"SHAPED THE DEVELOPMENT OF FREE INSTITUTIONS IN THE WEST": TOCQUEVILLE'S MASTERPIECE, DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA, 1836
TOCQUEVILLE, Alexis de. Democracy in America. Translated by Henry Reeve. London: Saunders and Otley, 1836. Two volumes. Octavo, contemporary three-quarter brown calf and marbled paper boards, elaborately gilt-decorated spines, raised bands, later black morocco spine labels. $4500.
Second ("best") edition in English of the first part of Tocqueville's important and influential analysis of American democracy, one of the outstanding intellectual achievements of the 19th century, with folding, color-outlined "Statistical Map of North America," in contemporary calf and marbled boards, most rare and important.
"One of the most important texts in political literature" (PMM 358). Commissioned by the French government, Democracy in America is the result of Tocqueville's 1831-32 tour of the United States to examine the American penal system. His extraordinary analysis of the entire American political system appeared as two separate works, complete in themselves, published in English translation in 1835 and 1840. The first work (sometimes called "Part I"), of which this is the second edition in English of 1836, brilliantly examines contemporary American social and political institutions and practices; the second work (not present here) proves that democracy could be the basis of a stable political system. Tocqueville's insights into American democracy deeply influenced European intellectual life and shaped the development of free institutions in the West. Democracy in America is "the first systematic and empirical study of the effects of political power on modern society" (Nisbet). Because this 1836 second edition corrected a number of errors in the first, it is generally considered the best edition. Howes T278. Sabin 96062.
Interior fresh with scant foxing, lightest marginal dampstaining to a few leaves, folding map with expert paper repair. Mild rubbing to boards, expert repairs to joints and spine ends. A handsome near-fine copy.