portrait of Alexis de Tocqueville

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Quotes of the Day for 29 July 2002 – de Tocqueville

Alexis de Tocqueville was born at Paris, France on this day in 1805. He visited the US for the first time in 1831 for the purpose of investigating the penitentiary system, but spent nine months traveling and observing all facets of American life, society, government, and customs. He wrote Democracy in America (Volume I, 1835 and Volume II, 1840) based on his observations. The book analyzed early America with great insight and optimism, and is widely studied to this day. Here are some of his observations.

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The quotes:

America is a land of wonders, in which everything is in constant motion and every change seems an improvement. No natural boundary seems to be set to the efforts of man; and in his eyes what is not yet done is only what he has not attempted to do.

America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.

What good is it to me, after all, if there is an authority always busy to see to the tranquil enjoyment of my pleasures and going ahead to brush all dangers away from my path without giving me even the trouble to think about it, if that authority, which protects me from the smallest thorns on my journey, is also the absolute master of my liberty and of my life?

The American Republic will endure, until politicians realize they can bribe the people with their own money.

We succeed in enterprises which demand the positive qualities we possess, but we excel in those which can also make use of our defects.
     - Today's quotes are all from Alexis de Tocqueville, 1805 - 1859


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