Timeline for Civil Society
A sequence of significant events in the evolution of the idea of civil society.
1767: Adam Ferguson's Essay on the History of Civil Society is published in Edinburgh, Scotland.
- Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations is published in Edinburgh.
- The American revolution began.
- French Revolution.
- James Madison drafts the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, known collectively as the bill of rights. The document is a legal cornerstone in the U.S. conception of civil society: It includes freedoms of expression through speech, the press, and peaceable assembly, religion, rights to petition government and bear arms, and protections against unreasonable search and seizure, cruel and unusual punishment and compulsory self incrimination, as well as generalized protection of life, liberty and property.
1791: Bill of rights ratified by three quarters of the states.
1819: In Dartmouth v. Woodward, the U.S. Supreme Court prevented the state legislature of New Hampshire from taking control of Dartmouth College.
1822: George W.F. Hegel published Elements of the Philosophy of Right, containing his discussion of civil society, in German.
1832: Alexis de Tocqueville and Gustave de Beaumont visit the United States to study the penitentiary system.
1845: Tocqueville's De la démocratie en Amérique is published in Paris.
1848: Revolution of 1848.
1862: The first English-language edition of Tocqueville's study, entitled Democracy in America is published in Cambridge MA by Sever and Francis.
1895: Hull House Association incorporated in the state of Illinois.
1901: Voluntary association is legalized in France.
1945: The Bradley, Reeve and Bowen translation of Tocqueville's Democracy in America is published by A.A. Knopf in New York. It contains the specific language that most English speakers regard as Tocqueville's original language.
1958: The U.S. Supreme Court affirms a "right of association" in NAACP vs. Alabama. This right was the basis on which the organization was allowed to keep its membership secret from state officials who were seeking information on civil rights activity in the state.
1990: Activism by Solidarity led to semi-free elections in Poland. The resulting coalition government was one of the major steps in the emergence of civil society in central and eastern Europe.
2001: Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone: The collapse and revival of American community is published in the U.S.