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What Kept Us Free -- For a Time



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When Alexis de Tocqueville toured America in the 1830s, he identified four characteristics that distinguished Americans from Frenchmen — and tended to keep Americans free. Today on Uncommon Knowledge, Prof. Paul Rahe of Hillsdale College, the author of Soft Despotism explains, beginning with the American habit — astonishing to Toqueville — of self-reliance.

The thing that Tocqueville noticed when he came to the United States, that was unheard of and unthinkable in France to this very day, is that most of the things that for which the French looked to the government Americans did for themselves.

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