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As if in an honest, almost flaunted indifference to what his French critics may make of it, Tocqueville repeatedly resorts to the term 'the Anglo-Americans'. ' Anticipating Louis Hartz's theory of the liberal tradition in America, he finds that 'The lot of the Americans is singular: they have derived from the aristocracy of England the notion of private rights and the taste for local freedom [as against bureaucratic centralizationJ; and they have been able to retain both the one and the other because they have had no aristocracy to combat'.

During the nineteenth century the United States developed a fairly distinct political culture. How distinct is a matter for debate. Robert Kelley's The Transatlantic Persuasion (1g6g) contends that Gladstonian liberalism was common to Britain and North America. Others might maintain that a stable two-party system, resting on minimal ideological disagreement, was among the outcomes of a British political heritage. Except for the Mormons (many of whose recruits were immigrants converted in northern Europe) and for Christian Science (which soon got a foothold in Europe), the American religious culture remained 'European', though more varied and more composite than in any one European country.

There has indeed been a shift of emphasis here. Yet the two types of claim are not really incompatible. American visions of an unpeopled wilderness were, at any rate in the nineteenth century, nearly always accompanied by visions of transforming the wilderness into civilization. William Cullen Bryant begins his poem 'The Prairies': These are the gardens of the Desert, these The unshorn fields, boundless and beautiful, For which the speech of England has no name .... But by the end of the poem he imagines he can hear The sound of that advancing multitude Which soon shall fill these deserts ....

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