Nelson: Alexis de Tocqueville came to Memphis – for better and worse

By , Daily Memphian Updated: January 17, 2020 12:15 PM CT | Published: December 03, 2019 4:00 AM CT
Michael Nelson
Daily Memphian

Michael Nelson

Michael Nelson is contributing editor and columnist for The Daily Memphian, the political analyst for WMC-TV, and the Fulmer professor of political science at Rhodes College. His latest books are “Clinton's Elections: 1992, 1996, and the Birth of a New Era of  Governance" and “The American Presidency: Origins and Development, 1776-2018.”

In 1831, the French traveler watched a federal agent load a band of Choctaw Indians onto a ship for transport to Arkansas, a vanguard of the Trail of Tears. “In the whole of this spectacle,” Tocqueville observed, “there was an air of ruin and destruction, something that felt like a final farewell with no returning.”

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Alexis de Tocqueville Choctaw Andrew Jackson Trail of Tears

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