ISBN-10:
0226805360
ISBN-13:
9780226805368
Pub. Date:
04/28/2002
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Democracy in America / Edition 1

Democracy in America / Edition 1

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Overview

Democracy in America / Edition 1


Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-59) came to America in 1831 to see what a great republic was like. What struck him most was the country's equality of conditions, its democracy. The book he wrote on his return to France, Democracy in America, is both the best ever written on democracy and the best ever written on America. It remains the most often quoted book about the United States, not only because it has something to interest and please everyone, but also because it has something to teach everyone.

Harvey Mansfield and Delba Winthrop's new translation of Democracy in America is only the third since the original two-volume work was published in 1835 and 1840. It is a spectacular achievement, capturing the elegance, subtlety, and profundity of Tocqueville's original. Mansfield and Winthrop have restored the nuances of his language, with the expressed goal "to convey Tocqueville's thought as he held it rather than to restate it in comparable terms of today." The result is a translation with minimal interpretation, avoiding the problem that Tocqueville himself read in the first translation of Democracy in America.

The strength of the translation is only one reason that Mansfield and Winthrop's Democracy in America will become the authoritative edition of the text. Also included is a superb and substantial introduction placing the work and its author in the broader context of the traditions of political philosophy and statesmanship. Together in one volume, the new translation, the introduction, and the translators' annotations of references no longer familiar to us combine to offer the most readable and faithful version of Tocqueville's masterpiece.

As we approach the 160th anniversary of the publication of Democracy in
America, Mansfield and Winthrop have provided an additional reason to celebrate.
Lavishly prepared and produced, this long-awaited new translation will surely become the authoritative edition of Tocqueville's profound and prescient masterwork.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780226805368
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 04/28/2002
Series: Fieldwork Encounters and Discoveries Series
Edition description: 1
Pages: 722
Sales rank: 108,456
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 2.10(d)

About the Author

Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville (French: 29 July 1805 - 16 April 1859) was a French political thinker and historian best known for his works Democracy in America (appearing in two volumes: 1835 and 1840) and The Old Regime and the Revolution (1856). In both of these, he analyzed the improved living standards and social conditions of individuals, as well as their relationship to the market and state in Western societies. Democracy in America was published after Tocqueville's travels in the United States, and is today considered an early work of sociology and political science.

Tocqueville was active in French politics, first under the July Monarchy (1830-1848) and then during the Second Republic (1849-1851) which succeeded the February 1848 Revolution. He retired from political life after Louis Napoléon Bonaparte's 2 December 1851 coup, and thereafter began work on The Old Regime and the Revolution.

He argued that the importance of the French Revolution was to continue the process of modernizing and centralizing the French state which had begun under King Louis XIV. The failure of the Revolution came from the inexperience of the deputies who were too wedded to abstract Enlightenment ideals. Tocqueville was a classical liberal who advocated parliamentary government, but was skeptical of the extremes of democracy.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Physical Configuration
of North America


North America divided into two vast regions, one sloping toward the pole, the other toward the equator. Mississippi valley and its geology. The Atlantic coast and the foundation of the English colonies. Contrast between North and South America at the time of discovery. North American forests and prairies. Nomadic native tribes and their appearance, mores, and languages. Traces of an unknown people.

North America has striking geographical features which can be appreciated at first glance.

Land and water, mountains and valleys, seem to have been separated with systematic method, and the simple majesty of this design stands out amid the confusion and immense variety of the scene.

The continent is divided into two vast and almost equal regions.

One region is bounded by the North Pole and the great oceans to east and west, while to the south it stretches down in an irregular triangle to the Great Lakes of Canada.

The second starts where the other ends and covers the rest of the continent.

One region slopes gently toward the pole, the other toward the equator.

The lands to the north of the first region slope so imperceptibly that they may almost be described as plains, and there are no high mountains or deep valleys in the whole of this vast level expanse.

Chance seems to trace the serpentine courses of the streams; great rivers mingle, separate, and meet again; they get lost in a thousand marshes, meandering continually through the watery labyrinth they have formed, and only after innumerable detours do they finally reach the Arctic sea.The Great Lakes, which bring this region to an end, are not framed, as are most lakes in the Old World, by hills or rocks; their banks are level, hardly rising more than a few feet above the water. So each is like a huge cup filled to the brim. The slightest change of global structure would tilt their waters to the pole or to the tropics.

The second region is broken up more and is better suited as a permanent home for man. Two mountain chains run right across it; the Alleghenies parallel to the Atlantic, and the Rockies to the Pacific.

The area between these two mountain chains is 1,341,649 square miles, or about six times that of France.

But the whole of this vast territory is a single valley sloping down from the smooth summits of the Alleghenies and stretching up to the peaks of the Rocky Mountains, with no obstacles in the way.

An immense river flows along the bottom of this valley, and all the waters falling on the mountains on every side drain into it.

Formerly the French called it the St. Louis River, in memory of their distant fatherland, and the Indians in their grandiloquent tongue named it the Father of Waters, the Mississippi.

The Mississippi rises in the borderland between our two regions, not far from the highest point in the plain which links them.

Another river which rises nearby flows down into the polar seas. The Mississippi itself sometimes seems in doubt which way to go; it twists backward several times, and only after slowing down in lakes and marshes seems finally to make up its mind and meander on toward the south.

Sometimes gently flowing along the clay bed which nature has carved out for it, and sometimes swollen by storms; the Mississippi waters some twenty-five hundred square miles.

Thirteen hundred and sixty-four miles above its mouth, the river already has a mean depth of fifteen feet, and ships of three hundred tons can go over four hundred and fifty miles up it.

Fifty-seven large navigable rivers flow into it. Among the tributaries of the Mississippi are one river thirteen hundred leagues long, another of nine hundred leagues," another of six hundred, another of five hundred; there are four other rivers of two hundred leagues, not to mention the innumerable small stream on every side which augment its flood.

The valley watered by the Mississippi seems created for it alone; it dispenses good and evil at will like a local god. Near the river nature displays an inexhaustible fertility; the further you go from its banks, the sparser the vegetation and the poorer becomes the soil, and everything wilts or dies. Nowhere have the great convulsions of the world left more evident traces than in the valley of the Mississippi. The aspect of the whole countryside bears witness to the waters' work. Its sterility as well as its abundance is their work. Deep layers of fertile soil accumulated under the primeval ocean and had time to level out. On the right bank of the river there are huge plains as level as a rolled lawn. But nearer the mountains the land becomes more and more uneven and sterile; the soil is punctured in a thousand places by primitive rocks sticking out here and there like the bones of a skeleton when sinews and flesh have perished. The surface of the earth is covered with granitic sand and irregularly shaped stones, through which a few plants just manage to force their way; it looks like a fertile field covered by the ruins of some vast structure. Analysis of this sand and these rocks easily demonstrates that they are exactly like those on the bare and jagged peaks of the Rocky Mountains. No doubt the rains which washed all the soil down to the bottom of the valley, in the end brought portions of the rocks too; they were rolled down the neighboring slopes, and after they had been dashed one against another, were scattered at the base of the mountains from which they had fallen. (See Appendix I, A.)

All things considered, the valley of the Mississippi is the most magnificent habitation ever prepared by God for man, and yet one may say that it is still only a vast wilderness.

On the eastern slopes of the Alleghenies, between the mountains and the Atlantic, there is a long strip of rock and sand which seems to have been left behind by the retreating ocean. This strip is only forty-eight leagues broad on the average, but three hundred and ninety leagues long. The soil in this part of the American continent can be cultivated only with difficulty. The vegetation is scanty and uniform.

It was on that inhospital shore that the first efforts of human...

Table of Contents


Introduction     ix
A Note on the Text     xvii
The Text of Democracy in America     1
Backgrounds     619
Tocqueville Letters     621
To Ernest de Chabrol, New York, 9 June 1831     621
To M. Louis de Kergolay, Yonkers, 20 June 1831     622
To Ernest de Chabrol, Hartford, 7 October 1831     626
To the Countess de Tocqueville, On the Mississippi, 25 December 1831     627
To Eugene Stoffels, Paris, 21 February 1835     628
To Henry Reeve, Paris, 22 March 1837     629
To John Quincy Adams, Paris, 4 December 1837     630
Reviews of Democracy in America     632
Le Temps, Paris, April 1835     632
Revue des deux mondes, July-September 1840     636
Preface to 1838 American Edition of Democracy in America     643
Preface to 1841 American Edition of Democracy in America     646
The North American Review, July 1836     650
The United States Democratic Review, October 1837     659
The Knickerbocker; or The New York Monthly Magazine, September 1838     670
London Review, October 1835     673
Edinburgh Review, October 1840     683
Interpretations     705
Tocquevilleas Ethnographer     707
Tocqueville and American Civilization     717
Many Tocquevilles     724
From Egoism to Individualism     739
Not by Preaching: Tocqueville on the Role of Religion in American Democracy     750
Archaism and Modernity     767
The Illiberal Tocqueville     777
Of Prophets and Prophecy     788
Individualism and Apathy in Tocqueville's Democracy     799
Many Democracies: On Tocqueville and Jacksonian America     809
Democracy and the Tyranny of the Majority     825
Life Everlasting: Tocqueville in America     834
Tocqueville and American Legal Studies: The Paradox of Liberty and Destruction     848
Selected Bibliography     855

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Democracy in America (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 58 reviews.
branful on LibraryThing 2 days ago
need I say Tocquville is a real genius comparable to Karl Marx and E H Carr? Quite good at drawing a grand design and making delicate distinctions. He can be funnier than Carr sometimes.
Angelic55blonde on LibraryThing 2 days ago
This is a must have/must read for anyone who is interested in American history. Tocqueville gives a great explanation of America and its government. It is sometimes difficult to read because it was written by a Frenchman many, many years ago but that can be overlooked. Of note, many of Tocqueville's predictions about the state of world affairs turned out to be accurate. Overall, it's a must read for anyone.
Hamburgerclan on LibraryThing 8 days ago
Genius. Sheer genius. It seems like any book about American politics or history that I've read has at least one quote from this book, so I finally figured I should read it. Man, is this ever great. It's fascinating on so many levels. As history, it's primary source observations of a Frenchman who studied the United States in the 1830's. As a book on politics, it describes our government in depth, giving not just the facts of how it operates but also the rationale and history behind it. As a sociological tome, it mirrors the attitudes and behavior of the American people as well as contrasting those to the English and French. As a booster seat, it's nice and thick. It took me weeks to read (over a number of meals), and every day or so I found some tidbit to make me stop and think about the people around me--neighbors, co-workers, fellow church members. It's not a simple read, since Tocqueville, like other 19th century writers, is very lengthy and doesn't limit himself to one field of study. But it is definitely worth making an effort to read. Why I wasn't given this to read in high school, I don't know. Well, it's twenty years late, but I'm gonna put a copy on my shelf.--J.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too seldom read. Worth the time and effort
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