De la démocratie en Amérique (Volume I)

by Alexis de Tocqueville


Read it and discover that democracy once worked in the United States.

In 1861 Abraham Lincoln and the newly formed Republican Party that he would eventually lead transformed America from a thriving democracy of three interrelated sovereign powers into a single centralized sovereign state. The cause of this transformation was Lincoln's belief that he could defy the sovereignty of the individual states with only minor consequence and his own party's pursuit of political power.

The United States were formed from disparate peoples that shared a common grievance against a common enemy. These peoples united together based on a common ideal and defeated their enemy.

Out of this struggle arose a formal agreement that established the rules of cooperation among three sources of sovereign power -- only two of which were already manifest at the time of creation of the third. The first of these were thirteen sovereign states each with its own government. Although transformed by their common struggle against their common enemy, the government of each of these thirteen sovereign States largely reflected the unique colonial past of each State. The second of these two sovereign powers was the American people -- namely, the citizens of all of the thirteen states who fought together under a common ideal to defeat their common enemy -- namely, the British Crown.

The Constitution of the United States established a third sovereign power -- namely, that of the US Government, a federation of sovereign states that was answerable to both the people of all of the states and the governments of each state. The sovereignty of this third sovereign power lay in certain privileges granted to it by each of the state governments and the American people as a whole.

By refusing to allow the Southern states to secede from the Union and form their own federation, Lincoln destroyed the sovereignty not only of the seceding states, but also those that remained in the Union. Up until Lincoln's War of Consolidation the notion of secession was an open, highly debated, political question that succeeded in resolving several very important issues. Lincoln put an end to this debate by the use of force.

As state sovereignty served as an important check on the sovereignty of the federal government, it was only a matter of time before the people would be robbed of their sovereignty as well. This is where we are today.

Lincoln was a ruse politician whose words should be judged not as an expression of his beliefs, but as carefully constructed camouflage for his actions. Lincoln's interpretation of the Constitution was only one of several and did not deserve the privileged use of force.

In his work entitled De la Démocratie an Amérique Alexis de Tocqueville shows how these three sovereign powers once functioned together -- both in theory and in practice -- as a united whole. I strongly recommend that all Americans read De Tocqueville's work so that we might someday restore sovereignty unto the people.