Alexis DE TOCQUEVILLE

Family tree of Alexis DE TOCQUEVILLE

French Minister and Secretary of state (before French Fifth Republic)

FrenchBorn Alexis Henri Charles CLEREL

French political thinker and historian best known for his Democracy in America

Born on July 29, 1805 in Paris , France

Died on April 16, 1859 in Cannes , France

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Alexis de Tocqueville came from an old Norman aristocratic family with ancestors who participated in the Battle of Hastings in 1066. His parents, Hervé Louis François Jean Bonaventure Clérel, Comte de Tocqueville, an officer of the Constitutional Guard of King Louis XVI, and Louise Madeleine Le Peletier de Rosanbo, narrowly avoided the guillotine due to the fall of Robespierre in 1794. After an exile in England, they returned to France during the reign of Napoleon. Under the Bourbon Restoration, his father became a noble peer and prefect.



Tocqueville, who despised the July Monarchy (1830–1848), began his political career at the start of the same period, 1830. Thus, he became deputy of the Manche department (Valognes), a position which he maintained until 1851. In parliament, he defended abolitionist views and upheld free trade, while supporting the colonisation of Algeria carried on by Louis-Philippe's regime. Tocqueville was also elected general counsellor of the Manche in 1842, and became the president of the department's conseil général between 1849 and 1851.

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In 1831, he obtained from the July Monarchy a mission to examine prisons and penitentiaries in America, and proceeded thither with his life-long friend Gustave de Beaumont. He returned in less than two years, and published a report, but the real result of his tour was the famous De la Démocratie en Amerique, which appeared in 1835.



Apart from America, Tocqueville also made an observational tour of England, producing Memoir on Pauperism. In 1841 and 1846, he traveled to Algeria. His first travel inspired his Travail sur l'Algérie, in which he criticized the French model of colonisation, which was based on an assimilationist view, preferring instead the British model of indirect rule, which avoided mixing different populations together. He went as far as openly advocating racial segregation between the European colonists and the "Arabs" through the implementation of two different legislative systems (a half century before implementation of the 1881 Indigenous code based on religion).



After the fall of the July Monarchy during the February 1848 Revolution, Tocqueville was elected a member of the Constituent Assembly of 1848, where he became a member of the Commission charged with the drafting of the new Constitution of the Second Republic (1848–1851). He defended bicameralism (the existence of two parliamentary chambers) and the election of the President of the Republic by universal suffrage. As the countryside was thought to be more conservative than the labouring population of Paris, universal suffrage was conceived as a means to counteract the revolutionary spirit of Paris.



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Geographical origins

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