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7 Am. Pol. Thought 1 (2018)

handle is hein.journals/ampolth7 and id is 1 raw text is: 

Reading Tocqueville behind

the Veil: African American

Receptions of Democracy

in America, 1835-1900


Tocqueville's views on race and race relations as espoused in Democracy in America
have received considerable scholarly attention over the past several decades. This article
examines the reception of these ideas within the black counterpublic. The analysis fo-
cuses on commentary about Democracy in America in black-controlled periodicals be-
tween 1835 and 1900. The main finding is that African American intellectuals devel-
oped their own distinct interpretations of the text. This finding is significant because
extant reception histories have ignored African American voices. The article also shows
that African American commentators were far more critical of Tocqueville's ideas
about race and race relations before the Civil War. By the close of the nineteenth cen-
tury, African American intellectuals began to elevate Democracy in America to the sta-
tus of a canonical text on race relations and republicanism. Both of these findings cut
against the dominant historiography of the reception of Democracy in America.


This article examines the reception  of Alexis de Tocqueville's ideas about
race and race relations as espoused in Democracy   in America  (1835/1840).
Tocqueville's commentary  on these issues appears at the end of book 1 of De-
mocracy  in America, in his chapter entitled The Present and Probable Future
Condition  of the Three  Races  Which  Inhabit  the Territory of the United
States.' Although Tocqueville describes his observations on the racial order

Alvin B. Tillery Jr. is associate professor of political science, Department of Political Science, Northwestern
University, 601 University Place, Evanston, IL 60208 (alvin.tillery@northwestern.edu).
   I would like to thank Eileen Botting, Sara Monoson, Melvin Rogers, Jack Chip Turner, Inez Valdez,
Michael Zuckert, and the four anonymous reviewers for excellent comments on draft versions of this article.

   1. Hereafter I will use Three Races as an abbreviation for this chapter.

American Political Thought: A Journal of Ideas, Institutions, and Culture, vol. 7 (Winter 2018).
2161-1580/2018/0701-0001$10.00. © 2018 by The Jack Miller Center. All rights reserved.

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