By Alexis de de Tocqueville, Jennifer Pitts

After finishing his examine for Democracy in the United States, Alexis de Tocqueville grew to become to the French consolidation of its empire in North Africa, which he believed deserving of comparable recognition. Tocqueville all started learning Algerian heritage and tradition, making journeys to Algeria in 1841 and 1846. He fast turned one in all France's top-rated specialists at the kingdom and wrote essays, articles, legitimate letters, and parliamentary studies on such different subject matters as France's army and administrative rules in North Africa, the folk of the Maghrib, his personal travels in Algeria, and the perform of Islam. all through, Tocqueville always defended the French imperial venture, a place that stands in rigidity along with his admiration for the advantages of democracy he witnessed in America.Although Tocqueville by no means released a book-length research of French North Africa, his quite a few writings at the topic supply as worthwhile a portrait of French imperialism as Democracy in the United States does of the Early Republic interval in American background. In Writings on Empire and Slavery, Jennifer Pitts has chosen and translated 9 of his most crucial dispatches on Algeria, which supply startling new insights into either Tocqueville's political suggestion and French liberalism's attitudes towards the political, army, and ethical elements of France's colonial growth. the amount additionally contains six articles Tocqueville wrote throughout the related interval calling for the emancipation of slaves in France's Caribbean colonies.

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You are surely aware, sir, that Algeria stretches practically in a straight line from west to east, over a space of . . ∂ Parallel to the sea rises a chain of high mountains called the Atlas. Sometimes the Atlas recedes abruptly to the south and opens up long, broad plains; elsewhere it suddenly reaches the 6 Writings on Empire and Slavery shore and bathes its last slopes in the tide. From time to time, it folds back upon itself and encloses deep valleys within its contours. A thousand small streams flow from all directions along the mountainsides.

Can you believe, sir, that there is not an inch of land in the area around Algiers that does not have a known owner, and that there is no more vacant land in the plain of Mitidja than in that of Argenteuil [just northwest of Paris]. Each owner is provided with a title drafted in good form before a public o≈cer. These, you will agree, are singular savages. What do they lack, if you please, to resemble civilized men entirely, but constantly to dispute the boundaries indicated by their contracts? But this is precisely what they never do, for the reason I am about to give you: if the Arabs have not remained completely herdsmen and nomads, they have not entirely become sedentary and agricultural.

There are men who once acquired, through their piety and their wisdom, a reputation of extraordinary holiness. These men, called marabouts, were once surrounded by public respect throughout their lives and in general had a great influence on the thinking of the surrounding populations; and what is unusual is that they transmitted all this to their descendants. In each family of marabouts, there never fails to be born in each new generation a saintly and erudite man, who maintains the good name and the power of his predecessors.

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