Front Page Titles (by Subject) Preface to the Liberty Fund Edition - The Making of Tocqueville's Democracy in America
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Preface to the Liberty Fund Edition - James T. Schleifer, The Making of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America 
The Making of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, Foreword by George W. Pierson (2nd edition) (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2000).
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Preface to the Liberty Fund Edition
Fascination with Alexis de Tocqueville and his Democracy in America remains strong and growing. The revival of American interest in Tocqueville, dating from the 1930s, has been reinforced by the renewal of French attention, beginning about 1970, and since the early 1990s by the rediscovery of Tocqueville in central and eastern Europe.
Each generation finds a different essential message in Tocqueville’s Democracy. This remarkable timeliness is one of the book’s great strengths and attractions and is a testimony to the complexity and subtlety of the Frenchman’s thought. The Democracy in America has been read as an analysis of (1) legal and political institutions in Jacksonian America; (2) enduring themes in American society, politics, and culture; (3) the social and political situation in France during the early nineteenth century; (4) modern mass society; and (5) the human condition in democratic times. Tocqueville has been seen as an historian, political theorist, sociologist, psychologist, philosopher, and moralist. And even these classifications do not exhaust the possibilities.
In contemporary America, however, two themes seem especially to attract the attention of readers. First, Tocqueville offers us warnings and prescriptions about citizenship. He explores how we can best preserve and promote public or civic life in a modern democratic society that is marked increasingly by privatism and noninvolvement. Second, he speaks to us as a moralist in a profoundly confusing world. Many readers are attracted to the moral dimensions of Tocqueville’s thought, to his insistence on the crucial importance of shared values and beliefs, and to his sensitivity to the role that religion can play in the formation of values and in the development of a sense of the common good.
Since 1980, when The Making of Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America” was first published, many new works on Tocqueville and his Democracy have appeared, including important critical editions of his famous book. But this second edition of The Making is not an attempt to incorporate the discoveries and insights of Tocqueville scholarship during the past two decades. Nor is this republication an occasion to expand on Tocqueville’s French context and on the influence of French historical and political issues on his thinking, something I would undertake were I rewriting the work. Either of these tasks would require an entirely new book.
The only substantive change in this edition is the epilogue, which addresses the issue of unities and disunities between the two parts of the Democracy, 1835 and 1840, respectively. How many Democracies did Tocqueville write? This question, addressed implicitly in the original edition of my book, receives an explicit response in the epilogue.
The Making remains an expression of what has been called the “Yale school” of Tocqueville scholarship. It is based on close reading of the drafts and original working manuscript of the Democracy, as well as on other papers and books relating to Tocqueville’s work. Since it is grounded primarily in his American sources and materials, my book is focused on Tocqueville’s American experience, including his “second journey to America,” that is, his reconsideration over several years of what he had seen, heard, read, and thought about American democracy.
The purpose of this second edition is simply to put The Making back into print and to make it available once again to interested readers. For this I am grateful to Liberty Fund for its support.
james t. schleifer