Front Page Titles (by Subject) The Manuscripts of Tocqueville - Democracy in America: Historical-Critical Edition, vol. 1
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The Manuscripts of Tocqueville - Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America: Historical-Critical Edition, vol. 1 
Democracy in America: Historical-Critical Edition of De la démocratie en Amérique, ed. Eduardo Nolla, translated from the French by James T. Schleifer. A Bilingual French-English editions, (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2010). Vol. 1.
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This bilingual edition of Tocqueville’s work contains a new English translation of the French critical edition published in 1990. The copyright to the French version is held by J. Vrin and it is not available online. The copyright to the English translation, the translator’s note, and index is held by Liberty Fund.
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The Manuscripts of Tocqueville
The preparation of the first edition of the complete works goes back to 1859, and comes just after the death of Tocqueville. The work of Gustave de Beaumont, who held Tocqueville’s manuscripts from his widow, Mary Mottley, was done with the aid of Louis de Kergorlay.
Beaumont knew Tocqueville’s obsession to publish nothing that had not been read and reread a hundred times. Since the author was no longer there to ensure the correction of his texts, Beaumont took charge of it. In so doing, he doctored certain passages; he deleted certain others without indication; and finally he destroyed an indeterminate number of documents (perhaps in response to the demands of Tocqueville’s wife).
That first edition, which elicited considerable criticism, possesses almost as many good qualities as failings. We know that the editorial practices of the period differed markedly from ours, that mutilations and corrections of all sorts did not as clearly give rise to condemnation. Some of the people cited in the correspondence were still alive at the time of publication. Finally, the political situation of the Second Empire weighed on the decision of the editor to make a certain number of modifications.
It is no less true that Beaumont provided an impressive work in a relatively short time. Nine volumes appeared in the space of seven years.
Mary Mottley died in 1865. Since her relations with the Tocqueville family were never good, she bequeathed all of her husband’s papers to Gustave de Beaumont. The family of the latter possessed them until 1891. At that time Christian de Tocqueville acquired them.
Not long after the end of the First World War, Paul Lambert White, professor at Yale University, became interested in Tocqueville’s manuscripts. He went to France, where he consulted and catalogued all of the manuscripts in the possession of the Tocqueville family. Moreover, he obtained the authorization to have the manuscripts that concerned America copied. M. Bonnel, the schoolteacher at Tocqueville, was charged with this work.3
At the death of Paul White, George W. Pierson, then a doctoral student at Yale, went in turn to France with the encouragement of John M.= S. Allison. He proceeded to do a new catalogue of the manuscripts4 and obtained the money necessary for the continuation of the work of copying. In this way Bonnel continued to work and to send copies regularly to the United States.
Several years after World War II, a new inventory revealed the disappearance of most of the manuscripts copied for the American university by Bonnel. Yale found itself from that time on in possession of invaluable documents.
Little by little, the collection grew, augmented over the years by new acquisitions and bequests. One of the most important contributions was the purchase, over a period of about twenty years (from 1953 to 1973), of the quasi-totality of the manuscripts of Gustave de Beaumont. In 1954, Yale acquired the manuscript and the final drafts of Democracy in America. At that time, the American university became the sole depository of the vast majority of the texts, notes, and correspondence relating to Tocqueville’s principal work.5
The collection holds original manuscripts as well as copies of lost originals. In the work of this edition, the drafts and the manuscript called the “working manuscript” of the Democracy have received particular attention.
The greater part of the drafts of the second part of the Democracy, to which the author gave the name “rubish”6 and which constitutes perhaps the most interesting portion of the Yale collection, is unfortunately in very bad condition. Insects and moisture have led to its deterioration, the handwriting is particularly hard to read, and the paper is crumbling into pieces. A quantity of minuscule bits of paper remains at the bottom of the two boxes that protect the Rubish.7
Other drafts of the second part of the book, and all those belonging to the first part, exist only as copies (that all together number about 1,500 pages divided into sixteen notebooks); they can be relatively trusted.8
To all of that, the notes written by Tocqueville during his journey to America9 must be added, and a group of more than three hundred letters, some still unpublished. This involves Tocqueville’s and Beaumont’s correspondence with Americans and the English during and after their visit to the United States, and letters written to their families and to various French correspondents.10
Other documents that are of interest for understanding the Democracy include bibliographies, lists of questions posed by Tocqueville and Beaumont to the Americans they spoke to, and above all, numerous documents in Beaumont’s hand for the writing of his novel, Marie, ou l’esclavage aux États-Unis, and for that of his essay on Ireland.
[3. ] White also gained permission to have copies made of certain documents in the hands of Antoine Rédier who was then preparing his book, Comme disait Monsieur de Tocqueville (Paris: Perrin, 1925). These copies were done by the secretaries of Abel Doysié, responsible for copying for the Library of Congress documents belonging to the French diplomatic archives.
[4. ] Yale owns copies of all of the catalogues of Tocqueville’s manuscripts.
[5. ] The other important collection of Tocqueville’s manuscripts is at the château de Tocqueville.
[6. ] The English rubbish means debris, remnants, trash. Following Tocqueville, we spell the word incorrectly throughout this edition. By the word, we mean either the drafts of each chapter (rubish), or the whole body of the drafts of the second part (Rubish).
[7. ] Some omissions could be filled in by consulting the microfilm done at the time of the arrival of the manuscript at Yale and a partial copy of the Rubish in Bonnel’s hand.
[8. ] The comparison of this copy of one part of the Rubish with the original shows some differences and omissions, as well as a certain arbitrariness in the placement of the text on the page. Bonnel also resorted, perhaps a bit too rapidly, to the expedient of “illegible word,” although this type of abuse is more desirable in a copyist than is an excess of imagination. I have corrected a number of obvious errors.
[9. ] These notes have been published in the fifth volume of the Œuvres complètes published by Gallimard. I have nonetheless preferred to refer to the Yale texts, given the presence in that edition, on more than one occasion, of differences and omissions.
[10. ] The letters sent by Beaumont to his family during the American voyage have been published by André Jardin and George W. Pierson with the title Lettres d’Amérique (Paris: PUF, 1973).