He displayed strategic savvy early on. Unsure of his status in the wake of France’s 1830 revolution, he thought it wise to leave the country, and won a commission to examine life and conditions in prisons and penitentiaries in America with his life-long friend Gustave de Beaumont. While abroad, Tocqueville ventured beyond the prisons, studying U.S. political culture. Two years later, Tocqueville returned to France with trunks filled with documents and notes to write Of Democracy in America, now commonly known as Democracy in America. The book, which reports on U.S. society and government, was offered as a guide to fine-tune democracy. It appeared in 1835 and was an instant hit, selling out multiple printings. It remains a fascinating document of early political science and a growing nation.
After standing for election in his ancestral seat of Manche and losing, Tocqueville finally ascended to parliament in 1839. While in parliament, Tocqueville upheld free trade and defended abolitionist views. During his support of the colonization of Algeria. After a long battle with tuberculosis, Tocqueville eventually surrendered to the disease on April 16, 1859 in Normandy.
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