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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Most Enlightened and the Freest

American Minute from William J. Federer

Alexis de Tocqueville was born JULY 29, 1805. A French social scientist who traveled the United States in 1831, de Tocqueville wrote in Democracy in America: "Religion in America...must be regarded as the foremost of the political institutions of that country; for if it does not impart a taste for freedom, it facilitates the use of it...This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or a party, but it belongs to the whole nation."

De Tocqueville stated: "The sects that exist in the United States are innumerable. They all differ in respect to the worship which is due to the Creator; but they all agree in respect to the duties which are due from man to man. Each sect adores the Deity in its own peculiar manner, but all sects preach the same moral law in the name of God...Moreover, all the sects of the United States are comprised within the great unity of Christianity, and Christian morality is everywhere the same."

De Tocqueville added: "There is no country in the whole world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence than in America...and nothing better demonstrates how useful it is to man, since the country where it now has the widest sway is both the most enlightened and the freest."

William J. Federer is a nationally recognized author, speaker, and president of Amerisearch, Inc, which is dedicated to researching our American heritage. The American Minute radio feature looks back at events in American history on the dates they occurred, is broadcast daily across the country and read by thousand on the internet.


Braden said...

The most enlightened and the freest? I would say that it is hard to argue that a nation in which a large portion of its population are slaves is the 'freest' and 'most enlightened' in the world. Especially since we were amoung the last countries in the Americas to give it up.

Today we are amoung the freest and most enlightened, but definately not in the 1830's.

Anonymous said...

By 1830 slavery as an institution was in decline. All the northern states had passed emancipation laws and in the south slavery was principally practiced on large plantations. Only about one in five southern families held slaves and then only one or two slaves per family (too many, at any rate!). In America generally, only 8% of families held slaves. By this time the abolitionist movement was growing in leaps and bounds and it was clear that slavery was soon to be relegated to a national embarrassment that we hoped we could forget someday. So de Tocqueville's observations were not wrong. Although not perfect, America WAS the "most enlightened and the freest."

Braden said...

The point I was trying to make is that the US could not be called the freest nation in the world at the time when slavery was a major institution, but it had already been abolished in many countries.
Amoung them:

British Empire

All these countries had already abolished slavery by the time the US had. Therefore, the freest country in the world at the time could not have been the United States. Because at the time Tocqueville made the statement, every 1 out of 5 people (18%) in the US had NO freedom, because they were a slave.

"it was clear that slavery was soon to be relegated to a national embarrassment"

If it was so clear, why did it take a civil war to prove it?

Bob Ellis said...

None of these countries has the freedom we have, even now.

It is true that some members of our country didn't have their full freedom at that time, but thousands in this country had the conviction to spill their blood to secure that freedom for all.

No other country has had or does have an ideal of freedom as high as the United States, even if it has been imperfectly executed.

Of course, if one chooses to find reasons to loathe America, her imperfections will always outweigh the tremendous good this country has meant to the world.

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