The Power Of Majority Tyranny And Slavery On The American Mind, By Ralph Waldo Emerson

1275 Words Dec 21st, 2016 6 Pages
Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America and various selections in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Antislavery Writings (specifically, his “Address on the Emancipation of the Negroes in the British West Indies,” “The Fugitive Slave Law,” “The President’s Proclamation,” his “Lecture on Slavery,” and lastly his “Address to the Citizens of Concord on the Fugitive Slave Law”) discuss the deleterious effects of conformity on the American mind, and on society as a whole. Both authors discuss the relationship between majority tyranny and slavery in the United States. Upon analyzing Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Antislavery Writings, it is clear that the authors agree on the effects of majority tyranny and slavery on both the individual and on American society.
Throughout much of his book, Tocqueville discusses the unstoppable nature and the harmful consequences of majority tyranny. He asserts that in America, the “empire of the majority is absolute; for in democracies, outside the majority there is nothing that resists it” (235). Democratic governments, like that of the United States, gain power from their constituents. Therefore, if the citizens under a democratic government fall subject to majority tyranny, that government is forced to enact the will of the majority. Tocqueville explains that the democratic nature of the American government allows the people to essentially “govern themselves… the people reign over the American political…

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