|Often, we cannot impartially judge our political, social and cultural institutions from a position of within these institutions ("What knows he of England who only England knows?"). It takes an outside observer to define and evaluate the principles upon which we base our civilization.
During Andrew Jackson's second term as President, a Frenchman, Alexis de Toqueville, anxious to impress his own nation, in the midst of one of its characteristic political experiments, of the desirability and workability of representative democracy, travelled throughout the United States, studying and observing the political process in this country. His findings and conclusions were described in Democracy in America, first published in 1839. In this often-reprinted and retranslated work, Toqueville offers a remarkably perceptive view