American Institutions And Their Influence (1851) by Alexis De Tocqueville, John C. Spencer

By Alexis De Tocqueville, John C. Spencer

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On opposite principles its action is still more rapid; it divides, distributes, and disperses both property and power. Alarmed by the rapidity of its progress, those who despair of arresting its motion endeavor to obstruct by difficulties and impediments; they vainly seek to counteract its effect by contrary efforts: but it gradually reduces or destroys every obstacle, until by its incessant activity the bulwarks of the influence of wealth are ground down to the fine and shifting sand which is the basis of democracy.

A scarcely less rapid change was effected in the interior of society, where the law of descent completed the abolition of local influences. At the very time when this consequence of the laws and of the revolution became apparent to every eye, victory was irrevocably pronounced in favor of the democratic cause. All power was, in fact, in its hands, and resistance was no longer possible. The higher orders submitted without a murmur and without a struggle to an evil which was thenceforth inevitable.

And goes so far as to visit with severe punishment,[Footnote: This was not peculiar to Connecticut. See for instance the law which, on the 13th of September, 1644, banished the ana-baptists from the state of Massachusetts. (Historical Collection of State Papers, vol. , p. ) See also the law against the quakers, passed on the 14th of October, 1656. "Whereas," says the preamble, "an accursed race of heretics called quakers has sprung up," &c. The clauses of the statute inflict a heavy fine on all captains of ships who should import quakers into the country.

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