25 Astonishing Alexis de Tocqueville Quotes

Alexis de Tocqueville was a French diplomat, scientist and historian. Known for his works ‘Democracy in America’ and ‘The Old Regime and the Revolution,’ Tocqueville advocated for parliamentary government. Here is a look at some of the most respected Alexis de Tocqueville quotes ever recorded.

“America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

“Americans are so enamored of equality that they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom.”

“Despotism often presents itself as the repairer of all the ills suffered, the support of just rights, defender of the oppressed, and founder of order.”

“Everybody feels the evil, but no one has courage or energy enough to seek the cure.”

“History is a gallery of pictures in which there are few originals and many copies.”

“I am unacquainted with His designs, but I shall not cease to believe in them because I cannot fathom them, and I had rather mistrust my own capacity than His justice.”


“I am unaware of his plans but I shall never stop believing in them because I cannot fathom them and I prefer to mistrust my own intellectual capacities than his justice.”

“I do not know if the people of the United States would vote for superior men if they ran for office, but there can be no doubt that such men do not run.”

“I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America.”

“In other words, a democratic government is the only one in which those who vote for a tax can escape the obligation to pay it.”

“It is easier for the world to accept a simple lie than a complex truth.”

“It must not be forgotten that it is especially dangerous to enslave men in the minor details of life. For my own part, I should be inclined to think freedom less necessary in great things than in little ones, if it were possible to be secure of the one without possessing the other.”

“Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.”

“Nothing is more wonderful than the art of being free, but nothing is harder to learn how to use than freedom.”

“On close inspection, we shall find that religion, and not fear, has ever been the cause of the long-lived prosperity of an absolute government.”

“One of the happiest consequences of the absence of government…is the development of individual strength that inevitably follows.”

“Shall I think that the Creator has made man so as to leave him to debate endlessly in the intellectual miseries that surround us? I cannot believe this.”

“Society is endangered not by the great profligacy of a few, but by the laxity of morals amongst all.”

“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”

“The genius of democracies is seen not only in the great number of new words introduced but even more in the new ideas they express.”

“The happy and powerful do not go into exile, and there are no surer guarantees of equality among men than poverty and misfortune.”

“The health of a democratic society may be measured by the quality of functions performed by private citizens.”

“There are two things which a democratic people will always find very difficult – to begin a war and to end it.”

“When the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness.”

“Without common ideas, there is no common action, and without common action men still exist, but a social body does not.”

Here is a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the once new political system democracy as relayed by the 19th century French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville.