Kevin P. Dincher Alexis de Tocqueville: In Search of Democracy
The young French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville spent nine months traveling in the United States in 1831. He discovered a dynamic society where hard work and moneymaking dominated, a sharp contrast to the aristocratic values of his own country. He also noted that the common person enjoyed an unprecedented level of dignity and deferred to no one.
Upon returning to France he composed his Democracy in America (De la démocratie en Amérique), which he published in two volumes (the first in 1835 and the second in 1840). In this brilliant work, he wrote of the burgeoning democratic order he observed in America—and tried to make sense out of the blend of liberty, crass individualism and market capitalism that he found in America. The primary focus of Democracy in America is its analysis of why republican representative democracy seemed to succeed in the United States while failing in so many other places— particularly de Tocqueville’s native France.
Alexis de Tocqueville: In Search of Democracy examines de Tocqueville's life, his Democracy in America - and whether he has anything to say to us today about our country.