Essay about 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…show more content…
Mayer writes in Tocqueville’s biography that he “read at this time with a tireless appetite the works of Plato, Plutarch, Machiavelli, Rousseau, and Montesquieu, and it would seem that in these same years he made a close study of Aristotle, Polybius, and more particularly, the works of Edmund Burke.” Regardless of his influences, Tocqueville’s most serious concern is that democracy may give rise to certain forms of despotism. “Without local institutions…the despotic tendencies which have been driven into the interior of the social body will sooner or later break out on the surface.” In the introductory chapter to “Democracy in America,” Tocqueville expresses his famous opinion that the movement of the history of Christendom over the course of the previous 700 years has invariably been in the direction of democratic equality. This is the foundation of Tocqueville’s “inevitability theory.” He implies that democracy in inevitable in the same way that the spread of civilization and enlightenment are inevitable. Best known for his popular critique, “Democracy in America,” first published in
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