Alexis de Tocqueville, author of Democracy in America, was born on this date in 1805.
was a realist and recognized how fragile democracy is. He saw, as many moderns do not, that it could only survive if citizens continue to exercise their civic responsibilities, which is what our founders knew to be the most essential republican virtue. They also understood that democracy is sustained and fueled by the religious impulse. Thus, John Adams wrote, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.” And this is what caused Tocqueville to observe that, “Religion in America must be regarded as the first of their political institutions.”