Alexis de Tocqueville:
Alexis de Tocqueville, an aristocratic but liberal Frenchman, came to Americain 1831in order, ostensibly, to study our penal institutions. Actually, he was tremendously excited by the prospects (and by the dangers) of a democratic society, and he wished to examine American societyin its entirety. His book, De la Démocratie en Amérique ( 1835), translated by Henry Reeveas Democracy in America ( 1838), is one of the most important books written about the United States.1 Analyzing Americaas a nation without a feudal past, he saw egalitarianism and individualism as fundamental factors in American society. In the last chapter of Volume 1, he turned to the future and singled out two problems for special study--the relations between the races and the difficulties inherent in a commercial society.
CIVILIZATION is the result of a long social process, which takes place in the same spot, and is handed down from one generation to another, each one profiting by the experience of the last. Of all nations, those submit to civilization with the most difficulty who habitually live by the chase. Pastoral tribes, indeed, often change their place of abode; but they follow a regular order in their migrations, and often return to their old stations, whilst the dwelling of the hunter varies with that of the animals he pursues.
Several attempts have been made to diffuse knowledge amongst the Indians, leaving unchecked their wandering propensities, by the Jesuits in Canada, and by the Puritans in New England; but none of these endeavors have been crowned by any lasting success. Civilization began in the cabin, but soon retired to expire in the woods. The great error of these legislators of the Indians was their not understanding that, in order to succeed in civilizing a people, it is first necessary to fix them, which cannot be done without inducing them to cultivate the soil; the Indians ought in the first place to have been accustomed to agriculture. But not only are they destitute of this indispensable preliminary to civilization, they would even have great difficulty in acquiring it. Men who____________________