Democracy in America, a 19th century analysis of American government and culture by Alexis de Tocqueville has become an important classic for understanding not just America but the powerful force of democracy for all people across the world. When Tocqueville, a wealth French aristocrat decided to visit the United States and analyze the penal system, he was shocked, enchanted and sometimes disappointed in the American people and their ways. As he watched the influence of the democratic ideal on Americans, he felt compelled to share his discoveries and insights with the French. Although it can be a difficult read, we have recommended key chapters and selections for you to “get a taste” of Tocqueville and enjoy him at his best!
Principle: “Let us look to America…let us borrow from her the principles, rather than the details of her laws.”
Themes: North and South; 3 Races; law; government; morality; religion; education
Read: Chapters 2, 17, 18
1- What is democracy? Why is learning about democracy beneficial? How could you become more democratic in your personal life?
2- What were the differences between the North and South? Why did these matter?
3- What are the fundamental principles America was built upon? Are these still principles? How can we honor them as a society and personally?
4- What are some of the characteristics that make Americans unique? How has America changed? Which changes are for the better?