"I have long had the greatest desire to visit North America: I shall go see there what a great republic is like; my only fear is lest, during that time, they establish one in France."
Tocqueville, letter to a friend, August (Pierson 31)
It was October 31, 1830 that Alexis de Tocqueville, and Gustave de Beaumont submitted a mission request to the French government to travel to America and study the new prison reforms (Pierson 30). To have their proposal accepted proved to be somewhat difficult. It was not until February 6, 1831 that the pair were even granted leave. Although they tried, there really was little hope of convincing the government to fund their trip. The young gentlemen's families paid for the journey (Pierson 35).
Tocqueville and Beaumont made extensive preparations for their trip. A large part of their effort went to collecting letters of introduction which would ensure that they would be received by the finest and most important people in America. They got copies of Cooper's and Volney's descriptions of the United States. Other books they took along included a prayer book, and a two volume daily devotional. They needed to outfit themselves with clothing for 18 months of travel. Tocqueville's purchases were as follows:
Leather trunk (40 fr.)
with engraved nameplate (3 fr.)
a chapeau rond (25 fr.)
a silk hat recovered (5fr.)
two pair bottines -- half-boots (25 fr. each)
one pair pied en tirant (17 fr.)
a pair de fort last -- laced shoes? (12 fr.)
a pair resoled (10 fr.)