Tocqueville and the Odd Couple

Franco-German relations over the last century and a half have been characterized by a complex pattern of attraction and repulsion that is crucial to an understanding of the new Europe.

Issue: Spring 1999

Alexis de Tocqueville, known throughout Europe as the author of Democracy in America and for a brief period foreign minister of France, was childless--a matter of deep concern to someone so proud of his ancestry. In his later years he partly made up for this gap in his life by attention to his nephews and nieces. Pride of place went to his nephew Hubert, who was nineteen years old when Louis Napoleon's coup d'Žtat ended Tocqueville's public career. After some hesitation, Hubert opted for a diplomatic career and, with some assistance from his uncle, was posted first to the embassy in Vienna and then to Berlin.

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