“In New England provision was made from the first for the care of the poor. Strenuous efforts were made to maintain the roads, and officials were appointed to monitor their condition. Town governments kept open records of deliberations at public meetings as well as of deaths, marriages, and births of their citizens. Clerks were designated to maintain these records. Officials were assigned to administer intestate property, others to establish the boundaries of inherited land, and still others whose principal function was to preserve the public tranquility. Legislation concerned itself with a thousand details in order to anticipate and satisfy a host of social needs.” – Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (trans. Arthur Goldhammer)

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