Tocqueville’s Democracy in America – First Part in the second French Edition

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Tocqueville, Alexis de. De la Démocratie en Amérique ... Orné d'une carte d'Amérique. First Part (Vols 1 & 2, bound as one). Second Ed.  Paris: Charles Gosselin, 1835.

Second Edition. Binding: Hardcover (Quarter Leather). Book Condition: Very Good Condition. Text is in French. Item Type: Book.

Pagination: 1 l., half-title, title, [1] -384, map, [385]-387; half-title, title, [1]-447, 1 l.; includes a lithographic folded map produced in 1834 by Bernard, rue de l’Abbaye, Paris, specifically for this book. Map measures 17 by 15.5 inches. Size: 8"-9" - Octavo (8vo).

Second edition of the first part of this classic analysis of democracy in America, printed the same year as the small first edition of around 500 copies. The first volume’s topic is the institutions of the United States (Institutions des États-Unis) and the second is the functioning of those institutions (Fonctionnement de ces institutions). In a publication note Tocqueville says that because the first edition sold out so quickly, he was only able “to introduce very slight changes in the second. He had to confine himself to correcting some typographical errors and to removing a small number of material errors” (translated from the French). The second part was not published until April 1840 and was released with the eighth edition of this first part.

The importance of the book was immediately recognized. In a contemporary review published in 1838 in American Monthly, the anonymous author wrote, “in examining how far [the causes of American liberty] continue to influence our conduct, manners, and opinions, and in searching for means to prevent their decay or destruction, the intelligent American reader can find no better guide.”

John Lukac in his American Heritage review of the book on the centenary of Tocqueville’s death in 1959 wrote, “Tocqueville fully recognized what may be called a change in the texture of history. It would not be an exaggeration to say that he was the first historian of the democratic age.” In an introduction to an educational unit on Tocqueville’s observations, Joe Phelan said that Democracy in America is “universally regarded as one of the most influential books ever written.” Historian and political theorist Alan S. Kahan, in a brief essay for the George Washington Institute for Religious Freedom, refered to it as “certainly the most widely-quoted book ever written about the United States.”

The map has been hand colored and remains bright. It is in excellent condition, with only a small tear to the left margin where the map has been tipped in at the end of Vol. I. The legend provides information on surface features such as the height of the two main mountain ranges and the comparative white and black populations between the slave and free states. There is a 1/2" tear at the top of the tab used to tip the map in.

WorldCat shows a copy of the two volumes at The British Library, St. Pancras (OCLC 557772386) and a one volume binding of the second edition at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (OCLC 458323320).

The two volumes are bound together in an 19th century binding. Quarter bound in leather and dark marbled paper over boards. The spine has five compartments separated by gilded lines with two black morocco labels, one with author and title and the other indicating "Tomes 1-2" and a gilded decoration at the foot of the spine. There is some cracking to the leather, resulting in a few spots of surface loss. The top corners are turned in, but the paper has not worn through. There is a 1/2" bump at the bottom edge of the front cover when the leather and paper come together resulting in some surface loss. The internal hinges have been expertly repaired in a cloth stained brown to match the marbled end papers. The covers appear to have been coated with a varnish at some point in the past, probably when the hinges were repaired.

The text block is tight, only slightly tanned and unmarked. There is some scattered spotting. The top edge appears to have been guilded, though it is now dark. The side and bottom page edges have a speckled pattern on them. A silk bookmark has become detached from the spine, but remains laid in.

There are bookseller notes in several hands written in pencil on the verso of the front free end paper, both sides of a blank leaf and at the upper outside corner of the half-title page for the first volume.

Shipped Weight: 2 lbs 3 oz.

Inventory No: 1235.