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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: February 2020

1 - Introduction


In July of 1831, one year after the July Revolution established a constitutional monarchy in France, Alexis de Tocqueville and Gustave de Beaumont arrived in New York City on an official mission to investigate the US prison system. Over the next eight months their travels took them thousands of miles throughout the forty-year-old United States, from Canada to New Orleans. They spent only two weeks in the newly established national capital of Washington, DC. In the following decade, in a pivotal work that would become a touchstone of modern political science, Tocqueville expressed his admiration for a society where politics sprang from the many communities he visited rather than from the powerful hierarchies that still dominated Europe.