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CHAPTER 15: The Tyranny of the Majority: Some Paradoxes - 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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The Tyranny of the Majority: Some Paradoxes
From James Madison, among others, Tocqueville had learned about the nature and inherent structural weaknesses of the Union, the tendency of legislatures to accumulate power, and the danger to liberty which came from excessive centralization. Madison had also helped to teach the Frenchman how the states (because of federalism) and the counties and municipalities (because of the division of administrative authority) served both to help maintain a large republic and to lessen the potentially despotic pressure of public opinion. But, as we have seen, the republican statesman had not been able to persuade Tocqueville that size itself was an advantage to free societies. The Democracy persisted in praising small rather than large nations as the natural sanctuaries of liberty. And in his analysis of the causes and cures of the tyranny of the majority Tocqueville continued to place great hopes in independent and responsible localities as essential centers of freedom during democratic times.
These beliefs led him into a few strange paradoxes, not the least of which was his ranking of the jury as one of the great barriers to majoritarian despotism.1 In 1835 he praised the jury for teaching respect for law, awareness of rights, and a sense of civic responsibility, and for forming the judgment and augmenting the practical knowledge of the people.2 Yet on more than one occasion he had been told that the jury sometimes served as a legal stamp of approval for local excesses and prejudices rather than as a check upon them. “The jury,” he had once declared, “is nothing but the people made judge of what is allowed and of what it is forbidden to do against society.”3
Mr. Cruse had recounted for him the story of a jury during the War of 1812 which had acquitted members of a mob which had pursued and beaten an antiwar journalist and his friends. The crowd had even murdered one opponent of the war.4 In January 1832, Tocqueville had heard another example as well from the lawyer who had discussed Alabama’s reputation for violence and the frequent resorts to knife or gun to settle quarrels there. “But,” Tocqueville had asked, “when a man is killed like that, is his assassin not punished?” “He is always brought to trial, and always acquitted by the jury, unless there are greatly aggravating circumstances.... The violence has become accepted. Each juror feels that he might, on leaving the court, find himself in the same position as the accused, and he acquits.... So it is the people that judges itself, and its prejudices in this matter stand in the way of its good sense.” After hearing this surprising commentary, Tocqueville could not refrain from asking his acquaintance what he thought of the jury system in general. “One of the disadvantages of our juries,” the American replied, “is that they are drawn from too small areas (the counties). The jurors know about the matter before it is argued. It is judged before it is heard and judged in a tavern.”5
So both Mr. Cruse and the lawyer from Alabama had hinted that juries had a critical failing: they would not convict a man for actions—however heinous—which a local majority applauded. The lawyer claimed, moreover, that too often jurors merely reflected regional prejudices and legitimized verdicts previously reached in neighborhood taphouses.
A third incident, fictional but perhaps suggested by something which Gustave and Alexis had witnessed while attending a trial in America,6 was dramatically described in Marie; Or, Slavery in the United States, Beaumont’s companion piece to the 1835 Democracy.
“One day in New York,” Gustave’s hero, Ludovic, related, “I attended a session in court. Among those awaiting trial sat a young mulatto accused by an American of acts of violence. ‘A white man beaten by a colored man! What an outrage! What viciousness!’ voices cried out everywhere. The public, the jurors themselves were indignant at the accused man, without knowing whether he was guilty. I do not know how to tell you how distressing was my impression as he came to trial—each time the poor mulatto wished to speak, his voice was drowned out, either by the judge or by the noise of the crowd. All the witnesses damned him.... The friends of the plaintiff had good memories; those to whom the defendant appealed remembered nothing. He was found guilty without any deliberation on the part of the jury. A quiver of joy went through the crowd: a murmur a thousand times more cruel to the heart of the unhappy man than the judge’s sentence; for the judge was paid for his task, while the hate of the people was gratuitous. Perhaps he was guilty; but, innocent, would he not have suffered the same fate?”7
Beaumont’s tale echoed the remarks of the two American critics and again exposed a basic flaw in the jury system. That institution could be no more dispassionate, no more just, no more impartial than the public which supplied the jurors. For better or for worse, it was simply a mirror of public opinion and, as such, a potential instrument of tyranny.
So Tocqueville’s extremely positive attitude toward the jury was somewhat puzzling. Although he once observed that the jury was merely “the majority vested with the right to pronounce judgment,”8 he largely failed in his book to recognize or to warn his readers that the jury could also be one of the more fearful tools of an oppressive majority. The 1835 Democracy presented instead an essentially one-sided view of the jury as a major check on majoritarian despotism.
But Tocqueville’s evaluation of the jury—an eminently local institution—was only part of a greater paradox: his stress on the value of the “spirit of locality.” On the one hand, a major antidote that Tocqueville recommended for majoritarian tyranny was administrative decentralization. On the other hand, he seemed to recognize on several occasions that tyranny of the majority was more likely and, if it occurred, more virulent within localities. On one occasion, for instance, he wrote in a draft that the ardor of local passions once kindled could only be compared to intense fraternal hatreds.9 And all of his specific examples of tyranny of the majority took place in the towns and cities of America. It was there that dissenting individuals or minorities found themselves most at the mercy of popular institutions such as the police or the jury, most vulnerable to mob violence, and most exposed to the other more subtle pressures and intimidations of local majorities.
Several times the 1835 Democracy seemed to indicate Tocqueville’s awareness of this melancholy truth. At the beginning of his book he described with some amazement the moral and religious regulations of the Puritans of Massachusetts and Connecticut and could only partially excuse their “bizarre or tyrannical laws” by noting that in those early New England communities of the “like-minded” such measures were voted by the people themselves.10
While comparing large and small nations, he again carefully exposed the potential dangers of the city-state. “In small nations the watchfulness of society penetrates everywhere.... When tyranny is established in a small nation, it is more galling than elsewhere because, operating within a comparatively restricted sphere, it affects everything within that sphere. Unable to engage in any great design, it turns to a multitude of little ones; it is both violent and petty. From the political world which is properly its domain, it penetrates into private life. After actions, it aspires to regiment tastes; after the state, it wants to rule families.”11 What better possible portrait of the public interest in private attitudes and behavior, of the pettiness, and of the pressurized conformity which often prevailed in the small town or locality?
Finally, Tocqueville’s concern about the arbitrary power of public officials in America also reflected, in part, his recognition of the possibility of local oppression.12 After studying the Town Officer he had written to Jared Sparks in December 1831, asking incredulously if the selectmen still had the right to denounce immoral persons publicly and if the constables and tythingmen also still possessed the power to search out and act against blasphemers and others who failed to respect the Sabbath. Tocqueville could not quite believe that local elected officials might actually have such authority to meddle and to censor. In reply Sparks tried to assuage the Frenchman’s sense of shock by assuring him that specific actions were taken only rarely and in particularly flagrant cases. But he did reiterate and reaffirm the basic proposition which had apparently so troubled Tocqueville: local officials did indeed still have the duty to “watch over the morals ... of the inhabitants.”13
Thus the very local control which he applauded as an alternative to administrative centralization and as a major barrier to the tyranny of the majority also facilitated the oppression of individuals and minorities by local majorities. Tocqueville had now come upon a fundamental democratic paradox. Vigorous local government, he insisted, was a necessary counterweight to the democratic trend toward centralization. But it was the local majority that was potentially most oppressive. The locality was, after all, the very heart of the majority’s physical, moral, and psychological power. The normal homogeneity and lack of privacy which marked the town made being different there much more difficult and dangerous. And the more independent the locality, the fewer were the possible restraints on the will of the local majority. A flourishing “spirit of locality” meant that one path to democratic despotism—via administrative centralization—was blocked, but another—via tyranny of the local majority—was opened wide. Yet Tocqueville never saw this basic dilemma about local freedom which he himself had posed.14
We can suggest a few possible reasons for Tocqueville’s effusive praise for local self-government and his failure adequately to acknowledge the enhanced likelihood, given decentralization, for tyranny on the local level. Probably one of the most important explanations was that, while in America, he had obviously been more impressed by the benefits of town government than by its disadvantages. Theoretically, a town of enlightened and politically experienced citizens, such as those in New England, significantly diminished the probability of abuses by a local majority.
But Tocqueville might also have deliberately refrained from any serious critique of local control because of his larger commitment to a program of administrative decentralization in France. He was almost certainly aware that the ignorance and deeply rooted prejudices of the inhabitants of the communes were major arguments cited by the proponents of centralization in response to reformers like Tocqueville who suggested a partial dismantling of the French administrative machine. Why needlessly strengthen the position of your opponents?
It is also possible that his high opinion of local self-government reflected his own good experiences in the department of La Manche. In his first campaign in the region he had been greeted by cries of “No more nobles!” The spirit of 1789 had seemed very much alive. But within little over one year, Tocqueville had been heard, accepted, and elected; and until Louis Napoleon’s coup d’état the citizens of La Manche would continue to send him to Paris as their representative. So the people in localities could apparently be “educated,” “elevated,” and “molded.” Perhaps the standards of the New England town were not so impossible after all.15
Another peculiar feature of Tocqueville’s discussion of majoritarian tyranny was the way in which he thought of the majority. Tocqueville apparently understood majorité primarily as an abstract, singular, and essentially fixed entity. In his mind, the majority usually involved not tangible and temporary interests, but basic attitudes of social consensus or public opinion. For Tocqueville, the majority in its most essential guise was a commanding moral authority.16
Such a view was in sharp contrast to the concept—first explored by Madison—of majorities as shifting coalitions of interests temporarily formed over particular public issues. In Madison’s scheme, majorities were fluid and pluralistic. Since a member of a majority on one day might easily find himself in the minority on the next, no one’s long-term interests and security would be furthered by the majority’s abuse of power. Enduring (and potentially despotic) majorities would not form except on principles general or innocuous enough to threaten no minority group.17
During 1841, in letters written in criticism of the Democracy, Jared Sparks twice isolated the distinctive features of Tocqueville’s analysis and raised what became common objections. A first epistle declared that “in what he says of the tyranny of the majority, I think he is entirely mistaken.... M. de Tocqueville’s theory can only be true where the majority is an unchangeable body, and where it acts exclusively on the minority, as distinct from itself.” A few months later a second letter added: “I think too much confidence is placed in M. de Tocqueville’s ideas of the ‘tyranny of the majority.’ On this subject his imagination leads him far astray. In practice we perceive no such consequence as he supposes. If the majority were large and always consisted of the same individuals, such a thing might be possible; but with us, as in all free governments,... a man who is in the majority at one time is likely to find himself in the minority a few months afterwards. What inducement has a majority thus constituted to be oppressive? Moreover, M. de Tocqueville often confounds the majority with public opinion.”18
If Tocqueville’s theory of the tyranny of the majority is one of his most famous ideas, it is also one of his most disputed. Others since Sparks have also insisted that Tocqueville’s concept of the majority was too abstract and too rigid, and that his theory was therefore inappropriate to the American political system of compromise, shifting coalitions, and countervailing powers. Some have also objected that his “majority” is really “public opinion” which rules all societies, democratic or otherwise. One commentator has even argued that Tocqueville’s “majority” simply does not exist and that his fear of majoritarian despotism is pure fantasy.19
But in at least one critical instance, Tocqueville’s analysis brilliantly described American reality. In various states of the Union, Tocqueville had noticed the second-class status of free Negroes. Particularly in states where slavery had been abolished, prejudice and injustice severely burdened the Negro population.20 In Massachusetts, for example, “the prejudice is so strong against them that their children cannot be received in the schools.”21 And the white majority in Maryland, Tocqueville had learned, sharply restricted the political rights of free Negroes and created special codes of law to supervise their behavior. Mr. Latrobe of Baltimore had even confessed that he was “very much afraid that the incoming Legislature may pass unjust and oppressive laws against the Blacks. People want to make it intolerable for them to remain in Maryland.”22
In Ohio, too, Mr. Walker had admitted, “We try and discourage [free Negroes] in every possible way. Not only have we made laws allowing them to be expelled at will, but we hamper them in a thousand ways. A Negro has no political rights; he cannot be a juror; he cannot give evidence against a white. That last law sometimes leads to revolting injustices.”23 Apparently the white majority in many states exercised (and therefore abused) its power in order to give legitimacy to its prejudices.
The 1835 Democracy summarized these injustices and concluded:
Race prejudice seems stronger in those states that have abolished slavery than in those where it still exists, and nowhere is it more intolerant than in those states where slavery was never known.
It is true that in the North of the Union the law allows legal marriage between Negroes and whites, but public opinion would regard a white man married to a Negro woman as disgraced, and it would be very difficult to quote an example of such an event.
In almost all the states where slavery has been abolished the Negroes have been given electoral rights, but they would come forward to vote at the risk of their lives. When oppressed, they can bring an action at law, but they will find only white men among their judges. It is true that the laws make them eligible as jurors, but prejudice wards them off. The Negro’s son is excluded from the school to which the European’s child goes. In the theaters he cannot for good money buy the right to sit by his former master’s side; in the hospitals he lies apart. He is allowed to worship the same God as the white man but must not pray at the same altars. He has his own clergy and churches. The gates of heaven are not closed against him, but his inequality stops only just short of the boundaries of the other world. When the Negro is no more, his bones are cast aside, and some difference in condition is found even in the equality of death.
So the Negro is free, but he cannot share the rights, pleasures, labors, griefs, or even the tomb of him whose equal he has been declared; there is nowhere where he can meet him, neither in life nor in death.24
Even more instructive about the abuses which the permanent nature of the white majority in America invited was a passage from Marie.
In a society where everyone suffers equal misery, a general feeling grows up which leads to revolt, and sometimes liberty emerges from excessive oppression.
But in a country where only a fraction of society is oppressed, while the rest is quite comfortable, the majority manages to live at ease at the expense of the smaller number; everything is in order and well-regulated: well-being on the one hand, abject suffering on the other. The unfortunate may complain, but they are not feared, and the disease, however revolting it may be, is not cured because it only grows deeper without spreading.
The misery of the black people oppressed in American society cannot be compared with that of any of the unfortunate classes among other peoples. Everywhere there exists hostility between the rich and the proletariat; however, the two classes are not separated by any insurmountable barrier: the poor become rich, the rich, poor; that is enough to temper the oppression of the one by the other. But when the American crushes the black population with such contempt, he knows that he need never fear to experience the fate reserved for the Negro.25
In a society where all instruments of power—public opinion, legislature, executive, police and militia, jury, even judges in some states—responded to the pressures of an absolute majority, what recourse remained for the oppressed minority? Tocqueville rejected the common opinion that democracies would perish through weakness and disorder, and with Madison argued instead that the real danger was the misuse of concentrated power. While musing on the issue of the omnipotence of the majority, he wrote in a draft:
“Like all other authorities (empires), the moral sway (l’empire moral) of the majority is lost by abuse. Tyranny of the majority brings appeals by the minorities to physical force. From there, confusion, anarchy, and the despotism of an individual (d’un seul). The American republics, far from raising the fear of anarchy at the present time, raise only the fear of despotism of the majority; anarchy will come only as a consequence of this tyranny....
“In America the sway (empire) of the majority will not be overthrown because it lacks force, but wisdom. The government is centralized in such a way that the majority which governs is all-powerful. It will lack not physical force, but moral force.”26
His 1835 work prophesied: “I do not think a lack of strength or resources is part of the nature of democratic authority; on the contrary, I believe that it is almost always the abuse of that strength and the ill use of those resources which bring it down.... If ever freedom is lost in America, that will be due to the omnipotence of the majority driving the minorities to desperation and forcing them to appeal to physical force. We may then see anarchy, but it will come as the result of despotism.”27
Five years later, Tocqueville’s message was even clearer and more specific. “If ever America undergoes great revolutions, they will be brought about by the presence of the black race on the soil of the United States; that is to say, they will owe their origin, not to the equality, but to the inequality of condition.”28
Yet in his chapters on the power of the majority Tocqueville did not draw special attention to racial divisions in America. He did not even seem to recognize the Negro/white situation as a particularly pertinent example of the tyranny of the majority. Instead, he repeatedly insisted that the United States was uniquely fortunate in not having severe conflicts of interests, or bitter, unyielding divisions within the society.29 Why?
He may once again have shied away from an elaborate application of his ideas to the racial issue in America because of an unwillingness to tread upon Beaumont’s territory. Considering both the focus of Gustave’s work and Alexis’s obvious awareness of the plight of the Negro minority in America, that explanation is at least a possibility.
But, as some readers have suggested, a more likely reason was that Tocqueville’s thoughts during the making of most of the Democracy were primarily focused on white Americans and even more narrowly on what he frequently called the Anglo-Americans. Was he thinking mostly about white majorities and white minorities while he pondered the danger of majoritarian despotism? If so, the restricted scope of his reflections cost him one of the best possible illustrations of his concept. The racial situation in America might easily have been a model for the type of majority/minority relationship which Tocqueville envisioned when he discussed the omnipotence and possible tyranny of the majority.
In any case, Tocqueville had here put his finger on yet another of the dilemmas of democracy. Given a government that truly reflected the will of the people, how were individuals or minorities to be protected from measures or institutions that made popular errors and prejudices legitimate? When the people ruled what would prevent them from enacting their own worst impulses? Were not the new laws against free Negroes in Jacksonian America a superb example of this danger?
We should also recall that while Tocqueville mused about the “majority” and the possible consequences of its power in America, his attention was drawn increasingly to what he saw as the most disturbing feature of any despotism of the many: the deceptively mild, but highly effective repression of uncommon or original ideas. One of the consistent concerns of the Democracy was the freedom, in times of equality, for the individual or small group to hold and to express views which were new and/or not shared by the larger community.30
But most important, his definition of majority primarily emphasized the basic moral authority of the majority; he focused on the fundamental consensus necessary for any society. Tocqueville’s majority was, therefore, unitary and (relatively) permanent, and what he feared more than any specific legal, political, or administrative oppression (which one of Madison’s temporary coalitions might perpetrate) was the most subtle and profound tyranny over ideas, values, and opinions which the many might establish. Here perhaps was the most significant reason for both Tocqueville’s failure to present racial oppression in terms of majoritarian tyranny and his inability either to hear or to accept Madison’s argument that size—through diversity—lessened the chances for oppression by a majority.
Two general lessons of American history are that the majority does sometimes abuse its power, especially to oppress racial and ethnic minorities and to still dissenting opinions, and that majoritarian tyranny has occurred more often and more easily on the local, state, or regional levels than on the federal level. Especially in the twentieth century, it has, by and large, been the branches of the federal government which—in opposition to local, state, or regional inertia—have taken the initiative in enacting measures to help assure social justice, minority rights, and civil liberties.31 So the serious misuse of power by the many, especially in the localities and states, was not a figment of Tocqueville’s imagination. He was perceptive enough both to recognize the danger of the tyranny of the majority and to realize that this potential oppression was more threatening in the states.
What he failed either to see or to admit was the possibility that administrative decentralization, by freeing especially the localities from most restrictions by federal (or state) government, would not only stimulate practical political experience and a sense of civic responsibility, but would also deliver the towns and counties over to the local majorities. The more independent the locality, the more unrestrained the majority to impose its own values and opinions by means of the agencies of government, or public pressure, or the jury, or even violence.
So Tocqueville’s recommendations for local self-government involved one of those difficult choices, one of those ambiguous issues of delicate balance which he was usually so quick to notice about democratic society. His remedy would paradoxically hinder the rise of administrative despotism but at the same time open the door even wider to tyranny of the majority precisely where it was most absolute—in the locality. In this case he apparently did not see the dilemma which he had posed for himself.
Also Tocqueville felt a strange ambivalence toward the states. If they were essential elements in American federalism and administrative decentralization (and therefore involved in all of the benefits conjured up in Tocqueville’s mind by those structural traits), they were also the major villains in his reflections about the Union’s destiny. (Their relentless jealousy and aggression toward the central government was a major reason for Tocqueville’s inclination to predict the ultimate dissolution of the Union.) But, as we have now seen, his contradictory attitude went even further. Although he sometimes praised the states as valuable barriers to any possible national sweep by destructive political passions, he more frequently condemned them for the inadequacies of their constitutions and for the openings which they gave to democratic excesses of all sorts. The existence of the states helped to insulate the nation from many democratic despotisms, but it was precisely on the state level, the 1835 Democracy insisted paradoxically, that such tyrannies were most likely to flourish.
Finally, as various critics have observed, Tocqueville erred as he developed his notion of the despotism of the majority by largely overlooking the chance of oppression by some minority.32 Once again his intense temporary focus on a single concept made him lose sight of (or in this case entirely overlook) another equally significant idea. His belief that “in America tyranny can only come from the majority”33 failed to allow for the possibility of domination by some small group with political, social, intellectual, or economic privilege. In twentieth-century America, at least, the machinations of the few have often seemed more of a threat to democratic liberty than any abuses of power by the majority.
[1. ]“The Jury in the United States Considered as a Political Institution,” Democracy (Mayer), pp. 270–76, especially pp. 274–75.
[2. ]For elaboration on the American sources of these ideas, especially the influence of Charles Curtis and Henry Gilpin, see Pierson, Toc. and Bt., pp. 384–89, 529–30.
[3. ]11 October 1831, Pocket Notebook 3, Mayer, Journey, p. 153.
[4. ]Conversation with Mr. Cruse, Baltimore, 4 November 1831, Pocket Notebook 3, Mayer, Journey, pp. 159–60.
[5. ]Conversation with a lawyer from Montgomery, Alabama, 6 January 1832, Non-Alph. Notebooks 2 and 3, Mayer, Journey, pp. 107–10.
[6. ]Tocqueville and Beaumont attended trials in five different cities; see Pierson, Toc. and Bt., pp. 723–24.
[7. ]Bt., Marie (Chapman), pp. 74–75.
[8. ]Democracy (Mayer), p. 252.
[9. ]Drafts, Yale, CVh, Paquet 3, cahier 5, p. 23.
[10. ]Democracy (Mayer), pp. 31–49, especially pp. 42–43.
[11. ]Ibid., pp. 158–59.
[12. ]Consult ibid., pp. 253–54 and pp. 728–29, Appendix 1, R.
[13. ]Letters from Tocqueville to Sparks, Cincinnati, 2 December 1831, and from Sparks to Tocqueville, Boston, 2 February 1832, quoted in Herbert Baxter Adams, “Jared Sparks and Alexis de Tocqueville,” pp. 571–75 and pp. 577–83, respectively.
[14. ]On this entire issue consult especially Robert A. Dahl and Edward R. Tufte, Size and Democracy.
[15. ]See Jardin, “Décentralisation,” pp. 106–8; also Charles Pouthas, “Alexis de Tocqueville: Représentant de la Manche (1837–1851),” Tocqueville: centenaire, pp. 17–32.
[16. ]See, in the 1835 volumes, the pertinent chapters on the omnipotence and tyranny of the majority; and in the 1840 volumes, a discussion of the need for common beliefs in any society, Democracy (Mayer), pp. 433–34.
[17. ]Consult chapter 9 above on the size of a republic.
[18. ]Sparks to Major Poussin, 1 February 1841; and Sparks to Prof. William Smyth, 13 October 1841. Quoted from Herbert Baxter Adams, “Jared Sparks and Alexis de Tocqueville,” pp. 605–6.
[19. ]Consult the following additional, critical discussions: David Spitz, “On Tocqueville and the ‘Tyranny’ of Public Sentiment”; Irving Zeitlin, Liberty, Equality and Revolution in Alexis de Tocqueville; and concerning the unreality of Tocqueville’s theory, Hugh Brogan, Tocqueville, especially pp. 39, 40–45, 47, 59–60. In addition, see a good comparison of Tocqueville’s and Madison’s views of the “majority” and an astute analysis of Tocqueville’s concept of the tyranny of the majority, Morton Horwitz, “Tocqueville and the Tyranny of the Majority.” Also compare works by James Fenimore Cooper, The American Democrat, or Hints on the Social and Civic Relations of the United States of America (1838), which discusses at length possible tyranny of the “publick” and “publick opinion”; and James Bryce, The American Commonwealth, which presents Bryce’s theory of the “fatalism of the multitude.”
[20. ]Consult Mayer, Journey, pp. 77, 98, 156, 224–26. Also, from the 1835 chapter on the “Three Races,” see Democracy (Mayer), pp. 342–43.
[21. ]“Negroes,” 27 September 1831, Alph. Notebook 2, Mayer, Journey, p. 224.
[22. ]Conversation with Mr. Latrobe, Baltimore, 30 October 1831, Non-Alph. Notebooks 2 and 3, ibid., p. 77; and “Negroes,” 4 November 1831, Alph. Notebook 2, ibid., pp. 225–26.
[23. ]Second Conversation with Mr. Walker: important, 3 December 1831, Non-Alph. Notebooks 2 and 3, ibid., p. 98.
[24. ]Democracy (Mayer), p. 343. Cf., in the 1840 work, another interesting discussion, ibid., pp. 561–65. A case could be made that Tocqueville saw the racial situation in America as a holdover of aristocratic relationships. Negroes and whites (and other racial groups) were rigidly defined groups in a society otherwise marked by the lack of fixed classes.
[25. ]Bt. Marie (Chapman), p. 74.
[26. ]Drafts, Yale, CVj, Paquet 2, cahier 2, pp. 2–3.
[27. ]Democracy (Mayer), pp. 259–60.
[28. ]From the 1840 work, Democracy (Bradley), 2:270.
[29. ]See Democracy (Mayer), p. 248; also pp. 174, 177–78.
[30. ]This concern was repeatedly demonstrated by Tocqueville’s interest in the right of association and liberty of the press and the uses which Americans made of these instruments of opinion.
[31. ]See especially two thought-provoking works: Henry Steele Commager, Majority Rule and Minority Rights, particularly pp. 65–67, 81; and Michael Wallace, “The Uses of Violence in American History,” particularly pp. 96–102. Also consult the excellent anthology edited by Norman A. Graebner, Freedom in America: A 200-Year Perspective, especially the essays by Henry Abraham, Paul Conkin, Hans Morgenthau, and Gordon Wood.
[32. ]Pierson, for example, pointed out this oversight; see Pierson, Toc. and Bt., pp. 766–67 and note. It should be remembered, however, that Tocqueville did worry about a new aristocracy of captains of industry (which would constitute a type of tyranny of the minority). Often overlooked in addition is a passage from the 1840 volumes in which Tocqueville warned about the consequences of individualisme and too great an attachment to physical pleasures. “The despotism of a faction is as much to be feared as that of a man. When the great mass of citizens does not want to bother about anything but private business, even the smallest party need not give up hope of becoming master of public affairs”; Democracy (Mayer), pp. 540–41.
[33. ]Mayer, Journeys to England, Appendices, “On Bribery at Elections,” from testimony given by Tocqueville before a select committee of the House of Commons on 22 June 1835, pp. 210–32; the quote is from p. 231.