Item Details

Peter Harrington

De la démocratie en Amérique.... Orné d'une carte d'Amérique.


Second complete Brussels edition, in the scarce and appealing original wrappers, of de Tocqueville's magnum opus. The first appearances of De la démocratie en Amérique in Brussels were published by Louis Hauman in the same years as the first editions (Paris: Charles Gosselin, 1835 & 1840). Meline also published a two volume set in 1840, but this, in five volumes, presented the work as complete. Arising out of the tour of America that de Tocqueville undertook to examine the penitentiary system, Democracy in America was early recognised not only as a remarkably insightful study of the origins and nature of American society and consequently her unique institutions, but also as a founding document of a new form of social and political science. It was justly praised by John Stuart Mill in the London Review in such terms as to guarantee its immediate and continued success: "It has at once taken its rank among the most remarkable productions of our time; and is a book with which, both for its facts and its speculations, all who would understand, or who are called upon to exercise influence over their age, are bound to be familiar. It will contribute to give to the political speculations of our time a new character." It ran to thirteen editions by 1850 and each of its parts was translated into English in the same year it was first published. Mill's farsightedness in terms of de Tocqueville's influence is confirmed in a recent review of an updated translation by Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton, and Director of that university's James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions: "Democracy in America will continue to be read with profit as long as the United States survives as a republic and, indeed, as long as democracy endures."