French writer and politician Alexis de Tocqueville was born in Verneuil to an aristocratic Norman family. He entered the bar in 1825 and became an assistant magistrate at Versailles. In 1831, he was sent to the United States to report on the prison system. This journey produced a book called On the Penitentiary System in the United States (1833), as well as a much more significant work called Democracy in America (1835--40), a treatise on American society and its political system. Active in French politics, Tocqueville also wrote Old Regime and the Revolution (1856), in which he argued that the Revolution of 1848 did not constitute a break with the past but merely accelerated a trend toward greater centralization of government. Tocqueville was an observant Catholic, and this has been cited as a reason why many of his insights, rather than being confined to a particular time and place, reach beyond to see a universality in all people everywhere.
Richard Douglas Heffner was born on August 5, 1925 in New York City. The son of a transportation executive, Heffner earned his BA and MA degrees at Columbia University. Following further graduate work at the University of California, Heffner joined the faculty at Rutgers University as a history instructor. He later worked as a professor at Columbia University and Sarah Lawrence College. In 1953, Heffner put his teaching career on hold to become a freelance writer, producer and broadcaster. As an author, his works include A Documentary History of the United States, which contains documents, speeches and letters that have forged American history; and Democracy in America, published by Mentor Books in 1954. Heffner has also contributed numerous reviews and articles to various periodicals, including the New York Times and the Saturday Review. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Association of Educational Broadcasters, Heffner has been president of Richard Heffner Associates, Inc., a communications consulting firm, since 1964.