Alexis de Tocqueville: View of Americ a
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Alexis de Tosqueville: View of America
Alexis de Tocqueville: View of America
Alexis De Tocqueville was a man sent by the French Government to America in the 1830s. Initially De Tocquevilles mission was to observe Americas prisons and report back to France, but over time he began a journal where he made commentary on what he believed to be Americas exceptionalism instead. He became fascinated by the American Dream, the idea that anything could be within reach with dedication and hard work regardless of gender, race, and age. De Tocqueville categorized his notes by having five characteristics such as: Liberty, Equality, Individualism, Popular Sovereignty, and Laissez-Faire. I will try and look through D Tocquevilles eyes and interpret how I felt the era I choose resonated with these five democratic traits.
1954-1968I chose this era because I feel as a young African-American woman, my generation at times is a misguided youth; especially those of the young black community. In todays society we can be bold, brave, and blunt; but we fail to see what young men and women had to go through in order for us to do so. The Civil Rights Movement was the drop that started the ripple for change and social reform, and without it there would be no way to view America as it is now. With this project I hope to give recognition to Americas youth of the early 1950s through late 1960s, as well as show the impact they made on society today.1. Liberty De Tocqueville defined liberty as protection against tyrannical government. He also noticed how the American government was devoted to following the rule of law by the constitution.Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that banned discrimination in education, employment, and all other public places. This law overturned the Plessey v. Ferguson case decision which allowed schools to be separate but equal; and was a result of the Brown v. the Board of Education case where hey found that the standards were far from equal in the schools and that a separation due to race was unconstitutional.
2. Laissez-FaireLaissez-Faire is the need for a more hands free governmental economy. De Tocqueville felt as though this was the American peoples way of saying they felt they knew what was better for them individually more so than the government.Many white Americans in the South chose to disregard many of the integration laws passed by Congress. They felt they knew what would better suit their way of life by passing the Jim Crow laws which prohibited African Americans from exercising the right they gained.
3. Individualism:De Tocqueville defined Individualism as the freedom to flourish or rise in society. This idea was the complete opposite Europes hereditary distinctive society.Martin Luther King delivered his I have a Dream speech in Washington, D.C. in 1963. King believed the American dream was a society where all people could join in fellowship and have equal opportunity regardless of sex, age, and especially race.
4. Popular Sovereignty:
Popular Sovereignty is the participation of the people in politics. De Tocqueville believed that since everyone in America was to be considered equal by the Constitution, then that meant that all people had the same right to government participations such as voting.In many ways African Americans having the right to vote was highly opposed in the South. There were issued poll taxes and literacy tests that blacks had to pay or pass in order to register to vote; if they were unable to do either, they were turned away. In the Freedom Summer volunteers of various races risked their lives by going door to door to register black voters in the South. By the end of this movement there were over 63,000 African Americans registered to vote, and in 1965 the Voting Rights Act was passed prohibiting discrimination of race and outlawing poll taxes as well as literacy tests. 5. EqualityEgalitarianism is a society of equals. Where as European society was based upon hereditary distinctions, American society had various differences where everyone was viewed as equalsas long as you were a Caucasian male.Equality was hard to come by during the Civil Rights Movement, especially for the African Americans. Blacks were made to use separate lesser facilities because the whites didnt even want to touch the same things as them. They were called names, beaten, and even killed just for their skin.
Two things in America are astonishing: The changeableness of the most human behavior and the strange stability of certain principles. Men are constantly on the move, but the spirit of humanity seems almost unmoved. -Alexis De TocquivilleQuote ExplanationDe Tocqueville felt that the adaptability of the American people was astounding. He was amazed by the Americans ability to move from one place to another and adapt to their surroundings in order to establish their home as well as themselves. But no matter the changes and advances each new generation makes to the world around them, the American Dream will always be the driving force behind it all. Its the American spirit and the belief you can achieve greatness as long as you believe in oneself that is even more amazing then the American way itself. Personal ReflectionI look back on this era with a sense of pride. Im proud to share the same culture as the young men and women who fought on the front lines for the opportunities I have today, that they could only dream of back then. At the age I am now, those same men and women were making waves and turning the tide for all future generations to come; and to that I salute them and am thankful for all that they have done for not only me, but for everyone after me.SourcesLindlauf, Sue. The Civil Rights Movement. Photograph. 1963. News Papers in Education. NIE Rocks. 25 Mar. 2014. Web. 24 May 2014.Amato, Cheryl. You can call it what you want, its still Jim Crow. Unchaining Civil Rights. N.p., 2008. Web. 23 May 2014.Kalaikumar. Jim Crow Laws Pictures. With Friendship. N.p., N.d., Web. 22 may 2014. Starnes, Todd. Teacher Stomps on American Flag inside Classroom. FOX News Radio. N.p., 9 Jan. 2013. Web. 20 May 2014. White, Bob. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. Omni Financial. Omni Financial Group. 17 Jan. 2014. Web. 24 May 2014. Hartford, Bruce. Photo Album. Civil Rights Movement Veterans. Tougaloo College. N.d., Web. 24 May 2014. Stocker, Barry. Alexis De Tocqueville (1805-1859), Democracy in America (18365 AND 1840). Liberal Vision. Liberal Vision. 24 May 2014. Web. 25 May 2014.