Quoting Tocqueville

Ivanka Trump tried to quote Alexis de Tocqueville.

“A decline of public morals in the United States will probably be marked by the abuse of the power of impeachment as a means of crushing political adversaries or ejecting them from office.”

Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835

— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) November 21, 2019


"Don't believe everything you read on the Internet."

Julius Caesar, 1655

— JRehling (@JRehling) November 22, 2019

Not only is that a bogus quote, but the Founders specifically understood the role of impeachment to prevent what your family has managed to do with a complicit and pliant GOP.

— lawhawk (@lawhawk) November 22, 2019

…this is not something Alexis de Tocqueville penned. The actual quote comes from a 1889 book, American Constitutional Law, Volume 1, by judge John Innes Clark Hare describing the necessity of impeachment, even as he argued it had been abused on President Andrew Johnson.

— DJ TrippyDawg (@craigstanford) November 22, 2019


Quote (with changed layout in order to improve readability) from Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (1835), Chapter VII: Political Jurisdiction In The United States, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/815/815-h/815-h.htm#link2HCH0015:

[…] But I will venture to affirm that it is precisely their mildness which renders the American laws most formidable in this respect.

We have shown that in Europe the removal of a functionary and his political interdiction are the consequences of the penalty he is to undergo, and that in America they constitute the penalty itself. The consequence is that in Europe political tribunals are invested with rights which they are afraid to use, and that the fear of punishing too much hinders them from punishing at all.

But in America no one hesitates to inflict a penalty from which humanity does not recoil. To condemn a political opponent to death, in order to deprive him of his power, is to commit what all the world would execrate as a horrible assassination; but to declare that opponent unworthy to exercise that authority, to deprive him of it, and to leave him uninjured in life and limb, may be judged to be the fair issue of the struggle.

But this sentence, which it is so easy to pronounce, is not the less fatally severe to the majority of those upon whom it is inflicted. Great criminals may undoubtedly brave its intangible rigor, but ordinary offenders will dread it as a condemnation which destroys their position in the world, casts a blight upon their honor, and condemns them to a shameful inactivity worse than death.

The influence exercised in the United States upon the progress of society by the jurisdiction of political bodies may not appear to be formidable, but it is only the more immense. It does not directly coerce the subject, but it renders the majority more absolute over those in power; it does not confer an unbounded authority on the legislator which can be exerted at some momentous crisis, but it establishes a temperate and regular influence, which is at all times available. If the power is decreased, it can, on the other hand, be more conveniently employed and more easily abused.

By preventing political tribunals from inflicting judicial punishments the Americans seem to have eluded the worst consequences of legislative tyranny, rather than tyranny itself; and I am not sure that political jurisdiction, as it is constituted in the United States, is not the most formidable weapon which has ever been placed in the rude grasp of a popular majority. When the American republics begin to degenerate it will be easy to verify the truth of this observation, by remarking whether the number of political impeachments augments.*d


[ See Appendix, N.

[The impeachment of President Andrew Johnson in 1868—which was resorted to by his political opponents solely as a means of turning him out of office, for it could not be contended that he had been guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, and he was in fact honorably acquitted and reinstated in office—is a striking confirmation of the truth of this remark.—Translator’s Note, 1874.]] […]


Appendix N, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/816/816-h/816-h.htm#link2H_APPEn:

There is no question upon which the American constitutions agree more fully than upon that of political jurisdiction. All the constitutions which take cognizance of this matter, give to the House of Delegates the exclusive right of impeachment; excepting only the constitution of North Carolina, which grants the same privilege to grand juries. (Article 23.) Almost all the constitutions give the exclusive right of pronouncing sentence to the Senate, or to the Assembly which occupies its place.

The only punishments which the political tribunals can inflict are removal, or the interdiction of public functions for the future. There is no other constitution but that of Virginia (p. 152), which enables them to inflict every kind of punishment.
※ The crimes which are subject to political jurisdiction are, in the federal constitution (Section 4, Art. 1); in that of Indiana (Art. 3, paragraphs 23 and 24); of New York (Art. 5); of Delaware (Art. 5), high treason, bribery, and other high crimes or offences.
※ In the Constitution of Massachusetts (Chap. I, Section 2); that of North Carolina (Art. 23); of Virginia (p. 252), misconduct and maladministration.
※ In the constitution of New Hampshire (p. 105), corruption, intrigue, and maladministration.
※ In Vermont (Chap. 2, Art. 24), maladministration.
※ In South Carolina (Art. 5); Kentucky (Art. 5); Tennessee (Art. 4); Ohio (Art. 1, 23, 24); Louisiana (Art. 5); Mississippi (Art. 5); Alabama (Art. 6); Pennsylvania (Art. 4), crimes committed in the non-performance of official duties.
※ In the States of Illinois, Georgia, Maine, and Connecticut, no particular offences are specified.

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