History

How would you interpret this?

"North America is Europe with its head down and its feet up."

-Michel Chevalier, Society, Manners and Politics in the United States (1834)

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  1. It's hard to interpret this brief quote out of context.

    However, on the face of it, Chevalier seems to be saying that North America is not facing the world and is pretty relaxed.

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    Ms. Sue
  2. The minority, which in Europe decides public opinion and by this means is sovereign, is here deposed, and having been successively driven from post to post, had come to influence opinion only in a few saloons in the large cities, and to be itself under as strict guardianship as minors, women, and . Until the accession of General Jackson, it had, however, exercised some influence over all the Presidents, who were generally scholars, and all of whom, aside from their party connections, were attached to it by family and social relations, and by their habits of life. Up to the present time, this class had also preserved some influence over the two houses; but it has now completely broken with the President, or rather the President has broken with it; it has no longer any credit, except with one of the Houses, because the Senate still consists of men whom it may claim as belonging to it by their superior intelligence, education, and property. The democracy does not fail, therefore, to stigmatize the Senate as an aristocratic body, and to call it the House of Lords The mass, which in Europe bears the pack and receives the law, has here put the pack on the back of the enlightened and cultivated class, which among us on the other hand, has the upper hand. The farmer and the mechanic are the lords of the New World; public opinion is their opinion; the public will is their will; the President is their choice, their agent, their servant. If it is true that the depositaries of power in Europe have been too much exposed to use it in promoting their own interests, without consulting the wishes and the welfare of the mass beneath them, it is no less true that the classes which held the sceptre in America are equally tainted with selfishness, and that they take less pains to disguise it. In a word, North America is Europe with its head down and its feet up. European society, in London and Paris as well as at St. Petersburg, in the Swiss republic as well as in the Austrian empire, is aristocratical in this sense, that, even after all the great changes of the last fifty years, it is still founded more or less absolutely on the principle of inequality or a different of ranks. American society is essentially and radically a democracy, not in name merely but in deed. In the United States the democratic spirit is infused into all the national habits, and all the customs of society; it besets and startles at every step the foreigner, who, before landing in the country, had no suspicion to what a degree every nerve and fibre had been steeped in aristocracy by a European education. It has effaced all distinctions, except that of colour; for here a shade in the hue of the skin separates men more widely than in any other country in the world. It pervades all places, one only excepted, and that the very one which in Catholic Europe is consecrated to equality, the church; here all whites are equal, every where, except in the presence of Him, in whose eyes, the distinctions of this world are vanity and nothingness. Strange inconsistency! Or rather solemn protest, attesting that the principle of rank is firmly seated in the human heart by the side of the principle of equality, that it must have its place in all countries and under all circumstances!

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  3. This is the paragraph in which the quote came from. It is 17 lines from the bottom. If this helps any. I NEED HELP REALLY REALLY BAD THIS WHOLE PARAGRAPH CONFUSES ME!!!! HELP ME PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  4. I was basically right. However, in context, the author meant that Europe and North America were opposites. Class distinctions, inequality among people, were important in Europe, but not in America.

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    Ms. Sue
  5. Thank you so much for your time Ms.Sue, i will work from there.

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