Alexis de Tocqueville

2.25 Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, edited by J.P Mayer, 1994; excerpt: Appendix II Report given before the Academy of Moral and Political sciences on January 15, 1848 on the subject of M. Cherbuliez book entitled On Democracy in Switzerland, p. 736-749

a) Background

The two texts by Alexis de Tocqueville make a direct and special reference to governmental organizations of Switzerland. Those texts are grounded in de Tocqueville’s deep historic knowledge as evidenced in Democracy in America. The text distinguished the Federal Constitution of the United States of America from all other Federal Constitutions. It is a short comparative note with direct references to Switzerland. The text has been written before the political developments that led to the Federal Constitution of the republic of Switzerland in 1848. The second excerpt consists of appendix II, which de Tocqueville deliberately added to Democracy in America. The text is a written report on a book On democracy in Switzerland, which de Tocqueville had presented orally before the Academy of Moral and Political sciences on January 15, 1948. The title of the book on which de Tocqueville reports is De la Democracie en Suisse (On democracy in Switzerland), 2 vol., Paris, 1843;, the author M. Cherbuliez, was a professor of public law at the Academy of Geneva.

b) Summary

The second text at hand is an in-depth analysis of certain features of the birth of the political and institutional governance of Switzerland before the creation of the Federal Constitution of Switzerland in 1848. The text has been written shortly before that point in time and has been conciously included by Alexis de Tocqueville in the book of Democracy in America as an appendix.

The text commented by Tocqueville is a book of Mr. Cherbuliez, a professor of public law at the Academy of Geneva, with which de Tocqueville disagreed. De Tocqueville wrote his own views on the revolutionary process lasting over 50 years of emancipation within Swiss institutions of the principles of democracy, starting from a very backward-looking and conservative State at the outset. The text is an eye-opener as to the limited extent of influence of the revolution of the political institutions within Switzerland at the time of the Confederation for 1798 and the long and constant evolution of the developments up until 1848 (see in that context William E. Rappard, text 2.17 with the subtitle “the Americanization of the Swiss Constitution, 1848).

c) Text

You can find a scan (PDF) of the original text here:
A_2.25_de TOCQUEVILLE_Democracy in America Appendix II

© Prof. Jens Drolshammer, office@drolshammer.com,  www.drolshammer.net

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