Front Page Titles (by Subject) Effects of the Omnipotence of the Majority on the Arbitrariness of American Public Officials - Democracy in America: Historical-Critical Edition, vol. 2
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Effects of the Omnipotence of the Majority on the Arbitrariness of American Public Officials - Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America: Historical-Critical Edition, vol. 2 
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. 2.
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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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Effects of the Omnipotence of the Majority on the Arbitrariness of American Public Officials
Liberty that American law leaves to officials within the circle that it draws.—Their power.
Arbitrariness must be carefully distinguished from tyranny. Tyranny can be exercised by means of the law itself, and then it is not arbitrary; arbitrariness can be exercised in the interests of the governed, and then it is not tyrannical.x
Tyranny usually makes use of arbitrariness, but if necessary it knows how to do without it.
In the United States, the omnipotence of the majority, at the same time that it favors the legal despotism of the legislator, also favors the arbitrariness of the magistrate. Because the majority has absolute control over making the law and supervising its execution, and has equal control over those governing and those governed, it regards public officials as its passive agents and willingly relies on them to take care of serving its designs. So the majority does not enter in advance into the details of the duties of public officials and scarcely takes the trouble to define their rights. It treats them as a master would treat his servants, if, having their behavior always in view, he could direct or correct their conduct at every moment.
In general, the law leaves American officials much more free than ours within the circle that is drawn around them. Sometimes the majority even allows them to go outside of this circle. Guaranteed by the opinion of the greatest number and strong because of their support, they then dare things that a European, accustomed to the spectacle of arbitrariness, still finds astonishing. In this way, habits being formed within liberty that, one day, will be able to become destructive to it.
[x. ] In the manuscript: “≠Arbitrariness must be carefully distinguished from tyranny, and tyranny from arbitrariness. Arbitrariness can be not tyrannical, and tyranny can be not arbitrary. In the United States there is almost never arbitrariness, but sometimes there is tyranny.≠”
To the side: “≠When Louis XIV regulated by himself and with sovereign power the commercial rights [doubtful reading (ed.)] of his subjects, he committed an arbitrary but not a tyrannical act.
“When the National Assembly ordered [blank space in the manuscript (ed.)], it committed a tyrannical act but not an arbitrary act.≠”