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16 - Alexis de Tocqueville

(1805–1859)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 May 2019

Olivier Descamps
Affiliation:
Pantheon-Assas University, Paris
Rafael Domingo
Affiliation:
Emory University, Atlanta
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Summary

Although Alexis de Tocqueville was both a Christian and a jurist, the literature on his life and work has paid relatively little attention to his religious beliefs or his legal formation. This chapter shows that his ability to see deeply into the roots and trajectories of the political transformations of his time owed a great deal to a keen legal mind and a profoundly Christian sensibility. Tocqueville received his legal education at a transformative moment in French legal history, just after the Napoleonic Codes had replaced a diverse welter of local and regional laws with a unified national legal system. That experience not only shaped his later views concerning political centralization but was also the basis for his penetrating analyses of the role of law and lawyers in the new American republic. Although Tocqueville struggled with religious doubts, he always considered himself a Christian. He unwaverngly believed that religion’s role in a nation’s seedbeds of civic virtue, and religious bodies as buffers between the individual and the state, were fundamental for the maintenance of free political institutions.
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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References

Recommended Reading

Aron, Raymond. “Tocqueville.” In Main Currents in Sociological Thought. Vol. 1, 237302. Garden City, NY: Doubleday Anchor, 1968.Google Scholar
Brogan, Hugh. Alexis de Tocqueville: A Life. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006.Google Scholar
Damrosch, Leopold. Tocqueville’s Discovery of America. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2010.Google Scholar
Fortin, Ernest. “A Tocquevillean Perspective on Religion and the American Regime.” In Ever Ancient, Ever New: Ruminations on the City, the Soul, and the Church, edited by Foley, Michael, 147–62. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007.Google Scholar
Glendon, Mary Ann. “Tocqueville the Politician.” In her The Forum and the Tower. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.Google Scholar
Jardin, André. Tocqueville: A Biography. Translated by Davis, Lydia with Hemenway, Robert. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.Google Scholar
Manent, Pierre. Tocqueville and the Nature of Democracy. Translated by Waggoner, John. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1996.Google Scholar
Mansfield, Harvey. Tocqueville. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.Google Scholar
Mansfield, Harvey, and Winthrop, Delba. “Editors’ Introduction.” In Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, translated by Mansfield, and Winthrop, , xviilxxxvi. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.Google Scholar
Nolan, James L. Jr. What They Saw in America: Alexis de Tocqueville, Max Weber, G. K. Chesterton, and Sayyid Qutb. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016.Google Scholar
Tocqueville, Alexis de. Democracy in America. 2 vols. Translated by Lawrence, George, edited by Mayer, J. P.. Garden City, NY: Doubleday Anchor, 1969.Google Scholar
Tocqueville, Alexis de. The Old Regime and the Revolution. Translated by Kahan, Alan, edited by Furet, François and Mélonio, Françoise. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.Google Scholar
Tocqueville, Alexis de. Recollections. Translated by Lawrence, George. Garden City, NY: Doubleday Anchor, 1971.Google Scholar
Tocqueville, Alexis de. Selected Letters on Politics and Society. Translated by Toupin, James and Boesche, Roger. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.Google Scholar
Zetterbaum, Marvin. “Tocqueville.” In History of Political Philosophy, edited by Strauss, Leo and Cropsey, Joseph, 761–82. 3rd edn. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.Google Scholar

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