History of the Alexis de Tocqueville Award

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History of the Alexis de Tocqueville Award

The Alexis de Tocqueville Award was conceived by Alliance founder Marshall Fritz in 1995.  Alesix de Tocqueville, a Frenchman, toured the United States in the early 1830s, before the advent of compulsory state schooling, and was amazed at the extent and level of education and political engagement of the American people.  He wrote about it in his famous book, Democracy in America, in which he relates his impressions of the new country and its people.


The recipient of the award is presented with a beautiful wood box, personally picked out by Marshall.  The box is lined with velvet and on the inside of the hinged lid is a brass plaque with an inscription honoring the recipient.  A copy of Tocqueville's Political and Moral Thought: New Liberalism by M. R. R. Ossewaarde, a Dutch professor of philosophy, nestles on the velvet lining.


The recipient of the first award in 1995 was E. G. West.  Leonard Liggio presented the award to Mr. West at the Alliance's first SepCon conference on November 12, 1995.  Other witnesses (whose names are on the plaque) are Chris Cardiff, Doug Dewey, Milton Friedman, and Marshall Fritz.


Milton Friedman sent Mr. West a congratulatory note which reads:


Congratulations on a richly deserved reward.  I am only one of many who has had his views changed by your path-breaking work.  We want more.


The Alliance continues this tradition by periodically honoring others who have followed in the footsteps of E. G. West by advancing educational freedom.


Recipients of the Tocqueville award since its inception are:


E. G. West

Author of Education and the State, E. G. West's
research showed that schooling was pervasive prior to the government take-over in mid 19th Century both in the United States and England and cast doubt on the need for and efficacy of government schooling.  Award presented to E. G. West by Leonard Liggio at SepCon95 on November 12, 1995.

William Bentley Ball

Author of Mere Creatures of the State-A View from the Courtroom and In Search of a National Morality, Attorney William Bentley Ball fought several education cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, including Wisconsin v. Yoder where he successfully defended the Amish Yoder’s decision to keep his children out of high school.  Unable to receive his award during SepCon96 in November 1996 due to health reasons, the award was presented to William Bentley Ball at his home by Marshall Fritz and Sharon Harris


John Taylor Gatto
b. 1935

Author of Dumbing Us Down and The Underground History of American Education, John Taylor Gatto is America’s foremost critic of the harm today’s government schooling does to children.  Award presented to John Taylor Gatto by Cathy Duffy at SepCon97 in Washington, D.C., in November 21, 1997.


Charles MacKenzie

b. 1924

When president of Grove City College, Dr. Charles MacKenzie resisted federal controls by refusing all federal funding, fighting all the way to the Supreme Court.  Award presented to Charles MacKenzie by Dr. Ronald Nash at SepCon98 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, November 14, 1998.


Michael Farris

b. 1951


Michael Farris is the founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), where his efforts, together with those of his associates, have won a number of victories in state courts that prevent the hindering of homeschooling.  Award presented to Michael Farris by Timothy and Beverly LaHaye at SepCon 2004 in Washington, D.C., November 21, 2004.



James Tooley

b. 1959

President of the Orient Global Education Fund, Dr. James Tooley discovered and now promotes a "new species of schools" - for-profit free-market schools serving the poor in India, China, and Africa.  His scholarship has thrown into question dependency of the poor on government and demonstrated that free markets provide genuine accountability where it counts most - a child’s parents.  Award presented to Dr. James Tooley by Marshall Fritz and Alan Schaeffer at the World Congress of Families in Warsaw, Poland, May 11, 2007.



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well-known signers of our proclamation:

Ed Crane
President, Cato Institute

John Taylor Gatto
1991 New York State Teacher of the Year

Fr. John A Hardon
The Catholic Catechism

Don Hodel
Former Secretary of Interior

D. James Kennedy
Coral Ridge Ministries

Rev. Tim LaHaye
Left Behind

Rabbi Daniel Lapin
President, Toward Tradition

Tom Monaghan
Founder, Domino’s Pizza

Ron Paul
US Congressman, Texas

John K Rosemond
Parenting Author, Columnist, Speaker

They and thousands of others have signed Our Proclamation:

"I favor ending government involvement in education."