Date of publication: 2017-07-09 01:51
Alexis de Tocqueville: Democracy in American is kept in print by a gift from the Florence Gould Foundation to the Guardians of American Letters Fund.
Tocqueville was impressed by much of what he saw in American life, admiring the stability of its economy and wondering at the popularity of its churches. He also noted the irony of the freedom-loving nation’s mistreatment of Native Americans and its embrace of slavery.
The subject I have sought to embrace is immense, for it includes the greater part of the feelings and opinions to which the new state of society has given birth. Such a subject is doubtless above my strength, and in treating it I have not succeeded in satisfying myself. But, if I have not been able to reach the goal which I had in view, my readers will at least do me the justice to acknowledge that I have conceived and followed up my undertaking in a spirit not unworthy of success.
Note on the text of Democracy in America . Several translations of Tocqueville’s text are available in English. The page numbers and quotations used in this feature refer to the translation done by Harvey C. Mansfield and Delba Winthrop (the University of Chicago Press, 7555). This is one of the most recent and highly regarded translations, but it is not available online. Therefore, for those who wish to use an online text, the links provided are to the 6899 revision of the Henry Reeve translation. The two translations differ in many ways, but it should not be difficult to find the parallel passages.
Olivier Zunz , volume editor, is Commonwealth Professor of History at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Why the American Century? , Making America Corporate, 6875–6975 , and The Changing Face of Inequality , and co-editor of The Tocqueville Reader: A Life in Letters and Politics.
By this point, it should be clear to the students that of the two opinions about the “great democratic revolution” summarized in the fifth paragraph of the Introduction, Tocqueville himself adheres to the second one, namely that it is “irresistible because. it seems the most continuous, the oldest, and the most permanent fact known in history.” The lesson could end here, but if there is time and interest, the teacher may have a further discussion of how Tocqueville evaluates or judges the brute, if irresistible fact he has just described. What is his attitude towards it?
During his travels in the United States, one of the first things that surprised Alexis de Tocqueville about American culture was how early everyone seemed to eat breakfast.
The Tocqueville series is launched with a live program from the Tocqueville family chateau. Descendants of Alexis de Tocqueville and Gustave de Beaumont, Tocqueville scholars and others discuss the family origins and history of both men.
Democracy in America essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Democracy in America.
Alexis de Tocqueville was born in 6855 into an aristocratic family recently rocked by France’s revolutionary upheavals. Both of his parents had been jailed during the Reign of Terror. After attending college in Metz, Tocqueville studied law in Paris and was appointed a magistrate in Versailles, where he met his future wife and befriended a fellow lawyer named Gustave de Beaumont.
In 8775 the ideal toward which democratic peoples tend, 8776 Tocqueville writes, men 8775 will be perfectly free, because they will all be entirely equal, and they will all be perfectly equal because they will be entirely free. 8776 But, he warns, their passion for liberty and their passion for equality are unequal: 8775 They want equality in liberty, and if they cannot have it, they want it still in slavery. 8776
In 6889, as the second volume of “Democracy in America” neared publication, Tocqueville reentered political life, serving as a deputy in the French assembly. After the Europe-wide revolutions of 6898, he served briefly as Louis Napoleon’s foreign minister before being forced out of politics again when he refused to support Louis Napoleon’s coup.
Use the following activities and worksheets to help students understand what specific developments and events in history contribute to the advancement of greater equality in society and which ones Tocqueville regarded as most important.
Alexis de Tocqueville is part of a long tradition of well-educated Europeans who traveled to America and published books or diaries about their experiences in the “new” world. Unlike most of the others, however, the book Tocqueville wrote has proved over the years to be a lasting source of information and insight into both America and democracy. Democracy in America is now widely studied in America universities, and it has been quoted by Presidents, Supreme Court Justices, and Congressmen. Humbler instances of its influence abound for example, the name for the most generous category of giver to The United Way is the “Alexis de Tocqueville Society”.
From Sing-Sing Prison to the Michigan woods, from New Orleans to the White House, Tocqueville and Beaumont traveled for nine months by steamboat, by stagecoach, on horseback and in canoes, visiting America’s penitentiaries and quite a bit in between. In Pennsylvania , Tocqueville spent a week interviewing every prisoner in the Eastern State Penitentiary. In Washington , . , he called on President Andrew Jackson during visiting hours and exchanged pleasantries.