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Gustave de Beaumont - Political Play

government oath tocqueville magistrates

The new government wanted to determine the commitment of its administrators and, after dismissing its known enemies, asked all remaining officials to take the oath of allegiance to Louis Philippe. Beaumont and Tocqueville reluctantly took the oath, which greatly bothered the majority of their friends and family—most of whom had refused to take the oath and had resigned instead of compromising their loyalties.

Despite their show of commitment, the government still suspected the dedication of the magistrates and they operated under a cloud of suspicion. Their higher position in society had made life intolerable since the Revolution, and to make matters worse public protests were becoming increasingly serious throughout the country. The continuing government of Louis Philippe was not assured, and if the government did fall the magistrates oath of allegiance had compromised them with whoever might gain the throne.

The political climate in France left twenty-eight-year-old Beaumont uneasy about his future prospects. He discussed his concerns with Tocqueville and on October 31, 1830, they submitted a formal request to the government to study the new prison reforms taking place in the United States. Both men were anxious to see the country they had heard so much about and to examine democracy in action.

Both men needed clearance from two ministries of the French government to obtain a leave of absence from their duties for the trip. They finally received permission for the eighteen-month assignment, but were required to travel at their own expense. Their departure date was set for April 1, 1831. They spent months preparing for their journey as well as studying the English language.

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