Liberty and Transformation: The American Revolution Enduring Impact
American Revolution: Struggle for Independence
As Aristotle once said, “ Inferiors revolt in order that they may be equal, and equals that they may be superior. Such is the state of mind which creates revolutions.” A revolution can be defined as an instance of revolving or an overthrow of social order in search of a new one. The American and French Revolutions are two events in history that are often compared and can be categorized with many similarities and differences.
Both of the events had similar sparks that stirred them up to the revolutions that they did. Two of the main reasons for the revolutions were the search for liberty and freedom. America was in search of freedom from Great Britain for all of the taxes and regulations being put on American citizens. The French went a little more extreme and had the goal of exterminating their government system and implanting a completely new one that would give their citizens more of a say in what goes on in their society. Although both countries had similar reasons for their actions, the outcomes were as similar as the sun and the moon.
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The American Revolution mainly focused its energy on gaining independence. After the Seven Year War, America’s economy was restricted from British rules, for they had to pay off the war and the extreme taxes they were assigned by the British parliament. Taxes include some, such as the Stamp Act, which placed taxes on items such as newspapers and diplomas. What angered Americans was their lack of representation in the Government that was assigning these taxes. To voice their thoughts, Americans decided to rebel against the British Parliament. Literature was also published that sparked the rebellion, such as Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense.” After years of conflict, the Revolution was able to come to a conclusion, and by 1783, the thirteen colonies gained independence from Britain.
French Revolution: Struggle for Equality
The French Revolution had the main goal of getting rid of the French Monarchy. The Third Estate wanted to obtain equality instead of having the higher estates rule over them and pay no consequences or fees. They were tired of being walked over and wanted a change. After time and time of looting, striking, and rioting against higher powers in events such as the storming at Bastille and the Reign of Terror, and the signing of documents such as the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, the Revolution began to come to a closing period, and a new leader began to rise.
On August 22, 1795, the National Convention approved a new constitution that put France’s first bicameral legislature in place. Executive power laid in the hands of the Directory, which was run by Napoleon Bonaparte. On November 9, 1799, Napoleon staged a coup d’état, which abolished the Directory and appointed him France’s first consul. This event marked the end of the French Revolution.
The main differences between the two events were the circumstances and factors that were a part of each. The American Revolution was caused by the majority of the American population requesting equality and was run mainly by the highest class, while the French were started by the lowest class. Another difference is who got tied into the Revolutions after they started. For the most part, the American Revolution stayed between the Americans and the British, but the French Revolution mainly started between the Third Estate and the French Government but expanded to the French Government fighting other monarchies in Europe, such as Austria and Prussia.
Revolutionary Impacts: Liberty and Society
The French and American Revolutions are two events in history that play a large role in influencing the nations to come. They can be similarly compared in the reasons that they started, such as for liberty and freedom, but contrasted for what was being fought for. The Americans sought a change in Government, but their social system remained intact, and the French sought to completely change their society.
- Aristotle. Quote: “Inferiors revolt in order that they may be equal, and equals that they may be superior. Such is the state of mind which creates revolutions.”
- Middlekauff, R. (2005). The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789. Oxford University Press.
- Paine, T. (1776). Common Sense. Published anonymously.
- Doyle, W. (1989). The Oxford History of the French Revolution. Oxford University Press.
- Hampson, N. (1989). A Social History of the French Revolution. Routledge.
- McPhee, P. (2002). Liberty or Death: The French Revolution. Yale University Press.
- Palmer, R. R. (1959). The Age of the Democratic Revolution: A Political History of Europe and America, 1760-1800. Princeton University Press.
- Popkin, J. D. (2010). A Short History of the French Revolution. Pearson.
- Schama, S. (1989). Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution. Penguin.
- Wood, G. S. (1992). The Radicalism of the American Revolution. Vintage.