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(F) Page 70 - 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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(F) Page 70
It is needless to say that, in the chapter that you have just read, I did not intend to do a history of America. My only goal was to enable the reader to appreciate the influence that the opinions and mores of the first emigrants exercised on the fate of the different colonies and on that of the Union in general. So I had to limit myself to citing a few unconnected fragments.
I do not know if I am wrong, but it seems to me that by following the path that I am only pointing out here, someone could present some portraits of the first years of the American republic that would be worthy of the attention of the public, and that would undoubtedly provide material for statesmen to consider. Not able to devote myself to this work, I wanted at least to facilitate it for others. So I believed that I should present here a short list and an abridged analysis of the works that seemed to me most useful to draw upon.
In the number of general documents that could fruitfully be consulted, I will place first the work entitled: Historical Collection of State Papers and other authentic documents, intended as materials for an history of the United States of America, by Ebenezer Hazard.
The first volume of this compilation, which was printed in Philadelphia in 1792, contains the exact text of all the charters granted by the crown of England to the emigrants, as well as the principal acts of the colonial governments during the first years of their existence. You find there, among others, a great number of authentic documents on the affairs of New England and Virginia during this period.
The second volume is dedicated almost entirely to the acts of the confederation of 1643. This federal pact, which took place among the colonies of New England, with the goal of resisting the Indians, was the first example of union given by the Anglo-Americans. There were also several other confederations of the same nature, until that of 1776, which led to the independence of the colonies.
The historical collection of Philadelphia is found in the Royal Library.
Each colony has as well its historical memorials, several of which are very precious. I begin my study with Virginia, which is the state populated earliest.
The first of all the historians of Virginia is its founder Captain John Smith. Captain Smith left us a volume in quarto, entitled: The General History of Virginia and New-England, by Captain John Smith, some time governor in those countryes and admiral of New-England, printed in London in 1627. (This volume is found at the Royal Library.) The work of Smith is embellished with very interesting maps and plates, which date from the time when it was printed. The account of the historian extends from the year 1584 to 1626. Smith’s book is esteemed and deserves to be so. The author is one of the most famous adventurers who appeared in the century full of adventurers; he lived at the end of that century. The book itself breathes this fervor of discoveries, this spirit of enterprise that characterized the men of that time; there you find those chivalrous mores that were mixed with business and were made to serve the acquisition of wealth.
But what is remarkable above all in Captain Smith is that he mixed, with the virtues of his contemporaries, qualities that remained foreign to most of them; his style is simple and clear, all of his accounts have the stamp of truth, his descriptions are not ornate.
This author throws precious light on the state of the Indians at the period of the discovery of North America.
The second historian to consult is Beverley. The work of Beverley, which forms a volume in duodecimo, was translated into French and printed in Amsterdam in 1707. The author begins his accounts in the year 1585 and ends them in the year 1700. The first part of his book contains historical documents, properly so called, relative to the early years of the colony. The second contains a curious portrait of the state of the Indians at that distant period. The third gives very clear ideas about the mores, social state, laws and political habits of the Virginians at the time of the author.
Beverly was of Virginian origin, which made him say at the beginning “that he begs readers not to examine his work with too strict a critical eye, seeing that since he was born in the Indies, he does not aspire to purity of language.” Despite this modesty of the colonist, the author shows throughout his book that he bears the supremacy of the mother country with impatience. You find as well in the work of Beverley numerous traces of this spirit of civil liberty that has, since that time, animated the English colonies of America. You also find the trace of the divisions that have existed for such a long time among them, and that delayed their independence. Beverley detests his Catholic neighbors of Maryland still more than the English government. The style of this author is simple; his accounts are often full of interest and inspire confidence. The French translation of Beverley’s history is found in the Royal Library.
I saw in America, but I was not able to find again in France, a work that also merits consultation; it is entitled: History of Virginia, by William Stith. This book offers interesting details, but it seemed long and diffuse to me.
The oldest and best document that you can consult on the history of the Carolinas is a small book in quarto, entitled: The History of Carolina, by John Lawson, printed in London in 1718.
The work of Lawson contains first a voyage of discovery in the west of Carolina. This voyage is written as a journal; the accounts of the author are confused; his observations are very superficial; you only find a quite striking portrait of the ravages caused by smallpox and brandy among the savages of this period, and an interesting portrait of the corruption of mores that reigned among them, and that the presence of the Europeans favored.
The second part of the work of Lawson is dedicated to retracing the physical state of Carolina and to making its products known.
In the third part, the author does an interesting description of the mores, customs and government of the Indians of this period.
There is often spirit and originality in this portion of the book.
The history by Lawson ends with the charter granted to Carolina at the time of Charles II.
The general tone of this work is light, often licentious, and forms a perfect contrast with the profoundly grave style of the works published at this same time in New England.
The history by Lawson is an extremely rare document in America that cannot be obtained in Europe. There is, however, a copy of it in the Royal Library.
From the southern extremity of the United States, I pass immediately to the northern extremity. The intermediate space was populated only later.
I must first point out a very curious compilation entitled: Collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society, printed for the first time in Boston in 1792, reprinted in 1806. This work is not in the Royal Library, nor, I believe, in any other.
The collection (which continues) contains a host of very precious documents relating to the history of the different states of New England. There you find unpublished correspondence and authentic pieces that were hidden away in the provincial archives. The complete work of Gookin relating to the Indians has been inserted there.
Several times, in the course of the chapter to which this note belongs, I pointed out the work of Nathaniel Morton entitled: New England’s Memorial. What I said about this work is enough to prove that it is worthy to draw the attention of those who would like to know the history of New England. The book by Nathaniel Morton forms a volume in octavo, reprinted in Boston in 1826. It is not in the Royal Library.
The most respected and most important document that we possess on the history of New England is the work of the Reverend Cotton Mather, entitled: Magnalia Christi Americana, or the ecclesiastical history of New England, 1620-1698, 2 vol. in octavo, reprinted in Hartford in 1820. I do not believe that it is found in the Royal Library.
The author divided his work into seven books.
The first presents the history of what prepared and led to the founding of New England.
The second contains the life of the first governors and principal magistrates who administered this country.
The third is consecrated to the life and works of the evangelical ministers who, during this same period, led souls there.
In the fourth, the author describes the founding and development of the university of Cambridge (Massachusetts).
In the fifth, he explains the principles and discipline of the Church of New England.
The sixth is consecrated to retracing certain facts that denote, according to Mather, the salutary action of Providence on the inhabitants of New England.
In the seventh, finally, the author teaches us the heresies and troubles to which the Church of New England has been exposed.
Cotton Mather was an evangelical minister who, born in Boston, spent his life there.
All the ardor and all the religious passions that led to the founding of New England animate and give life to his accounts. You frequently find traces of bad taste in his way of writing; but he captivates, because he is full of enthusiasm that ends by communicating itself to the reader. He is often intolerant, more often gullible; but you never see in him the desire to deceive; sometimes his work even presents beautiful passages and true and profound ideas such as these:
Before the arrival of the Puritans, he says, vol. I, ch. IV, p. 61, the English had tried several times to settle the country that we live in; but since they did not aim higher than the success of their material interests, they were soon defeated by obstacles; this wasn’t the case with the men who arrived in America, pushed and sustained by a noble religious idea. Although the latter found more enemies than perhaps the founders of any other colony ever had, they persisted in their plan, and the settlement that they established still exists today.
Mather sometimes mixes, with the austerity of these portraits, images full of sweetness and tenderness. After speaking about an English lady whose religious fervor had brought her to America with her husband, and who soon succumbed to the hardships and miseries of exile, he adds:
“As for her virtuous spouse, Isaac Johnson, Esq., He try’d to live without her, lik’d it not, and dy’d” (V. I, p. 71.)
Mather’s book admirably reveals the time and country that he is trying to describe.
If he wants to teach us what motives led the Puritans to seek a refuge beyond the seas, he says:
The God of Heaven served as it were, a summons upon the spirits of his people in the English nation; stirring up the spirits of thousands which never saw the faces of each other, with a most unanimous inclination to leave all the pleasant accommodations of their native country; and go over a terrible ocean, into a more terrible desart [sic], for the pure enjoyment of all his ordinances.
It is now reasonable that before we pass any further [he adds] the reasons of this undertaking should be more exactly made known unto the posterity of those that were the undertakers, lest they come at length to forget and neglect the true interest of New-England. Wherefore I shall now transcribe some of them from a manuscript, wherein they were then tendered unto consideration.
[. . . (ed.) . . .]
First, It will be a service unto the Church of great consequence, to carry the Gospel into those parts of the world, and raise a bulwark against the kingdom of antichrist, which the Jesuites [sic] labour to rear up in all parts of the world.
Secondly, All other Churches of Europe have been brought under desolations; and it may be feared that the like judgments are coming upon us; and who knows but God hath provided this place to be a refuge for many, whom he means to save out of the General Destruction.
Thirdly, The land grows weary of her inhabitants, insomuch that man, which is the most precious of all creatures, is here more vile and base than the earth he treads upon: children, neighbors, and friends, especially the poor, are counted the greatest burdens, which if things were right would be the chiefest earthly blessings.
Fourthly, We are grown to that intemperance in all excess of riot, as no mean estate almost will suffice a man to keep sail with his equals, and he that fails in it, must live in scorn and contempt: hence it comes to pass, that all arts and trades are carried in that deceitful manner, and unrighteous course, as it is almost impossible for a good upright man to maintain his constant charge, and live comfortably in them.
Fifthly, The schools of learning and religion are so corrupted, as [. . . (ed.) . . .] most children, even the best, wittiest, and of the fairest hopes, are perverted, corrupted, and utterly overthrown, by the multitude of evil examples and licentious behaviours in these seminaries.
Sixthly, The whole earth is the Lord’s garden, and he hath given it to the sons of Adam, to be tilled and improved by them: why then should we stand starving here for places of habitation and in the mean time suffer whole countries, as profitable for the use of man, to lye [sic] waste without any improvement?
Seventhly, What can be a better or nobler work, and more worthy of a christian, than to erect and support a reformed particular Church in its infancy, and unite our forces with such a company of faithful people, as by a timely assistance may grow stronger and prosper; but for want of it, may be put to great hazard, if not be wholly ruined.
Eighthly, If any such as are known to be godly, and live in wealth and prosperity here, shall forsake all this to join with this reformed church, and with it run the hazard of an hard and mean condition, it will be an example of great use, both for the removing of scandal and to give more life unto the faith of God’s people in their prayers for the plantation, and also to encourage others to join the more willingly in it.
Later, explaining the principles of the Church of New England on moral matters, Mather rises up violently against the custom of drinking toasts at dinner, which he calls a pagan and abominable habit.
He proscribes with the same rigor all ornaments that women can put in their hair, and condemns without pity the fashion of showing the neck and arms that, he says, is becoming established among them.
In another part of the work, he recounts at great length several instances of witchcraft that frightened New England. You see that the visible action of the devil in the affairs of this world seems to him an incontestable and proven truth.
In a great number of places in this same book a spirit of civil liberty and political independence is revealed that characterized the contemporaries of the author. Their principles in matters of government appear at each step. Thus, for example, you see the inhabitants of Massachusetts, from the year 1630 [1636 (ed.)], ten years after the founding of Plymouth, devote 400 pounds sterling to the establishment of the university of Cambridge.
If I pass from general documents relating to the history of New England to those that relate to the various states included in its limits, I will first have to point out the work entitled: The History of the Colony of Massachusetts, by Hutchinson, Lieutenant-Governor of the Massachusetts province, 2 vols. in octavo. A copy of this book is found in the Royal Library; it is a second edition printed in London in 1765.
The history of Hutchinson, which I cited several times in the chapter to which this note relates, begins in the year 1628 and finishes in 1750. A great air of truthfulness reigns in the whole book; the style is simple and unaffected. This history is very detailed.
The best document to consult, for Connecticut, is the history of Benjamin Trumbull, entitled: A Complete History of Connecticut, Civil and Ecclesiastical, 1630-1764, 2 vols. in octavo, printed in 1818 at New Haven. I do not believe that Trumbull’s work is found in the Royal Library.
This history contains a clear and cold exposition of all the events that took place in Connecticut during the period indicated by the title. The author drew upon the best sources, and his accounts retain the stamp of truth. All that he says about the early years of Connecticut is extremely interesting. See notably in his work the Constitution of 1639, vol. I, ch. VI, p. 100 [-103 (ed.)]; and also the Penal Laws of Connecticut, vol. I, ch. VII, p. 123.
The work of Jeremy Belknap entitled: History of New Hampshire, 2 vols. in octavo, printed in Boston in 1792, is rightly well regarded. See particularly, in Belknap’s work, ch. III of the first volume. In this chapter, the author gives extremely valuable details about the political and religious principles of the Puritans, about the causes of their emigration, and about their laws. There you find this interesting quotation from a sermon delivered in 1663:
New England must constantly recall that it was founded for a religious purpose and not for a commercial purpose. It is written on its forehead that it professed purity in matters of doctrine and discipline. May merchants and all those who are busy piling up money remember, therefore, that it is religion, and not gain, that was the object of the founding of these colonies. If there is someone among us who, in his estimation of the world and of religion, looks upon the first as 13 and takes the second only as 12, he is not prompted by the sentiments of a true son of New England.
Readers will find in Belknap more general ideas and more power of thought than that presented until now by the other American historians.
I do not know if this book is found in the Royal Library.
Among the states of the center that are already old, and that merit our interest, the states of New York and Pennsylvania stand out above all. The best history that we have of the state of New York is entitled: History of New York, by William Smith, printed in London in 1757. A French translation exists, also printed in London in 1757, 1 vol. in duodecimo. Smith provides us with useful details on the wars of the French and English in America. He is, of all the American historians, the one who best shows the famous confederation of the Iroquois.
As for Pennsylvania, I cannot do better than to point to the work of Proud entitled: The History of Pennsylvania, From the Original Institution and Settlement of That Province, under the First Proprietor and Governor William Penn, in 1681 till after the Year 1742, by Robert Proud, 2 vols. in octavo, printed in Philadelphia in 1797.
This work particularly deserves the attention of the reader; it contains a host of very interesting documents on Penn, the doctrine of the Quakers, the character, mores, customs of the first inhabitants of Pennsylvania. As far as I know, it is not in the Royal Library.
I do not need to add that among the most important documents relative to Pennsylvania are the works of Penn himself and those of Franklin. These works are known by a great number of readers.
Most of the books that I have just cited had already been consulted by me during my stay in America. The Royal Library has kindly entrusted me with some of them; others have been loaned to me by Mr. Warden, former consul general of the United States to Paris, author of an excellent book on America. I do not want to conclude this note without extending to Mr. Warden the expression of my gratitude.