Gustave de Beaumont (1802-1866)

[Created 24 July, 2012]
[Updated 24 June, 2012]



Gustave de Beaumont (1802-1866) was a magistrate in Verseilles and then Paris during the Restoration but was able to keep his post after the July Revolution of 1830. He accompanied Alexis de Tocqueville on a nine month trip to America in 1831 to observe the American prison system for the new French government which resulted in the book The Prison System of the United States (1833). Along the way they observed and collected material which would later produce Tocqueville’s book Democracy in America (1835, 1840) and Beaumont’s book Marie , or Slavery in the United States (1835). In 1836 he married the grand daughter of the marquis de Lafayette, Clémentine, and the following year he travelled with her to Ireland which resulted in L'Irlande sociale, politique et religieuse (1839). During the 1840s he was a member of the Chamber of Deputies and continued in office after the 1848 Revolution as vice-president of the Constituent Assembly where he supported the moderate constitutional republicans. During the Second Republic he also served as ambassador to London and Vienna. He was briefly arrested along with Tocqueville for opposing the coup d’état of Louis Napoleon in December 1852. He retired soon afterwards. One of his last tasks was to edit the collected works of Tocqueville (who died in 1859) which began to appear in print in 1864. He died before he could complete the project, which was continued by Clémentine. [DMH]


  • Gustave de Beaumont and Alexis de Tocqueville, Système pénitentiaire aux États-Unis, et de son application en France; suivi d'un appendice sur les colonies pénales, et de notes statistiques. Seconde édition entièrement refondue et augmentée d'une introduction, etc. (Paris: Charles Gosselin, 1836). 2 vols. Facsimile vol. 1 [PDF 20.9 MB] - vol. 2 [PDF 11.6 MB] [missing pp. 56-57].
    • English trans.: Gustave de Beaumont and Alexis de Tocqueville, On the Penitentiary System in the United States, and its Application in France; with an Appendix on Penal Colonies, and also Statistical Notes, translated from the French, with an Introduction, Notes and Additions, by Francis Lieber (Philadelphia: Carey, Lea & Blanchard, 1833). [PDF 23.9 MB].
  • Gustave de Beaumont, Marie ou L'esclavage aux États-Unis: tableau de moeurs américaines (Paris: Charles Gosselin, 1842. 5th ed.) [PDF 12.6 MB]
  • Gustave de Beaumont, L'Irlande sociale, politique et religieuse (Paris: Charles Gosselin, 1839). 2 vols. 3rd edition. Vol. 1 [PDF 28.5 MB] - vol.2 facsimile [PDF 33 MB].
    • English trans.: Gustave de Beaumont, Ireland: Social, Political, and Religious, ed. W. C. Taylor (London: Richard Bentley, 1839). 2 vols. Vol. 1 [PDF 9.3 MB] - vol. 2 [PDF 9.6 MB].