With the American Revolution, a new form of government arose in which the rigid hierarchical order characteristic of European governments of the past was abolished. Alexis de Tocqueville intrigued by this new form of government journeyed though America and wrote Democracy in America, a sociological examination of this new form of government, which Americans perceived to be more legitimate. Tocqueville, at first, regarded democracy as a dynamic process for which "equality of condition is requisite." Class differences did exist within democracy, however, mobility existed between these classes, Tocqueville said. He felt that the democratic process, or change of social order, would cease to continue when all political privileges were eliminated. Tocqueville later developed a more negative view of democracy as a system in which many things would be equalized and the right of material property would be challenged. He was concerned that democracy might also remove intellectual or individualistic distinctions. He was afraid of a "tyranny of the masses" that might occur ("De Tocqueville"; Tocqueville).
Liberty was another distinction that Tocqueville observed in American Democracy. He interpreted liberty as both protection from tyrannical governments and also as an asset that each citizen has a responsibility to exercise. Tocqueville said that too much individual liberty could be dangerous. He thought it necessary to "regulate it by beliefs, mores and laws." Essentially, Tocqueville viewed liberty as a defense against authority and authority as a defense against liberty. In an effort to keep authority legitimate, Tocqueville supported a system in which citizens elect the most qualified among themselves to serve as representatives. Finally, Tocqueville theorized that through education people could be transformed into citizens capable of changing a nation's political culture ("De Tocqueville"; Tocqueville).