London: Saunders & Otley, 1836. Second edition in English. Two octavo volumes (pages: 207 x 130 mm) collating xliv, 333; viii, 462: complete, including the folding map to the front of volume 1. Contemporary 3/4 calf over marbled boards, marbled end papers, and page edges, lacking spine labels, gilt spine compartments. Minor wear at the extremities of the binding. Bookplate of Sam A. Lewisohn on the front paste-downs, otherwise a fine copy internally, in a handsome contemporary binding.
The second edition in English of Part I, which was originally released in French and English a year earlier in 1835. Complete as issued, Part II of Democracy in America would not appear in first edition in the Paris or London imprints until 4 years later, in 1840. De Tocqueville, a French aristocrat, visited America between 1831 and 1832, ostensibly to study the penal system, although his interest was considerably broader. It seems logical that France would look to America as a beacon of hope for a successful democracy. After France embraced the goals of equality and democracy in 1789 at the start of the French Revolution, it found itself first in a dictatorship under Napoleon and then in one constitutional monarchy after another during the years following. De Tocqueville's astute observation of several aspects of American society and culture provides an invaluable lens of foreign perspective on our young nation's political growth.
Democracy in America was an immediate and sustained success. Almost from the beginning it enjoyed the reputation of being the most acute and perceptive discussion of the political and social life of the United States ever published. Whether perceived as a textbook of American political institutions, an investigation of society and culture, a probing of the psyche of the United States, or a study of the actions of modern democratic society, the book has maintained its place high within the pantheon of political writing.
HOWES T-278, 279. Sabin 96062, 96063. Clark III:111. Library of Congress: A Passion for Liberty, Alexis de Tocqueville on Democracy & Revolution (Washington, 1989). (Item #2716)