From Tocqueville on President’s Day

“The civilization of New England has been like a beacon, lit upon a hill, which, after it has diffused its warmth immediately around it, also tinges the distant horizon with its glow.”

“The foundation of New England was a novel spectacle,” not by “speculators and adventurers greedy of gain.”

“The settlers all belonged to the more independent classes.”

“These men possessed… a greater mass of intelligence than is to be found in any European nation of our own time..”

“The immigrants of New England brought with them the best elements of order and morality; they landed on the desert coast accompanied by their wives and children.”

“But what especially distinguished them from all others was the aim in their undertaking. They had not been obliged by necessity to leave their country; the social position they abandonded was one to be regretted, and their means of subsistence were certain. Nor did they cross the Atlantic to improve their situation or to increase their wealth; it was a purely intellectual craving that called them from the comforts of the former homes; and in facing the inevitable sufferings of exile their object was the triumph of an idea.”

“The Puritans went forth to seek some rude and unfrequented part of the world where they could live according to their own opinions and worship God in freedom.”


Alexis de Tocqueville, of French nobility, traveled America in the early 1800s and recorded his insights in “Democracy in America”, a book ¬†pertinent even now, two centuries past.


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