French and American Revolution

Alyana Almenar, Lauren Fish, Lauren Hillman, Maiya Webster

American Revolution Background

Philosophies of the Enlightenment pushed ideas of a revolution as England and France struggled for power. Resulting in the Seven Years War on the fronts of North America, Europe, and India, ending in 1763. From their colonists in the 'new lands' of America continually made attempts to separate itself from the British. Through many boycotts, radical acts of violence and the establishment of the Declaration of Independence, America severed its connection to Britain and created an independent country.

French Revolution Background

A few years after the American Revolution, the Enlightenment spawned an important revolution in France. The French Revolution was a civil war and was inspired by the success of the American Revolution since French personnel participated for the American side. The French Revolution directly challenged the country's basic political and social structure, demanding an end to absolutism and aristocratic privilege. The slogan, "liberty, equality, fraternity" reflects the goals of the Revolution as a whole.

Stage 1: Symptoms Appear

American Revolution

a. Struggle for power between England and France that caused the two countries to fight the Seven Years’ War, also known as the French and Indian War. The British Won, but their efforts were extraordinary expensive….causing Britain to be bankrupt.

b. Britain was an ineffective leader to the thirteen colonies, that would soon become America.

c. The citizens were angered when the British Parliament levied new taxes to help pay for the war and the administration of their newly enlarged empire. These included The Stamp Act of 1765, the Townshend Act of 1767, and the Tea Act of 1773.

French Revolution

a. Since the beginning of the 18th Century, population of France had grown dramatically. Peasants rented their lands from wealthy lords and had to pay them significant taxes to have right to grow crops. The lords were supposed to turn over part of the taxes, but kept the biggest part for themselves. As cost rose, people were left to starve, unable to afford anything anymore.

b. Faced with all of the economic problems, Louis XVI, the king at the time, needed more funds to govern his country so he made his taxes more costly. Nobility opposed the king's decision. By a clever game of persuasion, they even rallied part of the third estates at their side to denounce the power of the king.

c. Anger rose as taxes were rising, and the citizens began to rebel and the king and his power. This was especially because of the little food and supplies that wasn't being given or delivered to most of the population.

Stage 2: Fever Rises

American Revolution

a. The citizens argument was “no taxation without representation” was testament to the power of Enlightenment thought: as british subjects, they should have a say in the creation of policies that affected their welfare.

b. Boston Massacre and Tea party- The Boston Tea Party in 1771, a group of colonists protest thirteen years of British oppression, by attacking the merchant ships in Boston Harbor, men dressed as Indians, dumping English tea into the Boston Harbor. This was simply an act against British taxation.

c. The Colonies began to not recognize the British as their superiors or all mighty powerful leaders that they have to follow the rules of

d. The Declaration of Independence set into place the Enlightenment ideas of John Locke. His ideas include “the laws of nature”, “natural rights”, and the “consent of the governed” also ideas like freedom and equality.

French Revolution

a. Because of political gatherings and demonstrations were outlawed on France, activists began to hold a series of fund raising banquets. Not even a year later, it was stopped and as a result, people revolted.

b. On Feb 23, Prime Minister Guizot resigned. There was a proud around the ministry of foreign affairs, people were pushing past guards, a solider discharged a musket, which resulted in the rest of the soldiers to fire into the crowd, killing 52 people.

c. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the decline of the absolute monarchies, the king.

d. The third estate ( 98% of the population ) tried to take control, while the royal family fled to escape as they dressed like servants, before they finally returned to Paris in 1791.

Stage 3: Terror Sweeps

American Revolution

a.The Declaration doesn’t hold up long for most colonists were already self-governing. They stated that they were separate and different from Great Britain.

b. Absolute monarchy was eliminated from the colonies, as they went into deeper separation from Britain.

c. Last battle fought in Yorktown Virginia in 1781, where the British surrendered to General George Washington.

d. After British conquer they became completely independent from their establishment of the Declaration of Independence.

e. But French participation threatened to escalate conflict so in 1783 they signed the Treaty of Paris. Eventually this also let to British government recognized American independence.

French Revolution

a. When the radicals won the debate (Enlightenment of equality), Maximilien Robespierre formed a new government, known as the Committee of Public Safety.

b. They decided there was no place for a king

c. After the King’s execution, many others were suspected of disloyalty to the new regime, so they went to the guillotine, a device meant to provide more humane executions.

d. This time of mass executions in 1793 and 1794 was called the Reign of Terror.

e. Ended only with the guillotining of Robespierre. His veiled public threats against those close to him in the government led to his arrest.

Stage 4: Convalescence reached

American revolution

a. In 1789, to maintain stability, the Americas created a constitution based on Enlightenment principles.

b. Radical ideas were thrown out with a separation of powers and checks and balances among the government branches + written guarantees of individual liberties.

c. Limited voting gave the government popular sovereignty (rule of the people) and a federalist system was put into place, divided between national and state levels, in an effort to avoid concentrating control in the hands of one person. George Washington was chosen as the first president with popular sovereignty.

French Revolution

  • a. As the Reign of Terror came to an end, France was in chaos. Thousands had been executed, and even more went to seek refuge in Britain or the Americas. The French were at war with Austria.

  • b. A young army officer saw an opportunity to save France, and in promoting himself, he played a pivotal role in the creation of nation-states.This man named Napoleon Bonaparte was destined to be one of the most famous men because of his charisma of his leadership, but also because he inspired French nationalism (crowned himself emperor in 1804).

  • c. He stabilized the country by rolling back some of the most radical measures (he retained church property for the state, but recognized Roman Catholicism as the preferred religion, agreed to pay clergy as employees of the state, reduced National Assembly to a rubber stamp, guaranteed equal rights for men). Aggressively attacked countries around him and by 1810, this new French empire directly held or controlled as dependent states most of Western Europe.

  • Analysis

    • The French Revolution was influenced by the American Revolution as it was successful and especially because French military helped the Americans. Also, financially, the American Revolution impacted the French Revolution events because France was already in debt and when it decided to help the Americans, the military expense pushed the financial situation into crisis.

    • For both the American and French Revolutions, the trend of European Enlightenment challenged traditional political regimes and required people to rethink the basic premises about political power and accept that the "subjects" deserve their rights. Because of this the Enlightenment was a trend that led to the revolutions.

    • French revolutionaries saw themselves as starting from scratch in recreating the social order, while the Americans sought to restore or build upon earlier freedoms. In addition to this the American Revolution was the whole country against its mother country, so the unity of people helped make it successful. The French Revolution was a revolution based on the 3 divisions of classes and also ended with Napoleon as a dictator, showing how it was unsuccessful.

    • The American Revolution ended with its independence, but social changes were not as radical with the division between gender inequality and with former slaves rights. The French Revolution ended with chaos as it turned to a military general who became emperor and returned to a monarchy, but the new nationalism did not die and helped restore the republic.

    Contemporary Country: Iraq

    Stage 1: Symptoms appear

    a. One of the few things that has kept Iraq together is money, but as the country struggles to maintain oil exports, it finds itself running out of that commodity. The extremist group, ISIL, brought end to any hopes of economic prosperity in Iraq when it captured the city of Mosul last June. Trade came to a near halt overnight, parts of the country became no-go zones and the number of internally displaced people eventually exceeded 2.2 million, according the United Nations.
    b. Iraq lost the key city of Ramadi to ISIS because the US-trained forces turned tail and ran. Jessica Lewis McFate, head of research at the Institute for the Study of War, told The New Yorker: "The fall of Ramadi is a game-changer. Whatever confidence remained in the Iraqi security forces is likely to collapse." Despite this, the Iraqi army retook the government complex in December of 2015 and ISIS controls a smaller portion of Ramadi. Also, Sunni Arabs, a minority group in Iraq, have been alienated and abused by Iraq's Shia-dominated government, which gives ISIS fertile soil there.
    c. Iraqi citizens are angry from the bloodshed they encounter. There is also tension between Shia and Sunni as more than half of all Shiites and more than 80 percent of Sunnis believe the government at least sometimes treats people from their own religious group unfairly. Most Sunnis do not support the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, but many also declined to fight it in support of the central government.

    Stage 2: Fever rises

    a. The citizens of Iraq have to deal with destroyed homes and the loss of family members. Half a million people have died from war-related causes in Iraq since the U.S-led invasion in 2003. Many cities had been lost, along with those who grew up on the land. Iraqi Resistance is home-grown, diverse, and driven by the just anger of Iraqis.

    b. N/A

    c. N/A

    d. N/A


    Iraq has been torn apart by Isis, who is claiming and rebuilding this country as their territory, any who do not follow are immediately exterminated. Even though this has potential to be revolutionary, it doesn't fit the Brinton Revolutionary Model. After the fever rises there seems to be a continuity in the anger of citizens and essentially, this country is waiting for a breaking point.