ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE OBSERVATIONS ON AMERICA
Alexis De Tocqueville (French diplomat, political scientist, and historian) visited America in 1831 and following his visit he wrote the widely acclaimed book, Democracy In America. These four quotes from the book show the importance of religion, especially Christianity, in America during the Founding era – emphasis added.
The religious aspect of the country…
On my arrival in United States it was the religious aspect of the country that first struck my eye. As I prolonged my stay, I perceived the great political consequences that flowed from these new facts.
Among us, I had seen the spirit of religions and the spirit of freedom always move in contrary directions. Here I found them united intimately with one another: they reigned together on the same soil.
Democracy in America, Vol. 1, Part 2.9, “On the Principle Causes That Make Religion Powerful in America,” 1835.
Freedom cannot do without faith…
Despotism can do without faith, but freedom cannot. Religion is much more necessary in the republic they extol than in the monarchy they attack, and in democratic republics more than all others. How could society fail to perish if, while the political bond is relaxed, the moral bond is not tightened? And what makes a people master of itself if it has not submitted to God?
Democracy in America, Vol. 1, Part 2.9, “Indirect Influence That Religious Beliefs Exert on Political Society in the United States,” 1835
Religion necessary to the Republic…
I do not know if all Americans have faith in their religion – for who can read the bottom of their hearts? – but I am sure that they believe [religion] is necessary to the republican institutions. This opinion does not belong only to one class of citizens or to one party, but to the entire nation; one finds it in all ranks.
Democracy in America, Vol. 1, Part 2.9, “Indirect Influence That Religious Beliefs Exert on Political Society in the United States,” 1835.
The Christian religion has preserved …
America is, however, still the place in the world where the Christian religion has preserved genuine power over souls; and nothing shows this better how useful and natural to man it is in our day, since the country in which it exercises the greatest empire is at the same time the most enlightened and most free.
Democracy in America, Vol. 1, Part 2.9, “Indirect Influence That Religious Beliefs Exert on Political Society in the United States,”1835.