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Bradley Bean

Document Paper #2
The Rise of an Industrial Aristocracy, 1831 In this document authored by Alexis
de Tocqueville, the rise of a type of aristocracy in the midst of democracy is articled.
De Tocqueville shows that a type of hierarchy of power is forming between the
common workers and their masters the factory owners. The author argues that
the common laborer focusing on only one task broadens his ability at that one task,
but reduces his thought and ability in a broader sense, while the master casts his
eye over a more far-reaching ensemble, thus expanding his mind and ability
overall. This difference, according to the author, separates the master and the
worker more and more as time goes on until one is firmly planted in his respective
place, unable to leave his place until one is totally dependent on the other, and the
worker is only fit to obey and the master is only wired to command. De Tocqueville
observes that although the industrial society has begun resembling an aristocracy,
this aristocracy is not a dangerous aristocracy, because of the lack of common goal
and common spirit among those rich who are at the top.
Defining the Constitutional Limits of Slavery, 1850 - The author of this document,
Salmon P. Chase, makes a case against slavery, observing that the founders of the
country and the creators of the Constitution purposefully did not include in said
Constitution any rights or guidelines regarding slavery, specifically Chase comes to
the conclusion that the idea of property in men was excluded with special
solitude The author goes on to comment on the changes that have taken place in
the public sentiment regarding slavery. Chase claims that slavery has gone in the

public mind from a bad, evil institution to a stable foundation of institutions, a


blessing to both races.
The Tyranny of the Majority, 1831 Alexis de Tocqueville also penned this
document selection, this time regarding the topic of power of the majority. De
Tocqueville observes that if one man with power, such as a king, can use it for his
advantage, then so can the group with the majority use the omnipotence granted to
them as the majority abuse its power. The author states that the majority in opinion
and thought of those in the United States Democratic Republic has the potential to
run out of control, leaving those of the minority of thought with no recourse, leaving
the minority to have to just submit to the action, thought, or decision made by the
majority. De Tocqueville concludes that if freedom is lost in America, it will be
because of the omnipotence of the majority having caused the minorities to
become desperate and resort to the attempt of physical force, which may be called
anarchy, but will be because of the tyranny of the majority.
These documents that analyze in different contexts the concepts of power
and pull bring to my mind an interesting thesis. My thesis based on these
documents is that in large part, the decisions made about our everyday life and
everyday policy, especially in the time period of these documents, are largely made
by a minority majority. In other words, much of our thought is determined by our
own masters that have been chosen by a majority vote.
The ideas that formed this concept in my mind can be found by combining
the concepts in these historical documents. Salmon Chase observes in Defining the
Constitutional Limits of Slavery that the public thought on slavery changed from an
overall negative view of the subject to a near agreement that slavery had good

principles. How did this happen? If we read further, Chase discusses that slave
states had been lobbying, to use a modern term, and using their political agenda
and pull to influence the outlook of the country. So we see that the politicians
elected by a majority of people that did not support slavery were influential in the
change in public sentiment towards slavery. The minority elected and given power
by a majority changed that majority into an intellectual minority. One key factor of
this shift of ideas can be found in Alexis de Tocquevilles document on industrial
aristocracy. In this document, the author demonstrates how the common workers
committed themselves to a master to whom they gave more power and scope
through the support of their (the workers) skill. A parallel can be drawn in the
election of those government officials to whom we give power. We give them
support through our vote, which raises them up, but once raised up they depend
much less on the thought of those who raised them to office, just as in an industrial
setting where as de Tocqueville observes that as time passes the importance of the
individual worker decreases while the power of the master broadens. De
Tocquevilles observations on the majority is important to consider as well, as he
shows that once there exists a majority of thought it is very difficult to fight against
it, because once there is a majority, a certain type of forceful power follows quickly,
sometimes becoming the seeds of tyranny and eventually anarchy.
It is important to remember the context of each of these documents and also
the intended audience. Alexis de Tocqueville was writing his thought based on his
observations of America from a Europeans point of view and for an European
audience. His writing was to highlight potential problems of Americas way of life to
prepare for the democratic revolution he was sure was soon to come in Europe.
One major aspect that I feel that de Tocqueville did not touch on was the past

history of the people in the Americas of being able to change and fight against a
tyrannical majority, whether that majority is in industry or in politics such as the
Revolutionary War, which removed a tyrannical minority-majority. Salmon P. Chase
on the other hand was writing on behalf of slaves rights and was intending this
writing for political leaders, specifically addressed to the president himself. Chase
does stick to some facts, but a large part of his argument is also rooted in opinion
and feeling, which in his own party would go over as fact, but to the opposite party
would be just an outside opinion.
These documents highlight the difficulty of having a true democratic republic
and all of the difficulties in maintaining freedom.