Principium Volume I, Book 4, Quote 542, 544, 546

542. (A note on education)ATJ The observer who is desirous of forming an opinion on the state of instruction (education)ATJ amongst [sic] the Anglo-Americans must consider the same object from two different points of view. If he only singles out the learned, he will be astonished to find how rare they are; but if he counts the ignorant, the American people will appear to be the most enlightened community in the world. The whole population…is situated between these two extremes. In New England, every citizen receives the elementary notions of human knowledge; he is more over taught the doctrines and the evidences of his religion, the history of his country, and the leading features of its Constitution.

- Alexis de Toqueville – Democracy in America, 1835


544. (10-29-2009) (A discussion on early Americans)ATJ The Americans never use the word “peasant,” because they have no idea of the peculiar class which that term denotes; the ignorance of more remote ages, the simplicity of rural life, and the rusticity of the villager have not been preserved amongst [sic] them; and they are alike unacquainted with the virtues, and the vices, the coarse habits, and the simple graces of an early stage of civilization. At the extreme borders of the Confederate States upon the confines of society and of the wilderness, a population of bold adventurers have taken up there abode, who pierce the solitudes [sic] of the American woods, and seek a country there, in order to escape that poverty which awaited them in their native provinces. As soon as the pioneer arrives upon the spot which is to serve him for a retreat, he fells a few trees and builds a log house. Nothing can offer a more miserable aspect than these isolated dwellings. The traveler who approaches one of them towards nightfall, see the flicker of the hearth-flame through the chincks [sic] in the walls; and at night, if the wind rises, he hears the roof of boughs shake to and fro in the midst of the great forest trees. Who would not suppose that this poor hut is the asylum of rudeness and ignorance? Yet no sort of comparison can be drawn between the pioneer and the dwelling which shelters him. Everything about him is primitive and unformed, but he is himself the result of the labor and the experience of eighteen centuries. He wears the dress, and he speaks the language of cities; he is acquainted with the past, curious of the future, and ready for argument upon the present; he is, in short, a highly civilized being, who consents, for a time, to inhabit the backwoods, and who penetrates into the wilds of the New World with the Bible, and axe [sic], and a file of newspapers.

- Alexis de Toqueville – Democracy in America, 1835


546. (11-2-2009) Nature offers the solitudes [sic] of the New World to Europeans; but they are not always acquainted with the means of turning her gifts to account. Other peoples of America (South America)ATJ have the same physical conditions of prosperity as the Anglo-Americans, but without their law and their manners (the moral and intellectual characteristics of social man taken collectively); and these people are wretched. The laws and manners of the Anglo-Americans are therefore that efficient cause of their greatness which is the object of my inquiry.

- Alexis de Toqueville – Democracy in America, 1835

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