Although it is not much mentioned in the scholarly literature, the school shows up as an important motif in both volumes of Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America. Tocqueville distinguished between civic education, which he saw as crucially important to the survival of democracy, and scholastic education, which could threaten it. There is a tension between these educations, which becomes clearer upon noticing Tocqueville's support for the political doctrine of freedom of education, which was so important in French politics during the July Monarchy (1830-1848). The source of this tension lies in Tocqueville's understanding of the American social condition and decentralized administration as being amenable to civic education, while centralized France precluded it. This tension is mediated, the article suggests, by Tocqueville's perception of the essential religiosity of French society.
Tocqueville’s Guizot Moment
Tocqueville, Comparative History, and Immigration in Two Democracies
Nancy L. Green
Although mass migration to the United States and to France did not occur until after Tocqueville's visit to America, by rereading Tocqueville's classic De la démocratie en Amérique through the lens of immigration history, we can question some of the common assumptions about Franco-American differences. First, Tocqueville's comparativist gaze needs to be re-examined, especially with regard to the way in which it has been repeatedly invoked during the Tocquevillian renaissance of the last thirty years to differentiate the French and American experiences. Second, if Tocqueville did not discuss immigrants per se, his analysis of voluntary associations points to an important component of civil society which has been present both in France and the United States ever since immigrants began arriving en masse. Theories about the rise and decline of civil society as well as generalizations about Franco-American differences need to be challenged by including immigration associations in a new Tocquevillian analysis of democracy in both countries.
Tocqueville's New Democracy
At the beginning of the twenty-first century Democracy in America (1835-1840) reverberates through US political culture with more vibrancy than at any time since its original appearance.1 Newspapers and news magazines have abundantly applied Tocqueville’s observations to our latest election crisis. As soon as it was published this new volume’s editor was immediately rewarded with an appearance on National Public Radio. Beyond its additional testimony to a culture hero’s iconic status, what does the prodigious effort involved in producing a new translation add to the fund of Tocqueville scholarship? This is the first version to appear in thirty-five years and the third since 1945.2 The editors’ aim was to make theirs the most literal of all renderings. Only in deference to 165 years of tradition did they exclude the French particle from their title (i.e. On, or Concerning, Democracy in America). The translators are implacably true to their word. This version even replicates the original French word order as closely as possible. A more quotable Tocqueville is consciously sacrificed in the name of accuracy, but the reader can be assured that this is as close to the original as we are likely to get. Very rarely, such devotion to fidelity produces jarring history. We learn, for example, that Virginia’s success as a settlement was assured by the timely arrival of “farmers and industrialists”; industriels is more aptly translated as mechanics or artisans (31).
Tocqueville entre l'ancien et le nouveau monde
Sheldon S. Wolin, Tocqueville Between Two Worlds: The Making of a Political and Theoretical Life (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001).
Tocqueville, Associations, and the Law of 1834
Tocqueville's account of the role of voluntary associations in democracy is discussed in relation to the French government's repressive Law of 1834. The context was one of insurrection in Lyon and the regime of Louis Philippe, itself the product of an insurrection only a few years before, was particularly nervous about conspiratorial associations, which it attempted to ban with the law in question. Because Tocqueville opposed this law, he emphasized the virtues of political association in the text of Democracy in America and ignored certain problematic characteristics of the one association he used to exemplify his general argument, namely, the “free trade association” that convened in Philadelphia in 1831 to oppose the so-called Tariff of Abominations.
Outrageous Flirtation, Repressed Flirtation, and the Gallic Singularity
Alexis de Tocqueville's Comparative Views on Women and Marriage in France and the United States
Jean Elisabeth Pedersen
In 1831, the young French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville and his best friend Gustave de Beaumont traveled from the France of Louis-Philippe to the America of Andrew Jackson. * While their ostensible purpose was to research and write a useful
The Rise of Despotic Majoritarianism
begin by revisiting how one of history's most celebrated observers of democracy—Alexis de Tocqueville—once noticed some very similar problems amid nascent democratic politics. What Is Despotic Majoritarianism? The Dual Maladies of Democracy A
A Brief Comment on Nancy Green's Essay
It was a pleasure to read Nancy Green’s elegant and perceptive essay on Tocqueville and the comparative history of immigration. Her piece stimulated me to offer a few observations, which Green suggested might usefully be appended as a footnote to her remarks.
As Green notes, the question of immigration can be raised in connection with Tocqueville in two ways: What does it tell us about Tocqueville’s thinking, and what does it tell us about the two countries that interest him, the United States and France?
A New Democracy in America
Cheryl B. Welch
In considering the complex relationship between author and translator, Harvey Mansfield and Delba Winthrop observe with insight that all translators of texts—we might add readers of texts—are ultimately unable to ignore what they think they know.1 Inevitably my response to their work is shaped by what I think I know about Tocqueville—and like Professors Richter and Drescher—what I think I know about his context and intended audience. Although Mansfield and Winthrop’s hope is to remove the translator as much as possible from Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, and to give us his text in pristine form with philosophical subtleties intact, they too give us a translation that is marked by presupposition and a desire to harmonize the whole. After a brief consideration of their “literal” translation strategy, I want to turn to one particular example of how the Tocqueville of this new translation speaks to us in a voice inflected by what his translators think they know.
Jennifer Pitts, William Poulin-Deltour, and Marion Fourcade-Gourinchas
Jennifer Pitts De Tocqueville by Cheryl B. Welch
William Poulin-Deltour French Resistance: The French-American Culture Wars by Jean-Philippe Mathy
Marion Fourcade-Gourinchas Rethinking Comparative Cultural Sociology: Repertoires of Evaluation in France and the United States Edited by Michèle Lamont and Laurent Thévenot