Chip Taylor Communications

Subject: History

Europe and America in the Modern Age Series

Stanford University Professors James Sheehan and David Kennedy present in-depth lectures on the concept of liberalism as a theoretical framework for examining the interrelationships between the histories of Europe and America. Produced by the Stanford University Channel. Programs available on 20 individual Click for more

3. Tocqueville's Europe

03. Tocqueville's Europe

Alexis de Tocqueville has been called the most perceptive foreign political observer of America. Born in 1805, Tocqueville's perspectives on world affairs were formed during a period of rapid and uncertain social change. In 20 years he had witnessed the defeat and exile of Napoleon, the death of King Louis XVIII, the medieval pomposity of King Charles X, and the inspired rule of King Louis Philippe. At age 25, Tocqueville traveled to America, where he observed democracy in action. He returned to France with hope for positive change and egalitarian growth, but soon witnessed the monarchy's fall due to its inability to withstand the pressures of social conflict. In 1848, Tocqueville made a personal effort to help achieve a balance between social order and personal freedom in France. But his enthusiasm turned to pessimism as the new Revolutionary Government systematically destroyed trusted institutions, replacing them with dehumanizing bureaucracies. In this program Professor James Sheehan engagingly provides the historical framework for understanding Tocqueville's perspectives on democracy and European revolution. He speaks of the impact of "fundamental instability," explosive population growth, and technological advances on public attitudes and events. Finally, he explains Tocqueville's profound disappointment when democratic principles were abridged or abandoned in France after "the burden of equality became too great." 99/10DE SCA 45 min.

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