centralization itself exists only incompletely. That is always a great cause of weakness, when defense is necessary against peoples among whom governmental centralization is complete.
In the federal Constitution of the United States, of all federal constitutions, the one where the central government is vested with the most real strength, this evil still makes itself acutely felt. [The law gives Congress, it is true, the right to take all measures required by the interest of the country, but the difficulty is to exercise such a right. If Congress, pressed by urgent needs, comes to impose on the governed sacrifices equal to the dangers, the discontent of those individuals who suffer does not fail to find a place of support in the sovereignty of the states, or at least in the ambition of those who lead the states and who, in turn, want the support of the malcontents. The states that do not want to wage war, or to whom the war is useless or harmful, easily find in the interpretation of the Constitution the means to refuse their support. The physical and, above all, the moral force of the nation is considerably reduced by it, for even the possibility of such an event renders the federal government weak and slow to act; it fills the government with hesitations and fears and prevents it from even attempting all that it could do.
“It is evident,” says Hamilton in the Federalist, no. 12, “from the state of the country, from the habits of the people, from the experience we have had on the point itself that it is impracticable to raise any very considerable sums by direct taxation.” The direct tax is in fact the most visible and burdensome of taxes; but at the same time, it is the only one that can always be resorted to during a war.]
A single example will allow the reader to judge.
The Constitution gives Congress the right to call the state militias into active duty when it is a matter of suppressing an insurrection or repelling an invasion. Another article says that in this case the President of the United States is the Commander in Chief of the militia.
At the time of the War of 1812, the President ordered the militias of the North to move toward the national borders; Connecticut and Massachusetts, whose interests were harmed by the war, refused to send their contingents.
The Constitution, they said, authorizes the federal government to use the militias in cases of insurrection or invasion; but in the present situation there was neither insurrection nor invasion. They added that the same Constitution that gave the Union the right to call the militias into active service, left the states the right to appoint the officers. It followed, according to them, that even in war, no officer of the Union had the right to command the militias, except the President in person. But this was a matter of serving in an army commanded by someone other than him.
These absurd and destructive doctrines received not only the sanction of the Governors and the legislature, but also that of the courts of justice of these two states; and the federal government was forced to find elsewhere the troops that it needed.41
[A fact of this nature proves, better than all that I could say, the inability the American Union would have to sustain a great war, even with the improved organization that the 1789 Constitution gave it.
Allow for a moment the existence of such a nation in the midst of the aggressive peoples of Europe where sovereignty is unified and omnipotent, and the relative weakness of the American Union will become for you a proven and plain truth.]
So how is it that the American Union, all protected as it is by the relative perfection of its laws, does not dissolve in the middle of a great war? It is because it has no great wars to fear.e
[In general, we must give up citing the example of the United States to prove that confederations can sustain great wars, for the Union has never had a single one of this nature.
Even that of 1812, which the Americans speak about with such pride, was nothing compared to the smallest of those that the ambition of Louis XIV or the French Revolution brought about in Europe. The reason is simple.]
Placed in the center of an immense continent, where human industry can expand without limits, the Union is almost as isolated from the world as if it were enclosed on all sides by the ocean.f
Canada numbers only a million inhabitants; its population is divided into two enemy nations. The rigors of climate limit the extent of its territory and close its ports for six months of the year.
From Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, there are still a few, half-destroyed, savage tribes that six thousand soldiersg drive before them.
In the South, the Union at one point touches the empire of Mexico; probably great wars will come from there one day [if the Anglo-Americans and the Mexicans each continue to form a single, unified nation. In Mexico, in fact, there is a numerous population that, different from its neighbors by language, religion, habits and interest [broken text (ed.). But, for a long time still, the little developed state of its civilization, the corruption of its mores and its poverty will prevent Mexico from taking an elevated rank among nations. As for the great powers of Europe, their distance makes them little to be feared.O]]
So the great happiness of the United States is not to have found a federal constitution that allows it to sustain great wars, but to be so situated that there are none to fear.
No one can appreciate more than I the advantages of the federal system. There I see one of the most powerful devices favoring prosperity and human liberty. I envy the fate of nations permitted to adopt it. But I refuse, nonetheless, to believe that confederated republics could struggle for long, with equal strength, against a nation where governmental power would be centralized.
The people who, in the presence of the great military monarchies of Europe, would come to divide sovereignty, would seem to me to abdicate, by this fact alone, its power and perhaps its existence and its name.
Admirable position of the New World where man has only himself as an enemy. To be happy and free, he only has to want to be.
[z. ] In the fourth lecture of his course on civilization in Europe, Guizot insisted on this point:
The federative system, logically the most simple, is in fact the most complex; in order to reconcile the degree of independence, of local liberty, that it allows, with the degree of general order, of general submission that it requires and assumes in certain cases, a very advanced civilization is clearly required. . . . The federative system is therefore the one that clearly requires the greatest development of reason, of morality, of civilization, in the society to which it applies (Histoire générale de la civilisation en Europe, Brussels, Société belge de Librairie, 1839, lesson IV, p. 41).
[39. ]See the Mexican constitution of 1824.
[40. ]Example: The Constitution gave the Union the right to have unoccupied lands sold for its benefit. I suppose that Ohio claims this same right for those that are enclosed within its borders, under the pretext that the Constitution only meant territory not yet submitted to the jurisdiction of any state; and that consequently Ohio itself wanted to sell the lands. The judicial question would be posed, it is true, between the buyers who held their title from the Union and the buyers who held their title from the state, and not between the Union and Ohio. But if the court of the United States ruled that the federal buyer was in possession, and the courts of Ohio maintained the holdings of his competitor, then what would become of the legal fiction?
[a. ] With a bracket that goes from this paragraph to the one that ends with the words “that carry them toward peace”:
I say the same thing with more development in the last chapter on the future. Ask for advice?”
Hervé de Tocqueville: “Do not put it here. One can do without it.”
Édouard de Tocqueville: “The more I reread the passage, the more I regret that there is a question of deleting it, even more because I have not read the one that it repeats” (YTC, CIIIb, 3, p. 25).
[b. ] Before the 1836 visit, Tocqueville probably went to Switzerland in 1829 and 1832 (Cf. Luc Monnier, “Tocqueville et la Suisse,” in Alexis de Tocqueville. Livre du centenaire, Paris: Editions du C.N.R.S., 1960, pp. 101-13).
André Jardin indicates that in his view Tocqueville must have visited Switzerland at least five times between 1823 and 1836. The notes of the voyage to Switzerland in 1836 are known to us thanks to the text published in the Oeuvres complètes, Beaumont edition. André Jardin (“Tocqueville et la décentralisation,” in La décentralisation, VI colloque d’histoire, Aix-en-Provence: Publication des Annales de la Faculté des Lettres, 1961, pp. 89-117, 97) has nonetheless remarked that certain similarities between these notes and Democracy lead to the thought that these texts, published by Beaumont as dating from 1836, are perhaps the fruit of an earlier voyage (Voyages en Angleterre, Irelande, Suisse et Algérie, OC, V, 2, pp. 173-88). In his “Rapport fait à l’Académie des sciences morales et politiques sur l’ouvrage de M. Cherbuliez, entitled De la démocratie en Suisse” (Séances et travaux de l’Académie des sciences morales et politiques, XII, 1848, pp. 97-119, reproduced as an appendix to Democracy beginning with the twelfth edition), Tocqueville comments on the Swiss confederation in terms entirely similar to those of this chapter, and concludes that Switzerland possesses the most ineffective federal constitution that could exist.
[c. ] In the margin:
Insular position of the Union.
Indians, nothing. 4,000 soldiers. Attacked from a distance, defended close by./
Impossibility of taxes. Federalist./
Difficulties over the militias in the War of 1812./
Inability of the large nations of Europe to live federally./
[e. ] In the beginning, note 41 was found at this place in the manuscript.
[f. ] In the margin, with a bracket that includes this paragraph and the two following:
I also say part of all of this at the future. Quid?”
[g. ] The figure 4,000 appears in the manuscript as well as in a few other places.
[Translator’s Note 1: ] Floral games were a literary competition held annually in Toulouse and elsewhere in France.
[r. ] For obvious reasons, the beginning of this note was a bit different in the first edition: “M. Gustave de Beaumont, my traveling companion in America, intends to publish during the first days of 1835, a book entitled Marie, or Slavery in the United States. The principal goal ...”
[s. ] This note does not appear in the manuscript of the book and no reference to it is found in the other papers of Tocqueville. At the end of the year 1834, Livingston was in Paris in a very delicate situation because of the famous affair of the American indemnities. It is possible that the note had been written in sympathy with the man whose name appears several times in the drafts as a source of information. On the affair of the indemnities and Edward Livingston, see Richard A. McLemore, Franco-American Diplomatic Relations, 1816-1836 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1941).
[a. ] A toise equals 1,949 millimeters.
[m. ] These works, included only in certain editions, do not appear at this place in the manuscript. They are, however, cited elsewhere.
[o. ] Probably the appendix, A Summary of the Affairs of the Colony of New-Plymouth, from the First Settlement until the incorporation with Massachusets-Bay &c. in one Province, pp. 449-81.
[x. ] The code of 1650 says:It being one chiefe project of that old deluder, Sathan, to keepe men from the knowledge of the scriptures, as in former times, keeping them in an unknowne tongue, so in these latter times, by perswading them from the use of tongues, so that at least, the true sence and meaning of the originall might bee clouded with false glosses of saint seeming deceivers; and that learning may not bee buried in the grave of our forefathers, in church and commonwealth, the Lord assisting our indeavors . . . (pp. 90-91).
[j. ] Hervé de Tocqueville:Delete the note and transfer it to the end of the chapter. This note, while teaching us that the large towns have a different municipal system, interrupts, diminishes, and, in order to bring an imperfectly stated difference to our attention, diverts our interest. At the end of the chapter, a section on the municipal system of the large towns is needed. That is indispensable for the unity of the work and the satisfaction of the reader (YTC, CIIIb, 2, p. 84).
[o. ] Hervé de Tocqueville:I do not believe that the word capacity exactly expresses the thought of the author. Care must be taken about using words whose specific expression is made uncertain by their multiple meanings. It seems to me that, from page 189 to 193, Alexis does not say enough about how the justices of the peace participate in town administration. He must not lose sight of the fact that America is something new for most of his readers, and that they will be looking in his book still more for instructions than for reflections. I admit that here, being uninformed, my curiosity is not satisfied. I feel humiliated by my lack of knowledge, and I am annoyed that the author has assumed that I am more informed than I am. These pages must be reviewed and more precise details given about the administrative action of the justices of the peace, when they act outside of the court of sessions. Most readers do not even know how they act in England.
Édouard de Tocqueville: “Quite right. It seems to me that here the word capacity means attribution. This word would be better I believe” (YTC, CIIIb, 2, pp. 87-88).
[u. ] Hervé de Tocqueville: “If there are states where the court of sessions is charged with all details of the administration, what becomes in these states of the town spirit so praised by the author?
“It would seem, from the end of the chapter, that certain states are beginning to feel the disadvantage of excessive decentralization. This consideration must be weighed by the author in the following chapter” (YTC, CIIIb, 2, p. 77).
[w. ] Reproduced as an appendix in the first editions.
[x. ] See conversation with Mr. Spencer ([non-[alphabetic notebook 1, YTC, BIIa, and Voyage,OC, V, 1, p. 68).
[w. ] Sébastien L. Saulnier, “Nouvelles observations sur les finances des États-Unis, en réponse à une brochure publié par le Général La Fayette,” Revue Britannique, n. s., 8, October 1831, pp. 195-260), p. 239. On this article and the polemic over American finances, see note j for pp. 345-50.
[1. ] The American Union, which is a confederation, is more centralized on this point than was the absolute monarchy of France.
[2. ] Thus in France, when the King intervened in the administration of justice, the abuse of governmental centralization was pointed out; when, on the contrary, the courts were free to establish judicial anarchy, all minds felt the abuse of administrative decentralization. But no one perceived the precise limits of the one and the other” (YTC, CVe, pp. 57-60, and BIIb, pp. 6-8).
[1. ] Don’t I previously say the opposite? (YTC, CVh, 5, pp. 16-19).
[g. ] The manuscript says 39, which indicates the number of delegates to the convention approving the proposed constitution on September 17, 1787.
[1. ] Some restriction has indeed been put on these principles by introducing the states as independent powers in the Senate and by making them vote separately in the House of Representatives in the case of election of the President. But these are exceptions. The opposite principle predominates≠ (YTC, CVb, p. 20).
[n. ] James T. Schleifer has identified the English edition used by Tocqueville. It was the one published in Washington by Thomson & Homans, in 1831. In his notes, Tocqueville also cites a French edition of 1792 (probably that of Buisson, Paris).
[1. ] There are governments for which the rapidity of enforcement is a condition of life (YTC, CVb, pp. 21-22).
[[*]. ] “≠See, for the organization, the organic law of 1789, Kent’s Commentaries, vol. I, p. 273 and following. Sargent’s [sic: Sergeant’s] Constitutional Law.≠”
[a. ] In the manuscript: “only in the third instance.”
Gustave de Beaumont:This is inexact. The Cour de cassation can be apprised of any judgment or decision made in the last resort; and many judgments are made in the last resort without having been appealed. Such are judgments about simple offenses, judgments of the justices of the peace not exceeding 50 francs; id. of courts of the first instance not exceeding 1,000 francs, etc. You must say in the second or third instance (YTC, CIIIb, 3, pp. 28-29).
[d. ] At first, the text of this note was found before “[In general . . .].”