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His friends

Gustave de Beaumont

For a long time, the two friends were afraid that their respective marriages would come between their friendship, all the more in that they chose, within a short time span, very dissimilar spouses. Beaumont celebrated his marriage to Clémentine de Lafayette, the granddaughter of the famous general, in 1836, while Tocqueville married Marie Mottley in 1835. Nothing of the sort happened, as it turned out, and the two men's wives even became friends.

« You are the only friend with whom I have maintained the openness of heart, the frankness of spirit, and, in a word, the intimacy of youth. For a long time this was also the case with our poor friend Louis, but since he has stopped being anything but his wife's husband and the passive agent of ideas and feelings so different from those that are natural to him, you are the only person with whom I can talk openly about anything and in the frame of mind and heart in which I feel at home. »
(Letter to Gustave de Beaumont, January 2, 1858)

On the other hand, their careers as deputies under the July Monarchy, which began in 1839 after both had suffered defeat at the polls in 1837, was very trying for their friendship. While Tocqueville had a disappointing start in the Chamber, where he refused to take part in party politics, Beaumont, who was finally elected deputy for Mamers in the Sarthe in December 1839, was much more willing to serve his ambition through making the necessary alliances - in particular with Adolphe Thiers - for which his friend bitterly criticized him. Their differences came to a head in 1844, when Beaumont refused to accompany Tocqueville and his political allies in the adventure of the daily newspaper Commerce, because of his devoted support of another paper, Le Siècle, which was sharply opposed to his friend's publication. Nevertheless, these disagreements were not enough to completely destroy their friendship, although it took the Revolution of 1848 to definitively reconcile them. After the revolution, they were once again in agreement on the attitude to take: they both accepted the Republic and both took part, after their election to the Constituent Assembly, in drawing the new constitution. Indeed, it was Beaumont, with his friend's support, who penned the famous article about the ineligible character of the office of President of the Republic. On August 7, 1848, Beaumont was appointed plenipotentiary minister to London, and their correspondence from this time testifies to their newly-rekindled complicity. At the presidential elections of December 10, they gave their united support to Cavaignac, whose defeat resulted in Beaumont's resignation, who was still posted to London. On the other hand, it did not keep either of them from being reelected to the Legislative Assembly; Beaumont was elected second on the list for the department of La Sarthe, just behind Lamoricière, who had become his cousin by marriage, and was one of his main political allies. He benefited from Tocqueville's nomination to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was appointed French ambassador to Vienna, while Lamoricière was made ambassador to Moscow. When the ministry fell, they resigned collectively. Their attitude was the same following the December 2, 1851 coup d'etat: they both refused to take part in the imperial regime, preferring instead to withdraw from public life. The two men continued to become close to each other, and although Beaumont was obliged for financial reasons to turn his back on society and retire with his family to his modest chateau de Beaumon-la-Chartre, he never forgot his best friend. For example, he hurried to his side in Paris to oversee the launch of The Old Regime and the Revolution - a work that he had reread attentively - when Tocqueville was overwhelmed by the death of his father. He went to see his friend once again, when Alexis begged him in a particularly touching letter to come to him in Cannes,  play sound extractlire l'extrait sonore  where he was dying. Beaumont's care extended even after Tocqueville's death, when he agreed to oversee the posthumous publication of his collected works, a task that his wife Clémentine completed in 1866 after Gustave died on March 30 of the previous year, victim to an epidemic.

Gustave de Beaumont

Gustave de Beaumont, Anonymous; Département des Estampes © BNF

Archives

Elections of Gustave de Beaumont as deputy from La Sarthe

Elections of Gustave de Beaumont as deputy from La Sarthe in 1839, 1842 and 1846
© AD Sarthe

Newspaper articles published by Gustave de Beaumont

Newspaper articles published in Le Siècle (January 1, 1843), Le Journal des Débats (April 26, 1849) and L'Union (May 19, 1849)
© CHAN

List of candidates for the department of La Sarthe, 1848 © CHAN

List of candidates for the department of La Sarthe, 1848
© CHAN

Ballot for the Comité Central Napoléonien, May 18, 1849 © CHAN

Ballot for the Comité Central Napoléonien, May 18, 1849
© CHAN

Election tract for the Comité Républicain of Saint-Calais © CHAN

Election tract for the Comité Républicain of Saint-Calais © CHAN

Gustave de Beaumont's death certificate, dated March 31, 1866 © AD Indre-et-Loire

Gustave de Beaumont's death certificate, dated March 31, 1866
© AD Indre-et-Loire

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