A Fair-Haired Fellow

Alexis deTocqueville Meets Fairman C. Cowan

In 1830, when Alexis deTocqueville visited America one of the features he found most remarkable about our nation was the vast array of civic associations. “Americans of all ages, all conditions, all minds constantly unite,” he observed. “Americans use associations to give fêtes, to found seminaries, to build inns, to raise churches, to distribute books, to send missionaries to the antipodes; in this manner they create hospitals, prisons, schools … In America I often admired the infinite art with which the inhabitants of the United States managed to fix a common goal to the efforts of many men and to get them to advance to it freely.”