Acton Institute Powerblog

Tocqueville Turns 200

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Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–1859)

Alexis de Tocqueville, author of Democracy in America, was born on this date in 1805.

Charles Colson, in his introduction to Carl F.H. Henry’s “Has Democracy Had Its Day?” writes that Tocqueville

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.”

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.

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