"...it's in the society that one learns the morals, the usages, the spirit, and the character of a nation. Finally, one improves oneself in seeing the world, and one learns ot know men of all kinds" (Pierson, 86). This quotation is taken from the journals of Alexis DeTocqueville in reference to his journey through America in 1831-1832.
Originally visiting America to study prison reform, Tocqueville became fascinated by the lifestyle of the Americans. His Democracy in America addressed America's love for equality over freedom; materialism; religious mores; and the American educational system. He gave us first-hand, insightful descriptions of the country in 1831-32 from New York to New Orleans. However, deTocqueville was unaware of the importance of many events taking place in America during his trip. The aspects of American life that deTocqueville overlooked during his trip, or simply did not include in his finished work, are equally important to what he recorded in Democracy in America.
This site is designed to put the text back into the real experience of Tocqueville in early nineteenth century America through the use of images and excerpts from the journals of Tocqueville and his traveling companion, Beaumont. These diaries of the trip are a great help in supplementing areas of experience that were neglected in the text. Vitally important to the context of his book are the everyday lifestyles of the people around him. What might have been overlooked by Tocqueville at the time is fascinating and useful today. What kind of clothes did they wear? What did the houses look like? What did people do all day? Was life extremely different in various regions of the country? This site, filling in one aspect of the trip, will create a context that provides the reader with a mental picture of the world of 1831 that surrounds the text and produces a more developed and authentic reproduction of the time.
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