New Issue and New Collected Volume from American Political Thought

The University of Chicago Press has published the Winter 2017 issue of American Political Thought and a collected volume of essays from the journal reflecting upon Tocqueville’s thesis on religion and politics in early nineteenth-century America.

American Political Thought

The latest issue includes essays on political attachments in the American founding, political activist and writer Emma Goldman, Hans Morgrenthau, and reviews of recent books by Armin Mattes and Rogers M. Smith.

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The Spirit of Religion and the Spirit of Liberty: The Tocqueville Thesis Revisited

Edited by Michael P. Zuckert

Tocqueville’s thesis on the relation between religion and liberty could hardly be timelier. From events in the Middle East and the spread of Islamist violence in the name of religion to the mandated coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the interaction between religion and politics has once again become central to political life. Tocqueville, facing the coming of a new social and political order within the traditional society that was France, faced this relation between politics and religion with freshness and relevance. He was particularly interested in reporting to his French compatriots on how the Americans had successfully resolved what, to many Frenchmen, looked to be an insuperable conflict. His surprising thesis was that the right kind of arrangement—a certain kind of separation of church and state that was not also a complete separation of religion and politics—could be seen in nineteenth century America to be beneficial to both liberty and religion. This volume investigates whether Tocqueville’s depiction was valid for the America he investigated in the 1830s and whether it remains valid today.

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