Tocqueville on America after 1840: Letters and Other Writings

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Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America has been recognized as an indispensable starting point for understanding American politics. From the publication of the second volume in 1840 until his death in 1859, Tocqueville continued to monitor political developments in America and committed many of his thoughts to paper in letters to his friends in America. He also made frequent references to America in many articles and speeches. Did Tocqueville change his views on America outlined in the two volumes of Democracy in America published in 1835 and 1840? If so, which of his views changed and why? The texts translated in Tocqueville on America after 1840: Letters and Other Writings answer these questions and offer English-speaking readers the possibility of familiarizing themselves with this unduly neglected part of Tocqueville’s work. The book points out a clear shift in emphasis especially after 1852 and documents Tocqueville’s growing disenchantment with America, triggered by such issues as political corruption, slavery, expansionism, and the encroachment of the economic sphere upon the political.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A very welcome addition, in English translation, to what we know from Tocqueville about America in his master work. The translation is careful, and the introduction helpful. Altogether a book for everyone’s Tocqueville shelf.”
Harvey C. Mansfield, William R. Kenan, Jr Professor of Government, Harvard University

“These documents, mostly letters, show how Tocqueville’s interest in America and American affairs extended well beyond his 1831 trip and the writing of his world famous Democracy in America. It is a merit of this volume to establish that Tocqueville remained faithful to most of his ideas about the United States, and particularly to the fact that slavery was the most dangerous problem for the Union’s future. … Although Tocqueville remained convinced all his life that the United States would overcome all crises, these letters show how he increasingly worried about American expansionism, immigration, and materialism and the dangers they posed to the young democracy. An essential book to understand Tocqueville’s unremitting fascination with America.”
Eduardo Nolla, Universidad San Pablo-CEU, Madrid

“Not only do Craiutu and Jennings provide an absorbing contextualization of Tocqueville’s claim that his visit to the United States left him "half-Yankee", but their definitive edition of his correspondence with Americans after 1840 opens a fascinating window on the tangled web of elite opinion on slavery, imperialism, and economic growth before the Civil War. Their work is a boon for both Tocqueville scholars and historians of the nineteenth century.”
Cheryl B. Welch, Harvard University

"A remarkable volume that includes everything the French political thinker and statesman wrote on the United States or American-related themes after the publication of the second volume of Democracy in America in 1840 until his death in 1859 … It is thus a treasure trove for students of Tocquevile and American Democracy."
Daniel J. Mahoney, Claremont Review of Books

"This is in many respects an illuminating collection that goes far toward fulfilling the editors’ aim of rejecting simplistic views of an Atlantic divide and replacing them with a more nuanced, historically informed conception of European views of America. … Readers with an interest in French and British views of America will find much that is instructive."
Harry Libersohn, H-France

"Tocqueville on America after 1840 raises crucial questions about the evolution of Tocqueville’s views on democracy in the latter half of his life, both in the thought-provoking introduction to the volume as by means of the selection and presentation of the material itself. The letters between Tocqueville and his friends are elegantly translated and the short biographical notices identifying Tocqueville’s correspondences are particularly useful. In sum, with Tocqueville on America after 1840, Craiutu and Jennings have made a major contribution to Tocqueville studies."
Annelien de Dijn, History of European Ideas

"Craiutu’s and Jenning’s Tocqueville on America After 1840 is now an indispensable stop in the long journey of understanding all these problems and many others in Tocqueville’s thought. With their commanding knowledge of sources, with their extremely lucid and insightful perspectives both on Tocqueville and his context, Craiutu and Jennings have published an outstanding work. It is indeed compulsory reading for all serious students of Tocqueville."
Miguel Morgado, Society

"Craiutu and Jenning's Toqueville on America after 1840 [is] a work that ranks among the most prominent achievements of both translation and analysis in the last twenty years."
Matthew J. Mancini, The Journal of Southern History

"While these letters do not constitute a true third volume to Democracy, they provide us with keen insight into Tocqueville’s thoughts on the prospects of democracy after he became a famous writer. As such, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in Tocqueville and the state of antebellum America by one of France’s best writers and thinkers."
Nineteenth-Century French Studies

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521676830
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/31/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 576
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Aurelian Craiutu is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Indiana University, Bloomington. He received his Ph.D. in political science from Princeton University in 1999. His book Liberalism under Siege: The Political Thought of the French Doctrinaires won a 2004 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title Award. Professor Craiutu has also edited several volumes, including Guizot's History of the Origins of Representative Government in Europe, Madame de Staël's Considerations on the Main Events of the French Revolution, Conversations with Tocqueville: The Democratic Revolution in the Twentieth-First Century (with Sheldon Gellar) and America through European Eyes (with Jeffrey C. Isaac). His articles and reviews have also appeared in many journals.

Jeremy Jennings is Professor of Political Theory at Queen Mary, University of London, having previously held posts at the Universities of Swansea and Birmingham (UK). He received his D.Phil. from the University of Oxford. In 2007 he was made a Chevalier in the Ordre des Palmes Académiques for services rendered to French culture. Professor Jennings has published extensively on the history of political thought in France, the role of intellectuals in politics, and the history of socialism. In 2002 he published a new edition of Georges Sorel's Reflections on Violence and in 2005 co-edited a volume entitled Republicanism in Theory and Practice. He has recently published articles in the American Political Science Review, Review of Politics, Journal of Political Ideologies and Journal of the History of Ideas.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: the third democracy; Part I. Letters; Part II. Speeches, Articles, and Diplomatic Papers; Appendix 1. Tocqueville's main American correspondents; Appendix 2. chronology; Appendix 3. Sources for the texts and selected bibliography.

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