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Alexis de Tocqueville and the American National Identity

The Reception of "De la Démocratie en Amérique</I> in the United States in the Nineteenth Century


Karin Amos

Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America is unanimously considered to be one of the most famous foreign attempts to comprehend the ideological basis on which American society rests and to coherently explain its political and societal implications. However, if the status of Tocqueville's work is uncontested, there is thus far no in-depth study of its reception in Victorian America. The present study intends to fill this gap by discussing the reception of Tocqueville's famous book against the background of the overall historical context. Furthermore, it investigates how Tocqueville's analysis and vision were built into the argument patterns of the various discourses in which the reception took place. The study may be interpreted as a contribution to a deeper and more fundamental discussion addressing the question of the American self-perception and the construction of America's national identity.
Contents: From the Founding Fathers to Andrew Jackson: Towards a National Discourse - The Role of Europe for America's National Identity - The Reception of Democracy in America in the Periodical Literature - The Academic Reception of Tocqueville's Democracy in America.