Need help with my US History document analysis assignment. Please don’t use big fancy words or make it sound super over the top like a history genius did this. Just a paragraph or 2, basic answers

Need help with my US History document analysis assignment. Please don’t use big fancy words or make it sound super over the top like a history genius did this. Just a paragraph or 2, basic answers.


9.5 Doc Analysis: Democracy & the Family

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Democracy Analysis: Democracy & the Family

Read an excerpt of Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America,” which he observes how family life had been altered in America.

I have just been considering how among democratic peoples, particularly America, equality modifies the relations between one citizen and another. I want to carry the argument further and consider what happens within the family. I am not trying to discover new truths, but to show how known facts have a bearing on my subject . Everyone has noticed that in our time a new relationship has evolved between the different members of a family, that the distance formerly separating father, and son has diminished, and that paternal authority, if not abolished, has at least changed form. Something analogous, but even more striking, occurs in the United States.

In America the family, if one takes the word in its Roman and aristocratic sense, no longer exists. One only finds scattered traces thereof in the first years following the birth of children. The father then does, without opposition, exercise the domestic dictatorship which his sons’ weakness makes necessary and which is justified by both their weakness and his unquestionable superiority.

But as soon as the young American begins to approach man’s estate, the reins of filial obedience are daily slackened. Master of his thoughts, he soon becomes responsible for his own behavior. In America there is in truth no adolescence. At the close of boyhood he is a man and begins to trace out his own path.

It would be wrong to suppose that this results from some sort of domestic struggle, in which, by some kind of moral violence, the son had won the freedom which his father refused. The same habits and principles which lead the former to grasp at independence dispose the latter to consider its enjoyment as an incontestable right.

So in the former one sees none of these hateful, disorderly passions which disturb men long after they have shaken off an established yoke. The latter feels none of those bitter, angry regrets which usually accompany fallen power. The father has long anticipated the moment when his authority must come to an end, and when that time does come near, he abdicates without fuss. The son has known in advance exactly when he will be his own master and wins his liberty without haste or effort as a possession which is his due and which no one seeks to snatch from him …

When the state of society turns to democracy and men adopt the general principle that it is good and right to judge everything for oneself, taking former beliefs as providing information but not rules, paternal opinions come to have less power over the sons, just as his legal power is less too.

Perhaps the division of patrimonies which follows from democracy does more than all the rest to alter the relations between father and children.

When the father of a family has little property, his son and he live constantly in the same place and carry on the same work together. Habit and necessity bring them together and force them all the time to communicate with each other. There is bound, then, to be a sort of intimate familiarity between them which makes power less absolute and goes ill with respectful formalities.

Moreover, in democracies those who possess these small fortunes are the very class which gives ideas their force and sets the tone of mores. Both its will and its thoughts prevail everywhere, and even those who are most disposed to disobey its orders end by being carried along by its example. I have known fiery opponents of democracy who allowed their children to call them “thou.”

So at the same time as aristocracy loses its power, all that was austere, conventional, and legal in parental power also disappears and a sort of equality reigns around the domestic hearth.

I am not certain, generally speaking, whether society loses by the change, but I am inclined to think that the individual gains. I think that as mores and laws become more democratic the relations between father and sons become more intimate and gentle; there is less of rule and authority, often more of confidence and affection, and it would seem that the natural bond grows tighter as the social link loosens ….

Democracy too draws brothers together, but in a different way.

Under democratic laws the children are perfectly equal, and consequently independent; nothing forcibly brings them together, but also nothing drives them apart. Having a common origin, brought up under the same roof, and treated with the same care, as no peculiar privilege distinguishes or divides them, the affectionate and frank intimacy of childhood easily takes root among them ….

This gentleness of democratic manners is such that even the partisans of aristocracy are attracted by it, and when they have tasted it for some time, they are not at all tempted to return to the cold and respectful formalities of the aristocratic family. They gladly keep the family habits of democracy provided they can reject its social state and laws ….

I think that may be able to sum up in one phrase the whole sense of this chapter and of several others that preceded. Democracy .loosens social ties, but tightens natural ones. At the same time as it separates citizens, it brings kindred closer together.


Write a response to the following questions:

1. What was the relationship between fathers and sons in America?

2. How was this relationship different based on class (how were poor families different than rich families)

3. What is de Tocqueville’s assessment of this? ls it good or bad?

For full credit you should complete your own post and comment on another student’s post. Your comment on a fellow student’s post should be either praise, or constructive criticism (respectful disagreement or advice)

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