Democracy in America V 1.doc

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Political Science
POL 1201
Elizabeth Beaumont

Democracy in America Volume 1 American and the Development of Democratic Culture • 17th Century: North American colonization begins • 1776: Circulation of democratic ideas among masses contributes to American Revolution ◦ Ex: Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" • 1790s: Civic associations become a central mode of mass democratic action (ex: Sons of Liberty) • 1828: Andrew Jackson is elected as 7th President of the United States ◦ Democratic Party becomes first mass-based party in history Central points: democratic values and customs become increasingly tied into political institutions Post-Revoltuion France and the Eclipse of Aristocratic Privilege • 1789-1799: French Revolution: Jacobins behead Kind Louis XVI and confiscate aristocratic and church property • 1799: Napoleon stages a coup and comes to power, inaugurating the First French Empire • 1814: Napoleon invades Russia and is eventually defeated • 1815: Bourbon restoration (the line of kingship that ruled France prior to the Revolution returns to power) • 1830: July Revolution: Charles X (Bourbon King) abdicates the throne to Louis-Phillipe (Duke of Orleans) in the July Revolution ◦ Louis-Phillipe instituties a liberal, constitutional monarchy France, like America, was getting swept up in the modern, democratic revolution. Aristocratic society was being replaced by a liberal, democratic society. Tocqueville's Life and the Journey to America • Tocqueville's task was to understand new social features that were becoming central to modern life and how they relate to democracy • Born in 1805 to an aristocratic family loyal to the Bourbon monarchy • Tocqueville at first refused to take the oath to the new Orleans monarchy, but was persuaded by his life-long friend Gustave de Beaumont • Travled to America with Beaumont in 1831 to study the American prison system, commissioned by the French government Tocqueville's Historical Timeline • In the Author's introduction, he explains that he sees movement toward democracy as an inevitable part of the course of the progress of human civilization ◦ He tried to explain the trajectory leading to an inevitable or Providential "tide" of democracy ◦ He is deeply ambivalent about the move toward democracy Tocqueville's Comparative Method: Between Two Worlds America France New World Old World Democracy Aristocracy Equality of Conditions Nobility/Society Privilege Freedom Lordship/Servitude • Historical and social comparison between these two worlds ◦ American represents the best possible future for modern democracy; France embodies the archaic remnants of a dying form of society • "I confess that, in America, I saw more than America; I sought there the image of democracy itself, with its inclinations, its character, its prejudices, and its passions, in order to learn what we have to fear or to hope from its progress." The Democratic Revolution • A revolution in ideas, relations, and culture connected to institutions ◦ Tocqueville thinks of democracy in a radically different way from the social contract theorists for whom democracy was primarily an arrangement of institutions and political procedures that allowed communities to achieve common ideals and ensure security of individual rights and private property through law • Founding documents such as the Declaration and the Constitution (influenced by Lockean contract theory) are mere proclamations overlaying cultural values and religion A "New Science of Politics" for a New World • Democratic Socia
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