Skip to main content

Democracy in America

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-59) came to America in 1831 to see what a great republic was like. What struck him most was the country’s equality of conditions, its democracy. The book he wrote on his return to France, Democracy in America, is both the best ever written on democracy and the best ever written on America. It remains the most often quoted book about the United States, not only because it has something to interest and please everyone, but also because it has something to teach everyone.
When it was published in 2000, Harvey Mansfield and Delba Winthrop’s new translation of Democracy in America—only the third since the original two-volume work was published in 1835 and 1840—was lauded in all quarters as the finest and most definitive edition of Tocqueville’s classic thus far. Mansfield and Winthrop have restored the nuances of Tocqueville’s language, with the expressed goal "to convey Tocqueville’s thought as he held it rather than to restate it in comparable terms of today." The result is a translation with minimal interpretation, but with impeccable annotations of unfamiliar references and a masterful introduction placing the work and its author in the broader contexts of political philosophy and statesmanship.


"The editors have written more than a mere introduction; they have written in fact a small book, a remarkably comprehensive and yet succinct study of Tocqueville’s political thought. . . . Mansfield and Winthrop have made a remarkably comprehensive and tightly argued case for Tocqueville as the greatest political theorist of democracy, a theorist who is just as relevant today as he was in the nineteenth century."

Gordon S. Wood | New York Review of Books

"It would be difficult to think of a greater service to the study of Tocqueville than the one performed by Mansfield and Winthrop in their impeccable new edition and translation of Democracy in America. . . . The publisher is justified in claiming that this version will henceforth be seen as the ’authoritative’ edition in English."


"The Mansfield-Winthrop work will henceforth be the preferred English version of Democracy in America not only because of the superior translation and critical apparatus, but also because of its long and masterly introductory essay, itself an important contribution to the literature on Tocqueville."

Roger Kimball | The New Criterion

"If Tocqueville is an indispensable guide to understanding the American experience, Harvey C. Mansfield and Delba Winthrop are indispensable guides to Tocqueville himself. In the introduction to their fresh and limpid translation of Democracy in America—what will surely be the definitive translation for some time to come—they offer a helpful summary of Tocqueville’s philosophical and political thought."

Thomas Pavel | Wall Street Journal

"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. It deserves faithful translators, careful expositors and insightful commentators. In Mansfield and Winthrop it has found them."

Robert P. George | Times Literary Supplement

"[A] major new translation. . . . Tocqueville’s insights confirm his brilliance and remind us that many features of national character are virtually indestructible."

Robert J. Samuelson | Newsweek

"This will be the English translation of Tocqueville for a long time, and it has the additional bonus that the introduction is as succinct an introduction to Tocqueville, or at least to the conservative view of him and his achievement, as one can find."

Adam Gopnik | The New Yorker

Table of Contents

Author’s Introduction
Part One
1. Origin of the Anglo-Americans (II)
2. Democratic Social Condition (III)
3. The Sovereignty of the People in America (IV)
4. Local Government (V)
5. Decentralization in America—Its Effects (V)
6. Judicial Power in the United States, and Its Influence on Political Society (VI)
7. Aspects of the Federal Constitution (VIII)
8. Political Parties (IX, X)
9. Liberty of the Press in the United States (XI)
10. Political Associations in the United States (XII)
11. Advantages of Democracy in the United States (XIV)
12. Unlimited Power of the Majority in the United States and Its Consequences (XV)
13. Causes Which Mitigate the Tyranny of the Majority in the United States (XVI)
14. Causes Which Tend to Maintain Democracy (XVII)
15. Future Prospects of the United States (XVIII)
Part Two: Book I - Influence of Democracy Upon the Action of Intellect in the United States
16. Philosophical Method of the Americans (I, II)
17. Influence of Democracy on Religion (V, VI)
18. Equality Suggests to the Americans the Idea of the Indefinite Perfectibility of Man (VIII)
19. The Example of the Americans Does Not Prove That a Democratic People Can Have No Aptitude and No Taste for Science, Literature, or Art (IX)
20. Why the Americans Are More Addicted to Practical than to Theoretical Science (X)
21. In What Spirit the Americans Cultivate the Arts (XI)
22. Literary Characteristics of Democratic Times (XIII)
23. Of Some Sources of Poetry Amongst Democratic Nations (XVII)
24. Why American Writers and Orators Often Use an Inflated Style (XVIII)
25. Some Characteristics of Historians in Democratic Times (XX)
Book II - Influence of Democracy on the Feelings of the Americans
26. Why Democratic Nations Show a More Ardent and Enduring Love of Equality than of Liberty (I)
27. Of Individualism in Democratic Countries (II)
28. That the Americans Combat the Effects of Individualism by Free Institutions (IV)
29. Of the Use Which the Americans Make of Public Associations in Civil Life (V)
30. Of the Relation Between Public Associations and the Newspapers (VI)
31. Relation of Civil to Political Associations (VII)
32. Of the Taste for Physical Well-Being in America (XI)
33. What Causes Almost All Americans to Follow Industrial Callings (XIX)
34. How an Aristocracy May Be Created by Manufactures (XX)
Book III - Influence of Democracy on Manners Properly So Called
35. How Democracy Renders the Habitual Intercourse of the Americans Simple and Easy (II)
36. Why the Americans Show So Little Sensitiveness in Their Own Country, and Are So Sensitive in Europe (III)
37. Influence of Democracy on Wages (VII)
38. Influence of Democracy on the Family (VIII)
39. Young Women in a Democracy (IX, X)
40. How Equality of Condition Contributes to Maintain Good Morals in America (XI)
41. How the Americans Understand the Equality of the Sexes (XII)
42. How the Principle of Equality Naturally Divides the Americans into a Multitude of Small Private Circles (XIII)
43. Some Reflections on American Manners (XIV)
44. Why the National Vanity of the Americans Is More Restless and Captious than that of the English (XVI)
45. How the Aspect of Society in the United States Is at Once Excited and Monotonous (XVII)
46. Why So Many Ambitious Men and So Little Lofty Ambition Are to Be Found in the United States (XIX)
47. The Trade of Place-Hunting in Certain Democratic Countries (XX)
48. Why Great Revolutions Will Become More Rare (XXI)
49. Why Democratic Nations Are Naturally Desirous of Peace, and Democratic Armies of War (XXII)
50. Causes Which Render Democratic Armies Weaker than Other Armies at the Outset of a Campaign, and More Formidable in Protracted Warfare (XXIV)
51. Some Considerations on War in Democratic Communities (XXVI)
Book IV - Influence of Democratic Ideas and Feelings on Political Society
52. Equality Naturally Gives Men a Taste for Free Institutions (I)
53. That the Opinions of Democratic Nations About Government Are Naturally Favorable to the Concentration of Power (II)
54. That the Sentiments of Democratic Nations Accord with Their Opinions in Leading Them to Concentrate Political Power (III)
55. Of Certain Peculiar and Accidental Causes, Which Either Lead a People to Complete the Centralization of Government, or Which Divert Them from It (IV)
56. What Sort of Despotism Democratic Nations Have to Fear (VI)
57. General Survey of the Subject (VIII)

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press