By Alexis De Tocqueville, John C. Spencer
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Extra info for American Institutions And Their Influence (1851)
SOCIAL CONDITION OF THE ANGLO-AMERICANS. A social condition is commonly the result of circumstances, sometimes of laws, oftener still of these two causes united; but wherever it exists, it may justly be considered as the source of almost all the laws, the usages, and the ideas, which regulate the conduct of nations: whatever it does not produce, it modifies. It is, therefore, necessary, if we would become acquainted with the legislation and the manners of a nation, to begin by the study of its social condition.
94. ] registers were established in every parish, in which the results of public deliberations, and the births, deaths, and marriages of the citizens were entered;[Footnote: Ibid, p. 86. ] clerks were directed to keep these registers;[Footnote: See Hutchinson's History, vol. , p. [Footnote: Ibid, p. 40. ] The law enters into a thousand useful provisions for a number of social wants which are at present very inadequately felt in France. But it is by the attention it pays to public education that the original character of American civilisation is at once placed in the clearest light.
96. ] It must not be forgotten that these fantastical and vexatious laws were not imposed by authority, but that they were freely voted by all the persons interested, and that the manners of the community were even more austere and more puritanical than the laws. [Footnote: New England's Memorial, p. 316. See Appendix E. ] These errors are no doubt discreditable to the human reason; they attest the inferiority of our nature, which is incapable of laying firm hold upon what is true and just, and is often reduced to the alternative of two excesses.
American Institutions And Their Influence (1851) by Alexis De Tocqueville, John C. Spencer