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CHAPTER 2: An Expanding Task Resumed - 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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An Expanding Task Resumed
Most of the 1835 Democracy had been written in what Beaumont called “une mansarde mystérieuse” high above the bustle of the Paris sixième. Despite protestations in 1834 that he disliked the country and the country gentleman’s “vie de pomme de terre,” Tocqueville would draft much of the second part of his work  at Baugy, a small estate owned by his brother, Edouard. The château, located near Compiègne, was little more than a country house, but in the winter of 1834–35 Alexis was quickly captivated by its quiet and comfort. At Baugy, Edouard and his family reserved for their guest “a type of castle tower, or, to speak more modestly, pigeon roost that has been arranged expressly for me above the château.”1 “There,” Tocqueville told Beaumont, “they showed me Alexis’s room and next to it that of Gustave. The entire thing, which is quite small, makes a pleasant whole; it is a small aerial world where, I hope, we will both perch next year.”2 Suspended, in his pigeonnier, between heaven and earth, Tocqueville would be able to write in undisturbed solitude.
In the spring of 1835, however, despite the charms of this country nest, he refused to settle down to begin the final parts of his work. Tocqueville often acted on the basis of personal beliefs, firmly held, and he was convinced that no author should hurry into print immediately after a great success. But there were also two other reasons for his refusal to resume the Democracy: travel and romance.
In April, he and Beaumont sailed to England where, ever since the short visit of 1833, he had hoped to return. Much across the channel remained to be seen, pondered, and compared with his American experiences. If the United States was, for Tocqueville, the symbol of an advanced democratic society, England seemed the epitome of a successful aristocracy, and the 1840 Democracy was destined to present many more three-way comparisons—France, America, England—than had the first two volumes of the book.
But he also had personal motives. About 1828, he had met a young Englishwoman, Mary Mottley, who, though lacking great wealth or notable birth, had attracted him by her qualities of mind and spirit. Now, despite his family’s stubborn resistance, Tocqueville resolved to marry Marie. A second trip to Britain offered an opportunity to meet Marie’s family and to make final arrangements for the wedding.3
The companions traveled together until August, when a shortage of funds forced Tocqueville to return home. Arriving in Paris in August with the intention of resuming his American enterprise, he wrote to M. le Comte Molé: “My only project at this moment will be to do what I have always intended to do if the book succeeded: to develop a last segment of my work on Democracy.”4
The letter also stated that whereas his 1835 volumes had tried to illustrate the influence of égalité des conditions on the laws and political institutions of America, the dernier développement  would examine the effect of égalité on American ideas, moeurs, and civil society.5 “I do not know if I will succeed in portraying what I believed I saw; but at least I am certain that the subject is worth being examined; and that, out of it, a skillful writer could draw the material for a volume.”6 In August 1835, he meant to write only one more volume, and his focus was still primarily on America.
During the last months of 1835, ensconced in his tower at Baugy, Tocqueville repeated the process of 1833 and drew up a list of subjects which he believed were important enough to become chapters.7 This list included three topics on American education: “(1) On academic institutions under Democracy; (2) On the necessity for corps savants in Democracies; [and] (3) On education in the United States and in democratic countries in general.”8 An additional note declared: “The influence of Democracy on the education of men, or rather their instruction, is a necessary chapter,” and indicated that this required piece would be placed among the chapters on American ideas. Tocqueville even titled a chapter cover: “Influence de l’égalité sur l’éducation,” but the jacket remained empty and would eventually be relegated to what he called the “Rubish” of his 1840 volumes.
In a comment scribbled later below the title, he would write: “There would have been many things to say on this subject, but I already have so many things in the book that I believe it will be necessary to leave this aside.”9 Evidently the sheer size of the last part of the work discouraged him from introducing his ideas on American education, and although the 1840 Democracy would include a chapter entitled “Education of Girls in the United States,”10 no comprehensive discussion concerning the influences of démocratie on education would appear. At least one critic has noted that the lack of such a general treatment is one of the Democracy’s important weaknesses.11
At the same time, Tocqueville considered a chapter on the effects of democracy “sur les sciences morales,” and another, closely related, “sur la moralité humaine” which he proposed as his last, for it was an “idée capitale et mère” and “Everything about man is there.” The plan was finally abandoned, however, because the discussion would be “too vast, too thorny. Probably refrain from doing it.”12
During these first months of work, Tocqueville was still thinking in terms of a single additional volume. A preliminary plan proposed: “Two great divisions: 1. Influence of Démocratie on ideas; 2. id. on sentiments.” But then Tocqueville wondered: “Where to place manners, customs?” He was apparently leaning toward some separate consideration of moeurs. Yet another possibility also occurred to him at this time: “Make a third division of what is not democratic, but American.” Tocqueville would never find an adequate way to distinguish between democratic and American traits, but at least he had recognized the problem raised in his work. A final sketch avoided this last complication and simply concluded: “3rd volume. Division to make perhaps. Effects of Démocratie 1. on thought; 2. on the heart; 3. on habits.” He had now fixed the basic organization for much of the 1840 Democracy.13
As 1836 began, Tocqueville ceased work and hurried to Paris where his mother lay critically ill. On 10 February, he sadly notified John Stuart Mill that Madame la Comtesse had died.14 The consequences were unexpected. In the division of property Alexis was awarded Tocqueville, the ancient family home in Normandy, long uninhabited and badly in need of repairs. This battered and dubious portion soon won his affection; by 1837, his feelings for the old château would eclipse even his attachment to Baugy.
Tocqueville returned to the Democracy in the spring of 1836. Earlier, at the request of Mill, he had submitted an article to the London Review, and the Englishman, anxious to secure regular contributions, now pressed him for a second essay. But Tocqueville pleaded the increasing demands of his American work and declined. He also mentioned for the first time his intention of publishing two additional volumes rather than only one.15 The scope of his enterprise was steadily widening.
Defending his decision, he wrote to his English translator and friend, Henry Reeve: “Instead of a single volume, I will be forced to publish two of them.... I hold to presenting myself in the smallest possible format. But in the end, there is a limit to being concise, and I have not been able to squeeze what I have to say into a single volume.” The spring of 1837 would probably be the date. “At that time I believe that I will publish the two new volumes separately, leaving to a later time the correction of the first two and the coordination of the whole.”16 This was another in a long series of mistaken estimates.
“America” so possessed Tocqueville’s mind in the early part of 1836 that the subject poked into his correspondence even when he wished to write of other things. Having inadvertently mentioned America in another letter to Reeve he apologized: “Pardon me, my dear friend, there I go falling again into this damnable Democracy which I have on my nose like a pair of glasses and through which I see all things. A bit more, and the only thing left to my family will be to have me declared incapable of managing my affairs and led off to Charenton.”17
Whatever the risks, Tocqueville kept his “spectacles” snugly on his nose throughout April, May, and June. In May he left Paris and perched himself once again at Baugy where he testified that he did only three things: sleep, eat, and work, adding that in ten days at his brother’s house he had written more than in a month at Paris.18
His only complaint concerned the difficulty of his task, which seemed to expand in direct proportion to his efforts. He also sensed a slow but troubling movement away from the concreteness of the American experiences and toward the abstraction of general ideas about démocratie. “There are moments when I am seized by a sort of panic terror. In the first part of my work I confined myself to the laws, which were fixed and visible points. Here, it seems that at times I am up in the air, and that I am most certainly going to tumble down, unable to stop myself, into the common, the absurd, or the boring.” Revealing his own self-doubts, he added: “Those who are full of self-complacency are a thousand times happy; they are insufferable to others, it is true; but they enjoy themselves delightfully.”19
Tocqueville’s health was always precarious, especially under the stress of long periods of concentrated work, but in July 1836, it was Marie’s constitution, as delicate as her husband’s, which interrupted the Democracy. It almost seemed that when one wasn’t ill, the other was. The couple decided to visit the spa at Baden, Switzerland, where they stayed for the remainder of the summer.
Not until October did they return to Baugy. Four months had been lost,20 and Tocqueville’s mind, so long away from the Democracy, turned once again to America only with the greatest difficulty. As a result of the break, he told Beaumont his work would not appear before the end of 1837.21
He had attempted to complete his chapters concerning the influence of démocratie on ideas before leaving for Switzerland. So now, the section on les sentiments demanded his attention.22 Overcoming his inertia, for the next three months the author spent at least eight hours a day at his desk. He rose daily at six, worked until ten, and then stopped for three or four hours in order to eat and exercise. By the middle of each afternoon, he was back at his desk. As he told Reeve: “I have never worked at anything with as much enthusiasm; I think of my subject day and night.”23
Yet progress did not match his fervor. The Democracy’s increasing complexity continued to surprise and trouble him. “I would never have imagined that a subject that I have already revolved in so many ways could present itself to me with so many new faces.”24 The possibility of following an earlier triumph with a mediocre book also haunted his thoughts. Such doubts drove him to a thoroughness so extraordinary and painful that frustration finally settled in. Tocqueville found some comfort, however, in his surroundings, which he described as almost ideal for work, and he also drew assurance from a conviction that at least what he did write was good. Only one thing was missing. “I lack only a good instrument of conversation,” he told Beaumont, “I need either you or Louis. The system would then be perfect.”25
Tocqueville often tried to clarify his ideas by exposing them to the rigors of friendly criticism. For the 1835 volumes, he had relied primarily on the critical abilities of his family and Beaumont. But during the writing of the second part of the Democracy, his list of “good instruments of conversation” changed considerably. Although, between 1835 and 1840, Gustave remained Tocqueville’s favorite judge, Edouard, who was often available at Baugy, probably rose in his esteem. And even more important, Louis de Kergolay’s stature as reader and commentator grew to the point of rivaling Beaumont’s.26
Louis de Kergolay (1804–77), born only a year before Tocqueville and his oldest and probably closest friend, had decided to pursue a military rather than a legal career. He had become an officer in 1829 after study at both the Ecole polytechnique and the Ecole d’artillerie et de génie, and his background, intelligence, and prominent role in the successful siege of Algiers in 1830 seemed to assure a bright future. But the July Revolution suddenly intervened. Unlike Alexis, Louis refused to take an oath of loyalty to the new regime and, after his involvement in an unsuccessful legitimist plot of 1832, retired from all participation in public affairs.27 During almost forty years of internal exile, Kergolay would publish a few articles, travel occasionally, lead the life of a country squire, and, according to both Tocqueville and Beaumont, largely waste his fine mind and high abilities. Until Alexis’s death in 1859, he and Louis, despite profound political differences, would maintain an exceedingly close friendship.
One result of their relationship was now an effort, both in person and in writing, to keep Kergolay abreast of the development of the Democracy.28 “There is not, so to speak, a day that I do not feel your absence,” Tocqueville wrote on 10 November 1836. “A multitude of ideas remain obscure in my mind because it is impossible where I am to throw them out in a conversation with you and see how you set about to combat them, or, accepting them, how you give them a new twist. There are three men with whom I live a bit every day, Pascal, Montesquieu, and Rousseau. A fourth is missing: you.”29
This letter, in addition to underlining Tocqueville’s growing reliance on Louis’s intellectual companionship, also touches on one of the most difficult parts of any attempt to reconstruct the making of the Democracy. Particularly after 1835, readings not directly related to America entered increasingly into Tocqueville’s thinking and writing process. He began to study and restudy a much broader range of works than he had found either the time or the need to read while he worked on the first half of his book. Letters and other materials indicate that between 1835 and 1840 he consulted, among great works of philosophy or political theory, the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch, Thomas Aquinas, Machiavelli, Montaigne, Bacon, Descartes, Pascal, Montesquieu, and Rousseau. Of other seventeenth-century French authors, he read La Bruyère, Charles de Saint-Evremond, and Madame de Sévigné; and from the eighteenth century, Fontenelle, Jean-Baptiste Massillon, and Malesherbes, as well as the famous Encyclopédie. During this brief period he also apparently read, more miscellaneously, Rabelais, Cervantes, the Koran, and various books by his contemporaries, especially Guizot, Lacordaire, and François-Auguste Mignet.
But demonstrating any firm and specific connection between these extensive readings and the last volumes of the Democracy remains nearly impossible. Unlike the 1835 drafts, which, as we shall see, often referred explicitly to many American works, the 1840 manuscripts only rarely hint at how a particular writer or book might have contributed in any precise way to the shape of Tocqueville’s grande affaire. So almost all claims to influences on the 1840 Democracy by one author or another must continue to rest on the grounds of parallel ideas and other broad similarities.
In December 1836, Tocqueville returned to Paris. He continued to work, but lost a great deal of time to social obligations. Such demands did not, however, prevent the reiteration of his intention to publish by the end of 1837. In January, he even announced to Nassau Senior that his manuscript would be complete by the summer. “I do not know if it will be good; but I can affirm that I cannot make it better. I devote to it all my time and all my intelligence.”30 But such dedication would still not be enough to enable him to meet any of his proposed publication dates. During 1837, illness and politics would repeatedly mock his plans.31
That summer was the first which Alexis and Marie spent at the château in Normandy. Illness marred Tocqueville’s first days at his “vieille ferme,” however. And his recovery was not complete enough to allow work. He worried increasingly about the Democracy’s retreating publication date. “Time passes in a frightening manner. But what do you want? Above all one must live, if only to have the strength to complete this great work. If the result of my work is really good, it will make an impression whatever the period of publication; if it is bad or mediocre, what do greater or lesser chances of a temporary success matter? That is what I constantly tell myself to calm the inner agitation which besets me when I consider all that remains for me to do in order to finish.”32
For John Stuart Mill, Tocqueville described his difficulties in great detail, and familiar specters crowded the account. “My plan has much enlarged,” he wrote; “and then difficulties seem to grow as I advance and the fear of doing worse than I did before increases. I can not ignore the fact that people expect much from me; this idea constantly torments me and makes me bring to the least detail a care which, I hope, will serve the work, but which renders its writing slower.” He noted also that various incidents vexed him, including his recent illness and the circumstance that would consume most of the fall of 1837: “I live here in the arrondissement where I want to present myself at the next election, which necessitates visits to my neighbors.... the result of all this, my dear Mill,” he concluded glumly, “is that I can not, without deluding myself, hope to appear before next February at the earliest.”33
In August 1837, “le bon Gustave” arrived in Normandy to hear parts of Tocqueville’s manuscript. Beaumont had just returned from a long voyage to the British Isles where he had gathered materials for his projected work on Ireland. The former traveling companions undoubtedly spent long hours that summer walking through the fields that surrounded the château and thrashing out ideas for their books.34
The August meeting also probably included talk of political plans. Their letters during 1837 had turned repeatedly to tales of parties and politicians, and by September the friends wrote of little else except political news. As early as May, Tocqueville had speculated about the possibility of new elections, so when elections were finally called for November, the authors put their books aside and campaigned eagerly for seats in the Chamber of Deputies.35
Since they had decided to run as political independents, bound to no man or party, Tocqueville even rebuffed the overtures of Molé who was then head of the government. Such lofty attitudes proved their undoing, and the election results sent two other men to Paris. Shortly after their defeats, Alexis wrote to console and encourage Gustave. “Here we are finally free, my dear friend, and I can not tell you with what joy and enthusiasm I throw myself once again into my studies and into my work.... The future is ours, believe me. Never was I so convinced of it.”36
For the early winter of 1837–38, Tocqueville returned to Paris. There he had hoped to lose himself in his monomanie, but the capital once again upset his plans; a call to jury duty consumed the last two weeks in December. “I truly begin to believe that it is not written on high that I will finish my book.”37
In January, he fled to Baugy and was finally able to reestablish the ambitious work schedule which he had followed in 1836. Yet once again dissatisfaction with his draft tormented him. “Have you ever been fully satisfied with what you write?” he asked Beaumont. “The thing has never happened to me that I recall. Always somewhere above, below, to the right and left of the mark, never fully on this ideal mark that each has eternally before his eyes and which always recedes when someone wishes to reach it.”38 Tocqueville made this admission of discontent while simultaneously drafting several chapters concerning the influence of democracy on moeurs39 and sketching various ideas which he hoped to include in his preface to the 1840 volumes.
Having already determined to publish his last two volumes separately and to postpone a projected attempt to coordinate the 1835 and 1840 parts of the Democracy, Tocqueville was troubled about the possibility of repetition or contradiction between the two parts of his work. He now resolved to mention that danger in his preface and, on 5 November 1838, wrote: “Point out—to myself as well—that I was led in the second work to take up once again some subjects already touched upon in the first, or to modify some opinions expressed therein. Necessary result of such a large work done in two stages.”40
Yet most judgments apparently needed no modifications, so Tocqueville also decided to point that out. “It will be necessary to show how recent events justify the greater part of the things that I said.” He believed, in particular, that the accuracy of his remarks about “The Indians; Texas; The Negroes; The need to have troops in the cities; The ultra-democratic tendencies” had been confirmed.41
As for those opinions which did need correction, Tocqueville felt that only one was serious enough to mention in his preface. In 1835, he had predicted “the weakening of the federal bond,” but in 1838, in a “note related to the preface of my grand ouvrage,” he confessed, “admit my error.”42
He also resolved to acknowledge the changing focus of his work. The scope of the 1840 Democracy had not only expanded, but had also shifted away from America and toward general considerations about the effects of démocratie. Tocqueville anticipated criticism of this transformation, but hoped that an attempt to forewarn his readers and to demonstrate his own recognition of the shift would remove at least some of the critical sting. In a fragment entitled “Explanation of the object of the work,” he declared: “The first book more American than democratic. This one more democratic than American.”43 Yet at some time between early 1838 and late 1839, Tocqueville would inexplicably decide to delete each of these ideas, and not one would appear in his published preface.
By March 1838, the chapters on moeurs were nearly complete, and Tocqueville began sketches of the final section of the Democracy.44 He told Reeve that he wished to publish by the winter of 1838–39, but cautioned against relying too heavily on such estimates. “Each day I see myself mistaken in my calculations.... I never know ... in advance if what remains for me to do will take a little or a great deal of time, if it will consume much or little paper.”45
His caution was well considered, because calculations once again failed to allow time for illness. After three months of feverish work, his brain refused all service. Mentally and emotionally exhausted, he tried in vain to persuade Beaumont that he was not actually sick, but Gustave easily saw through his protestation. Finally, in the hope that a break might restore his energy, he reluctantly decided to abandon “America” temporarily, and after putting some final touches on the chapters on moeurs, he and Marie left Baugy for Paris. From there they soon continued on to Normandy where they anticipated a quiet summer.46
Tocqueville planned to draft the last major part of his book while settled snugly in his tower at the château, but a multitude of annoyances once again made any writing impossible. He was besieged by “people, boring but useful to receive,” who allowed their visits to become five-hour sojourns.47 When visitors failed to appear, Marie, who was directing extensive renovations, kept the old house in tumult. Tocqueville quickly grew impatient with the noise and disorder and lamented: “The charm of embellishing my property does not yet move me: perhaps that will come to me as to so many others I see who easily console themselves about all the miseries of life by making an English garden. But it hasn’t happened yet, and while waiting, I am chased from room to room by a throng of workers who, under the pretext of soon rendering a stay at my house very pleasant for me, begin by rendering it uninhabitable or very nearly.”48 Not until July was he able to get back to his grande affaire.
Finally, on 19 October 1838, Tocqueville happily announced to Beaumont that he had written “the last word of the last chapter.” He restrained the impulse for celebration, however, because he realized that the chore of rereading and revising both volumes still remained. Beaumont learned that his friend would remain in Normandy at least until January. “I fear the distractions of Paris and I am willing to expose myself to them only when I believe myself almost the master of mon affaire.”49
But the Democracy was not to be mastered even now; the task of revision proved immense. The first two chapters, for example, were in such terrible condition that Tocqueville destroyed them and started over.50
From October to early December, Kergolay was at his side, and as Tocqueville confided to Beaumont: “He has been very useful to me in my work.”51 Louis’s suggestions were apparently decisive on at least two separate problems that arose during the rewriting.
In December, as Tocqueville reread the first of his 1840 volumes, he noticed that most of his section on les idées assumed an awareness of the later chapters on individualisme and jouissances matérielles.52 Should he have put the chapters on individualisme and jouissances matérielles first? He considered reorganizing his first volume, but Kergolay evidently dissuaded him. As Tocqueville remarked in one of his drafts: “L. [Louis] thinks that whatever logical interest there might be in beginning with the two above chapters, I should persist in placing the chapter on Method at the beginning. That, he says, opens the subject very grandly and immediately presents it from a lofty perspective.”53
During the reworking process Tocqueville also pondered the fate of a small chapter written some time earlier. He could not decide where to place the piece or even whether to include it at all, and he apparently leaned toward deleting it.54 As he noted, however, Louis’s enthusiasm for the essay helped to save it from oblivion: “L. [Louis] thinks that this piece must absolutely appear in the work, either in its present form or by transporting the ideas elsewhere. I believe, as a matter of fact, that he is right.”55 The two friends did not know that they were weighing the destiny of one of the Democracy’s most famous chapters: “Why Democratic Peoples Love Equality Better Than Liberty.”56
Tocqueville was anxious to complete the revision of at least his first volume by the middle of January 1839. At that time he planned to leave for Paris, where he counted on the critical abilities of his “cher aristarque,” Beaumont.57 “You are for me,” he told Gustave, “not only a good judge, but the public personified. The spontaneity of your impressions and the lively and total way in which you express each one of them, the ideas and the passions of our times that you always bring so vividly to the work submitted to you, make you, my dear friend, the most valuable of all critics to me. I have some sharp misgivings about the destiny of this book. I admit that, only with difficulty, would people persuade me that it contains nothing of good. But I fear that in its entirety it is boring and tiresome. That is what you alone can tell me; and about that I burn to question you.”58
Beaumont’s services as “bon instrument de conversation” were crucial, but his aid to Tocqueville went beyond the friendly obligation to evaluate the drafts of the Democracy. While laboring over a discussion of American attitudes in the chapter “How Democracy Modifies the Relations between Master and Servant,” Tocqueville suggested to himself: “To do a good job, a small portrait in the manner of the Lettres persanes [Montesquieu] or Les Caractères of La Bruyère should be inserted here. But I lack the facts.” To the side, however, he wrote: “Perhaps Beaumont’s notes will furnish them.”59 Whether he was referring to Beaumont’s own travel diaries or to the extensive appendices of Marie, we do not know. But there would be some intriguing parallels between certain remarks in the 1840 Democracy and words of 1835 from the notes of Marie.60
In “Rubish of the chapters on sociability,”61 Tocqueville once again reminded himself of Beaumont’s materials: “Good qualities of the Americans. Sociability. Defect of susceptibility. See Beaumont. C. n. 6. [Cahier number 6?].”62
Still another example of his reference to the writings of his former companion occurred as he drafted the section entitled “What Sort of Despotism Democratic Nations Have to Fear.”63 Returning briefly once again to his idée fixe about the crucial connection between inheritance laws and the progress of equality, Tocqueville mentioned in the margin: “See Beaumont’s piece on property in England and especially on the immense role played by testamentary freedom. 2nd volume of L’Irelande.”64
So apparently Tocqueville made at least some use of the papers and books, as well as the advice, of his former companion.
At the beginning of 1839, Tocqueville’s health, which had been unsteady all winter, worsened, and he resigned himself to the possibility of further postponements.65 But by February, energy returned. A call for a second election persuaded him, however, to devote himself to campaigning. This time he succeeded, and in March 1839 he became the representative from Valognes. Once in the Chamber, he began almost immediately to make his mark by writing a report on the abolition of slavery in the French colonies.66 Throughout all of these activities, work on the grand ouvrage necessarily remained suspended; “America” simply had to wait.
Finally in August 1839, Tocqueville returned to his two volumes and assured Reeve that a polished version would be in hand before the next session of the Chamber, which presumably would begin at the end of December.67 Late in August, Jean-Jacques Ampère arrived in Normandy and read parts of the developing draft. The visitor’s criticisms were so astute that Tocqueville extracted his promise to read the entire final manuscript.68
About the middle of November, Tocqueville reached Paris and announced to John Stuart Mill: “I arrived ... at Paris to have printed the work on which I have labored for four years and which is the sequel to the other; it is L’Influence de l’égalité sur les idées et les sentiments des hommes.”69 By now, America had apparently receded well into the background.
Only last readings by his friends stood between Tocqueville and publication. He had already warned Beaumont that his manuscript “would pass through your eyes or ears, as you wish, and you would be able to judge it all in one breath. I ask this last effort of your friendship.”70 A few days later he added: “You will see even on the manuscript some traces of the importance which I give to this task. You will find in many places phrases such as this one: To include only after having read it to B. and to L.; or this other: Propose these two versions to B. and to L. and make them choose. Unfortunately one of my two counselors is missing. So try to double your wisdom.”71
At least three chapters now bore citations similar to those mentioned in Tocqueville’s letter: “How American Democracy Has Modified the English Language,” “Concerning the Way in Which the American Governments Deal with Associations,” and “How the American Views the Equality of the Sexes.” Of these, the second would not appear in the 1840 text. Apparently Gustave, the single available critic, approved only the other two.72
In addition, on the title page of the section entitled “Why Some Americans Display Enthusiastic Forms of Spirituality,” Alexis had written: “Small chapter that I should retain only if someone expressly advises me to do so.”73 Possibly here too, since Kergolay was in Tours, Beaumont alone had the final say.
By the early months of 1840, all evaluations and changes were finished, and Tocqueville submitted his book to the printer. In April 1840, the last two volumes of the Democracy in America finally appeared. Now he might well have repeated his earlier expression of joy: “My book is finally finished, definitively finished; alleluia!”74
How to Account for America? Tocqueville Looks at Some Particular Causes Physiques
[1. ]Toc. to P.-P. Royer-Collard, Baugy, 6 December 1836, from André Jardin, ed., Correspondance d’Alexis de Tocqueville avec P.-P. Royer-Collard et avec J.-J. Ampère, O.C. (Mayer), 11:28–30; hereafter cited as O.C. (Mayer), Jardin, 11.
[2. ]Toc. to Beaumont, “Monday morning” [12 January 1835], O.C. (Mayer), Jardin, 8:1, pp. 149–50.
[3. ]Tocqueville and Marie would marry on 26 October 1835.
[4. ]What if the 1835 Democracy had been less noticed and less hailed? Here Tocqueville hinted that a poor reception would have meant the end of his writings on America.
[5. ]This seems to be the old distinction between société politique and société civile in a new guise.
[6. ]Toc. to Molé, Paris, August 1835, O.C. (Bt.), 7:133–36. Molé was a distant relative and a leading political figure during the July Monarchy.
[7. ]Date uncertain, but some time between the fall of 1835, when Tocqueville began the 1840 Democracy, and the summer of 1836, when he completed the first section of the 1840 Democracy.
[8. ]Drafts, Yale, CVa, Paquet 8, pp. 2–3.
[9. ]The chapter cover, with title and comment, and containing only the note quoted above, is found among Tocqueville’s original drafts of the 1840 volumes; Drafts, Yale, CVg, “Rubish,” tome 3.
[10. ]Democracy (Mayer), pp. 590–92.
[11. ]For example, see Pierson, Toc and Bt., p. 448 note and p. 766.
[12. ]Drafts, Yale, CVa, Paquet 8, p. 45, and CVk, Paquet 7, cahier 2, p. 50.
[13. ]Drafts, Yale, CVa, Paquet 8, p. 6. Most of the material in this notebook is dated 1836.
[14. ]Toc. to John Stuart Mill, Paris, 10 February 1836, from J.-P. Mayer and Gustave Rudler, editors, Correspondance d’Alexis de Tocqueville avec Henry Reeve et John Stuart Mill, pp. 306–7, tome 6, vol. 1 of the Mayer edition; hereafter cited as Correspondance anglaise, O.C. (Mayer), 6:1.
[15. ]Toc. to Mill, Paris, 10 April 1836, O.C. (Mayer), 6:1, pp. 308–9. An early outline, dated “17 May [1836?],” of the section of the Democracy concerning les moeurs also disclosed Tocqueville’s decision to write two additional volumes; Drafts, Yale, CVa, Paquet 8, pp. 28–31.
[16. ]Toc. to Reeve, Baugy, 5 June 1836, O.C. (Mayer), 6:1, pp. 33–34. A comment dated “5 February 1838” and found in one of Tocqueville’s drafts also mentioned this idea of coordinating all four volumes of the Democracy: “recast the whole thing later.” See Drafts, Yale, CVk, Paquet 7, cahier 1, p. 50.
[17. ]Toc. to Reeve, Cherbourg, 17 April 1836, O.C. (Mayer), 6:1, pp. 29–30.
[18. ]Toc. to M. Bouchitté, Baugy, 26 May 1836, O.C. (Bt.), 7:149.
[20. ]The time in Switzerland had not been entirely wasted. While there, Tocqueville had read Plato and Machiavelli and had written several pages of miscellaneous ideas, some of which eventually found their way into the Democracy.
[21. ]Toc. to Beaumont, Baugy, 16 October 1836, O.C. (Mayer), Jardin, 8:1, pp. 168–72.
[22. ]The 1840 Democracy would contain four sections. The first two would make up volume three of the complete work; the second two, volume four. The chapters on ideas would constitute the first section: “Influence of Democracy on the Intellectual Movements in the United States.” The section of les sentiments would be the second: “Influence of Democracy on the Sentiments of the Americans.”
[23. ]Toc. to Reeve, Baugy, 21 November 1836, O.C. (Mayer), 6:1, pp. 35–36.
[25. ]Toc. to Beaumont, Baugy, 22 November 1836, O.C. (Mayer), Jardin, 8:1, pp. 172–75. For another illustration of the kind of help provided by Beaumont and Kergolay, see Bt. to Toc., “Friday” [13 January 1837], O.C. (Mayer), Jardin, 8:1, p. 178.
[26. ]Jean-Jacques Ampère (1800–64) and Claude François de Corcelle (1802–92) would also read (or hear) and criticize drafts of the 1840 Democracy. Tocqueville and Ampère had first met in 1832 and had soon become good friends. In the summer of 1839, Ampère would visit Tocqueville in Normandy and would subsequently become a frequent guest. Corcelle would also become a close friend. Both he and Tocqueville would be elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1839 and would remain active in French politics until Louis-Napoleon’s coup-d’état and the end of the Second Republic.
[27. ]Kergolay did not emerge from private life until 1871, when he became a member of the National Assembly.
[28. ]“Tocqueville never wrote anything without submitting his work to Louis de Kergolay,” wrote Gustave de Beaumont in his “Notice sur Alexis de Tocqueville,” O.C. (Bt.), 5:99–100.
[29. ]Toc. to Kergolay, Baugy, 10 November 1836, O.C. (Mayer), Jardin and Lesourd, 13:1, pp. 415–18. It should be noted that various commentators have examined the influence of Pascal, Montesquieu, and Rousseau on Tocqueville’s style. See for example, Pierson, Toc. and Bt., pp. 742–45. These three writers may also have helped to shape some of Tocqueville’s ideas. Consult a controversial thesis concerning Rousseau’s influence in Marvin Zetterbaum, Tocqueville and the Problem of Democracy. Concerning Montesquieu, see especially chapter 9 below.
[30. ]Toc. to Senior, Paris, 11 January 1837, Simpson, Correspondence with Senior, vol. 1. Compare the later letter to Reeve, Paris, 22 March 1837, in which Tocqueville said that his two volumes would not be ready for the printer before December 1837; O.C. (Mayer), 6:1, pp. 37–39.
[31. ]One of his political activities in 1837 would be the writing of two articles. After the success of the prison report in 1833 and of the Democracy in 1835, Tocqueville had realized that publication was an effective instrument for advancing his political ambitions, and in 1835, he had delivered a paper on pauperism; see “Memoir on Pauperism” in Drescher, Social Reform, pp. 1–27. The two articles of 1837 concerned Algeria; see “Deux lettres sur Algérie,” André Jardin, ed., Ecrits et discours politiques, O.C. (Mayer), 3:1, pp. 129–53. For additional commentary, see A. Jardin, “Tocqueville et l’Algérie.”
[32. ]Toc. to M. le Baron de Tocqueville (Edouard), Tocqueville, 13 June 1837, O.C. (Bt.), 7:152. Compare another admission to Beaumont: Toc. to Bt., Tocqueville, 9 July 1837, O.C. (Mayer), Jardin, 8:1, pp. 205–8.
[33. ]Toc. to Mill, Tocqueville, 24 June 1837, O.C. (Mayer), 6:1, pp. 324–26. Compare a subsequent letter to Reeve, Tocqueville, 24 July , in which Tocqueville stated that his book would not be published until March 1838 at the earliest; O.C. (Mayer), 6:1, pp. 39–40.
[34. ]Beaumont and his wife stayed at the château during the last two weeks of August. M. and Mme. de Corcelle also arrived in Normandy at the end of July and remained until the middle of August. Both Gustave and Corcelle must have read or heard parts of Tocqueville’s manuscript and discussed it with him. Concerning the visits of both men, see Toc. to Bt., Tocqueville, 9 July 1837, and Cherbourg, 18 July 1837; and Bt. to Toc., Dublin, 27 July 1837, and Paris, 3 September 1837; O.C. (Mayer), Jardin, 8:1.
[35. ]See the Toc.-Bt. correspondence of September, October, and November 1837; O.C. (Mayer), Jardin, 8:1; also Toc. to Beaumont, Paris, 26 May 1837, ibid., pp. 191–96.
[36. ]Toc. to Bt., Tocqueville, 12 November 1837, O.C. (Mayer), Jardin, 8:1, pp. 262–64.
[37. ]Toc. to Bt., Paris, 11 December 1837, O.C. (Mayer), Jardin, 8:1, pp. 269–72.
[38. ]Toc. to Bt., Baugy, 18 January 1838, O.C. (Mayer), Jardin, 8:1, pp. 277–79. Tocqueville also wrote of “the feeling of imperfection” in a letter to Royer-Collard; Toc. to Royer-Collard, Baugy, 6 April 1838, O.C. (Mayer), Jardin, 11:59–61.
[39. ]The chapters on les moeurs are the third section of the 1840 Democracy (vol. 4), “Influence of Democracy on Mores Properly So Called.” During January and February 1838, Tocqueville drafted several chapters from that section.
[40. ]This fragment is part of a larger note labeled “Préface” and dated “5 February 1838”; Drafts, Yale, CVk, Pacquet 7, cahier 1, p. 50.
[41. ]“Note relative à la préface de mon grand ouvrage.” Drafts, Yale, CVk, Pacquet 7, cahier 1, p. 39. The date of this note is unknown. I have included it here because several of the preliminary drafts for Tocqueville’s preface are dated in the early months of 1838, and this fragment is included among them. Also, concerning Negroes and ultrademocratic tendencies, compare a letter from Tocqueville to John Quincy Adams, 4 December 1837, photocopy, Toc. and Bt. Relations with Americans, 1832–40, Yale Toc. Mss., CId; hereafter cited as Relations with Americans, 1832–40, Yale, CId.
[42. ]Drafts, Yale, CVk, Paquet 7, cahier 1, p. 39, undated. Drescher has also cited Tocqueville’s decision to “admit my error” (Drescher, Tocqueville and England, p. 78), but implies, mistakenly I believe, that Tocqueville had in mind a repudiation of some of his earlier comments about the relationship between démocratie and centralization. For elaboration on this matter, see the chapters below on the nature and future of the Union and on centralization.
[43. ]Drafts, Yale, CVk, Paquet 7, cahier 1, p. 53.
[44. ]The fourth and last section of the 1840 Democracy is entitled: “On the Influence of Democratic Ideas and Feelings on Political Society.” Tocqueville originally intended the fourth section to be one large chapter (see Original Working Ms., Yale, CVIa, tome 4), and, although his letters do not indicate it, he began sketches of this last section as early as March 1838. Various pages of drafts concerning despotism are dated “7 March 1838” and others on centralization and administrative despotism are dated “23 March.” See the final large chapter, Drafts, Yale, CVg, “Rubish,” tome 4. Tocqueville insisted that this fourth section was the most important as well as the last. See, for example, Toc. to Royer-Collard, Tocqueville, 15 August 1838, O.C. (Mayer), Jardin, 11:66–68. For further discussion of this section, see the chapters below on centralization and despotism.
[45. ]Toc. to Reeve, Baugy, 2 March 1838, O.C. (Mayer), 6:1, pp. 41–42.
[46. ]Toc. to Beaumont, Baugy, 21 March 1838; and Bt. to Toc., La Grange, 23 March ; O.C. (Mayer), Jardin, 8:1, pp. 283–90. Beaumont lectured Tocqueville on his carelessness and prescribed various measures. In April, Tocqueville finally admitted that his health had been unsteady for weeks; see Toc. to Beaumont, Baugy, 22 April 1838, ibid., pp. 290–94.
[47. ]Toc. to Beaumont, Tocqueville, 15 June 1838, ibid., pp. 303–5. The persons involved were “useful” for political reasons.
[48. ]Toc. to Royer-Collard, Tocqueville, 23 June 1838, O.C. (Mayer), Jardin, 11:63–65.
[49. ]Toc. to Beaumont, Tocqueville, 19 October 1838, O.C. (Mayer), Jardin, 8:1, pp. 318–21.
[50. ]The two chapters involved are “Concerning the Philosophical Approach of the Americans” and “Concerning the Principal Source of Beliefs among Democratic Peoples.” See Toc. to Beaumont, Tocqueville, 5 November 1838 and 5 December 1839 , O.C. (Mayer), Jardin, 8:1, pp. 325–30.
[51. ]Ibid., p. 329.
[52. ]The chapters on ideas refer to the first section of the 1840 Democracy: “Influence of Democracy on the Intellectual Movements in the United States.” The chapters on individualisme and jouissances matérielles are from the second section: “The Influence of Democracy on the Sentiments of the Americans.”
[53. ]Drafts, Yale, CVk, Paquet 7, cahier 1, pp. 11–12; dated “December 1838.” The chapter on method is the very first chapter of the 1840 Democracy.
[54. ]The chapter appeared neither in the Original Working Ms., Yale, CVIa, nor in a late list of all chapters to be included in the 1840 Democracy (see Drafts, Yale, CVf, Paquet 4), but only as a draft chapter, Drafts, Yale, CVg, “Rubish,” tome 3. It then reappeared in the 1840 printed text.
[55. ]Drafts, Yale, CVk, Paquet 7, cahier 2, pp. 1–2.
[56. ]In the 1840 text, this chapter is titled “Why Democratic Nations Show a More Ardent and Enduring Love for Equality Than for Liberty.” See Democracy (Mayer), pp. 503–6.
[57. ]Toc. to Beaumont, Tocqueville, 6 January 1839, and Baugy, 21 March 1838 [“mon cher aristarque”], O.C. (Mayer), Jardin, 8:1, pp. 283–85, 330–33.
[58. ]Toc. to Beaumont, Nacqueville, 30 September 1838, O.C. (Mayer), Jardin, 8:1, pp. 315–18.
[59. ]Drafts, Yale, CVk, Paquet 7, cahier 2, pp. 35–36. The chapter here mentioned may be found in Democracy (Mayer), pp. 572–80.
[60. ]Compare, for instance, some of Tocqueville’s opinions about domestic servants in America, Democracy (Mayer), p. 578, and Beaumont’s comments on the same subject, “Appendix I: Note on Equality in American Society,” Gustave de Beaumont, Marie, or Slavery in the United States, p. 227; hereafter cited as Bt. Marie (Chapman).
[61. ]There are four chapters directly concerning sociability. See Democracy (Mayer), pp. 561–72.
[62. ]The chapters on sociability, Drafts, Yale, CVg, “Rubish,” tome 4. Also consult CVg, copy, Paquet 9, cahier 1, p. 99. In 1835, Beaumont had also written about American sociability; see “Appendix G,” Bt. Marie (Chapman), pp. 223–25.
[63. ]Democracy (Mayer), pp. 690–95, especially p. 692.
[64. ]“What Sort of Despotism Democratic Nations Have to Fear,” Drafts, Yale, CVg, “Rubish,” tome 4; also consult CVg, copy, Paquet 9, cahier 2, p. 98.
[65. ]See the January letters of Tocqueville to Beaumont.
[66. ]Beaumont, however, was defeated for a second time. Tocqueville’s report consumed much of June and July; see “Rapport ... relative aux esclaves des colonies,” O.C. (Mayer), 3:1, pp. 41–78. For a highly enlightening account of the American reaction to the paper, consult Drescher, Social Reform, pp. 98–99, notes. Also see Songy, “Toc. and Slavery,” pp. 140–42, 185–205.
[67. ]Toc. to Reeve, Tocqueville, 12 September 1839, O.C. (Mayer), 6:1, pp. 45–46.
[68. ]See Toc. to Ampère, Tocqueville, 17 September 1839, and 2 November 1839, O.C. (Mayer), Jardin, 11:128–30, 134.
[69. ]Toc. to Mill, Paris, 14 November 1839, O.C. (Mayer), 6:1, pp. 326–27. This letter seems to indicate a different title for the 1840 Democracy. If this is the case, then the title of Tocqueville’s book underwent the following changes: (1) In August 1833, Jared Sparks told Tocqueville that he hoped “to see the work which you promise, on the Institutions and Manners of the Americans” (cited and quoted by Pierson, “Second voyage,” Toc.: centenaire, pp. 80–81 note); (2) in the spring of 1834, the first of the 1835 volumes was to be published separately as American Institutions; (3) in the summer of 1834, the 1835 Democracy (2 vols.) was to be titled De l’empire de la Démocratie aux Etats-Unis; (4) in January 1835, these first two volumes of the book appeared as De la Démocratie en Amérique; (5) in the fall of 1839, the last two volumes were to be titled L’Influence de l’égalité sur les idées et les sentiments des hommes; (6) in April 1840, the 1840 Democracy was published as De la Démocratie en Amérique, vols. 3 and 4.
[70. ]Toc. to Beaumont, Tocqueville, 23 October 1839, O.C. (Mayer), Jardin, 8:1, pp. 389–90.
[71. ]Toc. to Beaumont [2 November 1839], O.C. (Mayer), Jardin, 8:1, pp. 395–96. Kergolay was unavailable at the time; see Jardin’s note, p. 396. Politics almost robbed Tocqueville of Beaumont’s services. Beaumont learned in November that a special election would be held in December to elect a new deputy from Mamers. He threw himself into the campaign and, on 15 December 1839, was elected. The unexpected development delayed his reading of Tocqueville’s manuscript and, at times, threatened to prevent it altogether. See Bt. to Toc., La Grange, 10 November 1839, O.C. (Mayer), Jardin, 8:1, pp. 397–99.
[72. ]Concerning the first of these three chapters: “Read this chapter to men of quality (des hommes du monde) and study their impressions”; Original Working Ms., Yale, CVIa, tome 3. This chapter may be found in Democracy (Mayer), pp. 477–82. Concerning the second: “Consult L. and B.”; Original Working Ms., Yale, CVIa, tome 3. On this lost chapter, also see my chapter below. Concerning the third: “Have these two versions copied and submit them to my friends” (dated “October 1839”); Drafts, Yale, CVk, Paquet 7, cahier 2, p. 14. The chapter may be found in Democracy (Mayer), pp. 600–03.
[73. ]Original Working Ms., Yale, CVIa, tome 3. Also see Democracy (Mayer), pp. 534–35.
[74. ]Toc. to Reeve, Paris, 15 November 1839, O.C. (Mayer), 6:1, pp. 47–48.