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Tocqueville’s pessimism regarding the future of race relations in America came from what he saw of the real social effects of racial prejudice in creating ‘races’ of different characters. But from that way of understanding the world—what Liebersohn has called Tocqueville’s ‘socioeconomic interpretation of race’,69 which was still 36 The Victorian Reinvention of Race Tocqueville’s position in his fi rst Algerian writings—he would move to a position of apparently racist, even genocidal imperialism in his later writings on Algeria.

Avoiding the mistake of injecting modern perspectives into what Tocqueville wrote can be difficult. Even James T. Schleifer’s The Making of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, a magisterial book, imposes the modern idea of ‘race’ on Tocqueville’s work. 30 RACIAL CONCLUSIONS IN DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA In the fi rst half of Democracy in America, the characteristics that make what Tocqueville describes as a ‘race’—’[e]ducation, law, origin, and even their exterior form’31—do not add up to much that is passed down inside the body.

These culturally transformed Arabs would be more like the people already living in Algeria’s towns, the people known as the Moors. The Moors themselves, as Tocqueville says at the end of the fi rst letter, ‘belong to various races’, but the majority of them were indeed simply that portion of the Arab population which had preferred the settled and prosperous life of the towns. Thus, moving into a town meant changing one’s racial category from Arab to Moor, seemingly in the very next generation. 38 The Victorian Reinvention of Race Meanwhile, the civilizational or social-evolutionary chasm between the nomadic but highly cultured Arabs and the French settlers did not seem so great to him as the chasm standing between the North American Indians and the modern Anglo-Americans.

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British Forces in Zululand 1879 spanish

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