Tocqueville Society History
Only 26 years old when he came to America in 1831, Alexis Charles-Henri de Tocqueville traveled extensively, recording his observations of life in the young nation. Though he only spent nine months in the United States, he gleaned an insightful view of American society. His observations, readings and discussions with eminent Americans formed the basis of Democracy in America, a detailed study of American society and politics published in two volumes, in 1835 and 1840.
Tocqueville recognized, applauded, and immortalized American voluntary action on behalf of the common good. He wrote: “I must say that I have seen Americans make a great deal of real sacrifices to the public welfare; and have noticed a hundred instances in which they hardly ever failed to lend a faithful support to one another,” eloquently capturing the essence of personal philanthropy that persists, almost three centuries later. The observation on philanthropy made by Alexis de Tocqueville in 1831 is true today; Americans understand that advancing the common good means creating opportunities for a better life for all. The name Tocqueville Society was chosen because of Alexis de Tocqueville’s admiration for the spirit of voluntary association and effort toward its advancement.
The United Way Tocqueville Society was founded more than 25 years ago in order to deepen the understanding, commitment, and support of United Way’s most generous and community-minded investors. In his original letter to ten pilot cities dated March 15, 1948 Alexis de Tocqueville Society founder, Dr. Thomas F. Frist Jr., wrote that the purpose of the Nashville “chapter” of the society was to “recognize and honor those concerned individuals who accepted a leadership role in making major financial contributions to United Way.” Of those ten invited, 4 accepted the invitation and joined Nashville as the founding cities. The list includes Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati, and Des Moines.
The National Tocqueville Society Award® recognizes outstanding examples of this commitment to service. Membership in the Society is granted to individuals who contribute a minimum of $10,000 annually to United Way. United Way of America provides guidance to United Ways in developing local Tocqueville Societies, which recognize outstanding volunteer service by presenting local Tocqueville Society Awards; involving and cultivating new influential leadership; encouraging major gifts among high-wealth individuals; and cultivating additional resources with which to strengthen their communities.
The use of the name Tocqueville Society is granted only to those United Ways affiliated with the national Tocqueville Society Program. To become a Tocqueville Society member, the local United Way must contact United Way of America for program participation details and guidelines. Please contact your local United Way on how you can become involved with the United Way Tocqueville Society.
De Tocqueville d’Herouville
The United Way Tocqueville Society is honored by the involvement of descendants of Alexis de Tocqueville. Count and Countess Guy de Tocqueville d’Herouville and their three children, Patrick, Jean-Guillaume and Alexis, have graciously granted permission for United Way of America to use the Tocqueville name and coat of arms.
Jean-Guillaume de Tocqueville d’Herouville has been especially involved with the growth and development of the United Way Tocqueville Society, hosting Society members on philanthropic exchanges and traveling to attend various Tocqueville Society national events in the United States. He is a corporate lawyer and has been a partner with the Gide firm, a leading Paris-based firm, since 1993. He studied political sciences and law both in Paris and the United States and is also a member of the New York Bar. Jean-Guillaume and his wife, Stephanie, are known for their personal philanthropy in Europe, and they accredit their involvement in United States philanthropy to contacts and friendships with members of the United Way Tocqueville Society and United Way of America. Jean-Guillaume is currently active in projects promoting the heritage of Alexis de Tocqueville throughout the world, as well as involving American philanthropy in Europe. Jean-Guillaume and Stephanie currently live in Paris with their three children.
Results of United Way overall campaign for 2010 show that over 400 Tocqueville Societies collectively raised over $514 million dollars from over 25,700 individuals nationwide. Currently there are nearly 500 Million Dollar Roundtable members, and more than 400 National Society members, and more than 470 families that are members of the Tocqueville Legacy Circle by making plans to endow their annual Tocqueville support through a planned gift.