"Americans have always loved Tocqueville. We recall fondly, if somewhat inaccurately, his optimistic assessment of our enterprising spirit, social mobility, and all-around "exceptionalism." But thinking of Tocqueville as a friendly travel-writer is one thing; taking him seriously as a political thinker is something entirely different. By the 1930s, Democracy in America was nearly 100 years old, and whatever wisdom it might have contained for the still largely unsettled, relatively homogenous, agrarian America of the 1830s no longer seemed relevant to the hyper-industrialized nation, which was teeming with newly arrived immigrants from all parts of the globe—and poised to assume world leadership.
But that soon changed. Yale historian George W. Pierson kicked off the revival of interest in the writings of Alexis de Tocqueville with his book Tocqueville and America, published in 1938. Pierson assembled an extraordinary amount of material about Tocqueville's nine-month epic tour of the United States in 1831-32 to produce a monumental companion toDemocracy in America. His skillful interweaving of letters, diaries, newspaper accounts, and memoirs brought back the immediate drama of Tocqueville's discovery of democracy in America, and made it live again. Suddenly, Tocqueville seemed more relevant to people trying to better understand and defend democracy in the 20th century. By the year 2000, the editors of the Journal of Democracy went so far as to write: 'One may say with little exaggeration: We are all Tocquevilleans now.'"