Democracy in America summary

Among some of the most important political and sociological texts in the West are the two loms of Democracy in America (De la démocratie in Amérique, for its original title in French) which was first published by the historian and French intellectual Alexis de Tocqueville, between 1835 and 1840.

Importance of the work

According to the various sources, Alexis de Tocqueville would have undertaken the writing of this important political analysis of the democratic system of the United States, following his trip to this American country in 1931, together with the intellectual Gustave de Beaumont, where both French thinkers had a mission to know, analyze and inform France about the functioning of the prison system in this country.

On their return to France, after a brief stay also in Canada, Tocqueville and Beaumont fulfilled their task. Beaumont would later write Marie, ou l’esclavage aux Etats-Unis, a social novel that addresses the racial conflicts of American society, while de Tocqueville would write in 1835 the first volume of Democracy in America, which catapulted him to the fame for its great power of analysis on the reasons that had led to the triumph of the representative democracy system republished in this country of North America, as well as the importance of religion, as the basis of the settlement of this political doctrine.

However, the fame of this work, whose second volume published in 1840, despite the announcement of its author in the first volume of not giving continuity to the work, not only had an impact in its time, but over the years has gained great value due to the processes that this analysis managed to predict or at least glimpse, finding among them important historical facts such as the abolition of slavery, the advent and terrible social consequences of the Civil War, and even the polarized system of politics international lynia that would take place during the Cold War.

Thus, too, within Tocqueville’s work we talk about the political and social degeneration to which the American democratic system would lead, which despite its democratic talent, would end up for this French intellectual becoming a true dictatorship of the majorities, where general prejudices would be imposed, while institutional degeneration could also occur, situations that have not yet been met, which for the opinion of many must be taken care of, for they could such as the other political predictions he managed to make as a result of his deep and thorough analysis of American society.

Summary of Democracy in America

Alexis de Tocqueville’s work, entitled Democracy in America, is a political analysis that was published in two separate volumes during the early decades of the 19th century. Thus, when making a summary of it, it is best to address each of these works separately, as will be done below:

Book first

In this part of the work, published in 1835 and which will take the first place, Tocqueville bases his analysis net much on the political issue, taking an interest in all the social changes that were being developed, driven by democratic political desire, and how this it would end up in the institutional conformation, in the structure of the State, the nature of the laws, among other aspects. Thus, it could be said, then, that this first book addresses a structural analysis of Republican representative democracy that was beginning to prevail in the United States.

Book two

For its part, the second book of Democracy in America, which came to light five years after the first part was published, that is, in 1840, tends to have a much more sociological approach. In this way, in this second phase, Tocqueeville is responsible for making a deep analysis of the profound social transformations that were taking place due to the political and religious ideas that were beginning to position themselves in this social group.

Likewise, in this second part, Alexis de Tocqueville also gives the task of indicating what were the weaknesses that could jeopardize this political system, as well as how the social and institutional threats that could be made within it, warning at all times how to ensure that Democracy should never become depotism, which, thanks to democratic discourse and practices, will not reveal its true face.

On the other hand, it is in this part of Democracy in America that this French intellectual explains how Christianity is a religious doctrine that proved vital to the establishment of the Republican democratic regime, adopted by the United States, despite the fact that the State itself show a secular face. However, Tocqueville refers above all to how the discourse of Freedom, Salvation and Equality of this doctrine could serve the republican representative democracy system to entrench itself in the political horizon of this society.

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Picture: Portrait of Alexis de Tocqueville, author of Democracy in America / Source:

Democracy in America summary
Source: Education  
September 21, 2019

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