REMNANT TRUST COLLECTION
Alexis Henri Charles Maurice Clerel de Tocqueville
“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.”
– de Tocqueville
b. 1805 CE – d. 1859 CE
Alexis de Tocqueville was brought up for the bar, or rather for the bench, and became an assistant magistrate in 1830. A year later he obtained from the government a mission to examine prisons and penitentiaries in America, and proceeded thither with his life-long friend Gustave de Beaumont. He returned in less than two years, and published a report, but the real result of his tour was the famous De la Democratic en Amerique, which appeared in 1835, and very soon made his reputation.
During the last twenty years of his life, and for perhaps half that time after his death, Tocqueville had an increasing European fame. His manner, which is partly imitated from Montesquieu, has considerable charm, and he was the first and has remained the chief writer to put the orthodox liberal ideas which governed European politics during the first half or two-thirds of the 19th century into an orderly and attractive shape.
He was, moreover, as has been said, much taken up by influential persons in England – N. W. Senior, John Stuart Mill and others – and he had the great advantage of writing absolutely the first book of reasoned politics on democratic government in America.