Noted French political economist Michel Chevalier was sent to the United States in 1834 by the French Minister of the Interior to observe the state of affairs in American industry and finance. Chevalier traveled the United States over a period of two years and, during that time, composed a series of letters in which he recorded his observations. Originally published in France, the letters were translated from the third Paris edition and published in the United States in 1839. In these letters, Chevalier made note of the economic constructs of America, comparing the democratic model he found in the U.S. to the aristocratic model more prevalent in Europe. Rather than focusing on America as the revolutionary force of liberty and equality, or its failure to live up to its own socio-political ideals of freedom and equality, Chevalier's attention was focused on work in America-on the centrality of employment to American culture and politics, and how work, rather than class, gave the American his place in society. He also made note of forms of transportation, particularly railroads, as well as of slavery, banking, and the policies of Andrew Jackson.
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die of consumption, and will leave behind nothing but ruins, poetical, perhaps, but still none the less ruins, that is, death and desolation: unless indeed a new blood be infused into its veins, or in other words, unless it be conquered like unhappy Poland. f LETTER II. LIVERPOOL AND THE RAILROAD. Liverpool, Nov. 7, 1833. I Have just come back from Manchester by the railroad, which is a fine piece of work ; I know of nothing that gives a higher idea of the power of man. There are impressions which one cannot describe; such is that of being hurried along at the rate of half a mile a minute, or thirty miles an hour (the speed of the train as we started from Manchester,) without being the least incommoded, and with the most complete feeling of security, for only one accident has happened since the opening of the road, and that was owing to the imprudence of the individual who perished. You pass over and under roads, rivers, and canals; you cross other railroads, and a great number of other roads, without any trouble or confusion. The great forethought and spirit of order which in England they suck in with their mothers' milk, preside in every part, and make it impossible that the trains should fall foul of each other, or that the cars should rim down unlucky travellers, or the farmers' wagons; all along the route are gates, which open and shut at the precise momentof time, and watchmen on the look out. How many persons in France would be benefitted by this short trip, did it serve only as a lesson of order and forecast! And then the Mount Olive cut is as well worth seeing as Roland's Breach ; the Wapping tunnel will bear a comparison with the caves of Campan ; the dike across ChatMoss seems to me as full of interest as the remains of the most famous Roman ways, not ex...