Friday, July 29, 2011

Happy Birthday, Alexis

Alexis de Tocquevillede Tocqueville, that is - born in 1805.

"He went with his best friend, Gustave de Beaumont, and after a brief stop in Newport, they arrived in Manhattan at sunrise May 11, 1831. Over the course of the next nine months, Tocqueville and his friend traveled more than 7,000 miles, using every vehicle then in existence, including steamer, stage-coach, and horse, going as far west as Green Bay, Wisconsin, and as far south as New Orleans. He interviewed everyone he met: workmen, doctors, professors, as well as famous men, such as Daniel Webster, Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, and Charles Carroll, the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence and the richest man in America. At the end of nine months, Tocqueville went back to France, and in less than a year, he had finished his masterpiece, Democracy in America (1835)." [quoted from The Writer's Almanac]
America demonstrates invincibly one thing that I had doubted up to now: that the middle classes can govern a State. ... Despite their small passions, their incomplete education, their vulgar habits, they can obviously provide a practical sort of intelligence and that turns out to be enough.
It would be nice to think our passions aren't necessarily so "small", nor our intelligence just "practical" that they won't be "enough" this time around, wouldn't it?



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