French American Revolution Essay

Comparison Of The American And French Revolutions

Comparison of the American and French Revolutions

The American and French revolutions both compare and contrast in their origins and outcomes; both revolutions began due to the common peoples need to obtain independence and liberty from an oppressive government. The American Revolution was triggered by the American colonists need for financial independence from the overpowering nation of Great Britain, while the French revolution was a struggle to gain social equality among the masses. Although the American and French Revolutions were fought over the same ideas, the American Revolution is considered more “conservative” than the French. The intent of the American revolutionaries was not to initiate a revolution, but rather to gain their freedom from a “long train of abuses,” The French however were trying to cause a true revolution they were not just fighting for freedom but instead to over throw and remove the monarchy. The American revolutionaries had no choice but to defend their liberties; the tactics used by the Americans were not as directly aggressive as those used by the French.
The American Revolution, beginning in 1776, was initiated due to the tension that existed between the thirteen American colonies and the island of Great Britain due to the war debt Great Britain had incurred when defending American colonists against the French and Indians. As a solution to the debt the British began passing legislation, which increased the taxation of American colonies, tightening their control over the colonists. One of the regulations that Parliament passed was the Stamp Act of 1765. This taxed all printed documents, including: wills, newspapers, and pamphlets. The colonists felt they were not fairly represented because they held no seat in Britain’s parliament. The rallying cry for the colonists became “no taxation without representation."
After years of boycotting and peaceful protest the American colonists could no longer stand the abuse from Great Britain and decided that they had had enough. In 1775 the British troops and American Militia exchanged first shots of the Revolution. On July 4th, 1776, the Second Continental Congress issued the Declaration of Independence, written mostly by Thomas Jefferson. Due to a decisive American victory at Saratoga, the French agreed to aid the Americans, mainly because of a longstanding hatred between the French and British. Simultaneously, the Dutch and Spanish declared war on Great Britain, making it harder for the British to keep on fighting. The British found that they could no longer afford to keep fighting to remain control of the American colonies; the British surrendered in Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781.
American independency was finally recognized in 1783, when the Treaty of Paris was drawn up as a result of two years of negotiations. The American colonies had been so deprived of their natural rights from the British government that the only viable solution was to have a revolution. However,...

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Both the American Revolution and French Revolution were the products of Enlightenment ideals that emphasized the idea of natural rights and equality. With such an ideological basis, it becomes clear when one sets out to compare the French Revolution and American Revolution that people felt the need to be free from oppressive or tyrannical rule of absolute monarchs and have the ability to live independent from such forces. The leadership in both countries at the time of their revolutions was certainly repressive, especially in terms of taxation. Both areas suffered social and economic hardships that led to the realization that something must be done to topple the hierarchy and put power back into the hands of the people.

While there are several similarities in these revolutions, there are also a few key differences. This comparison essay on the French and American Revolutions seeks to explore the parallels as well as the divisions that are present in both the American Revolution and the French Revolution. The political climate in France during its revolution was quite different than that in America simply because there was not a large war that had just ended in America (while in France the Seven Years War had nearly devastated the French monarchy’s coffers). Furthermore, although the lower and middle classes were generally the majority of the rebelling populace, there was far more upper class support for the revolution in France versus the participation of loyalists in America.

One of the most important similarities between both the American Revolution and French Revolutions was that there was a growing dissent among the people aimed at the monarchy and its associated elite and aristocrats. Even though they were powerful in both France and America at the start of each revolution, their strangleholds on both the people and economies of each nation were weakening. For instance, “In 1763 Britain was on the very pinnacle of worldwide power and her old enemies were seemingly prostrate. At the same time, however, the nation was beset with political instability and was stumbling on the edge of bankruptcy" (Jensen 4). The reaction against the British monarchy in America only served to further weaken it and although it may have been strong in other parts of the world, the continued resistance exemplified by events such as the Boston Tea party and other revolutionary acts against the crown were taking their toll.

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