Nineteenth century French historian, author of Democracy in America
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  • Alexis de Tocqueville

    Alexis Charles Henri Clérel, Viscount de Tocqueville (29 July 1805 - 16 April 1859) was a French diplomat, political scientist and historian. He was best known for his works Democracy in America (appearing in two volumes: 1835 and 1840) and The Old Regime and the Revolution (1856). In both he analyzed the improved living standards and social conditions of individuals, as well as their relationship to the market and state in Western societies. Democracy in America was published after Tocqueville's travels in the United States and is today considered an early work of sociology and political science.


    Tocqueville, Alexis de (1805-1859), by Jason Kuznicki, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
    Biographical essay
    "Alexis de Tocqueville was one of the foremost scholars of the French Revolution and of the early American republic. ... Tocqueville is best remembered for his work as a political theorist. His observations on monarchical and representative government, commerce, and individual liberty make him perhaps the most influential of all modern social commentators. Tocqueville emphasized that healthy societies develop naturally from the free pursuit of legitimate ends; he mistrusted both aristocracy and centralized government, and he stressed the limits of any government's ability to enact social change."


    29 Jul 1805, in Paris, France


    16 Apr 1859, in Cannes, France


    Subjugating Ourselves, by Sheldon Richman, 7 May 2010
    Examines key passages from La Boetie's Discourse on Voluntary Servitude and criticises newspaper editorial writers (with a recent example) for preaching to the people to acquiesce and submit to government
    "As I discussed recently, Alexis de Tocqueville thought democracies were prone to despotism, albeit a milder kind, but despotism nevertheless. As he wrote in Democracy in America, people living in democracies 'combine the principle of centralization and that of popular sovereignty ... Every man allows himself to be put in leading-strings, because he sees that it is not a person or a class of persons, but the people at large who hold the end of his chain.'"

    The introductory paragraph uses material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.