Tocqueville, Alexis (-Charles-Henri-Maurice Clérel) de


Tocqueville, Alexis (-Charles-Henri-Maurice Clérel) de

biographical name

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Alexis de Tocqueville, detail of an oil painting by T. Chassériau; in the Versailles Museum.—H. Roger-Viollet

(born July 29, 1805, Paris, France—died April 16, 1859, Cannes) French political scientist, historian, and politician. Born into an aristocratic family, he entered government service by choice. After the July Revolution of 1830, his position became precarious because of his family's ties to the ousted king, and he undertook a nine-month study trip to the U.S. with his friend Gustave de Beaumont. Out of it came his best-known work, Democracy in America, 4 vol. (1835–40), a highly perceptive and prescient analysis of the American political and social system, as well as of the vitality, excesses, and potential future of democracy, with attention to the situation in France. He was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1839 and held various political offices after the Revolution of 1848. The Old Regime and the Revolution (1856), a pessimistic analysis of French political tendencies, was the first volume of his unfinished study of the French Revolution.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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