FACTOID # 10: The total number of state executions in 2005 was 60: 19 in Texas and 41 elsewhere. The racial split was 19 Black and 41 White.
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Encyclopedia > De Tocqueville

For otheruses, see Tocqueville (disambiguation)


Alexis de Tocqueville (July 29, 1805 - April 16, 1859) was a French political thinker and historian. His most famous works are Democracy in America (appearing in two volumes: 1835 and 1840) and The Old Regime and the Revolution (1856). He championed liberty and democracy. Alexis de Tocqueville once observed that it is easier for the world to accept a simple lie than a complex truth.

He was born in Paris and died in Cannes. His work based on his travels in the United States, Democracy in America, is frequently used in courses in 19th century United States history. His advocacy of private charity rather than government aid to assist the poor has often been cited admiringly by American conservatives, particularly in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Tocqueville is a major observer and philosopher of democracy, which he saw as an equation that balanced liberty and equality, concern for the individual as well as the community. He thought that extreme liberty led to isolation and anarchy, and that association, the coming together of people for common purpose, would bind Americans to an idea of nation larger than selfish desires. He accurately predicted that democracy would increase and eventually extend its rights and privileges to women, Natives, and Africans. He is thus also a political progressive, concerned with improving the lives of all citizens.



  • Du système pénitentaire aux États-Unis et de son application en France (1833)—Translated into English as On the Penitentiary System in the United States and Its Application to France.
  • De la démocratie (1835 and 1840)—The title literally translates as On Democracy, but the common translation of the title in English is Democracy in America. It was published in two volumes, the first in 1835, the second in 1840. It is Tocqueville's most famous work.
  • L'Ancien Régime et la Révolution (1856)—The English title is The Old Regime and the Revolution. It is Tocqueville's second most famous work.


  • "Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude."
  • "There are at the present time two great nations in the world—I allude to the Russians and the Americans—All other nations seem to have nearly reached their national limits, and have only to maintain their power; these alone are proceeding—along a path to which no limit can be perceived."
  • "Muhammad brought down from heaven and put into the Koran not religious doctrines only, but political maxims, criminal and civil laws, and scientific theories. The Gospels, on the other hand, deal only with the general relations between man and God and between man and man. Beyond that, they teach nothing and do not oblige people to believe anything. That alone, among a thousand reasons, is enough to show that Islam will not be able to hold its power long in ages of enlightenment and democracy, while Christianity is destined to reign in such ages, as in all others."
  • "The American Republic will endure, until politicians realize they can bribe the people with their own money."

See also

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Alexis de Tocqueville

  Results from FactBites:
Democracy in America - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (774 words)
De la démocratie en Amérique (published in two volumes, the first in 1835 and the second in 1840) is a classic French text by Alexis de Tocqueville on the United States in the 1830s and its strengths and weaknesses.
Tocqueville also speculates on the future of democracy in the United States, discussing both possible threats to democracy and possible dangers of democracy, including his belief that democracy has a tendency to degenerate into what he calls "soft despotism" as well as describing the tyranny of the majority, a problem in all democracies.
Tocqueville correctly anticipates the potential of the debate over the abolition of slavery to tear apart the United States (as it indeed did in the American Civil War); however, he predicts that any part of the Union can get away with declaring independence.
Alexis de Tocqueville - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2298 words)
A critic of individualism, Alexis de Tocqueville thought that association, the coming together of people for common purpose, would bind Americans to an idea of nation larger than selfish desires, thus making a civil society which wasn't exclusively dependent on the state.
Tocqueville concluded that removal of the Negro population from America was the best solution to problems of race relations for both Americans of African and European descent.
Tocqueville, who despised the July monarchy (1830-1848), believed that war and colonization would "restore national pride, threatened, he believed, by "the gradual softening of social mores" in the middle classes.
  More results at FactBites »



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