Talk:Alexis de Tocqueville

From Wikiquote
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The alleged quote "Democracy and socialism..." does not occur in "Democracy in America" The word socialism does not occur.

Pepper 11:34, 3 November 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

erroneous Tocqueville quote[edit]

"It's not an endlessly expanding list of rights -- the 'right' to education, the 'right' to health care, the 'right' to food and housing. That's not freedom, that's dependency. Those aren't rights, those are the rations of slavery -- hay and a barn for human cattle." From P. J. O'Rourke, at a May 6, 1993 gala dinner celebrating the opening of the Cato Institute's new headquarters in Washington. See

"America is great because she is good"[edit]

Although I'm pretty certain that this is not from De Tocqueville, we can trace it further back than 1941 via Google Book Search. For example, this one from 1930. There's also a 1928 speech by Senator Henry F. Ashurst where the New York Times quotes him as saying "When America ceases to be good America will cease to be great," but it's not clear if he is citing de Tocqueville.

There's an earlier version of the quote that goes back to at least 1886. In Madison Clinton Peters' book Empty Pews & Selections from Other Sermons on Timely Topics, there's this:

Some years ago, De Tochneville, the distinguished

French statesman, was commissioned by his country for the purpose of studying the genius of our institutions. In reporting to the French Senate, he said: “I went at your bidding, and passed along their thoroughfares of trade. I ascended their mountains and went down their valleys. I visited their manufactories, their commercial markets, and emporiums of trade. I entered their judicial courts and legislative halls. But I sought everywhere in vain for the secret of their success, until I entered the church. It was there, as I listened to the soul-equalizing and soul- elevating principles of the Gospel of Christ, as they fell from Sabbath to Sabbath upon the masses of the people, that I learned why America was great and free, and why France was a slave.”

He misspelled de Tocqueville, but it's spelled correctly in this 1888 item from Manual of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

KHirsch 05:52, 24 December 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Now I can find version 2 of the quote all the way back to September, 1922. KHirsch 04:52, 28 January 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

One thing I noted is that The Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers attributes this quote “Antedating our history, possessing and illumining the hearts of the founders of liberty in our free land, and constantly exerting the soul-equalizing and soul-elevating principles of the gospel of Christ as they fall from Sabbath to Sabbath on the masses of the people, the Christian church stands before all men as the pillar and ground of civil liberty in the world.” to W. H. Perrine, who died in 1881.


Wikiquote no longer allows unsourced quotations, and they are in process of being removed from our pages (see Wikiquote:Limits on quotations); but if you can provide a reliable and precise source for any quote on this list please move it to Alexis de Tocqueville. --Antiquary 20:47, 1 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • The health of a democratic society may be measured by the quality of functions performed by private citizens.
  • There are many men of principle in both parties in America, but there is no party of principle.
  • What is the most important for democracy is not that great fortunes should not exist, but that great fortunes should not remain in the same hands. In that way there are rich men, but they do not form a class.
  • Grant me thirty years of equal division of inheritances and a free press, and I will provide you with a republic.
  • Those that despise people will never get the best out of others and themselves.
  • We succeed in enterprises which demand the positive qualities we possess, but we excel in those which can also make use of our defects.
  • It is easier for the world to accept a simple lie than a complex truth.
  • Life is to be entered upon with courage.