A revolution is defined as an overthrow or repudiation through replacement of an established government or political system by the people governed. While there have been numerous revolutions throughout the course of history, the two most arguably prominent revolutions remain to be the American Revolution and the French Revolution. Thus, this discourse will show an analysis of the two revolutions by comparing and contrasting them with one another. In order to be able to do this, it is important to first understand the motives behind each revolution.
Then, the main differences and similarities between these two revolutions will be explained. Lastly, I will be concluding this discourse by stating the relevance of its implications to this very day. American Revolution and the French Revolution For centuries humanity has been both a witness and a player in the countless wars and battles that have encapsulated this world. The reason and justifications for these conflicts are countless in numbers. There are revolutions waged for power. There are also wars fought for wealth.
There are battles engaged for territory. There are even struggles and encounters over love. Amidst all of these rationales or excuses most people have in order to fight, the most admirable and morally justified are those revolutions fought for freedom. Sometimes, when looking at the world from a certain perspective, people realize that each society and each person fight a constant never-ending struggle. Each one may fight to live, to survive, to be successful, to be accepted, to be loved, to be trusted and most important of all, to be freed.
Freedom, no matter how brief or insignificant it may seem, can thoroughly change a person and a country forever. A lot of people know and accept this by heart because of their beliefs and because of history. Therefore, it is the essence of this discussion to set the spotlight on the American and French revolutions which paved the way in rewriting and redefining the very notions of freedom and oppression in the world. The American Revolution The American Revolution was movement that effectively ended British Control and signalled the birth of a new nation, the United States of America.
While the precise beginnings of the American Revolution remain highly debated, there are many reasons behind the revolution. One of the primary factors that prompted the American Revolution was the growing support for the political ideology of “republicanism”, which basically became the goal for most colonists during that time (Palmer, 1959). The taxes that the British Crown levied upon America also added to the growing resentment against the crown and strengthened the “republican” ideals of overthrowing corruption and the unjust government.
Another major reason why the American Revolution started was because of the fact that the British were not including the Americans in the decisions that were being taken for the taxation proceeds from the citizens or the Americans who felt that they were not being asked to participate in important decisions (Blanco 757). The seeds for revolt were planted by the resentment at the non-inclusion at the decision making process given the fact that the Americans felt that they made significant contributions to the coffers of the British.
At this point in time, the American colonies lacked any form of representation in the governing British Parliament (Greene 831). As such, many of the colonists felt that these new series of tax laws were illegitimate and therefore refused to honor them. America, at this point, was willing to wage war in order to be properly represented and to be allowed to take part in the decision making process (Blanco 757). It had now become a common sentiment among the Americans that there were so many things that they felt had to be done but were left unresolved due to their exclusion.
America went to war not to prove that they were stronger but rather they went to war in order to set things right. America wanted to help the people in living an unsuppressed life and this was why they fought for independence. As history clearly reveals, the American Revolution was a successful one as it was a manifestation of the right of people to overthrow unjust and oppressive rulers and governments (Wood, 1993). The success of the American Revolution became an example of the first successful revolution against a European empire. It gave other colonies a model breaking away and become self-governing nations (Palmer, 1959).
The French Revolution The French Revolution was a major turning point in European History as it signalled the end of aristocracy and marked the age of western Democracy. The citizens of a nation were no longer to be regarded as servants but as a dominant political force in determining policies of a nation (Doyle, 2002). There are many interrelated causes for the French Revolution. Perhaps among the most obvious cause was the rising ambition of bourgeoisie class who were allied with the lower class folk in their attempt to overthrow what was then perceived as an oppressive monarchy in France during that period (McPhee, 2002).
With the hardships that the peasant class experienced during those times, the bourgeoisie was easily able to manipulate them and gain their support. The fiscal crises that ensued due to the insolvency of the French monarchy led to massive poverty and hunger in France and further attempts to remedy the situation by imposing higher taxes finally caused the lower classes to overthrow the rulers of France (Doyle, 2002). This was based on the economic issues that were attributed to the monarchy and its governance in society.
Louis XV was engaged in numerous wars with other countries. These wars sucked the wealth of the country in providing for the costs of war. This therefore led to the bankruptcy of France. In effect, the taxes were raised higher to the discontent of the people. Moreover, there are also those who attribute part of the economic problems to Marie Antoinette who wasted the money of France in indulging herself needlessly while the country was suffering from famine and poverty. It was quite evident in that the country was in trouble.
There was a high rate of unemployment while diseases and famine were lurking around the sidelines. This constantly increased at an alarming rate, the number of people living in starvation. This was further aggravated and multiplied because of the failure of Louis XVI to deal with these problems when his reign had come. Socially, there are also numerous factors that influenced the French Revolution. There was the vast resentment of royal absolutism. This further led to having negative sentiments against the professional and mercantile classes with regard to the bias noble and certain classes had.
In addition to this, the privileged church became richer and richer while the poor and impoverished had less and less. The church exploited their power and influence in society at the expense of the citizens. Comparison between the French and American Revolutions The most striking difference between the French Revolution and the American Revolution is the impact that the revolution made on the course of history. The French revolution was basically an overthrow of an already existing regime (Doyle, 2002).
The French were not subjugated or conquered people unlike the American colonists who were considered as such. The American Colonists had already retained an independent identity apart from being part of the British Crown (Wood, 1993). The French revolutionists, on the other hand, were part of France, citizens who wished to implement change in the ruling system in their attempt to alleviate their plight. The other distinct characteristic between these two revolutions is the motivation or reason behind the revolution and the goals that each revolution sought to accomplish.
The American Colonists sought independence from the British Crown and to remove all oppression and corruption that they faced (Wood, 1993). The French revolutionists sought to implement change in the system and to overthrow the ruling class in France. The French revolution was not a fight for independence but rather a movement against oppression (Doyle, 2002). In terms of the manner in which the revolutions were made, the two countries differ oppositely. The French “rebelled” according to the exact nature and essence of the word itself.
The French stormed the castle and established their own rule. On the other hand, the American dealt with the British government differently. First, they tried to negotiate with England. However, outcome of this negotiation with England came no productive conclusion. England simply ignored this which actually paved the way for the declaration of independence by America. But England did not respect this declaration and kept on meddling in the lives of the Americans. Thus, the war of the American Revolution began.
From a theological point of view, the two revolutions also are in contrast with one another. As mentioned earlier, the French violently rebelled immediately while the Americans first tried to negotiate peacefully. First of all, the Americans pursuit and struggle for independence was done through the guidance of moral values and influence of God. They sought to foster a way to achieve their independence without having to shed blood. While on the other hand, the French way was radically different. Their method was fuelled by an invigorating hate and resentment towards their oppressors.
They executed anyone who had any affiliation with the aristocracy establishing a revolution of godlessness. In the context of revolution as an overthrow or repudiation and through replacement of an established government or political system by the people governed, it must be said that while the goals they sought to accomplish were different, both the American Revolution and the French Revolution were truly revolutions. The American Revolution sought the overthrow of the British system and independence from the so called “colonizers”.
Under the context of revolution as it is understood in class, this is a real revolution. The French Revolution is also a real revolution because it was mainly an uprising against the oppressive ruling class in France at that time. It must be pointed out however that had the French Revolution been carried out on a smaller scale and as against specific pillars of authority and power within the French political system, then it could have been properly considered as a rebellion instead.
The French Revolutionists sought to change the established political system to improve their situation. Conclusion In conclusion, a revolution, in the real sense of the word, is any act or series of acts in an attempt to overthrow or repudiate an established government or political system by the people governed through replacement of the ruling class. Both the American Revolution and the French revolution possessed the same goals, the overthrow and repudiation of existing governments or political systems.
A difference that may be made without deterring from the context of the word revolution as used is to classify the American Revolution as a revolution on a larger scale and as against a foreign government and the French Revolution as a revolution that seeks to overthrow the unjust and oppressive government. The societies in the world are greatly influenced by these two significant events. They remain as the lessons or guidelines that shape the way countries and governments deal and administrate those under their rule.
Moreover, these events have been a model even to those individuals who have crazy, greedy and insatiable ambitions of acquiring power and wealth at the expense of other people. References: Blanco, Richard. The American Revolution: An Encyclopedia 2 vol (1993), 1850 pages Carnes, M. C. , & Garraty, J. A. (2006). The American nation: A History of the United States. Central Texas College Edition. Boston: Pearson. Doyle, W. (2002) Oxford history of the French Revolution, 2nd ed. , Oxford: Oxford University Press Greene, Jack P. and J. R. Pole, eds.
The Blackwell Encyclopedia of the American Revolution (1994), 845pp; emphasis on political ideas; revised edition (2004) titled A Companion to the American Revolution. McPhee, P. (2002) The French Revolution, 1789-1799, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Palmer, R. (1959) The Age of the Democratic Revolution: A Political History of Europe and America, 1760-1800. vol 1. Wood, G. (1993) The Radicalism of the American Revolution: How a Revolution Transformed a Monarchical Society into a Democratic One Unlike Any That Had Ever Existed. Alfred A. Knopf.
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