Alexis De Tocqueville Facts

Alexis De Tocqueville Facts
Alexis De Tocqueville was an early nineteenth century French diplomat, civil servant, and philosopher. He was born in the Napoleonic Era, traveled extensively for the period, and eventually became famous for his two volume work, Democracy in America (1835. 1840). In Democracy in America, Tocqueville explored the idea of democratic government, which was fairly new in the Modern Era, comparing it to "aristocratic" societies as well as the ancient Roman and Greek cultures that exhibited both aristocratic and democratic tendencies. The primary focus of the book, though, as the name indicates, was the democratic system in the fairly new United States of America. Tocqueville was impressed with the American system overall and the industrious nature of the American people, although he was not afraid to be critical of the American tendency to greed and the inherent racial problems in America. Although Tocqueville was French and only lived in the United States for a brief period, he is considered by many to be America's first and foremost philosopher. He was born Alexis Charles-Henri-Maurice Clérel on July 29, 1805 in Paris to Herve and Louise Clérel - the name Tocqueville was actually part of a title. He came from a lower noble family so was well-educated. He married a woman named Mary Mottley and remained married to her until he died, but the couple never had children.
Interesting Alexis De Tocqueville Facts:
Tocqueville served in a number of official offices during his lifetime. He represented his family's home region of Manche in the Chamber of Deputies (1839-1848) and the National Assembly (1848-1851). He also served briefly as the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the national government from June to October 1849.
The King of France allowed Tocqueville to travel throughout the United States beginning on May 9, 1831 that lasted for nine months. His official business was a study of the American prison system.
Tocqueville's travel companion was Gustave de Beaumont.
Although Tocqueville did visit a few prisons, he spent most of the time visiting small towns and rural areas of the United States and Canada.
Tocqueville exhibited a fair amount of prescience in a number of passages. In volume I, part 1, chapter 8, Tocqueville wrote about Mexico: "To the south, the Union has one point of contact with the Mexican Empire, where one day serious wars may well develop."
Although Tocqueville believed in democracy because he thought it brought about equality, it recognized that it could lead to less freedom if not watched properly.
Tocqueville's ideas are timeless and often open to interpretation. Even today both Republicans and Democrats, Liberals and Conservatives quote Tocqueville on the campaign trail and when they are trying to pass bills.
Tocqueville did accurately predict some events coming to pass in America, but he missed on the perhaps the most important event in American history, the Civil War. He wrote in volume 1, part 2, chapter 10: "If, today, one of these same states wished to withdraw its name from the contract, it would be difficult to prove that it could not do so. The federal government would not be able in any obvious way rely upon either force of law to overcome it."
Tocqueville died of tuberculosis on April 16, 1859 at the age of fifty-nine in Cannes, France. He was buried at his family's cemetery in Normandy.


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