Author(s): Alexis de Tocqueville
In 1831, a young French aristocrat named Alexis de Tocqueville came to the United States officially to appraise the country's penal system--but with a higher personal goal in mind. Looking to America's unique democratic system as a possible model for post-revolutionary France, Tocqueville set about to study the culture, character, and institutions of the evolving nation. "I confess that in America I saw more than America," he said; "I sought the image of democracy itself, with its inclinations, its character, its prejudices, and its passions, in order to learn what we have to fear or hope from its progress." His resulting work, the classic Democracy in America, proved so insightful and prophetic that it continues to command the attention of historians, scholars, and politicians today.