The Lives of the Characters
The following biographical entries provide contextual information for some of the Characters encountered by Tocqueville and Beaumont during their journey, some influential to American society in a larger sense and some influential only to the travelers. Images and life-span dates have been provided when possible. Generally the entries include items such as offices held or ideas which the person seemed to represent to Tocqueville, in addition to where they met and what items were discussed, as shown by Pierson.
A - G |
H - P |
Q - Z
Organized Regionally |
Organized by Issue
(Navigation note: most images of the Characters appear on this page only)
1846, Eastman Johnson
Adams, John Quincy (1767-1848)
Sixth President of the United States, Secretary of State to James Monroe and
ardent expansionist. Met with the travelers in Boston and discussed slavery
and religion, met in Washington, D.C. and discussed expansionism and the
Landlord and owner of the inn in Pontiac at which the travelers stayed on their way to
Saginaw. Discussed the nature of the pioneer and expansion, particularly the abundance
of land and the dearth of labor to clear it. Also discussed settlement, economy,
business, and religion in the wilderness, and offered an example of American hubris in
ability to conquer the land. Advised them not to go to Saginaw, perhaps out of good
will and perhaps out of fear they were infringing on his economic gain by getting
involved with the fur trade.
1832, Albert Newsam
Carroll, Charles (1737-1832)
Revolutionary leader and, at the time of meeting the travelers, the last
living signer of the Declaration of Independence. Member of Continental
Congress and U.S. Senator from Maryland (1789-92). Landed proprietor;
discussed primogeniture, issues of the aristocracy, and custom vs. law in
American culture when the men were in Maryland.
1829, William Hoogland
Channing, William Ellery (1780-1842)
Leader of the Unitarian movement (1819), drawing together principles of
Protestantism and the Enlightenment. Advocated social reform and abolition
of slavery. Met with travelers in Boston and discussed religion.
1855, Leopold Grozelier
Chase, Salmon Portland (1808-1873)
Cincinnati lawyer associated with antislavery movement. Later served as
Governor of Ohio, U.S. Senator, Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury, and
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (1864-1873).
Duponceau, Peter (Pierre, 1760-1844)
French-born American lawyer, served in American revolution. Authored legal
treatises and early works on history and philology, especially of Native
Americans. After 1785 became America's leading expert on international law.
Met with Tocqueville and Beaumont when in Washington, D.C.; little account
given of his views in their journals.
Everett, Edward (1794-1865)
Unitarian clergyman; editor of North American Review; Congressman from
Massachusetts (Independent, 1825-35); President of Harvard College (1846-49);
U.S. Secretary of State (1852-53); Senator from Massachusetts (1853-54).
Ardent Unionist, distinguished orator, shared platform with Lincoln at
Called on the travelers as they visited Washington, D.C. Image 1858, Hezekiah
1859, Thomas Worthington Whittredge
Swiss-born, U.S. Senator, Secretary of Treasury to Jefferson, diplomat to
France and London, president of New York branch of second Bank of the
United States. Met with travelers in Manhattan and discussed law.
Gilpin, Henry D.
Philadelphia lawyer; U.S attorney, eastern district of Pennsylvania (1831-
37); U.S. Attorney General (1840-41). Met with Tocqueville and Beaumont
during their second visit in Philadelphia to discuss the justice system in
America, particularly which parts of English practice had been retained and
which ones abandoned. His commentary on the jury system shows up frequently
in Democracy in America.
French consul in New Orleans at the time the travelers visited the city. Discussed French customs in the territory, immigration, slavery, and growth and prosperity of the area
A colloquial voice, represented in Pierson's work ("Down the Mississippi"). Owner of
the cabin in which the travelers stayed when stranded in Tennessee and while Tocqueville
took ill. Slave-owner and representative of the pioneer. Discussed the necessary link
between Southern agrarianism and slavery and how that affects the character of the whi
c. 1858, unidentified artist
Leader of Texas Independence (1836), first President of Texas republic.
Left office of Governor of Texas once it seceded in 1861. Served as
governor of Tennessee district (1829), resigned and lived 3 years with
Cherokee tribe. Met travelers on the Mississippi River and discussed
Indians and racial tensions.
Ingersoll, Charles Jared
Lawyer; author; U.S. District Attorney (1815-29); U.S. Congressman from Pennsylvania.
Held anti-French political views early in his career but broke away from those with the
publication of View of the Rights and Wrongs, Power and Policy, of the United States
of America, which was widely read in America and abroad. Authored histories of the
War of 1812. Known for energy in championing causes unpopular in his own social
environment. Met with the travelers in Philadelphia to discuss principles of government.
no date, James Barton Longacre
Seventh President of the United States (1828-1836); distinguished General in
War of 1812. Associated with the "spoils system" in selecting cabinet and
public office holders. Met with travelers in Washington, D.C. but left
little impression on them. Frequently referred to by other informants as an
example of a man of no "talent" being elected to office, a negative example
of widespread suffrage.
c. 1840, Daniel Huntington
Prominent New York Jurist; established precedence of handing written
opinions as Chief Judge of N.Y. Supreme Court. Staunch conservative; spoke
out against universal suffrage. Wrote Commentaries on American Law
(1826-30) to which Tocqueville would refer often in composing his notes and
Latrobe, John Hazlehurst Boneval
Lawyer, inventor. Helped draft charter of Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
widely recognized as railroad and patent attorney. Active in many
philanthropic societies. Met travelers in Baltimore and discussed, among
other things, suffrage, customs vs. law in America, primogeniture, slavery,
regionalism, public education, Catholicism, and Maryland society.
German traveler who met Tocqueville during his visits to the United States,
once in Boston. Exchanged ideas with Tocqueville and wrote works on topics
corresponding with those in his text. The link from Lieber's name connects to
a site comparing the two travelers; though it is based from the AS@UVa
Tocqueville site, it will take you away from this site.
c. 1833, James Barton Longacre
Lawyer, served as U.S. attorney for New York and Mayor of New York City (1801
03), suffered private and public debt and struggles until he regained fame in
1825 for revising the Louisiana penal law to aim at prevention of crime
rather than punishment. U.S. Congressman from Louisiana; hosted Tocqueville
and Beaumont in Washington, D.C.
Prison administrator, originator of the Auburn system of prison-keeping in
which prisoners worked in perpetual silence in open fields. Met with
Tocqueville and Beaumont in Auburn, N.Y. to discuss principles of prison
Lawyer, New York politician, District attorney of New York County (1817-18,
1821-29). Discussed penitentiary system with the travelers while they were
in Manhattan, particulary the "House of Refuge" system designed for reform
of juvenile delinquents.
French-born American lawyer, law partner of Edward Livingston in New
Orleans. Louisiana legislator, also served as Louisiana Attorney General.
Discussed New Orleans government and culture with the travelers,
specifically growth of the territory, slavery, and French influences on
and colloquial voice
Pierson's book ("Down
Kentucky and Ohio,
rooted in slavery, as
well as the
abolition of slavery
in Kentucky and
about such issues.
Recorder of the City for Philadelphia in 1830; discussed the
possibility of foreign nations adopting America's jury system with
the travelers. Provided Tocqueville with extensive compositions
regarding the penal code and system of punishment in Pennsylvania,
the judicial organization of the state, and specific
recommendations about the adoption o
f the jury system in France.
c. 1830, Albert
Poinsett, Joel Roberts
U.S. diplomat to Mexico; served in South Carolina legislature; U.S. Secretary
of War (1837-41). Developed the poinsettia from a Mexican flower. A strong
Unionist; discussed regional culture and expansion with Tocqueville and
Beaumont during each of their two visits to Philadelphia.
1827-28, Horatio Greenough
U.S. and Massachusetts Congressman; Mayor of Boston (1823-27), instituted
great plan for city reform. President of Harvard (1829-45), turned law school
into a professional school, brought on Jared Sparks, Henry Wadsworth
Longfellow, and Benjamin Peirce as faculty members. Authored The History
of Harvard University (1840). Discussed law and government with the
travelers during their stay in Boston.
One of two Indian guides who led Tocqueville and Beaumont through a fifteen-league
journey from Flint River to Saginaw, at that point the farthest point of western
expansion. Despite their inability to communicate verbally, Tocqueville's notes indicate
an attention to Sagan-Cuisco's abilities to negotiate the forest with ease yet be easily
in Western eyes, when it comes to trade. The guides serve as a
different kind of colloquial voice, speaking of racial relations,
from those who are foreigners on a new continent to those who are
being forced to become foreigners on land they once occupied.
- Schermerhorn, Peter
Distinguished New York merchant who met the travelers as they began their excursion
across the Atlantic on the Havre. His discussions with Tocqueville and Beaumont
helped shape some of their early sensibilities about the nature of American government
and the American people. Of particular note to Tocqueville were Schermerhorn's comments
egarding the dissipation of the political party system, the American infatuation with wealth and the unscrupulousness with which it is pursued, and the question of an eventual division among the states which form the
Sparks, Reverend Jared
Historian, Unitarian minister, editor of North American Review (1823-29),
later served as President of Harvard University (1849-1853). Published
twelve volume The Writing of George Washington. Met with travelers
and discussed religion. Image 1863, John Adams Whipple
1843, Charles Fenderich
Spencer, John Canfield
Distinguished lawyer in upstate New York. U.S. Secretary of War (1841-43)
and U.S. Secretary of the Treasury (1843-44) under President Tyler, resigned
in opposition to the annexation of Texas. Discussed the nature of the
legislature, jurisprudence, the press, religious tolerance, education, and
suffrage with the travelers when they visited Canandaigua, N.Y.
Lawyer; Massachusetts legislator; author of The Public Men of the
Revolution. Met Tocqueville and Beaumont in Boston and responded, after
their departure, to their written inquiry regarding the administration of
Lawyer, studied in law office of Thomas Jefferson. Diplomat to Cuba (1833-
41) and Mexico (1845-48); considered a man of high integrity. Instrumental
in helping the travelers collect printed materials on the operation and
history of the federal government during their stay in Washington, D.C.
Tuckerman, Reverend Joseph
Unitary clergyman and philanthropist. Began a city mission for the poor of
Boston in 1826 which later served as model for institutions in England and
France. Provided Tocqueville and Beaumont with documents and letters he had
written regarding temperance, charity, education, and pauperism. Discussed
such topics with them during their stay in Boston.
Prisoner No. 28 of the Eastern State
Inmate of Philadelphia prison interviewed by
Tocqueville in order to get the "insider's" insights
about how the system affects the individual.
Fittingly, he is nameless, as are the other
prisoners interviewed. His belief is that the
prospect of doing work while in prison is the only
thing which keeps him alive, particularly due to the
itude at all other times. He
considers the Eastern State
Penitentiary superior to the Walnut
Street prison. His story precedes a
moving social commentary from
another prisoner, about his
perceived necessity to return to
crime, forced by society which once
put him in jail for being a vagrant.
Philanthropist and devout Quaker. Associated with many public and private
activities for social welfare in Philadelphia, including creation of free
schools, hospital work, work of learned societies, and prison reform.
Advocate of the Quaker theory of self-reform under solitary confinement for
prisoners; hosted a dinner for the travelers during their first stay in
Philadelphia, at which they exchanged ideas with others interested in prison-
Lawyer, legal writer, jurist, and law teacher in Ohio. Authored
Introduction to American Law (1837), an influential work of the
elementary principles of American justice system. Discussed the justice
system, government involvement in education, banking and revenue, voting
practices, and the general "equality of condition" in the United States when
Tocqueville and Beaumont visited Cincinnati.
1830, James Barton Longacre
Political leader, U.S. Congressman from New Hampshire and Massachusetts,
active in sectional issues, considered one of the nation's leading
constitutional lawyers and great defender of the Constitution. Served as
Secretary of State under President Fillmore (1850-52). Met with Tocqueville
and Beaumont in Boston but left little impression; they considered him only
Michigan businessman who advised Tocqueville and Beaumont which way to travel through the wilderness, advocating a trust of the Indians more than the white man. A colloquial voice in "Quinze Jours au