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His friends

Victor Lanjuinais
« In sum, he was a very trustworthy associate and, all in all, the most honest man I met in public life, as well as the least apt, to my mind, to mingle his love of the public good with particular or self-interested views. »
(A. de Tocqueville Souvenirs,
part 3, chap. 1)

When Tocqueville was approached about being appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs under the Second Republic, he appeared to attach only a single condition to his entry into the government: that his friend Victor Lanjuinais would also be given a portfolio. This indicates the trust he placed in his friend, who was none other than the son of the famous member of National Convention, Jean-Denis Lanjuinais. Victor was born in 1802, and belonged to the same generation as Alexis. Their professional paths were fairly similar: after starting his career at the bar, Lanjuinais, who wanted to enter politics, was elected Deputy for the Loire-Inférieure in 1838. He held this seat until 1848, and owed his parliamentary career to his encounter with Tocqueville, who shared his liberal views, and who involved him in a number of his political projects. It was thus that Victor Lanjuinais took part in the adventure of the newspaper Commerce, and became passionately interested in the constitutional project of the Young Left party. He also shared Tocqueville's taste for traveling; like him, he worried about the fate of the French colony of Algeria, where the two friends met up in 1846.

« His temperament was as calm and tranquil as mine was anxious and agitated. Methodical, slow, lazy, cautious, and even meticulous, he found it quite difficult to embark on any enterprise, but once started he never drew back and to the end showed himself to be as resolute and stubborn as a Breton peasant. »
(A. de Tocqueville Souvenirs,
part 3, chap. 1)

Above all, however, it was under the Second Republic, in a political landscape made particularly complex by France's particular situation, that he became one of Tocqueville's most faithful allies, to the point of being summoned to support him under Second Minister Barrot. In his Recollections, Tocqueville described how he had needed Lanjuinais's loyalty and friendship, and that France could only benefit from his concern for public interests. As Lanjuinais had always been an avid student of economic science and monetary policy, he was appointed Minister of Commerce. After December 2, 1851, having decided - like most of Tocqueville's political allies - to retire from public life, he returned to his beloved economic studies and continued to travel. He also continued to visit the Tocqueville household often, and remained a regular correspondent. Before his death in 1869, he reentered political life under the Empire, as a deputy of the liberal opposition.

Portrait of Victor Lanjuinais

Portrait of Victor Lanjuinais, anonymous; Département des Estampes
© BNF

Caricature of Victor Lanjuinais

Caricature of Victor Lanjuinais, Cham
© Olivier Ménard

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