Democracy in America, America in France


Alexis de Tocqueville
history of political thought

How to Cite

Democracy in America, America in France: Ernest Duvergier de Hauranne on Liberty and Unity. (2024). The Political Science Reviewer, 47(2), 233-256.


Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America remains the authoritative study of American society through French eyes. But Tocqueville was not the only Frenchman to record his observations of America in the nineteenth century. This article explores the forgotten essays and notes of Ernest Duvergier de Hauranne, who traveled throughout the United States at the height of the Civil War in 1864. Duvergier de Hauranne deepened Tocqueville’s insights about the aristocratic-democratic binary, but he also amended Tocqueville’s framework to explain the conditions of America at war. This article argues that Duvergier de Hauranne’s observations about the party system in particular were meant to educate Second Empire France, since parties could promote plurality without sacrificing the sense of national unity that the French aimed to preserve. His insights remind us why many Frenchmen in the volatile nineteenth century were drawn to America in the first place: to understand the characteristics of a faraway republic in order to respond to the unique circumstances of their home country.