A Not-So-Brief Guide to Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (Part 6 of 13)

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6. Chapter 10 – Vol I Conclusion

The final chapter of Volume I concerns itself with two issues that are inextricably linked: the status race holds in the relations between the peoples on the American continent, and the possible ways in which the dissolution of the Union will eventually take place.  It also marks the conclusion of Volume One of Democracy in America.

Chapter 10 – Some Considerations on the Present State and Probable Future of the Three Races That Inhabit the Territory of the United States

From the beginning of the experiment’s conception, Tocqueville believes, there was an in-built tension across the continent which would become America: three distinct races of almost irreconcilable differences.  “The European… the Negro, and the Indian”, he writes, differ in “[e]ducation, laws, origins, and even the external form of their features” which have “raised an almost insurmountable barrier between them” (516).  Predictably, this is the chapter that dives headlong into what more enlightened modern sophisticates would call the un-ignorable racism of nineteenth century Frenchmen.

Tocqueville writes first on the topic of the blacks in the American nation.  Deprived of their history, they were carted to the New World against their will and were integrated into the system of slavery.  Those who gained their freedom were welcomed into American society, but rarely to the same esteem typically reserved for whites.  “While thus ceasing to belong to Africa,” Tocqueville comments, “he has acquired no right to the good things of Europe; but he has stopped between the two societies” (517).  He continues on to dryly comment on the seeming lack of family unity across black social groups, and implying the negative impacts all of that has had on their souls:

“Plunged into an abyss of evils, the Negro scarcely feels his misfortune; violence had placed him in slavery; the practice of servitude has given him the thoughts and ambition of a slave; he admires his tyrants even more than he hates them, and finds his joy in his pride in servile imitation of those who oppress him.” (517)

Blacks are so enslaved, in this period, that even when freedom is granted or won, Tocqueville writes, the freed slave is little equipped to handle the burdens and responsibilities that freedom entails.  During “the course of his existence, he has learned to submit to everything, except to reason”, he explains, “and when reason becomes his sole guide, he cannot recognize its voice” (518).  The state of black society in early America, therefore, isn’t one merely of abject enslavement of the body, but poverty of the soul as well.

The state of Indians in the New World, however, lay on the opposite end of such a spectrum: complete independence.  The Indians were not enslaved en masse, nor were they born into enslavement as the blacks were.  Instead, European civilization dispersed their cultures “by scattering their families, by obscuring their traditions, by interrupting the chain of memory, by changing all their habits, and by increasing their needs inordinately”, by which “European tyranny has made them more disorderly and less civilized than they already were” (519).  A people already primitive upon the arrival of the West to their shores were made confused upon the start of American life.

For Tocqueville, the likely outcome of this intermixing of races is this: one will serve, as it has always served, one will rule, as it always has, and one will be exterminated.  Two hundred years later, his writing remains, in typical Tocquevillian fashion, recognizably prophetic.

The Indians

Tocqueville then begins his look at the destruction of the Indian tribes, how it took place, and the responses these tribes had to destruction.  This begins with a look at their resources and how they distributed their resources prior the European settlement.  Although trade between tribes was well-known, in general, “their needs were few and the means to provide for them very numerous” (523).  Upon European settlement, trade with whites opened Native awareness to Western luxuries and tools that were hitherto unknown, and these were traded for the resources that previously the tribes used for their own purposes.  The new luxuries, however, did not fit within the existing framework of their social and geographical settings; this new trade quickly resulted in Indian impoverishment even as they gained more sophisticated weaponry and better clothes.

In addition to the strain that higher demand put on the environment, Tocqueville cites the migrations of wild game and their retreat from large swaths of frontier near civilized areas.  Since the Indians of the East Coast were predominantly hunter-gatherer societies, the flight of wild game “is as if you made the fields of our farmers sterile” (525).  As Tocqueville comments, “it is not, strictly speaking, the Europeans who chase the natives of America away, it is famine; happy distinction that had escaped the old casuists and that the modern Protestant doctors have discovered” (526).

As these people are driven westward, Tocqueville explains how their bonds of fellowship break down.  They have already been exhausted by years of subsistence living on the fringes of European society; the West, with its different environments and differing tribes offer little consolation.  Nationhood across the tribe, community, and family each succumb to nihility as the transplant takes its toll.

He does not pretend that the Europeans are without blame.  In approaching the legal aspects of land acquirement from the Natives, Tocqueville writes on how the Indians are essentially coerced into bad deals.  Typically, the heads of tribes are assembled with the representatives of the American government, and given a feast for the negotiations, where they are told of greater wildernesses beyond the scope of the present land in question.

“After giving this speech, firearms, woolen clothing, casks of brandy, glass necklaces, tin bracelets, earrings, and mirrors are spread out before the eyes of the Indians.  If, at the sight of all these riches, they still hesitate, it is insinuated that they cannot refuse the consent demanded of them, and that soon the government itself will be unable to guarantee to them the enjoyment of their rights.  What to do?  Half persuaded, half forced, the Indians move away; they go to inhabit new wildernesses where whites will not leave them in peace for even ten years.  In this way the Americans acquire at a very low price entire provinces that the richest sovereigns of Europe could not afford.” (527-528)

The Indians, he says, had only two options upon confronting the earliest European settlers: “war or civilization; in other words, they had to destroy the Europeans or become their equal” (529).  Instead, not knowing the threat before them, they chose soft and slow annihilation.  Later, some years after Tocqueville’s travels, the Indian wars did break out across the West.  But this, as we can see for ourselves, was far too little and far too late to salvage what was left of the tribesmen.

Interestingly, Tocqueville comments on the distinctly anti-agricultural basis of most Indian societies and how this contributes to their primitive, roaming nature.  Attempts had been made “[s]everal times… to bring enlightenment to the Indians while leaving them with the mores of wandering peoples”, he writes, but these “accomplished nothing lasting.  Civilization was born within the hut and went to die in the woods” (530).  Complex societies can only be built upon foundations of soil and land; a culture that maintains its rootlessness as part of its fundamental character and identity will never develop into a civilization comparable to Europe.

Of note are the Cherokee and Creek tribes.  Tocqueville writes how these southern tribes, unlike their northern cousins, did not flee from place to place as Europeans advanced.  Instead, they found themselves surrounded by settlements along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, resorted to agrarianism and, in the case of the Cherokee, rather quickly adopted a written language.

Tocqueville concludes his analysis of Indian relations on another dark note: the tendency of Americans to renege on treaties of land ceded to Indian nations.  In the case of the Cherokee and any other tribes that attempted halfway to integrate into the customs and civilization of European life, all too often their nation was either forced to disintegrate or to move.  If it was forced to move, the roots put down in the soil were dug up again and generally never reestablished in the lands they were transplanted to, which did even more harm to the Indian soul than the cousins who were transplanted purely by means of famine and land swindling.

The Blacks

“The Indians will die in isolation as they lived;” Tocqueville begins, “but the destiny of the Negroes is in a way intertwined with that of the Europeans” (549).  The institution of slavery inflicts a great wound upon the American social state and carves a wedge between the whites and the blacks that is more insidious than the divide between the Indians and the whites.  The racial component of American slavery made this divide the worse of the two.  As Tocqueville explains:

“[A]mong modern peoples the non-material and transitory fact of slavery is combined in the most fatal way with the material and permanent fact of the difference of race.  The memory of slavery dishonors the race, and the race perpetuates the memory of slavery.” (551)

The laws can be changed.  Indeed, much of the first volume of this work has depicted exactly the ways in which the laws do change.  The customs on which those laws are founded, however, the mores—those will be harder to alter on American soil than they had been in antiquity because race plays such a major factor.

Tocqueville also mentions that the blacks are debased both by European prejudice and by the institution of slavery that eventual integration between the two races seems impossible.  The Negro represents a “stranger that slavery introduced among us” in whom “we scarcely acknowledge the general features of humanity” (551).  Somewhat counterintuitively, Tocqueville addresses how non-institutionalized racism is “stronger in the states that have abolished slavery than in those where slavery still exists, and nowhere does it appear as intolerant as in the states where servitude has always been unknown” (553).  Following the tendencies of a democratic order, the will of men becomes buried under their laws, while their unspoken prejudices guide their society comes out through their mores.  Prejudice runs roughshod across the states where abolition has succeeded and slavery is not present.  Tocqueville speaks at some length about the lack of legal restrictions in most such states concerning freemen to vote, to initiate interracial marriage, and to engage in typical acts of congregation with whites.  None of these were expressly forbidden by law, and yet, for instance, “opinion declares vile the white who joins in marriage with a Negro woman” (554).

And yet, “[i]n the South where slavery still exists, Negroes are less carefully kept aside”, Tocqueville writes; “[l]egislation is more harsh in their regard; habits are more tolerant and milder” (555).  The racism of the South was held in check by the legal restrictions placed upon the freedom of blacks; as a result, the whites of the South were more prone to treating blacks with more respect.  Their children often played together, their men often labored in the same fields side by side, and frequently enjoyed leisure on the same porches and in the same houses.  The legal distinctions between the races never made the whites in power afraid of the blacks in the same manner that the whites of the North feared integration.

Tocqueville asks the question of why, if the North had succeeded in legislating the abolition of slavery in their territories, the states of the South did not do the same.  The answer, says, is easy: “[s]lavery is being destroyed in the United States not in the interest of the Negroes, but in that of the whites” (555).  He notes how, from the time in 1621 when Virginia first introduced the slave trade in the American colonies, the territories that relied on slavery did not grow in population and economy as those in which slavery was in ill favor, if not outright banned.  He points to the differences between Ohio, a free state, and Kentucky, a slave state, as specific examples:

“On the left bank of the Ohio work merges with the idea of slavery; on the right bank, with that of well-being and progress; there it is debased, here it is honored.  On the left bank of the river you cannot find workers belonging to the white race; they would be afraid of resembling slaves; you must rely on the efforts of Negroes.  On the right bank you would look in vain for someone idle; the white extends his activity and his intelligence to all undertakings.

Thus the men who in Kentucky are charged with exploiting the natural riches of the soil have neither enthusiasm nor enlightenment; while those who could have these two things do nothing or go into Ohio in order to make use of their industry and to be able to exercise it without shame.” (558)

Work, when reduced to slavery, ceases to be a practice in which men find merit and value.  The slave toils without legitimate social compensation; he is taken care of as an animal rather than being recognized as a man whose responsibilities to himself and his kin are measured by the marks of his freedom.  Establish an economy upon which slavery is accepted and encouraged, and the result is an economy in which workers are compelled to work begrudgingly, where no pride is taken in work, and where social value of work is degraded as a means toward the accumulation of wealth.

A more contemporary argument that makes the same fundamental assertion can be found from purely economic theories.  A market in which labor is free to an entrepreneur hamstrings any workers seeking to find gainful employment.  Economies in which the labor supply is split between those who must work for free and those who must work for a wage obviously tilt in the direction against those who need wages.  Labor markets that are split in such a way are even less likely to grow than those which are merely unbalanced by disproportionate amounts of low-wage workers versus higher-wage ones.  Remove the question of wages from an entire sector of the market and economic growth plummets in comparison to economies in which wages are always a factor.  The only people who profit are the ones who can already afford to own the people who do not get paid.  Tocqueville’s comments on the differences between Northern and Southern—free and slave—economies evidence such concerns.

Tocqueville also comments briefly on the diminishing returns presented to masters of slaves in the expense of raising, caring for, housing, and feeding slaves; meanwhile, the slave’s productivity is motivated out of fear of punishment rather than out of the honor of compensation or even out of the hope of reward.  The result is that “in reality the slave has cost more than the free man, and his efforts have been less productive” (559).

The institution of slavery, in the North, was pruned piece by piece, first through the banning of the transatlantic slave trade, then through the declaration that children born to slaves are freemen, then through the prohibition of transporting slaves through free states, and finally through waiting out the generation and banning slavery altogether in those states.  Tocqueville explains how this process pushed slavery into the South, where the institution already had a foothold.  The abolition of Northern states thus cemented the status of the institution in states that lagged behind.

The blacks in the free states, however, are left in a bad spot.  Tocqueville writes of how “they remain half civilized and deprived of rights amid a population that is infinitely superior to them in wealth and enlightenment”, and how “they have against them the memories of slavery, and they cannot claim possession of a single piece of land”; ultimately, “many succumb to their misery; others concentrate in cities where, undertaking the roughest work, they lead a precarious and miserable existence” (565).

The subject of ethno-statism becomes a clearer and more likely alternative to parallel living arrangements in the South at the time of Tocqueville’s travels.  Eventually, he believes, at such point that slavery is eventually abolished, the blacks of the South will be so numerous, so burdened by the memory of slavery, so prejudiced in their mores, and so disadvantaged in their ‘enlightenment’ that coexistence will become unlikely if not impossible.  He writes:

“Whatever the period of the struggle must be, the whites of the South left to themselves will moreover present themselves in the contest with an immense superiority of enlightenment and means; but the Blacks will have for them numbers and the energy of despair.  Those are great resources when you have weapons in hand.  Perhaps what happened to the Moors of Spain will then happen to the white race of the South (something not very probable, it is true).  After occupying the country for centuries, it will finally withdraw little by little toward the country from which its ancestors came in the past, abandoning to the Negroes the possession of a country that Providence seems to intend for the latter, since they live there without difficulty and work more easily there than whites.” (575)

Tocqueville leaves unsaid the hundred-year long Reconquista which encouraged Moorish migration out of the Iberian Peninsula in his analogy, but the point remains.  There is a fear, he explains, in the North, of a freed black population, even if the effects of it would have little impact on Northern social, political, or economic life.  Of the South, however, the conversation goes utterly unspoken; whatever fears exist in the South at this time, they are silent.

However, on a similar note of ethno-nationalism, Tocqueville comments on the existence of Liberia.  In 1820, the American Colonization Society founded a settlement nearby Guinea, and thousands of former slaves and freemen of the United States immigrated there to establish their own independence.  “Transported to their former country,” Tocqueville writes, “the Blacks have introduced American institutions there.  Liberia has a representative system, Negro jurors, Negro magistrates, Negro priests; you see churches and newspapers there, and by a singular turn of the vicissitudes of this world whites are forbidden to settle within its walls” (576).  Liberia then offers to the blacks of the New World a possibility of a free society that has answered the prejudice of the American institutions with their own ethnic solution, so long as those blacks were willing to make the voyage.

But Tocqueville returns again to the problem that faces the South.  The slavery of the South remains different to the slavery abolished by the North for a couple of reasons.  First, the principle crops of the South are cotton, tobacco, and sugarcane—each crops that require year-round maintenance and large groups of people to manage; Northern agricultural slavery proved too burdensome on farms that predominantly grew wheat or corn, which needs far fewer hands to manage until only a few weeks during the harvest season.  Secondly, due to the North having abandoned slavery much earlier, and abandoned their slave markets, the pressure of the institution become more entrenched in Southern social life than it ever was in the North.

He finishes his section on the American Black with this ominous warning:

“If you refuse liberty to the Negroes of the South, they will end by seizing it violently themselves; if you grant it to them, they will not take long to abuse it.” (582)

Longevity of the American Union

In the following section, Tocqueville analyzes the “probable fate of the Union”, intending “to show what are the causes that can lead to the dismemberment of the current confederation” (583).  The Union, he begins, was instituted not to be a single government to rule over a single people directly; rather, its existence served merely to regulate the various states.  “To the Union reverted the direction of all general interests,” he writes, “to the states the government of all special and provincial interests” (583).

Tocqueville uses this section to briefly reiterate much of what he covered in the rest of the book: the importance of the provincial governments, the ever-presence of laws and the political state on the local level, the seeming invisibility of national government in the common life, and the manner in which the complex systems of governments all correlate to one another from the town up through to the federal levels.  The centralized laws that hold the federal system together “give the central government a strength” that the confederation’s “memories, customs, [and] habits” deny; patriotism is best served up to the states rather than to the Union as a whole (588).

The Union is thus quite weak in comparison to the government of the states.  “Every time that an obstinate resistance is put up against the federal government, you will see it yield”, he writes, commenting further on how the Union frequently finds itself unable to command states so much as appeal to reason and advise its conduct (590).  Forebodingly, he continues: “[t]he United States covers an immense territory; long distances separate the states; the population is spread over a country still half wilderness.  If the Union took arms to hold the confederated states to their duty, its position would be analogous to that of England at the time of the War of Independence” (591-592).

Tocqueville, conceiving the Union in much the same way as Southern secessionists would in the following decade, believes that the Union was very much dissoluble.  The Union itself was “useful to all the states” but remained “essential to none”, he explains; “if one portion of the Union wanted seriously to separate from the other, not only would you not be able to prevent it from doing so, but you would not even be tempted to try” (593).  Things certainly changed between the years of 1829 and 1861, but his words, though proven wrong, mark the harbinger of doom that was to come.

Although the individual states do form distinct polities with distinct cultures, they are not, in essence, wholly separate nations.  The South’s agricultural economy relies on crops that would make it infeasible for any one state to fully separate from the Union, and the same could be said for any of the manufacturing hubs of the North or the Midwest.  Meanwhile, militarily-speaking, the Union’s biggest strength is the combined defense of its seaboard against foreign invasion or blockade.

But he goes further in describing the integration of the Union as a single nation:

“I will never admit that men form a society by the sold fact that they acknowledge the same leader and obey the same laws; there is a society only when men consider a great number of objects in the same way; when they have the same opinions on a great number of subjects; when, finally, the same facts give rise among them to the same impressions and the same thoughts.” (598)

The United States, he explains, remains a coherent people because they all agree on the same general conceptions of Man, State, and God.  They may not agree on the manner in which these ideas manifest—how Man should act, how the State should govern, and the worship of God, for instance—but the framework that holds it all together is essentially the same.  “They conceive the same ideas on liberty and equality”, Tocqueville writes, “the same opinions on the press, the right of association, the jury, the responsibility of the agents of power” (599).

Amusingly, on the subject of the moral union of America, Tocqueville comments that there is a distinctly prideful character of the American people that is generally lacking from the peoples of Europe.  Nationalism and civic patriotism exist, certainly, but Americans recognize, at the time of Tocqueville’s travels, that they “form the only religious, enlightened and free people… so they have an immense opinion of themselves, and they are not far from believing that they form a species apart in the human race” (600-601).  This affects the whole Union, and to a degree, strengthens its cohesiveness.

What can threaten the cohesiveness, however, is the social mores and ethos of the distinctive Southern and Northern cultures.  Slavery, Tocqueville comments again, has created a society of men in the South whose attitudes are unrecognizable to their English kin of the North.  He says quite succinctly that the Southerner “is more spontaneous, more witty, more open, more generous, more intellectual and more brilliant” whereas the Northerner “is more active, more reasonable, more enlightened and more skillful… the one has the tastes, prejudices, weaknesses and the grandeur of all aristocracies” while “the other, the qualities and failings that characterize the middle class” (602-603).  Even in a society in which their interests are shared, their beliefs are shared, and their opinions are more or less the same, the differences in demeanor and attitude are enough to create irascible conflicts.

The problem gets more complex: the population and geographical size of America seems to double almost every twenty-two years, Tocqueville explains.  Given such swift growth and the size that such a nation encompasses, he writes that, even should these men remain united in opinions and beliefs, “by the very fact that they are one hundred million, forming forty distinct and unequally powerful nations, the maintenance of a federal government is nothing more than a happy accident” (605).  Naturally, that being a reasonable conclusion, it suffices to say that the government that existed a hundred years after his prediction had undergone drastic changes in structure merely to accommodate the growth of its territory, population, and ethnic composition.  He further goes on to remark how the Southern states, in particular, feel threatened by the population booms of the Northern and more industrialized centers; this population boom allows them more leverage over the Union’s political apparatus, often embroiling the South in tariff and economic policies that undermine Southern competitiveness.  Sentiments in the South, even at the time of Tocqueville’s travels, consist of a constant fear and distress: “examining the past, it wonders each day if it is not oppressed.  If it comes to find a law of the Union not clearly favorable to it, it cries out that it is being abused by force” (610).  The sheer numbers of the population, coupled with Federalist representative government, have pressured Southern interests into a nonstop game of reactionary cries.

It is thus Americans’ “very prosperity” which is “the greatest danger” to threaten it, according to Tocqueville; as even the poorest states grow richer faster than many of their Old World ancestor-peoples, but the difference in growth rate between them and their immediate neighbors sparks conflict and sentiments of resentment (611).

The strength of the Federal government, at the time of Tocqueville’s writing, was significantly diminished since its formulation in 1789.  He writes of how the anarchic period that facilitated the Constitution’s writing enabled “the interpretation of the Constitution … to expand rather than narrow federal sovereignty” (615).  As a result, the nation consolidated politically beneath the centralized legislative body, and became a small, fledgling world power.  But as Americans enjoyed the fruit of that success, they turned back to their communities and states, to a degree such that “every time the government of the Union entered into a contest with that of the states, it has almost never ceased to retreat” (616).  The Union ended up being led by the very people who disdained the existence of the Federal government itself.

Tocqueville takes a few pages to discuss the tariff affair that pressured South Carolina nearly into outright secession in the 1830s, before moving on to address President Andrew Jackson as a key example of the Federal government’s gradual decentralization and democratization.  Far from being a dictator that he was feared to have been, Tocqueville writes:

“Far from wanting to extend federal power, the current President represents, on the contrary, the party that wants to restrict this power to the clearest and most precise terms of the Constitution, and that does not accept any interpretation that can ever be favorable to the government of the Union; far from presenting himself as the champion of centralization, General Jackson is the agent of provincial jealousies; it is the decentralizing passions (if I can express myself in this way) that brought him to sovereign power.  He remains and prospers there by flattering these passions each day.  General Jackson is a slave to the majority; he follows it in its will, in its desires, in its half-discovered instincts, or rather he divines it and runs to put himself at its head.” (624-625)

The section closes as Tocqueville ruminates on how long the Union itself can last; internal struggle, from the sources of racial, cultural, and sentimental differences, are more likely to drive the various states away from one another more than any foreign threat is likely to destroy the Union.  The power of the Federal government seems to recede and the political organization of the Union at its highest levels seems weaker than even at its conception.  Tocqueville recognizes the storm that brews amid the turmoil of the American mid-Nineteenth Century, though he does not comprehend—as no one does yet—the magnitude of the hellfire to come.

Republican Institutions and Commercial Greatness

“The Union is an accident that will only last as long as circumstances favor it,” Tocqueville begins, “but the republic seems to me the natural state of the Americans, and only the continuous action of contrary causes acting always in the same way could replace it with monarchy” (627).  The structure of the states’ polities, their social mores, and the staunch individualism of the average American all make the sort of bureaucratic centralization necessary for a totalitarian regime very difficult to establish.  The diversity of men’s sentiments have forged a democratic character that will last in the nation even if the nation’s Union is disrupted or sundered.

There is a danger to be found, however, in the dictatorship of elected officials, as Tocqueville has noted numerous times in the previous pages.  “What you can foresee from now on is that by leaving the republic the Americans would pass rapidly to despotism, without stopping for a very long time at monarchy”, he explains, and notes how if “Napoleon had followed Louis XIV… he would have shown himself more stable but not as absolute as he was.  Napoleon following a representative of the people could do anything” (635).  The democratic instincts cannot conceive of monarchical instincts; when absolute power is manifested within a single individual through democratic means, the result is always tyranny and never likely to be undone without the use of brute force.

Meanwhile, Tocqueville notes that he “cannot believe that [Americans] will ever grant the exclusive use of those rights to a particular class of citizens or, in other words, that they will establish an aristocracy”:

“An aristocratic body is composed of a certain number of citizens who, without being placed very far from the crowd, raise themselves nonetheless in a permanent manner above it; you touch and cannot strike them; you mix with them each day, and cannot merge with them.” (636)

Aristocratic bodies, he believes, do not arise naturally out of free societies.  They are antithetical to the very nature of an order founded on individual liberty and appeals to the natural rights of all men.  As such, they must act upon laws that are created by force and through coercion.  In fact, “all the aristocracies of the Middle Ages are daughters of conquest” he writes, being legitimized only by the laws and the passage of time (636).

Tocqueville’s attention shifts now to America’s unique interest in commercial endeavors and the degree to which Americans prosper in them.  The maritime tradition of the American continent, coupled with the vast Eastern seaboard that stretches from the North Atlantic Maine to the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, entrench America’s status as a major trader in the global marketplace.  Likewise, the plethora of natural resources and the high volume of industry and agriculture ensure that the United States has numerous surplus products to sell to other countries, particularly Europe.

It is also the American’s general tendency to prioritize success over his own safety that Tocqueville notes is a source of America’s commercial success.  The dangers Americans frequently brave on the high seas, owing less to standards and regulations than their Old World counterparts often do, results in more shipwrecks but, often, greater rewards.  “I cannot express my thought better than by saying that the Americans put a kind of heroism in their way of doing commerce”, he writes (641).

Tocqueville believes that the geographical makeup and social state of the United States position it to rule—if not directly then by trade and economy—the other nations on the American continents.  Due to the various geneses of those countries, their peoples are less enlightened and more prone to violence and despotism than the Anglo-American experiment to their north.  American commercial interests, Tocqueville believes, would find those markets irresistible.

He concludes chapter ten with the prediction that America’s naval and maritime dominance, regardless of whether the Union remains together or if it fractures, will only increase.  England’s rule of the seas has been long, but the American’s nature and sense of heroism in their endeavors, along with the example they have successfully set for other Enlightened nations, will push their commerce and their politics beyond their shores.  “They are pushed to take possession of the seas,” he concludes, “as the Romans to conquer the world” (648).


Volume I concludes with a brief exegesis of the general sentiment of the entire work: that Anglo-American domination of the New World seems inevitable, and that the reason for this lies in both their own steadfast attendance to individualism as well as the prevailing winds of Enlightenment that push European peoples forward out of the dark ages.  Whatever can be critiqued in this conclusion would merely be commenting on a shadow of the details he expounded upon earlier in the text.  America, Tocqueville believes, is an inevitable future that Europe will be pulled toward emulating; ever prophetic, he seemed to have been, in his own way, mostly right after all.

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