Commentary

[in chronological order]

Tocqueville on Religion and American Democracy

- Carson Holloway, "Tocqueville on Christianity and American Democracy," First Principles Series, Heritage Foundation, April, 2016.
Excerpt: In recent years, Americans have lost sight of religion’s positive contribution to creating and sustaining our democracy. We have not forgotten religion’s relevance to our political life; we are continually reminded of that by our ongoing debates… More

Tocqueville on Religion and Liberty

- Mansfield, Harvey. "Tocqueville on Religion and Liberty." American Political Thought, Spring: 2016.
Excerpt: I stop the first American I meet … and I ask him if he believes religion to be useful to the stability of laws and to the good order of society; without hesitation he answers that a civilized society, but above all a free society, cannot subsist… More

Tocqueville’s Machiavellianism

- Mansfield, Harvey C. and Delba Winthrop. "Tocqueville's Machiavellianism." Perspectives on Political Science 43, no. 2 (Apr.-Jun. 2014): 87-92.
Abstract: Tocqueville’s sole reference to Machiavelli in Democracy in America is a nicely located misquotation. This article makes much of it, more than one would likely think possible. Tocqueville’s mission was to replace Machiavelli in his role… More

Tocqueville and America

- James Q. Wilson.  "Tocqueville and America," Claremont Review of Books, Vol. XII, No. 2 (Spring 2012)
Excerpt of an admiring but critical essay by James Q. Wilson on Tocqueville: Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville is no doubt the greatest book ever written by a foreigner about this country. It may be one of the greatest books written about any… More

“Providence and Democracy” by Harvey Mansfield

- Harvey C. Mansfield, "Providence and Democracy," Claremont Review of Books, Winter/Spring 2010/2011.
Excerpt: Alexis de Tocqueville was a liberal, but, as he once wrote, a “new kind of liberal.” For us, no feature of his new liberalism is more remarkable than the alliance between religion and liberty that he saw in America and proposed to be imitated,… More

Alexis de Tocqueville and the Art of Democratic Statesmanship

- Alexis de Tocqueville and the Art of Democratic Statesmanship, ed. Brian Danhoff and L. Joseph Hebert, Jr. (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2011).
Excerpt: Harvey Mansfield and Delba Winthrop have written that “Democracy in America is at once the best book ever written on democracy and the best book ever written on America.”  The editors of this volume concur with this assessment, and aim to… More

Toqueville: A Very Short Introduction

- Harvey C. Mansfield, Toqueville: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, 2010.
Excerpt: In view of Tocqueville’s criticisms of philosophy, it may seem paradoxical and presumptuous to call him a philosopher. But he calls himself a “new kind of liberal;’ and he sets forth a new liberalism that he has rethought. In… More

A New Kind of Liberalism

- Harvey C. Mansfield, "A New Kind of Liberalism," New Criterion, March 2010.
Excerpt: In view of Alexis de Tocqueville’s criticisms of philosophy, it may seem paradoxical and presumptuous to call him a philosopher; yet it was through his critique of philosophy that he set forth a new, rethought liberalism. In Democracy in America,… More

“Tocqueville on Human Nature and Natural Right” by Donald Maletz

- Donald J. Maletz, "Tocqueville on Human Nature and Natural Right" in Interpretation Vol. 37, No. 2 (Winter 2010)
Excerpt: Tocqueville’s account of American democracy makes no use of what might be thought one of its philosophical foundations, the theory of natural rights based on an interpretation of abstract and universal human nature. Yet at the same time he offers… More

More Than Kings and Less Than Men: Tocqueville on the Promise and Perils of Democratic Individualism

- L. Joseph Hebert, Jr.  More Than Kings and Less Than Men: Tocqueville on the Promise and Perils of Democratic Individualism (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2010)  
Excerpt: According to a tradition of classical writing, the key to any great work is in its beginning.  Tocqueville, whose college years were steeped in the study and imitation of Cicero and Demosthenes, illustrates this maxim well.  He tells us that the… More

Major Works

Recollections: The French Revolution of 1848

- Recommended Translation: Recollections: The French Revolution of 1848, ed. J.P. Mayer and A.P. Kerr.  (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Press, 1987). Originally published in 1893.
Excerpt: Removed for a time from the scene of public life, I am constrained, in the midst of my solitude, to turn my thoughts upon myself, or rather to reflect upon contemporary events in which I have taken part or acted as a witness. And it seems to me that… More

The Old Regime and the Revolution

- Recommended Translations: The Old Regime and the Revolution, Volume I, ed. Francois Furet and Francoise Melonio, trans. Alan S. Kahan. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998). The Old Regime and the Revolution, Volume II, ed. Francois Furet and Francoise Melonio, trans. Alan S. Kahan. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001).  
Excerpt: The book I now publish is not a history of the Revolution. That history has been too brilliantly written for me to think of writing it afresh. This is a mere essay on the Revolution. The French made, in 1789, the greatest effort that has ever been… More

Democracy In America

- Recommended translation: Democracy in America, ed. and trans. Harvey C. Mansfield and Delba Winthrop (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000). Volume I originally published in 1835. Volume II originally published in 1840.
Excerpt: "Among the novel objects that attracted my attention during my stay in the United States, nothing struck me more forcibly than the general equality of condition among the people. I readily discovered the prodigious influence that this primary fact… More

Multimedia

Tocqueville’s World and Ours

- James Ceaser, "Tocqueville's World and Ours," Lecture at Furman University, February 20, 2013
Tocqueville’s World and Ours A rigorous examination of Democracy in America’s “new political science” and a search to answer, “What was Tocqueville putting behind him?” with his declaredly new approach.

Democratic Statecraft: Tocqueville, Democracy in America

- Steven B. Smith, Yale University Course Lectures on Alexis de Tocqueville in "PLSC 114: Introduction to Political Philosophy"  
Democratic Statecraft: Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Lecture I With the emergence of democracies in Europe and the New World at the beginning of the nineteenth century, political philosophers began to re-evaluate the relationship between freedom and… More

On Religion and Rational Control

- Harvey Mansfield, "On Religion and Rational Control," Bradley Lecture at AEI, November 3, 2008
Lecture: On Religion and Rational Control “Rational control” is the subjection of society to reason as opposed to superstition, prejudice, or tradition, with the aim of getting us to behave better. Alexis de Tocqueville says this idea or practice began… More

Democratic Greatness in the American Founding

- Harvey C. Mansfield, "Democratic Greatness in the American Founding," lecture, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, October 1, 2004.
Democratic Greatness in the American Founding ISI Lecture by Harvey Mansfield

Colloquium on Democracy in America

- Harvey C. Mansfield and Delba Winthrop, "Colloquium on Democracy in America," panel discussion, Ashbrook Center, March 30, 2001.
Colloquium on Democracy in America Harvey Mansfield and Delba Winthrop’s new translation of Democracy in America (University of Chicago, 2000) is only the third since the original two-volume work was published in 1835 and 1840. It is a spectacular… More

Democracy in America

- "Democracy in America," interview with Brian Lamb, C-SPAN, 17 October 2000.
Democracy in America Alexis de Tocqueville’s book he wrote on his return to France from America in 1831 remains the most often quoted book about the United States. Harvey Mansfield and Delba Winthrop’s new translation is the first to appear in… More

Tocqueville and Equality

- "Tocqueville and Equality," C-Span Discussion, October 22, 1997
Tocqueville and Equality The panelists discussed Tocqueville’s ideas about equality and democracy from his observations in his book Democracy in America. They examined the reasons that U.S. society has developed relatively little, the possibility of the… More

Other Works

Selected Letters on Politics and Society

- Recommended Translation:  Selected Letters on Politics and Society, ed. Roger Boesche, trans. James Toupin and Roger Boesche (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986)
Excerpt: Paris, Feb. 21, 1835. To Eugène Stoffels: It is a long time since I have had any talk with you, dear friend; yet I often think of you. Among other anxieties, I am anxious about your present and future position. I fancy that if, as seems probable,… More

Writings on Empire and Slavery

- Writings on Empire and Slavery, ed. and trans. Jennifer Pitts.  (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2003)
Excerpt: SOME IDEAS ABOUT WHAT PREVENTS THE FRENCH FROM HAVING GOOD COLONIES (1833) Even supposing that the territory that is to contain the colony has been discovered and that it combines the conditions necessary for the success of the enterprise, there… More

Journeys to England and Ireland

- Journeys to England and Ireland, ed. J.P. Mayer, trans. George Lawrence and K.P. Mayer (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1958)
Excerpt: Well, here I am at Tocqueville, in my old family ruin. A  league away is the harbour from which William set out to conquer England. I am surrounded by Normans whose names figure in the lists of the conquerors. All that, I must admit, ‘flatters… More

Correspondence and Conversation with Nassau Williams

- Correspondence and Conversations of Alexis de Tocqueville with Nassau William Senior from 1834-1859, ed. M.C.M. Simpson, in Two Volumes (London: Henry S. King & Co., 1872)
Excerpt: Alexis de Tocqueville to N.W. Senior March 24, 1834. My dear Mr. Senior,– I hope that you have not yet entirely forgotten one who will always remember your kind reception with gratitude. I take to-day the liberty of asking you to bestow a… More

Alexis de Tocqueville and Gustave de Beaumont in America

- Alexis de Tocqueville and Gustave de Beaumont in America: Their Friendship and Their Travels, ed. Olivier Zunz, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010)
Excerpt: From Tocqueville To Charles Stoffels Paris, November 4, 1830 … My position in France is bad in every respect, at least to my way of seeing, for either this government will consolidate its position, which is not very likely, or it will be… More

Journey to America

- Recommended Translation: Journey to America, ed. J.P. Mayer, trans. George Lawrence (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1960)
Excerpt: 9 May. Yesterday morning the first cry of land was heard but it took a glass to see the coast. Today the rising sun has just revealed Long Island to us. We are approaching the shore rapidly, one already sees grass and trees in leaf; it’s a… More