The Home of American Intellectual Conservatism — First Principles

May 27, 2018

Intercollegiate Review Archive

Volume 32, Number 2
Spring 1997


The Intercollegiate Review is free to ISI members.


Symposium—Habits of the New Communitarian Heart


In Memoriam

  • Christendom’s Troubadour: Frederick D. Wilhelmsen
    James Lehrberger, O. Cist.


It is their mores, then, that make the Americans of the United States...capable of maintaining the rule of democracy; and it is mores again that make the various Anglo-American democracies more or less orderly and prosperous. Europeans exaggerate the influence of geography on the lasting powers of democratic institutions. Too much importance is attached to laws and too little to mores. Unquestionably those are the three great influences which regulate and direct American democracy, but if they are to be classed in order, I should say that the contribution of physical causes is less than that of the laws, and that of laws less than mores. I am convinced that the luckiest of geographical circumstances and the best of laws cannot maintain a constitution in despite of mores, whereas the latter can turn even the most unfavorable circumstances and the worst laws to advantage. The importance of mores is a universal truth to which study and experience continually bring us back. I find it occupies the central position in my thoughts; all my ideas come back to it in the end.
—Alexis de Tocqueville

« Back to IR Archive

Library of Modern Thinkers Logo

By clicking the logo above to shop, every purchase helps to support ISI.

Intercollegiate Studies Institute • 3901 Centerville Rd. • Wilmington, Delaware 19807-1938 •
Please direct all inquiries regarding First Principles to [email protected].