Drawing upon a variety of primary sources, this work scrutinizes Tocqueville's actual political action in 1848-1852 and suggests his famous Souvenirs (Recollections) reflect second thoughts more than deeds. As a pragmatic strategist operating from a small left-center faction, Tocqueville attempted to construct a future France uniting political liberty (including universal manhood suffrage) with social stability. The book details Tocqueville's contribution to the new constitution and concludes he deliberately strengthened the executive branch to counterbalance the strong unicameral legislature. While opposed to socialism, he advocated major advances in public education and government assistance to the poor. The work explores his relationship with Louis Napoleon Bonaparte. Tocqueville cultivated friendship with President Bonaparte, whom he hoped to utilize for his own political purposes. Tocqueville eagerly became Lois Napoleon's Foreign Minister and shared his desire for liberalizing the Papal government of Rome while suppressing domestic radicalism.
As President Bonaparte approached the end of his constitutionally allowable term, Tocqueville advocated amendment of the constitution (unsuccessfully) and an illegal election to allow Louis Napoleon to retain power. He considered this the best option for preserving order and some liberty. However, he opposed Presidential use of military force and protested the coup of December 2, 1851. Ultimately Tocqueville blamed extremists, both socialists and reactionaries, for the destruction of the moderate republic he had labored to found.
Sharon B. Watkins is Associate Professor, Department of History, Western Illinois University.
Chapter 1 Preface Chapter 2 Biographical Sketch and Previous Political Activity Chapter 3 The National Constitutional Assembly and the Crises of May 1848 Chapter 4 Drafting the Constitution Chapter 5 The June Days and their Aftermath Chapter 6 Revision and Passage of the Constitution Chapter 7 The President of the Republic and the National Constitutional Assembly Chapter 8 Minister for Foreign Affairs Chapter 9 The Roman Question and the Fall of the Ministry Chapter 10 Conservative Reaction and Leave of Absence Chapter 11 The Failure of Revision Chapter 12 The Coup d'Etat and Conclusion Chapter 13 Appendix Chapter 14 Bibliography Chapter 15 Index