Front Page Titles (by Subject) chapter 4 a: Consequences of the Three Preceding Chapters - Democracy in America: Historical-Critical Edition, vol. 4
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chapter 4 a: Consequences of the Three Preceding Chapters - Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America: Historical-Critical Edition, vol. 4 
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. 4.
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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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Consequences of the Three Preceding Chapters
When men feel a natural pity for each other’s misfortunes, when easy and frequent relationships draw them closer each day without any susceptibility dividing them, it is easy to understand that they will, as needed, mutually lend each other their aid. When an American asks for the help of his fellows, it is very rare for the latter to refuse it to him, and I have often observed that they grant it to him spontaneously with great zeal.
If some unforeseen accident takes place on the public road, people rush from all directions to the one who is the victim; if some great unexpected misfortune strikes a family, the purses of a thousand strangers open without difficulty; modest, but very numerous gifts come to the aid of the family’s misery.
It frequently happens, among the most civilized nations of the globe, that someone unfortunate finds himself as isolated in the middle of the crowd as the savage in the woods; that is hardly ever seen in the United States. The Americans, who are always cold in their manners and often crude, hardly ever appear insensitive, and, if they do not hasten to offer their services, they do not refuse to render them.
All of this is not contrary to what I said before regarding individualism. I even see that these things, far from being in conflict, are in agreement.
Equality of conditions, at the same time that it makes men feel their independence, shows them their weakness; they are free, but exposed to a thousand accidents, and experience does not take long to teach them that, although they do not habitually need the help of others, some moment almost always occurs when they cannot do without that help.
We see every day in Europe that men of the same profession readily help each other; they are all exposed to the same evils; that is enough for them to try mutually to protect themselves from those evils, however hard or egotistical they are elsewhere. So whenever one of them is in danger, and when, by a small temporary sacrifice or a sudden impulse, the others can shield him, they do not fail to attempt it. It is not that they are profoundly interested in his fate; for if, by chance, the efforts that they make to help him are useless, they immediately forget him and return to themselves; but a sort of tacit and almost involuntary agreement has been made between them, according to which each one owes to the others a momentary support that, in his turn, he will be able to ask for himself.
Extend to a people what I say about only a class, and you will understand my thought.
There exists, in fact, among all the citizens of a democracy, a convention analogous to the one that I am talking about; everyone feels subject to the same weakness and to the same dangers, and their interest, as well as their sympathy, makes it a law for them to lend each other mutual assistance as needed.
The more similar conditions become, the more men exhibit this reciprocal disposition for mutual obligation.
In democracies, where great services are scarcely accorded, good offices are rendered constantly. It is rare that a man appears devoted to service, but all are willing to help.
[a. ] Men of democracies naturally show pity for each other; having frequent and easy relationships together, not easily becoming irritated with each other, it is natural that they like to help each other in their needs. This is what happens in the United States. In democracies great services are rarely accorded, but good offices are rendered constantly. It is rare that a man appears devoted to service, but all are willing to help (YTC, CVf, pp. 38-39). There is no rubish for this chapter.