Tocqueville is driven to a radical conclusion: the success of America is due to the Americans themselves. Canadians and Mexicans are building a stable society, but the Americans are forever pushing past existing frontiers, simultaneously destroying and advancing civilization, their own and that of their fathers. Tocqueville is flabbergasted to see successful people on the frontier, leaving civilization in order to create something newer and freer. With each move West, the Americans leave the Old World and its mores and institutions farther and farther behind, filtering out the old institutions, and, above all, the old habits of thinking.
- Michael A. Ledeen. Tocqueville on American Character