The Factors Of Establishing Democracy And Equality In America

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

Alexis de Tocqueville saw democracy as an equation that balanced liberty and equality when he traveled through America in the early 19th century. Tocqueville was intrigued by the way democracy quickly developed and that “none struck him more forcibly than the equality of the social conditions”. America had developed into a new governing body that was democratic and by observing the differences between Europe and America, discussing how social conditions affected politics and law, and by looking at America today, we will determine the history that made America so equal and democratic.

To begin with, we must first discuss the way of life in Europe in order to determine how America grew to be so equal. Aristocracy of the King is what had been ruling the land for hundreds of years, most people did not question this way of life and obeyed the law of the land. People who had certain blood relations to other powerful people were known as nobles, they supported the king and owned land. Although, this land was owned by a noble family due to the law of inheritance and primogeniture, the land was never switched to other families. With the law of inheritance “the family represents the land, the land the family, perpetuating its name, history, glory, power, and virtues. ” This shows how the noble families had obtained and maintained power by the land they were granted. The last rank in the social hierarchy were peasants and serfs. These peasants would be permitted to work and live on the nobles land in return for paying taxes. Many of these peasants had a harsh life, constantly working in order to support themselves and their families. Since these peasants did not have time. Even children would spend their days tirelessly working in order to receive wages, and because of this they did not have time to educate themselves. Nonetheless, the majority of those who were educated were rich among the nobles. This type of social hierarchy created a cycle of inequality all together and we can see that “the initial power resided with the upper echelons of society and passed gradually and always in partial manner to other section of society. ” This made it difficult for those who lived in Europe to be “equal” because there was no time or power for the peasants and serfs to educate themselves to question the authorities above them. Although these statements are true, there were new inventions like the printing press and the post that spread some information available to anyone and everyone. “The printing press presented the same resources to the minds of everyone; the postal service deposited knowledge on the threshold of the poor man’s cottage as much as at the gate of the palace”. These inventions brought the ranks of the nobles and the poor closer due to the widespread information being accessible to anyone. People were now able to read about information happening in lands far away.

Now that we have discussed the state of Europe, we must establish what has made America more equal and democratic. When the new immigrants arrived to the lands “All the immigrants spoke the same language, all were children of the same people. Born into a country disturbed for centuries by struggles of different factions”. We can interpret from Tocqueville’s quote that many of these people arrived in equality, no one arrived at a higher rank than another. They had all come from similar backgrounds and were looking forward to a new life different than what was back in Europe. From the beginning of the colonies, we can establish that these immigrants were on an equal playing field, which would affect how differently the way of life would develop in the colonies. In this new land, there were no familial and historical ties to the land, people were constantly on the move. Benjamin Franklin took note of this aspect that distinguished America in his essay written in 1784, Information to Those Who Would Remove to America. Franklin stated that “Much less is it advisable for a person to go thither who has no other Quality to recommend him but his birth”. His statement shows that in America, people were not given the rank of a noble based of birth, but of the quality and the hard work of the person. In his essay he discussed that if one wants to immigrate to America, you will find hard workers and equal opportunities. He emphasized that those in America were valued as individuals and not for their background. With this being established, everyone worked hard in order to be rich or become important in their government. The difference between Europe and America here is now clear because the idea of living a different equal life was not a dream but a reality.

One large factor to the equality of America is that primary education was available to to anyone. Children now had time to attend school instead of living their days doing manual labor. With people now being educated, many were able to think as individuals and discuss their ideas about the future of America. Now that we understand the differences between Europe and America we must see how equality in America changed the way politics and the laws of society developed. Most of those who first came to America were Pilgrims and Puritans. Religion was a way that taught morality and restraint, in the end, leading to being a part of the building block of the democracy of America. These Puritans did not agree with the King in Europe and they wanted to purify what he corrupted. In America, “the divine right of kings had been replaced by the divine right of the people. ” These people wanted to create a new government different than their old king. Tocqueville stated that a reason for the involvement of religion and politics was that “Religion looks upon civil liberty as a noble exercise for man’s faculties and upon the world of politics as a field prepared by the Creator for the efforts of man’s intelligence. ” For this reason, the local laws were religious and democratic. Although these Puritans had some harsh laws, many of the original democratic ideas came from them for example: “the involvement of the people in public affairs, the free vote on taxes, the personal responsibility of those in power, individual freedom, and trial by jury were all actually established without debate. ” In addition to this, many local governments had authorities elected by the colonists. The way of politics in America reflected the equality and the democracy because as individuals, they agreed together to create these laws that made America.

By understanding the way equality shaped America into what it is today, we can now ponder about its current social conditions. Although America has its issues, the social condition of America is still largely one of equality and a middle class society. Everyday people are fighting, protesting for more freedoms and equalities in America. Many people in other countries do not have the luxury to say what they want and live their lives the way they want either. The root of America, equality, still shines through. Every day goes by and more and more equal opportunities reveal themselves through the hard work of the people who live here, in America. By understanding how the social conditions affected politics and law, and by looking at America today, we are able to see what has made America the land of the free.


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