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Project Gutenberg offers 56 074 free ebooks to download. Always put spaces around these. This article is about the book written by Tocqueville. For the actual system of government of the United States, see Politics of the United States.
Title page, Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville, printed at New York, 1838. French text by Alexis de Tocqueville. Its title translates as On Democracy in America, but English translations are usually simply entitled Democracy in America.
In the book, Tocqueville examines the democratic revolution that he believed had been occurring over the previous several hundred years. In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville and Gustave de Beaumont were sent by the French government to study the American prison system. In his later letters Tocqueville indicates that he and Beaumont used their official business as a pretext to study American society instead. They arrived in New York City in May of that year and spent nine months traveling the United States, studying the prisons, and collecting information on American society, including its religious, political, and economic character.
After they returned to France in February 1832, Tocqueville and Beaumont submitted their report, Du système pénitentiaire aux États-Unis et de son application en France, in 1833. Before finishing Democracy in America, Tocqueville believed that Beaumont’s study of the United States would prove more comprehensive and penetrating. He begins his book by describing the change in social conditions taking place. He observed that over the previous seven hundred years the social and economic conditions of men had become more equal.