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CHAPTER 4: Further Considerations of Environment - James T. Schleifer, The Making of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America 
The Making of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, Foreword by George W. Pierson (2nd edition) (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2000).
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Further Considerations of Environment
After their frontier adventures, the two friends briefly visited Canada and then headed toward Boston. Experiences in that city during September and October 1831 gave special prominence to (some familiar and some new) nonphysical features of the United States, especially the moral and religious attitudes, the education, the practical political experience, and the origins and history of the Americans.1 Yet there Tocqueville also learned several important lessons about the physical environment.
He had once mentioned the presumably invigorating effect of America’s climate, but since that early letter the topic had been totally neglected. All suddenly changed, however, when a Mr. Clay, a planter from Georgia who was also visiting Boston, implied to the inquisitive foreigner that a major reason for the extensive use of slaves in much of the South was that “white people cannot get acclimatised.”2
The possible import of this remark left Tocqueville troubled—and skeptical. So on 1 October, he asked John Quincy Adams for his opinion. “[Q.] Do you think that actually it is impossible to do without Negroes in the South? [A.] I am convinced to the contrary, Europeans cultivate the land in Greece and Sicily; why should they not do so in Virginia or the Carolinas? It is not hotter there.”3 Yet the ex-President’s prompt and firm denial did not end the debate that had started in the visitor’s mind, and the issue would be repeatedly raised in later interviews.
Something else of interest concerning the natural environment also came out of his talk with Adams. The honorable gentleman “appeared to think that one of the greatest guarantees of order and internal security in the United States was found in the movement of the population toward the West. ‘Many more generations yet will pass,’ he added, ‘before we feel that we are overcrowded.’ ”4
So not only did the almost inevitable material rewards for private effort deflect men from political careers and dangerous ambitions—Tocqueville had long ago realized that—but also the very existence of open areas, of available land in the West, scattered the population and aided the Americans in avoiding the concentrated powers and agonies of great cities.5 In the New World, space served as a safety valve for republican institutions.6
In November, the aged Charles Carroll would add a special twist to this idea: “A mere Democracy is but a mob.... if we tolerate [our form of government], that is because every year we can push our innovators out West.”7
Combining these and previous comments, Tocqueville would declare in a section of the 1835 Democracy entitled “Accidental or Providential Causes Helping to Maintain a Democratic Republic in the United States”: “In Europe we habitually regard a restless spirit, immoderate desire for wealth, and an extreme love of independence as great social dangers. But precisely those things assure a long and peaceful future for the American republics. Without such restless passions the populations would be concentrated around a few places and would soon experience, as we do, needs which are hard to satisfy. What a happy land the New World is, where man’s vices are almost as useful to society as his virtues!”8
Several Bostonians also urged the crucial importance of history on their guests. Alexander Everett stressed the American “point of departure,” and Jared Sparks reminded Tocqueville that the root cause of American government and manners was “our origins.” The United States was unique. “Those who would like to imitate us should remember that there are no precedents for our history.”9
On 20 September, in the course of some additional remarks about history, Josiah Quincy, president of Harvard, reminded Tocqueville of a use of the term circumstances which would later prove to be immensely valuable. Previously, the observer had not been especially precise about the ingredients which went into his “particular,” “accidental,” or “original circumstances.” Sometimes when he had employed these terms, he had been thinking mainly of America’s physical situation. But often he had also at least hinted at the inclusion of certain social and economic conditions (such as relative equality) or even some moral or intellectual attitudes (such as respect for religion, education, and law).10 Thus circonstances had served as a cumbersome catchall.
Quincy attempted a less ambiguous usage. After urging Tocqueville to consider history, he remarked: “I think our present happy state is even more due to circumstances beyond our control than to our constitution. Here all a man’s material needs are satisfied and furthermore we are born in freedom, knowing no other state.”11 If the listener chose to follow the Brahmin’s lead, he would henceforth include under the concept circumstances both the physical and the historical situations, or preconditions, of the United States—neither more nor less. But Tocqueville would proceed only slowly along the path that Quincy had indicated.
The Boston experience had so broadened his thinking that Tocqueville decided, probably in early October, to list the most important of the many possible explanations that he had noted for the happy condition of the United States. After heading his summary “Reasons for the social state and present government in America,” he itemized:
1st. Their origin: excellent point of departure. Intimate mixture of the spirit of religion and liberty. Cold and rational race.
2nd. Their geographical position: no neighbors.
3rd. Their commercial and industrial activity: Everything, even their vices, is now favourable to them.
4th. The material prosperity which they enjoy.
5th. The spirit of religion that prevails: Republican and democratic religion.
6th. The diffusion of useful knowledge.
7th. Morals very chaste.
8th. Their division into little states. They prove nothing for a large one.
9th. The absence of a great capital where everything is concentrated. Care to avoid it.
10th. Commercial and provincial activity which means that everyone has something to do at home.12
As yet Tocqueville seemed reluctant to weigh the relative significance of these various physical and nonphysical causes. But the nation’s ressources (fourth) and its position géographique (second) were specifically mentioned among these ten points, and he also cited several other reasons known to be closely related to the republic’s physical situation (third, ninth, tenth). So although the astute visitor had already abandoned the theory that America was shaped primarily by its environment, he saw quite clearly that géographie, in its broadest sense, nonetheless enormously influenced the United States. More difficult judgments would have to wait.
After Massachusetts the commissioners headed back to New York via Connecticut and then continued on to Philadelphia and Baltimore. In Baltimore, Tocqueville once again faced the puzzle of a possible link between climate and slavery.
“Do you think you could do without slaves in Maryland?” he asked Mr. Latrobe on 30 October.13
“Yes, I am convinced of it. Slavery is in general an expensive way of farming, and it is more so with certain crops. Thus wheat-farming requires many labourers, but only twice in the year, at sowing time and at harvest. Slaves are useful at those two seasons. For the rest of the year they must be fed and kept without, one may say, employing them.... So generally speaking slavery is worth nothing in wheat growing country. And that applies to the greater part of Maryland.”
Not satisfied, Tocqueville persisted: “But if sugar and coffee are more profitable crops than [wheat], and if slave labour for agriculture is more expensive than free, it surely follows that the Southerners can keep their slaves, but it also follows that they would get a better return from their lands if they cultivated them themselves or employed free labour?”
“No doubt,” Latrobe responded, “but in the South the white man cannot, without getting ill or dying, do what the black does easily. Besides there are certain crops that are raised much more economically by slaves than by free workers. Tobacco for example. Tobacco needs continual attention; one can employ women and children in cultivating it.... it is a crop admirably suited for slave labour.”
So for most of the South, the type of agriculture gave the crucial impetus to slavery. Apparently climate’s influence on the peculiar institution, through the encouragement of certain crops, was primarily indirect. Tocqueville was almost convinced.
After a thorough study of the prisons of Philadelphia, Tocqueville and Beaumont turned westward once again, crossed Pennsylvania to Pittsburgh, and there bought passage on another of America’s dangerous steamers. The two investigators intended to follow the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans where they could begin an intensive examination of the South (a project never realized).14
While going down the Ohio, Tocqueville resolved to inquire once more about the identity of the American pioneer. As if to make certain that the settling of Michigan was not a special case, he asked “a great landowner from the State of Illinois”: “Do many Europeans go there?” “No,” the westerner answered, “the greatest number of immigrants come from Ohio.”15
Here was another strange feature of the westward movement. Not only were settlers almost always Americans, but they were frequently men or the sons of men who had moved before. In 1835 Tocqueville would not forget this astonishing lesson. After presenting his notion of the double migration, from Europe across the Atlantic and from the coastal areas toward the Mississippi,16 he would continue: “I have spoken about emigration from the older states, but what should one say about that from the new? Ohio was only founded fifty years ago, most of its inhabitants were not born there, its capital is not thirty years old, and an immense stretch of unclaimed wilderness still covers its territory; nevertheless, the population of Ohio has already started to move west; most of those who come down to the fertile prairies of Illinois were inhabitants of Ohio. These men had left their first fatherland to better themselves; they leave the second to do better still.”17
At the beginning of December, the two Frenchmen arrived at Cincinnati, where the city’s rapid, practically visible growth amazed them. Yet even more surprising than the enthusiastic activity in Ohio was the striking contrast between that state and its neighbor, Kentucky. Compared to the pace immediately north of the river, growth to the south seemed to occur slowly or not at all. Tocqueville was again perplexed.
“The State of Ohio is separated from Kentucky just by one river; on either side of it the soil is equally fertile, and the situation equally favourable, and yet everything is different.”18 But what made the two states different if their physical setting was the same? Tocqueville heard and saw for himself that the contrast resulted from a peculiar institution. “These differences cannot be attributed to any other cause but slavery.... So nothing shows more clearly than the comparison I have just made, that human prosperity depends much more on the institutions and the will of man than on the external circumstances that surround him.”19
The distinction between Ohio and Kentucky strongly reaffirmed Tocqueville’s earlier decision about the physical environment: it was important, but not, in itself, decisive.
One citizen of Cincinnati, Timothy Walker, convinced of a glorious future for the entire region, repeated a now familiar incantation. “There are already 5,000,000 inhabitants in the Mississippi valley. I do not doubt that in twenty years time the majority of the population of the United States will be to the west of the Ohio; the greatest wealth and the greatest power will be found in the basin of the Mississippi and Missouri.”20
By New Year’s Day, 1832, the companions reached New Orleans, and here too they heard the myth of the interior valley. Mr. Guillemin, the French consul in that city, had grand visions. “New Orleans has a very great future. If we succeed in conquering, or only in greatly diminishing, the scourge of yellow fever, New Orleans is certainly destined to become the largest city in the New World. In fifty years the Mississippi Valley will hold the mass of the American population, and here we hold the gate to the river.”21
Even later in Paris Tocqueville would not escape the legend, for his printed sources would offer no contradictions. Justice Joseph Story, while discussing the acquisition of western territories in his Commentaries, had turned expectation into fact: “And it scarcely requires the spirit of prophecy to foretell, that in a few years the predominance of numbers, of population, and of power, will be unequivocally transferred from the old to the new states.”22
If Tocqueville still harbored any trace of doubt, William Darby’s View of the United States would surely dispel it. After analyzing the sparse distribution and the scarcely believable growth rate of the American population, Darby had announced “the certain change of the seat of power ... from the Atlantic slope into the central basin.”23
“The general population,” Tocqueville would summarize in an early draft, “doubles in twenty-two years. That of the Mississippi Valley in ten years. Three and one-quarter percent for the whole. Five percent for the Valley. Darby p. 446 calculates that by 1865 the preponderance will be in the Mississippi Valley.”24
Such an apparently universal message would not escape retelling in the Democracy and would eventually find its way into several parts of the work. The opening chapter, entitled “Physical Configurations of North America,” would rhapsodize: “All things considered, the valley of the Mississippi is the most magnificent habitation ever prepared by God for man.” Beyond the Appalachian Mountains “are assembling, almost in secret, the real elements of the great people to whom the future of the continent doubtless belongs.”25
And in another section, while weighing the probable chances for the survival of the Union, Tocqueville would once again tell of the Mississippi Basin’s destiny. “The western states ... offer an unlimited free field to enterprise.... the Mississippi basin is infinitely more fertile than the Atlantic coast. This reason, added to all the others, is a powerful incentive driving the Europeans toward the West. Statistics emphatically prove this.... If the Union lasts, the extent and fertility of the Mississippi basin make it inevitable that it will become the permanent center of federal power. Within thirty or forty years [Darby: by 1865], the Mississippi basin will have assumed its natural rank.... So in a few years’ time ... the population of the Mississippi valley will dominate federal councils.”26
In addition to the repetition of a legend, New Orleans also offered the opportunity once again to resume the long inquiry concerning the relationship of climate to slavery. Tocqueville returned to the problem on 1 January 1832.
“Do you think that in Louisiana the whites could cultivate the land without slaves?” “I do not think so,” replied Mr. Mazureau. “But I was born in Europe and arrived here with the ideas you seem to have on that point. But experience has seemed to me to contradict the theory. I do not think that Europeans can work the land, exposed to this tropical sun. Our sun is always unhealthy, often deadly.” Mazureau ended by offering the example of whites from various districts of Louisiana who, unable to labor diligently in the local climate, eked out only marginal existences. “But might not their poverty be attributed to their laziness rather than to the climate?” Tocqueville countered. The southerner’s response was blunt: “In my view the climate is the chief reason.”27
Within two weeks, as Tocqueville and Beaumont rode toward Washington, another chance to probe the issue presented itself in the person of Joel Poinsett. “What are the reasons for [the differences between the social state of the South and that of the North?]” “The first,” Poinsett said, “is slavery; the second, the climate.”28
But how were these two reasons linked? An essential part of the debate was still unresolved. The accumulated weight of Tocqueville’s conversations made it clear that climate wielded an important if indirect power. Any lingering doubts of that fact were dissolved by the acute differences which he detected between the French of New Orleans and the French of Canada.
On 16 January 1832, he wrote to Chabrol: “When you see men who tell you that the climate has no influence on the constitution of peoples, assure them that they are mistaken.” Fifteen degrees of latitude separated the French Canadians from the French of Louisiana. “Truly it is the best reason that I can give for the difference.”29
Largely because of his talk with Latrobe, Tocqueville had earlier inclined toward the view that the climate’s most significant influence on slavery was indirect: it encouraged certain crops which in turn invited the use of slave labor. Despite the assertions of Mazureau, the direct effects of climate, through sun, heat, and humidity, remained highly suspect in Tocqueville’s mind. The 1835 Democracy would therefore reflect Latrobe’s viewpoint.30 But in his text Tocqueville would also pointedly echo several of his other conversations on the topic:
The farther south one goes, the [more difficult] it becomes to abolish slavery. There are several physical reasons for this which need to be explained.
The first is the climate: certainly the closer they get to the tropics, the harder Europeans find it to work; many Americans maintain that below a certain latitude it is fatal for them, whereas Negroes can work there without danger [Clay and others]; but I do not think that this idea, with its welcome support for the southerner’s laziness, is based on experience. [A long delayed rejoinder to Mazureau] The south of the Union is not hotter than the south of Spain or of Italy. Why cannot the European do the same work there? [Adams]31
In January 1832, only a few weeks before his departure from America, Tocqueville finally attempted to judge the relative weight of the ten reasons which he had set forth in October:
There are a thousand reasons which concur to support republican liberty in the United States, but a few are enough to explain the problem.
In the United States, it is said, society has been built from a clean slate....
But the whole of South America is in this position, and a republic only succeeds in the United States.
The territory of the Union offers an immense field to human activity....
But in what part of the world could one find more fertile lands,... more inexhaustible or more untouched riches than in South America? But yet South America cannot maintain a republic.
The division of the Union into little States reconciles internal prosperity and national strength;... but Mexico forms a federal republic; it has adopted the constitution of the United States almost without alteration, and yet Mexico is still far from prospering. Lower Canada is surrounded, as is New England, by fertile and limitless lands. Yet, up to our day, the French population of Canada, unstirred by enlightenment, remains cupped in a space much too narrow for it....
There is one great reason which dominates all the others and which, when one has weighed every consideration, by itself sways the balance: the American people, taken in mass, is not only the most enlightened in the world, but, what I rank as much more important than that advantage, it is the people whose practical political education is the most advanced.32
Tocqueville had finally singled out a few major causes of American success and had even selected the most significant from among his choices. But his statement, merely reaffirming what he had decided months before, said nothing significantly new about the role of the environment. Further developments in the traveler’s thinking about the importance of physical setting had to wait until his return to France.
During his nine months in the New World, Tocqueville had recognized many significant features of America’s environment, particularly its beauty, variety, size, fertility, (relative) virginity, and isolation. Another less obvious characteristic—the continent’s transformation at the hands of an energetic and civilized people—had also struck his imagination, and one misconception about the Union’s physical situation had been discovered and discarded when he had learned to his surprise that the Americans themselves settled the West.
But, while in the United States, the visitor had gone beyond the mere recognition of physical features and had also undertaken a careful consideration of the various social, political, intellectual, and even psychological effects of the republic’s natural setting. More important, after at first adopting an environmental hypothesis, he had rejected such a doctrine in favor of a pluralistic explanation.
Finally, despite his notice of several important disadvantages or regrettable results of the country’s physiography, Tocqueville had concluded that, by and large, America’s environment contributed enormously to the nation’s success.33 In 1835 and 1840, the Democracy would faithfully reflect that basic outlook.
Cloistered in his attic room on the rue de Verneuil, Tocqueville continued to consider the haunting riddle of causes. “It is not due to idle curiosity that I seek the predominance of the causes which allow peoples to be free.”34
While compiling the index to his own papers, the author included the heading “Causes which maintain the present form of government in America” and several other closely related entries.35 So he clearly recognized that such influences were many and that any monistic interpretation of American success was inadequate.
An early effort to clarify his thinking ended when he drew up the following list of major influences: “(1) The geographic position, the nature of the country, (2) the laws, (3) the moeurs.”36 Apparently America’s origins and history were subsumed under moeurs.
But soon, as drafts of the Democracy proceeded, Tocqueville began to use and even elaborate upon Josiah Quincy’s concept of circumstances. “Circumstances, without number. Theory to make: Point of departure. The most important of all in my eyes.... Equality, Democracy introduced in germ. [Had Alexander Everett, Sparks, Quincy, and others persuaded the Frenchman that origins and history were the key circumstances?] Ease. result of the small population and the immense resources of the country. emigration, new resources equal to new needs. The absence of neighbors, no wars, no permanent army. New country, no large cities, no manufacturing districts. Men are not pressed one against the other.... It is a land which presents itself with all the strength and the fertility of youth.”37
Here again, in what seemed in part a recapitulation of the major lessons learned in America about the republic’s physical situation, a multiple rather than a single explanation was advanced. The term circonstances still remained too inclusive and cumbersome, but at least Tocqueville had restricted its use to historical and environmental features and their effects.
Yet despite his best efforts, his theory remained somewhat unsettled. Was the historical or the physical setting more important? Tocqueville was never able finally to decide. In the draft quoted above, in a deleted comment found in the working manuscript,38 and once in the 1835 Democracy itself, he indicated that le point de départ or l’origine was the crucial circumstance. “I have said before that I regarded the origin of the Americans, what I have called their point of departure, as the first and most effective of all the [accidental or providential] elements leading to their present prosperity.”39
But elsewhere in his published text he would more than once label le choix du pays, la position géographique, or les causes physiques the most significant single circumstance. “Among the lucky circumstances that favored the establishment and assured the maintenance of a democratic republic in the United States, the most important was the choice of the land itself in which the Americans live.”40
In any case, the somewhat unwieldy concept did allow the writer to reach the classification of fundamental causes (both physical and nonphysical) which would appear in the 1835 Democracy:
I thought that the maintenance of political institutions among all peoples depends on three great causes. The first, entirely accidental, results from the circumstances in which Providence has placed different men. The second comes from laws. The third is derived from their habits and their moeurs.41
The “thousand causes” of January 1832 were finally reduced to three. The first, les circonstances, included both America’s origin and its environment, both its historical and its physical situations. In the 1835 Democracy, Tocqueville would occasionally use the phrase “la nature du pays et les faits antécédents” rather than circonstances.
Les lois invoked for Tocqueville the republic’s legal, political, and institutional framework. The phrase called to mind everything from the balance of powers written into the Constitution by the Founding Fathers to American press laws and voting rights. In particular, the phrase reminded Tocqueville of America’s federal structure, local institutions, and independent judiciary.42
The third major cause, les moeurs, embraced even more than the other two. Les moeurs signified the morality, intelligence, political experience, and ceaseless activity of the Americans, as well as a long list of other characteristics. The phrase meant nothing less than the sum of American values, ideas, attitudes, and customs.43
From among these three major causes, Tocqueville had also now chosen the most important. Throughout the drafts of the 1835 volumes, as in the published text, his position was clear and unchanging: les moeurs constituted the most important single explanation for the stunning success of the American republic.44
But what part did circonstances play? Was the influence exerted by history and the physical environment greater than that of laws? In an unpublished draft of the chapter entitled “The Main Causes Tending to Maintain a Democratic Republic in the United States,”45 Tocqueville sketched a tentative conclusion: “Of the three causes the least influential is that of laws.”46
Pursuing this thought to its logical conclusion, he wrote: “Of these three causes the first [circumstances] is the most permanent.47 The circumstances in which a people find themselves change less easily, in general, than its laws and its moeurs....
“Of the three causes the least influential is that of laws and it is, so to speak, the only one which depends on man.... people cannot change their position and the original conditions of their existence. A nation can, in the long run, modify its habits and its moeurs, but one generation cannot succeed in doing it. It [a single generation] can only change the laws. But, of the three causes about which we are talking, the least influential is precisely that which results from the laws. Not only48 does man exercise no49 power over his surroundings, but he possesses, so to speak,50 none over himself and remains almost completely a stranger to his own fate.”51
In the margin of this passage, he added: “Of these three causes there is, so to speak, only one that depends on man to bring forth.”52
Something in this argument disturbed Tocqueville, however. Upon rereading he realized that his thesis seriously undermined the dignity of man. If laws were the only major influence subject to human will and, at the same time, the least important of fundamental causes, what control did man have over his own destiny? If man believed that he was essentially impotent, what would become of his sense of moral responsibility and his efforts? “One must not disdain man,” Alexis would later warn Gustave, “if one wants to obtain great efforts from others and from oneself.”53 Tocqueville the moralist could not accept his own argument; so he denied his original reasoning and struck out the offending section.
Soon, with similar words, but a strikingly different conclusion, he tried again to settle the dilemma: “So of the three causes which work together to maintain institutions the least essential is the only one that man can not create at will [i.e. circumstances], and God, by making their happiness depend particularly on laws and moeurs, has in a way placed it in their hands.”54
In an added parenthesis, Tocqueville summed up his position. “So physical causes contribute less to the maintenance of institutions than laws; laws, less than moeurs.”55 Finally, after many false starts and hesitations, he had reached the conclusion which would appear in the published text of the 1835 Democracy. Much of the durability of Tocqueville’s reputation for genius and originality may be attributed to his brilliant recognition that moeurs weighed most in the destinies of human societies.
But in resolving this moral dilemma, Tocqueville had shrunk the meaning of circonstances to include only physical causes. History’s momentary disappearance had undoubtedly made it easier to downgrade the significance of circumstances. Thus he had in part satisfied himself by shifting definitions, by taking advantage of the indefinite meaning of one of his fundamental concepts. Circonstances, as we shall see, would not be the only word in the Democracy with such a valuable and convenient plastic nature.
[1. ]For elaboration, consult Pierson, Toc. and Bt., pp. 349–425, and Mayer, Journey, especially Non-Alphabetic Notebooks 2 and 3, pp. 49–66.
[2. ]Conversation with Mr. Clay, 18 September 1831, Non-Alphabetic Notebooks 2 and 3, Mayer, Journey, p. 49.
[3. ]Interview with Mr. Adams, 1 October 1831, ibid., p. 61. Tocqueville also knew of the southern Italian climate firsthand; he had visited Sicily in 1827.
[4. ]Ibid., p. 62.
[5. ]Several diary comments illustrated Tocqueville’s awareness of the American fear of metropolitan centers. See, for example, “Reasons for the social state and present government in America,” Alphabetic Notebook 1, and “Centralization,” 25 October 1831, Alph. Notebook 2, Mayer, Journey, p. 181, 216.
[6. ]Again, Tocqueville anticipated Frederick Jackson Turner.
[7. ]Visit with Charles Carroll, 5 November 1831, Non-Alph. Notebooks 2 and 3, Mayer, Journey, p. 86.
[8. ]Democracy (Mayer), p. 284. Also related to this idea would be Tocqueville’s remarks concerning the lack of great issues in America and the resulting difficulties involved in the building of political parties; see ibid., p. 177.
[9. ]Conversations with Mr. Everett and Mr. Sparks, 29 September 1831, Non-Alph. Notebooks 2 and 3, Mayer, Journey, pp. 57–59. The term point de départ assumed an important place in Tocqueville’s thinking.
[10. ]For further illustrations and commentary, see Pierson, Toc. and Bt., pp. 120–25.
[11. ]Conversation with Mr. Quincy, 20 September 1831, Non-Alph. Notebooks 2 and 3, Mayer, Journey, p. 51.
[12. ]“Reasons for the social state and present government in America,” undated, Alph. Notebook 1, Mayer, Journey, p. 181. Another somewhat different translation by Pierson, Toc. and Bt., p. 453, departs once or twice from the original as found in Voyages, O.C. (Mayer), 5:207. Pierson did, however, place the composition of this list in early October 1831. See Toc. and Bt., pp. 450–54.
[13. ]Conversation with Mr. Latrobe, Baltimore, 30 October 1831, Non-Alph. Notebooks 2 and 3, Mayer, Journey, pp. 76–77. For a detailed discussion of the ideas of both Tocqueville and Beaumont on slavery, in general, and the connection between that institution and climate, in particular, consult the pertinent sections of Songy, “Toc. and Slavery.”
[14. ]For detailed accounts of their adventures, see Pierson, Toc. and Bt., pp. 543–616.
[15. ]Undated conversation, Pocket Notebook Number 3, Mayer, Journey, p. 161.
[16. ]Tocqueville’s first two volumes would identify four separate migrations important to the United States: (1) Europeans, across the Atlantic Ocean; (2) White or Anglo-Americans, toward the interior; (3) Negroes, toward the South as the zone of slavery retreated—see Democracy (Mayer), pp. 350–51, 353, 354–55; and (4) Indians, westward always ahead of the American line of march.
[17. ]Democracy (Mayer), p. 283.
[18. ]“Ohio,” 2 December 1831, Notebook E, Mayer, Journey, p. 263. Also consult “Second conversation with Mr. Walker,” 3 December 1831, and “Conversation with Mr. MacIlvaine,” 9 December 1831, Non-Alph. Notebooks 2 and 3, Mayer, Journey, pp. 97–99.
[19. ]Ibid., p. 264. Note the contrast between this remark and Tocqueville’s position in May: “Up to now all I have seen doesn’t enchant me, because I attribute it more to accidental circumstance than to the will of man.” (See chapter 3 above.)
[20. ]“Second conversation with Mr. Walker,” 3 December 1831, Non-Alph. Notebooks 2 and 3, Mayer, Journey, pp. 95–96.
[21. ]“Conversation with Mr. Guillemin,” 1 January 1832, ibid., p. 104.
[22. ]Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, one volume abridgment, pp. 474–75. For further discussion of Tocqueville’s use of this work, see chapter 7 below.
[23. ]William Darby, View of the United States, pp. 443–44. For additional information about Darby’s volume, see chapter 6 below.
[24. ]Drafts, Yale, CVh, Paquet 3, cahier 1, p. 63. Also see Democracy (Mayer), p. 380.
[25. ]Democracy (Mayer), pp. 25, 26. Other similar comments would be found on pp. 24–25, 30.
[26. ]Ibid., p. 380.
[27. ]Conversation with Mr. Mazureau, New Orleans, 1 January 1832, Non-Alph. Notebooks 2 and 3, Mayer, Journey, p. 102.
[28. ]Conversations with Mr. Poinsett, 12–17 January 1832, ibid., p. 115.
[29. ]Toc. to Chabrol, From Chesapeake Bay, 16 January 1832, Toc. letters, Yale, BIa2.
[30. ]Ibid., pp. 352–53. Compare Beaumont’s opinion with his friend’s treatment; see Bt. Marie (Chapman), pp. 204–6.
[31. ]Democracy (Mayer), p. 352. Note Tocqueville’s qualifications of these statements; see his footnotes, ibid., p. 352.
[32. ](Note the resemblance between this passage and the North American Review article quoted in chapter 3 above.) Reflections dated “14 January 1832,” Notebook E, Mayer, Journey, pp. 234–35. Also see a somewhat different version, Pocket Notebooks Number 4 and 5, ibid., p. 179. These remarks would serve as the skeleton for a section of the 1835 Democracy; compare “The Laws Contribute More to the Maintenance of the Democratic Republic Than Do the Physical Circumstances of the Country, and Mores (moeurs) Do More Than the Laws,” Democracy (Mayer), pp. 305–8. See especially page 306, where Tocqueville would declare: “Therefore physical causes do not influence the destiny of nations as much as is supposed.”
[33. ]The only possible general exception to this sanguine view involved the life of the mind, which benefited only insofar as activity encouraged by the continent’s gifts spilled over into intellectual and cultural efforts. Concerning this matter, see chapter 16 below.
[34. ]Drafts, Yale, CVh, Paquet 3, cahier 4, p. 48.
[35. ]“Sources manuscrites,” Yale, CIIc. Other relevant titles were “What permits the republic in the United States” and those referring to some of the specific possible causes: moeurs, point de départ, federal organization, etc.
[36. ]Drafts, Yale, CVh, Paquet 3, cahier 4, p. 46.
[37. ]Drafts, Yale, CVj, Paquet 2, cahier 2, pp. 20–21.
[38. ]“The origin of the Americans is the first [accidental] cause of their prosperity and their grandeur. The second is the place that they inhabit.” “Accidental or Providential Causes ...,” Original Working Manuscript, CVIa, tome 2.
[39. ]Democracy (Mayer), p. 279.
[40. ]Ibid. See also pp. 279–80, 305–8, and especially 308.
[41. ]Drafts, Yale, CVh, Paquet 3, cahier 4, p. 18. Also see Drafts, Yale, CVj, Paquet 2, cahier 2, p. 19. Compare the fragment quoted above with the 1835 text, Democracy (Mayer), p. 277.
[42. ]Democracy (Mayer), pp. 286–87.
[43. ]Consult Tocqueville’s own definitions, Democracy (Mayer), p. 287 and p. 305 note. Also compare the following attempt found in a draft of the 1835 Democracy: “By moeurs I understand all of the dispositions which man brings to the government of society. Moeurs, strictly speaking, enlightenment, habits, sciences”; Drafts, Yale, CVh, Paquet 3, cahier 3, p. 58.
[44. ]Compare Tocqueville’s remarks of January 1832 (quoted above). Also consult the following drafts of the 1835 Democracy: Drafts, Yale, CVe, Paquet 17, p. 52; CVh, Paquet 3, cahier 4, pp. 46–47; and CVj, Paquet 2, cahier 2, p. 19. See in addition the section from the 1835 work entitled “The Laws Contribute More to the Maintenance of the Democratic Republic in the United States Than Do the Physical Circumstances of the Country, and Mores (moeurs) Do More Than the Laws,” Democracy (Mayer), pp. 305–8, especially page 308. Note that in his emphasis on moeurs, Tocqueville anticipated the interpretation of human societies later offered by William Graham Sumner, who stressed the role of mores. See particularly Sumner’s Folkways: A Study of the Sociological Importance of Usages, Manners, Customs, Mores, and Morals.
[45. ]Democracy (Mayer), pp. 277–315.
[46. ]Drafts, Yale, CVh, Paquet 3, cahier 4, p. 19.
[47. ]Written above “permanent” is the word “durable.” Neither is crossed out.
[48. ]“So therefore” written above “Not only.” Neither crossed out.
[49. ]Originally written “exercise little,” but “little” is crossed out and “no” substituted.
[50. ]Originally written “possesses nearly none,” but “nearly” is deleted and “so to speak” substituted.
[51. ]Drafts, Yale, CVh, Paquet 3, cahier 4, pp. 19–20.
[52. ]Ibid., p. 19.
[53. ]Toc. to Beaumont, Baugy, “22 April 1838,” O.C. (Mayer), Jardin, 8:1, p. 292.
[54. ]Drafts, Yale, CVh, Paquet 3, cahier 4, p. 49.
[55. ]Ibid.; compare this assertion with the Democracy (Mayer), p. 308.