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 Alexis De Tocqueville was a citizen of France

,
sent to observe American prisons, by the French
Government in the 1830’s. While in America, he
began a journal, commenting on the
“exceptionalism” of America and its citizens.
 He focused on five characteristics: liberty,
equality, individualism, popular sovereignty, and
laissez-faire.
 Our class assignment was to select an era of
American History, after the Civil War, and look at
it through De Tocqueville’s eyes.
Dates: 1896-1916
I selected this era because..
This era represents a perfect blend of De
Toqueville’s views on liberty, equality,
individualism, popular sovereignty, and laissez-
faire. This era tested many aspects of American
democracy, and has helped mold America into
the land of opportunity we live in today.
Liberty is the protection against tyranny.
Americans are devoted to the rule of law,
and their religious faith has helped to
strengthen the belief in individual liberty.
During the progressive era, American citizens
were fighting for liberty against tyrannical
monopolies. Businesses would steal the
liberty and opportunity for smaller
businesses to succeed and prosper.
Progressive radicals fought against these
monopolies to gain their liberty back.
These are some political cartoons
during this era criticizing
monopolies and their leaders like,
John D. Rockefeller. These pictures
show how big the monopoly is
compared to the average American
citizen.
Equality represents a society of equals, in
the U.S. every is equal, anyone can own
land, whereas in Europe they were social
classes.
During this era we were fighting for equality.
Minority groups, mostly African Americans
and women were highly discriminated
against. The most discrimination was in the
workplace, even if they were to get a job
they were not treated as equals.
This pictures show the
fight for equality among
African Americans and
women. They were
fighting for the same
rights and privileges as
everyone else in America.
Individualism means Americans were free to
prosper without hereditary restrictions, and
we can rise in society.
During the progressive era individualism was
tested again referring back to business
monopolies. Only few individuals were able
to “rise in society”. Everyone else was left to
be controlled by these leaders.

Americans were trying to
stand out and prosper in
society but, their
success was deferred by
monopolies and the
society.
Popular sovereignty is the participation of
the common people in political life, and its
goal is peace and prosperity.
The progressive era had for the most part a
significant amount of popular sovereignty.
After all, progressive radicals would protest
for the betterment of different aspects of
society, and this helped change the society.
Protesters had a large amount of
participation in the contribution of peace
and prosperity.
These books represent muckrakers taking advantage
of popular sovereignty to try and change American
society. The jungle exposed the meatpacking
industry, McClure's magazine exposed John D
Rockefeller along with The History of The Standard
Oil Company.
Laissez-faire(hands-off) meant that each
individual was the best judge of his own
interest.
Laissez-Faire in this era allowed business
monopolies to get out of control. Greedy
people were allowed to take over an entire
business for their personal gain only with
little government interference, this is what
triggered the progressive era.
Laissez-faire caused a variety of issues
during the progressive era.
“There are many men of principle in both
parties in America, but there is no party of
principle.”
To me this quote means that each political
party is based upon good principles, but
neither party is purely common sense and
fairness. Although both the republicans and
democrats have important values within their
parties they each have a set back. There has
yet to be a party that only has common
principles.
 De Tocqueville’s view of America, was a land of freedom,
equality, and opportunity. America was a place where you
could succeed, prosper and achieve your goals. Some
aspects to America are still exceptional like popular
sovereignty, us as citizens have a large say in who runs our
country. He would be even more impressed of how far we
have come with equality, we have made great strides for
everyone to enjoy the same rights. He would be
disappointed to know we kicked laissez-faire to the curb
due to the great depression, we need government
involvement. We have a lot of liberty today due to past
experiences with British rule, and business monopolies. His
views of America today, would only increase with
amazement at how far we’ve come since he first began
studying about America.