The Liberty Fund second edition of James T. Schleifer’s celebrated study of Tocqueville includes a new preface by the author and an epilogue, “The Problem of the Two Democracies.” For the first time, the evolution of a number of Tocqueville’s central themes—democracy, individualism, centralization, despotism—emerges into clear relief.
In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville and Gustave de Beaumont spent nine months in the U.S. studying American prisons on behalf of the French government. They investigated not just the prison system but indeed every aspect of American public and private life—the political, economic, religious, cultural, and above all the social life of the young nation. From Tocqueville’s copious notes came Democracy in America.
In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville and his friend Gustave de Beaumont visited the United States. From Tocqueville’s copious notes of what he had seen and heard came the classic text De la Démocratie en Amérique, published in two large volumes, the first in 1835, the second in 1840. The first volume focused primarily on political society; the second, on civil society.