How did the bravery and courage of men in America and France completely change the course of their countries future? These and many other questions can be asked when thinking about the two great Revolutions that took place during this time in history. In both revolutions, it all started with a group of people who dared to oppose their government’s wrongdoings and fight for their freedom. Although both groups went about their revolutionary changes in their own unique ways, they both had the save drive and desire to make the changes that needed to be made. By understanding the individual stories of each country, you can further your understanding of the similarities and differences between the two. Similarities can be determined by realizing the common inspiration that drove their revolutionary actions. The differences can be recognized by analyzing how the common inspiration led to the production of diverse outcomes within the countries of France and America. The following information will explain the two revolutions and how their actions created such a monumental change.
The events leading up to the American Revolution began when George III came into power over Britain. The Glorious Revolution of 1688 had transformed the government of Britain from an absolute monarchy into a limited monarchy where Parliament was superior to the monarch. George III wanted to recapture the absolute power over his kingdom. To do this, he put his people into Parliament positions so that he could have control over their decisions and law making. Simultaneously, colonists who owned property began to work their way into government and public affairs. As George III began to work his people into the parliament system, he was able to facilitate an increase taxes in hopes of recovering financially from recent events such as war. This action angered the citizens especially the colonists because they had no one to represent them and fight for them in Parliament. This and other confrontations led the colonists to lose their patience, which eventually led to 12 representatives of the colonies meeting to discuss further action. After the incident in Massachusetts with the discarding of tea over the tea tax rebellion, the monarchy through Parliament increased oppression. The colonists wrote up the Declaration of Independence, thus beginning the war portion of the American Revolution. After many battles and months of unethical living conditions, the colonists won in victory and set in place America. The Founding Fathers ideal government was one of Republic in which legislature and President was elected and there was no absolute power to one position. They set in place a checks and balances system to insure that this would remain within the government. They also instilled The Bill of Rights to insure citizens would be treated equally and justly. Because a few dared to dream and stand up for what was right, we all have our freedom today.
In Europe, there was another revolution that took place within the country of France. The French revolution, unlike the American Revolution, started out as an absolute monarchy and still was governed in a Middle Age fashion. There were three different social groups and the lowest group, which consisted of peasants and the middle class, were burdened by heavy taxation. The lower class was unhappy with their unjust treatment and wanted change. As seen previously in Britain, France was at a money deficit partially due to war, but also due to unnecessary spending. Also seen in Britain, the government’s way of getting more cash flowing in was to raise taxes. They didn’t tax everyone though. They mainly taxed the poor and because of this, many people went hungry. This draconian treatment of the lower class caused uproar and conflict. To try and do something about the rebellion, the king, Louis XVI called the Estates-General. There were representatives of each class at the meeting, but to try and produce a fair outcome, the third class requested the voting on action were taken all together instead of separately. They then declared themselves the National Assembly. Fights broke out, triggers were pulled, and the National Assembly wanted to completely get rid of the monarchy, much like in America. They produced The Declaration of the Rights of Man, which embedded the ideas of equality, natural rights, and enlightenment into their ideal government. To end absolute monarchy, the church powers needed to be limited. Let’s just say this movement didn’t go over very well with the Church. They fought back and were unable to succeed. The new government set up was a limited monarchy. The goal of the National Assembly was to set up a Republic, so the fighting between revolutionaries and monarchs continued. Although not completely successful in reaching their ultimate goal, the revolutionaries were strong and brave, making many changes to the government system.
Overall, there were many similarities between the American and French Revolutions. Both revolutionary groups sought change through the ideas of enlightenment, and were influenced by The Glorious Revolution. They both had the ultimate idea of having a republican government in which the natural rights of man, equality, and justice were strongly enforced as well as recognized. In both the American and French revolution, revolutionary groups stood up for themselves when taxed unfairly and began their journey down the revolutionary road with ideas of reformation and abolishment. When it came to majority vote in America and in France, both groups who wanted change also wanted to ensure fair representation in either Parliament or in Estates-General. Although the American Revolution took place first, both America and France set up a Declaration of Independence that declared equality of men, no unreasonable arrestment, reasonable taxation, and freedom of religion.
As for differences between the two, the American Revolution started with a limited monarchy, where as the French Revolution started as an absolute monarchy. This made the process of reformation a longer one for the French. With starting the revolution on a limited monarchy in Britain, the Glorious Revolution is what gave Parliament more power over the monarch, and some rights were given through the English Bill of Rights. Another difference is in the locations of these two countries. In Britain, there were 13 colonies separated from the main land of the British rule. The separation and distance between Britain and the 13 colonies worked in favor for the colonists. In France, although the land was large, there wasn’t any body of water separating the rule. The set up of religion was also very different in France and in America. In America, the Founding Fathers didn’t allow an official Church of the state. They did this to permanently remove the power of Church authority within the government. In France, an official state Church was put in place. As for the rights stated in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and in the Declaration of Independence, there were many more rights provided in American in comparison to France. Although they had a few similar rights, the American declaration of Independence allows for freedom of speech, press, assembly, petition, rights to bear arms, judicial rights, etc. In France, their republic government system didn’t stay in place like it did in America, therefore slowly drifting back into a monarchy. That is what has continued to make America and the American Revolution stand out over the ages.
In conclusion, there was great strife and terror that went on during this time in history, but the greatness the revolutionary groups will forever be remembered. Their actions will be remembered especially because having not done what they did, the country of America and the country of France would be completely different from what they are today. The fundamentals of the two reformed governments were different in many respects and had a variety of distinct characteristics. Despite the many differences between America and France, the values and enlightenment ideas that laid the foundation of the revolution will link the two countries forever. Their common ideas placed them on common ground, which is why there are so many similarities between the two. Unique of similar, the French and American Revolutions were amazing moments in history that produced great changes then, and can still be learned from now.