Democracy has not always been associated with freedom. Most thinkers from ancient Greece until the American Revolution viewed democracy as little better than mob rule. The French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville was a student of government and knew these arguments well, and the executions of many of his relatives during the French Revolution gave him a personal understanding of the compatibility of democracy and tyranny. Yet, he went to America in 1831 looking for democracy. He wanted to know why a democratic government was succeeding in the United States when it had failed in so many other places, not least France, which had just gone through another revolution in 1830.
Our Reading of selections from Democracy in America includes some of Tocqueville’s most pointed insights into the once-unimaginable American experiment.
A Foreword by our Founding Chairman Alonzo L. McDonald invites us to relate Tocqueville’s findings to present-day challenges and helps us consider how our character and institutions have changed since Tocqueville’s time.
Discussion guide included.
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