Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville (born in Paris on July 29, 1805 and died in Cannes on April 16, 1859) was a French political thinker and historian best known for his “Democracy in America” (appearing in two volumes: 1835 and 1840) and “The Old Regime and the Revolution” (1856). He is one of the greatest thinkers of the 19th century. In both of these works, he analyzed the rising living standards and social conditions of individuals and their relationship to the market and state in Western societies. Democracy in America (1835), his major work, published after his travels in the United States, is today considered an early masterpiece of sociology and political science.
An eminent representative of the French républicain tradition, Tocqueville was an active participant in French politics, first under the constitutional royalty of King Louis-Philippe (1830–1848) and then during the Second Republic (1849–1851) which succeeded the February 1848 Revolution. He finally quit political life after Louis Napoléon Bonaparte’s 2 December 1851 coup d’état and proclamation as Emperor Napoleon III, and thereafter began working on his second most important work: The Old Regime and the Revolution.