Commentary

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

Alexis de Tocqueville and the Two-Founding Thesis

- James W. Ceaser. "Alexis de Tocqueville and the Two-Founding Thesis." APSA 2010 Annual Meeting Paper.
Excerpt: Alexis de Tocqueville was one of the first thinkers in the nineteenth century to challenge the prevailing historical account of the American founding. According to that account, which was well on the way to becoming solidified when Tocqueville… More

Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift: Montesquieu, Rousseau, Tocqueville, and the Modern Prospect

- Paul A Rahe.  Soft Despotism, Democracy's Drift: Montesquieu, Rousseau, Tocqueville, and the Modern Prospect. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010)
Excerpt:   In early November 1836, when Tocqueville wrote to Louis de Kergorlay to voice his frustration and his worries, he complained that “a multitude of ideas remains obscure in my mind,” ad he lamented that, in the absence of his childhood… More

Tocqueville: A Very Short Introduction

- Harvey C. Mansfield.  Tocqueville: A Very Short Introduction.  (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010)
Excerpt: What sort of man was Alexis de Tocqueville? A writer, certainly, and with great style, but a writer of nonfiction conveying fact and truth in compelling terms with brilliant formulations. A social scientist, but without the cumbersome methodology,… More

Tocqueville’s American Woman and “The True Conception of Democratic Progress”

- Delba Winthrop, "Tocqueville's American Woman and "The True Conception of Democratic Progress" in Feminist Interpretations of Alexis de Tocqueville, ed. Jill Locke and Eileen Hunt Botting. (University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2009)
Excerpt: Women, although the moral and intellectual equals of men, should remain barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen? To us, the thought is repugnant, not to say wrongheaded. At first glance there seems no better place to turn to—or run from— than… More

Beyond the Bon Ménage: Tocqueville and the Paradox of Liberal Citoyennes

- Cheryl B. Welch, "Beyond the Bon Ménage: Tocqueville and the Paradox of Liberal Citoyennes" in Feminist Interpretations of Alexis de Tocqueville, ed. Jill Locke and Eileen Hunt Botting. (University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2009)
Excerpt: The theme of claustration–the cloistering of women in religious houses–was a staple of gothic literature in the first half of the nineteenth century.  Melodramas of incarceration tapped general fears about women’s divided loyalties… More

The Cambridge Companion to Toqueville

- The Cambridge Companion to Tocqueville, ed. Cheryl B. Welch, Cambridge University Press, 2006.
Table of Contents: Part I. Theory: 1. Tocqueville’s Comparative Perspectives by Seymour Drescher 2. Tocqueville on 1789: Preconditions, Precipitants, and Triggers by Jon Elster 3. Tocqueville’s New Political Science by Harvey C. Mansfield and Delba… More

Tocqueville’s New Political Science

- Harvey C. Mansfield and Delba Winthrop, "Tocqueville's New Political Science" in The Cambridge Companion to Tocqueville, ed. Cheryl B. Welch.  (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).
Excerpt: “A new political science is needed for a world altogether new.” (DAI Intro., 7) Here is a striking statement, given a paragraph to itself, from the Introduction to Tocqueville’s Democracy in America.  Although it could hardly be… More

Tocqueville, Political Philosopher

- Pierre Manent, "Tocqueville, Political Philosopher," trans. Arthur Goldhammer in The Cambridge Companion to Tocqueville,  ed. Cheryl B. Welch.  (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006)
Excerpt: Since 2002,texts by Tocqueville have been included in the syllabus  for the French Agrégation de Philosophie. What are we to think of this belated promotion of Tocqueville to the rank of  philosopher? Did the sages who draft the syllabi give into… More

Tocqueville and the French

- Françoise Mélonio, "Tocqueville and the French," trans. Arthur Goldhammer in The Cambridge Companion to Tocqueville, ed. Cheryl B. Welch.  (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006)
Excerpt: The purpose of this chapter is to show that Tocqueville’s thought gains in stature if we take account of his roots in French culture. The vigor of Tocqueville’s interpretation of the United States stems from his comparative approach. The purpose… More

Tocqueville and the Americans

- Olivier Zunz, "Tocqueville and the Americans: Democracy in America as Read in Nineteenth-Century America," in The Cambridge Companion to Tocqueville,  ed. Cheryl B. Welch.  (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006)
Excerpt: Volume 1 of Democracy in America was published in France in January 1835 to immediate acclaim.1 In England, Henry Reeve translated it promptly, and it was published during the same year.  But an American edition, the first requirement for broad… More

Nature and Fact in Tocqueville’s Democracy in America

- Harvey C. Mansfield, “Nature and Fact in Tocqueville’s Democracy in America,” Nature in American Philosophy, Jean De Groot, ed., Washington, D. C.: The Catholic University of America, 2004, 109-128.
Excerpt: Today political science speaks of facts but studiously avoids speaking of nature or natural or what happens naturally.  Classical political science, however, rests on nature and never speaks of facts.  “Fact” is a modern term that seems… More

Liberty, Equality, Nobility: Kolnai, Tocqueville, and the Moral Foundations of Democracy

- Daniel J. Mahoney, "Liberty, Equality, Nobility: Kolnai, Tocqueville, and the Moral Foundations of Democracy" in Democracy and Its Friendly Critics: Tocqueville and Political Life Today, ed. Peter Augustine Lawler.  (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2004)
Excerpt: “If society exists for the sake of anything at all, it exists for the sake of itself and thus for the sake of its ruling, leading and tone-giving members, and for the sake of the distinctively valuable, eminent, virtuous, ingenious and creative… More

Citizenship as a Vocation

- Patrick J. Deneen, "Citizenship as a Vocation" in Democracy and Its Friendly Critics: Tocqueville and Political Life Today, ed. Peter Augustine Lawler.  (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2004)
Excerpt: I. The Restless American Tocqueville was among the first commentators on the American scene to speak of the :restlessness,” or “restiveness” of democratic man.  Tormented by the openness of democratic society born of the universal… More

Tocqueville between Two Worlds: The Making of a Political and Theoretical Life

- Sheldon Wolin, Tocqueville between Two Worlds: The Making of a Political and Theoretical Life.  (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003)
Excerpt: Tocqueville singled out “powerlessness” as the striking characteristic of the politics of the times. Yet those times might also be described as notable for the abundance and variety of powers rather than their scarcity and for actors… More

Alexis de Tocqueville on the Natural State of Religion in the Age of Democracy

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Aristide Tessitore.  "Alexis de Tocqueville on the Natural State of Religion in the Age of Democracy" in The Journal of Politics , Vol. 64, No. 4 (Nov., 2002)
Excerpt: Shortly after arriving in the new world, Tocqueville wrote to one of his oldest friends about the flurry of conflicting impressions that greeted him in New York. He was struck by “a mixture of vices and virtues that is rather difficult to… More

De Tocqueville

- Cheryl B. Welch, "De Tocqueville" (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001)
Excerpt: Alexis de Tocqueville was born nearly two centuries ago into what he himself characterized as a dying breed of anachronistic aristocrats.  Yet his work seems to retain a greater measure of normative and explanatory power—and intellectual… More

Majority Tyranny in Aristotle and Tocqueville by Harvey Mansfield

- Harvey C. Mansfield, "“Majority Tyranny in Aristotle and Tocqueville,” Friends and Citizens: Essays in Honor of Wilson Carey McWilliams, ed. Peter Dennis Bathory and Nancy L. Schwartz (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000) pp. 289-297.
Excerpt: To compare Aristotle and Alexis de Tocqueville may not seem appropriate because Tocqueville does not seem to address Aristotle directly. He did not read Aristotle every day as he said he read Pascal, Montesquieu, and Rousseau. The latter are modern… More

The Making of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America

- James T. Schleifer, The Making of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, Foreword by George W. Pierson (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2000)
Excerpt: Alexis de Tocqueville’s first journey to America ended on 20 February 1832, when the Havre sailed from New York for France. But his nine-month visit had been only a preface to a second voyage that would consume the next eight years: the writing of… More

Liberalism and Big Government: Tocqueville’s Analysis

- Harvey C. Mansfield and Delba Winthrop, “Liberalism and Big Government: Tocqueville’s Analysis,”  in Politics at the End of the Century, ed. Arthur M. Melzer, Jerry Weinberger, M. Richard Zinman (London: Institute of United States Studies, 1999) 1-31

The Fragility of Freedom: Tocqueville on Religion, Democracy, and the American Future

- Joshua Mitchell.  The Fragility of Freedom: Tocqueville on Religion, Democracy, and the American Future. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999)
Excerpt: The Delphic injunction, “Know thyself,” seems nowhere to have been more happily violated than in the American context. It was, after all, Tocqueville the Frenchman, the stranger in America, who was able to grasp the multiple valences of the… More

Tocqueville and the Nature of Democracy

- Pierre Manent.  Tocqueville and the Nature of Democracy, trans. John Waggoner.  (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1996)
Excerpt: Tocqueville distills his discovery of the essence of modern society, of democracy, in this way. The equality of conditions is not a single characteristic among others, however important they may be; it is the “generative fact” from which… More

Self-Interest Rightly Understood

- Harvey C. Mansfield, "Self-Interest Rightly Understood," Political Theory, vol. 23 (1995), No. 1, pp. 48-66.
Excerpt: The collapse of communism is an occasion to rethink our bourgeois liberalism, which has surprised everyone, favorable or not, with its success. In particular it is time to have another look at self-interest. For communism is said to have collapsed… More

An Intellectual History of Liberalism

- Pierre Manent. An Intellectual History of Liberalism, trans. Rebecca Balinski (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994)
Excerpt: Is it possible to “end,” to “settle” the Revolution?  How can political institutions appropriate for the new society be constructed?  Tocqueville, like Constant and Guizot, had these questions thrust upon him.  However, they now presented… More

Revolutions Revisited

- Ralph Lerner, Revolutions Revisisted: Two Faces of the Politics of Enlightenment. (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1994)
Excerpt: The more impressive a work of historical analysis, the greater the likelihood it will deceive.  Whether a popular article or a scholarly monograph, its aura of completeness and balance, even its physical unity, may serve to conceal the field of… More

America’s Constitutional Soul

- Harvey C. Mansfield, America’s Constitutional Soul, (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993)
Excerpt: When it comes to American politics, I am an amateur. I love America at its best, or even at its most characteristic: “only in America.” Perhaps this kind of love ought to qualify me as a professional, because it requires one to learn what those… More

Tocqueville’s Defense of Human Liberty

- Tocqueville’s Defense of Human Liberty, ed. Peter Lawler and Joseph Alulis (New York: Garland Publishing, 1993)
Excerpt: Tocqueville seems to be the authority in our time for those who see the inadequacy of both bourgeois and socialist life for human beings.  Hence he inspires those who oppose the misanthropic reductionism of apolitical theory of every sort.  Each of… More

The Restless Mind: Alexis de Tocqueville on the Origin and Perpetuation of Human Liberty

- Peter Augustine Lawler, "The Restless Mind: Alexis de Tocqueville on the Origin and Perpetuation of Human Liberty."  (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1993)
Excerpt: I begin with socialism for a number of reasons.  Tocqueville saw the socialists as the most extreme and dangerous opponents to human liberty in his time.  His most pressing task as a political actor was to oppose socialist revolution.  He also… More

The Illiberal Tocqueville

- Edward Banfield.  "The Illiberal Tocqueville" in Here the People Rule.  (Washington, DC: AEI Press, 1991)
Excerpt: Democracy in America has been called the greatest book ever written about one country by a citizen of another.  It is certainly the greatest book ever written by anyone about America.  After 150 years there is hardly a page that does not open the… More

Interpreting Tocqueville’s Democracy in America

- Interpreting Tocqueville's Democracy in America, ed. Ken Masugi.  (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1991)
Excerpt: Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-59) is so frequently quoted that his readers may not probe beneath the enticing surface Democracy in America presents.  Many would remain content with pickin and choosing from his text, reading him as others do Montaigne… More

Tocqueville and the Problem of Natural Right

- Robert Eden, "Tocqueville and the Problem of Natural Right" in Interpretation Vol. 17, No. 3 (Sprint 1990)
Excerpt: “The primary questions of classical political philosophy, and the terms in which it stated them, were not specifically philosophic or scientific; they were questions that are raised in assemblies, councils, clubs and cabinets, and they were… More

Tocqueville: A Biography

- Andre Jardin, Tocqueville: A Biography, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1989.
From the publisher: Traces the life of the nineteenth century French social critic and discusses his relationship with the French government

Tocqueville and the Two Democracies by Jean-Claude Lamberti

- Jean Claude Lamberti.  Tocqueville and the Two Democracies, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989)
Excerpt: The American National Character and Democratic State: Near the end of volume one of Democracy in America, Tocqueville points out the need to “distinguish carefully between the institutions of the United States and democratic institutions in… More

Tocqueville: A Biography

- André Jardin.  Tocqueville: A Biography, trans. Lydia Davis with Robert Hemenway.  (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1989)
Excerpt: On 11 Thermidor of the year XIII (July 29, 1805) there was born in Paris “at 987, rue de la Ville-l’Eveque, Roule division… Alexis-Charles-Henri… son of Herve-Louis-Francois-Jean-Bonaventure Clérel, landed proprietor, aged 33, and… More

Alexis de Tocqueville

- Marvin Zetterbaum, "Alexis de Tocqueville," History of Political Philosophy, ed. Leo Strauss and Joseph Cropsey, University of Chicago Press, 1987 (Third Edition).
Excerpt: The publication in 1835 of the first part of Democracy in America established Alexis de Tocqueville as one of the foremost analysts of the problem of democracy.  Tocqueville was the first writer of modern times to undertake a comprehensive… More

Alexis de Tocqueville and the New Science of Politics

- John C. Koritansky. Alexis de Tocqueville and the New Science of Politics (Durham, NC: Carolina Acadmic Press, 1986)
Excerpt: In this book, I will try to describe and evaluate Tocqueville’s Democracy in America as a comprehensive teaching about politics.  Perhaps the best shorthand description of what Tocqueville is trying to do is to say that his Democracy has the same… More

The Forms and Formalities of Liberty

- Harvey C. Mansfield, ""The Forms and Formalities of Liberty," The Public Interest, No. 70 (Winter 1983), pp. 121-131."
Excerpt: This statement is long for an epigraph but dense enough to require explanation, and deep enough to reward reflection. Speaking of “forms,” Tocqueville directs our attention to institutions or practices in which the manner of action is more… More

Tocqueville and the Problem of Democracy

- Marvin Zetterbaum.  Tocqueville and the Problem of Democracy.  (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1967)
Excerpt: It is not uncommon for a major writer to be seen by his critics in widely divergent, even contradictory terms; Alexis de Tocqueville shares this fate.  To the familiar causes of critical disagreement, Tocqueville added his own—a veil of neutrality… More

Main Currents in Sociological Thought

- Raymond Aron, Main Currents in Sociological Thought: Montesuieu, Compte, Marx, Tocqueville, and the Sociologists and the Revolution of 1848, trans. Richard Howard and Helen Weaver (New York: Basic Books, 1965)
Excerpt: Tocqueville is not ordinarily included among the founders of sociology; I consider this neglect of Tocqueville’s sociological writings unjustified.  But I have still another reason for wishing to discuss him.  For in studying Montesquieu, Comte,… More

M. de Tocqueville on Democracy in America by J.S. Mill

- The Philosophy of John Stuart Mill, ed. Marshall Cohen (New York: The Modern Library, 1961)
Fascinating review of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America by Tocqueville’s colleague and correspondent, John Stuart Mill. The letter reveals the enormous respect Mill had for Tocqueville but also the differences between the two thinkers, even as… More

Leo Strauss on Alexis de Tocqueville

- Leo Strauss on Alexis de Tocqueville.  Transcript from class session.
Excerpt: Tocqueville, living two generations after Burke, accepted modern democracy on a Burkian basis, without accepting all the [?] of natural religion.  That is the starting point of Tocqueville.  Tocqueville was here for a very short time, making some… More