The American Experiment
Tue Sep 11, 2018 9:45am
The American Experiment
New-York Daily Tribune, November 27, 1860

The social, and especially the political institutions of the United States, have, for the whole of the current century, been the subject in Europe, not merely of curious speculation, but of the deepest interest. We have been regarded as engaged in trying a great experiment, involving not merely the future fate and welfare of this Western continent, but the hopes and prospects of the whole human race. Is it possible for a Government to be permanently maintained without privileged classes, without a standing army, and without either hereditary or self-appointed rulers? Is the democratic principle of equal rights, general suffrage, and government by a majority, capable of being carried into practical operation, and that, too, over a large extent of country?

The more populous and wealthy the United States have become, and the higher the position to which they have risen in the scale of national importance, with the greater confidence has it been maintained, on the one hand, that our institutions rest on a solid and permanent basis, and on the other, that they are destitute of inherent strength and cohesion, and that the time of explosion and disruption is rapidly approaching.


It has often been urged that with the increase of wealth and population our existing popular system of government would become impracticable, and that a great class would arise, of mere laborers, destitute of property, to whom the right of suffrage could not be safely entrusted. Our experience thus far does not give any countenance to this view. Take the State of Massachusetts, for instance: With a constant increase in population and wealth, her institutions and government have conformed more and more to the democratic idea; nor does there seem any danger to her existing political institutions, even if that increase should continue indefinitely.

  • American experiment never ends,it evolvesNona, Tue Sep 11 8:55am
    US had been moving steadily left and now there's a moment of correction
    • The American Experiment — Jeeves, Tue Sep 11 9:45am
      • An interesting example of a changeSprout, Tue Sep 11 10:49am
        in how the US is referred to that I think is part of the problem.... Note how the author refers to the United States as a plural. The United States have... The United States are... And refers to... more
        • That event changed the perception of independence of the states, but not the underlying democratic traditions and institutions of the nation. The American Experiment refers to a democratic republic... more
          • And I would say that while many of theSprout, Tue Sep 11 1:08pm
            changes of the civil war were ultimately good, some were not and have had long term negative consequences.
            • You're basically saying, nothing. Give your best example of what you believe is the "worst change" and had the "worst long term consequences" from that, as you call it "change". Thanks.
              • I thought I made that clear earlier...Sprout, Tue Sep 11 4:11pm
                You chose to go to racism as the only possible consideration, which I have to presume is projection on your part. If you can't grasp that the CONCEPT of diversity goes beyond just race, I can't help... more
                • Your assertion that racism is the only possible consideration is silly and of course just another lie you've posted to avoid actually taking a position. Once again, I am not your excuse.
          • Yes I did....Sprout, Tue Sep 11 1:06pm
            I would say that the great class has already arisen... Look at the ruling families like Kennedy and Bush and Clinton. And they have blinded MOST of the people to believe in the division between... more
            • You need to reread that quoteJeeves, Tue Sep 11 3:02pm
              He wasn't referring to a ruling class. " a great class would arise, of mere laborers, destitute of property, to whom the right of suffrage could not be safely entrusted. I agree that wealth... more
        • segregated fountains in this state...HeavyHemi, Tue Sep 11 10:59am
          no abortion in that state. I think you're stretching based on that sample size of, one.