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The discovery of Algeria (1841)
« This part of Algeria is infinitely more beautiful than the others. Tall mountains press close to the sea. They are covered with trees and meadows all the way to the top. In many places they open onto charming valleys, which are cultivated and dotted with herds of animals. »
(Letter to his brother Edouard, May 30, 1841)

Back in Algiers, Tocqueville and Beaumont decided to explore the eastern part of the territory, and arrived in Philippeville by sea on May 30, 1841. Reading the descriptions that Alexis sent to his family, the crossing was a delight. Beyond the pleasures of tourism, however, their principal goal was to travel all the way to Constantine, which was three days' travel by a convoy leaving Philippeville on May 31. Unfortunately, Tocqueville became ill with dysentery and was quickly forced to turn back and abandon this project. He was even forced to cut short his trip and return to France on June 19, i.e. long before completing his survey on the colonial policy implemented by Marshal Bugeaud in an attempt to weaken Abd-el-Kader. Once again, Beaumont preferred to accompany his friend rather than pursue a voyage that he had hoped would furnish him with material for a new book.
As for Tocqueville, aside from the disappointment at having to shorten his fact-finding mission, the conclusions he drew from this first trip to Algeria were divided. He certainly appreciated the beauty of the various landscapes and the agreeable climate. He was also attracted by the dynamism of this population formed from various immigrant populations, and by the speed with which the society was developing - and more than once he drew an analogy with the development of the United States. On the other hand, he was much more severe on the subject of the conduct of the French administration, and very pessimistic about the difficulties encountered by French troops in conquering the interior of the country. Tocqueville considered that France was not allocating the resources necessary for the successful colonization of Algeria, as he had already explained in 1837 at the start of his Second Letter on Algeria.   play sound extractlire l'extrait sonore  

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Algiers, cover page of the book by Genty de Bussy

The Port of Algiers

The Port of Algiers, cover page of the book by Genty de Bussy © CAOM

Conquêst and Civilization, 5 July 1830, Adolphe Godard

Conquêst and Civilization, 5 July 1830, Adolphe Godard © BNF

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Algerian Journeys

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