Tocqueville, Alexis De (1805–1859)

Alexis de Tocqueville was one of the foremost scholars of the French Revolution and of the early American republic. Although he was a member of both the Académie Française and the Chamber of Deputies, Tocqueville is best remembered for his work as a political theorist. His observations on monarchical and representative government, commerce, and individual liberty make him perhaps the most influential of all modern social commentators. Tocqueville emphasized that healthy societies develop naturally from the free pursuit of legitimate ends; he mistrusted both aristocracy and centralized government, and he stressed the limits of any government's ability to enact social change.

Paradoxically, for a thinker with libertarian sympathies, Tocqueville also mistrusted what he termed individualism. He argued that only under liberty could individuals construct the social ...

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