Although America does not yet have a great capital, it already has some very large cities. . .In its midst one also finds hordes of Europeans driven to the shores of the New World every day by misfortune and mischief. These people bring our worst vices with them to the United States, and they have none of the interests that could combat the influence of those vices. As residents of the country but not citizens, they are quick to take advantage of all the passions simmering within it. There have recently been serious riots in Philadelphia and New York, for example.
produced, I see the entire destiny of America embodied in the first Puritan to land on its shores, just as the entire human race was embodied in the first man.
Chancellor Kent, in his Commentaries on American Law, says that “there can be no doubt that the division of estates must produce great evils if carried to an extreme, such that each portion of land can no longer provide for the maintenance of a family; but these disadvantages have never been felt in the United States, and many generations will pass before they are felt. The extent of our uninhabited territory, the abundance of land available to us, and the constant stream of emigration from the Atlantic coast to the interior of the country suffice to prevent the parceling out of estates, and will suffice for a long time to come.”
Three things seem to contribute more than all others to the persistence of the democratic republic in the New World: The first is the federal form that the Americans have adopted, which allows the Union to enjoy the power of a great republic and the security of a small one.Does this still hold true?The second I see in local institutions, which not only moderate the despotism of the majority but also foster a taste for liberty among the people and teach them the art of being free.Do we take advantage of this enough to provide all of the benefits Tocqueville describes?The third is to be found in the constitution of judicial power. I have shown how much the courts serve to correct the aberrations of democracy and how, without ever thwarting the impulses of the majority, the courts are able to slow them down and guide them.
About Protestantism I would say the opposite: it generally encourages not so much equality as independence.
Thus American Catholics are at once the most docile believers and the most independent citizens.
While I was in America, a witness in a court in Chester County (New York) stated that he did not believe in the existence of God or the immortality of the soul. The presiding judge refused to swear him in on the grounds that the witness had destroyed in advance any credibility that his testimony might possess. The newspapers reported the incident without commentary.
Americans so completely confound Christianity with liberty that it is almost impossible to induce them to think of one without the other. For them, moreover, this is by no means a sterile belief, a legacy of the past that lies moldering in the depths of the soul, but a vital article of faith.
MarylandArticle 37: “That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God; nor shall the Legislature prescribe any other oath of office than the oath prescribed by this Constitution.”MississippiArticle 14, section 265: “No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this State.”. . .https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...
A 2014 Pew poll found 53 percent of Americans think it’s necessary to believe in God to be moral, and a 2012 Gallup poll found 43 percent of voters would not vote for a candidate who was atheist.
Although religion cannot moderate his ardor for riches, which everything conspires to arouse, it nevertheless reigns supreme over the soul of woman, and it is woman who shapes mores. Of all the countries in the world, America is surely the one in which the marriage bond is most respected, and in which people subscribe to the loftiest and most just ideal of conjugal happiness.
In Europe, virtually all social disorders are born at home, close to the hearth and not far from the marriage bed. It is at home that men become scornful of natural ties and permissible pleasures and acquire a taste for disorder; their hearts grow anxious and their desires fickle. The European, agitated by the same tumultuous passions that have so often proved troublesome at home, finds it hard to submit to the legislative powers of the state. When an American leaves the discord of the political world behind and returns to the bosom of his family, he is greeted at once by an image of order and peace. There, all his pleasures are simple and natural, all his joys tranquil and innocent. And since it is regularity in life that brings him happiness, he readily becomes accustomed to regulating his opinions as well as his tastes. While the European seeks to escape his domestic woes by stirring up trouble in society, the American’s home is the well from which he draws his love of order, which he then carries over into affairs of state.
Religious zeal, [the philosophers of the eighteenth century] said, was bound to dwindle as liberty and enlightenment increased. Unfortunately, the facts do not bear this theory out.
As long as a religion rests solely on sentiments that console man in his misery, it can win the affection of the human race. But when it embraces the bitter passions of this world, it may be forced to defend allies acquired through interest rather than love, and it must reject as adversaries men who love it still even as they do battle with its allies. Religion cannot share the material might of those who govern without incurring some of the hatred they inspire. . . whenever a religion joins forces with political powers of any kind, the alliance is bound to be onerous for religion. It has no need of their help to live, and in serving them it may die.
Religion in America is perhaps less powerful than it has been at certain times in certain other countries, but its influence is more durable. It has been reduced to its own forces, which no one can take away. Its influence is limited to a particular sphere, but there it is pervasive and dominates effortlessly.
Anyone who wants to judge the state of enlightenment among the Anglo-Americans must therefore look at the same object from two different angles. If he pays attention only to the learned, he will be astonished by their small number. And if he counts the ignorant, the American people will seem the most enlightened on earth. The population as a whole falls between these two extremes . . .
Now, each year, the sons of these same Americans take not only their households but their acquired knowledge and respect for learning with them into the wilderness.
Americans so completely confound Christianity with liberty that it is almost impossible to induce them to think of one without the other.
The organization and establishment of democracy among Christians is the great political problem of our time. To be sure, the Americans have not solved this problem, but they offer useful instruction to those who wish to do so.
The will of a democracy is changeable; its agents are crude; its laws are imperfect — all this I grant. But if it were true that soon there is to be no intermediate between the empire of democracy and the yoke of one man, should we not strive toward the former rather than submit voluntarily to the latter? And if complete equality were ultimately inevitable, would it not be better to choose to be leveled by liberty rather than by a despot?
. . .They are the product of history and not of philosophy. You can construct a nation on an idea; but you cannot reconstruct a nation on the basis of one.
a lady asked Dr. Franklin, well Doctor what we gota republic or a monarchy—A republic replied the Doctor, if you can keep it.https://blogs.loc.gov/teachers/2016/0...
For Catholics, religious society consists of just two elements: the priest and the people. Only the priest stands above the faithful: below him, everyone else is equal. . .. . .Catholicism is like an absolute monarchy. [However,] remove the prince [or consider the priest as an equal as is the case in a democracy of equal conditions] and you are left with conditions more equal than in any republic.
As for dogma, Catholicism sets one standard for every level of intelligence: scholar or ignoramus, genius or man of the people, the same faith is prescribed in detail for all. The same practices are imposed on rich and poor, the same austerities inflicted on the powerful and the weak. Catholicism makes no compromise with any mortal, and by applying the same standard to all human beings, it likes to blend all classes of society into one worshiping at the same altar, just as they are one in the eyes of God.
Once priests are excluded from government, or exclude themselves as they have done in the United States, no faith does more than the Catholic faith to encourage adepts [others instead of the clergy themselves] to take the idea of equality of conditions and carry it over into the world of politics.
Most Catholics are poor, and if they are to take part in government at all, it is imperative that all citizens govern. Catholics are in the minority, and if they are to enjoy free exercise of their rights, it is imperative that all rights be respected. These two causes lead them, unwittingly to be sure, to adopt political doctrines that they might be less ardent to embrace if they were wealthy and numerically predominant.
The Catholic priests of America have divided the intellectual world into two parts: in one they have left revealed dogmas, to which they submit without discussion; in the other they have placed political truth, and this they believe God has left for man to investigate freely. Thus American Catholics are at once the most docile believers and the most independent citizens.
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