Alexis deTocqueville

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Alexis deTocqueville Alexis de Tocqueville was born in Paris on July 29th, 1805. Growing up in Metz, France, the youngest child of Hervé Tocqueville and Mlle. De Rosanbo, he showed great intellectual promise from his earliest days. By the age of 16, his academic career was a brilliant one, his schoolwork earning him a special prize and two first prizes. He was an avid reader, reading books hardly accessible to a boy of his young age. It was during these years that he developed his critical thinking and reasoning skills that would serve him so well later in life. In 1831, Alexis and his friend and colleague Gustave de Beaumont embarked for New York. Sent to study the American penal system, Tocqueville was much more interested in studying the only completely democratic state and society of his time. The journey occupied ten months, and “The American Penal System and Its Application in France” was published under both Tocqueville and Beaumont’s names. When the two returned to France in 1832, they were considered experts on the prison system, and Tocqueville established himself as a promising young writer and political mind. Different authors generate different hypotheses regarding Tocqueville’s inspirations and mentors. John Koritansky sums up his views by stating that “almost certainly it was Rousseau who taught Tocqueville to see the root of love of equality in human nature and to see its centrality for political life. My whole interpretation, then, might be summed up by saying that Tocqueville attempts to rewrite Montesquieu’s political science by way of an extension of Rousseau’s reinterpretation of human nature.” Joshua Mitchell, on the other hand, believes that Tocqueville’s inspiration began ... ... middle of paper ... ...le: A Biographical Study in Political Science.” (Gloucester: Harper and Brothers) 1960. 7. Mayer, J.P. “Alexis de Tocqueville.” (New York: Arno Press) 1979. 8. Mayer, J.P. “Oeuvres Completes.” (Beaumont) XI, 123. 9. Mitchell, Joshua. “The Fragility of Freedom: Tocqueville on Religion, Democracy And the American Future.” (Chicago: University of Chicago Press.) 1955. 10. Tocqueville, Alexis. “Democracy in America.” Volume 1, Part I, Chapter 5. 11. Tocqueville, Alexis. “The Old Regime and the French Revolution.” (Garden City, New York: Doubleday) 1955. 12. Tocqueville, Alexis. “Memoir: Letters and Remains of Alexis de Tocqueville.” (Boston, Mass.: Ticknor and Fields) 1862. 13. Zetterbaum, Marvin. “Tocqueville and the Problem of Democracy.” (Stanford: Stanford University Press) 1967.
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