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Alexis de Tocqueville on the French Revolution
The nobleman Alexis de Tocqueville (180559) was a historian, social critic, and politician who wrote a vastly influential work entitled The Old Régime and the French Revolution (1856). Tocqueville worried that although the revolutionary legacy was still alive and well, liberty was no longer its primary objective. He believed, indeed, that it had been a casualty of how the French Revolution emerged. He feared that just as the first Republic had fallen to Napoleon and the second had succumbed to his nephew Napoleon III, all future revolutions might experience the same fate. Here he ruminates about the shortcomings of the French Revolution.
Chapter 10: Legacies of the Revolution
Contemporaries saw the French Revolution as an epochal event, and it has still continued to be understood by many as the marker between the traditional and modern periods. The strong response to the Revolution was immediate and has continued to the present and spread throughout the world. This chapter includes the early AngloAmerican response, conservative reaction, and literary reactions. It concludes with a description of how subsequent historians have understood the Revolution.