The American and French revolutions
The famous French and American Revolution both emanated as a result of the enlightenment ideal which consistent encouraged and emphasized the idea of equality and natural rights. This clearly shows that an ideological change formed he basis of the revolutions in both case as people were tired of tyrannical rule that existed in their countries. Tyrannical rules such as absolute monarchs were in charge of the countries and the citizens wanted to be liberated and be independent for these forces.
At the time of the revolution the leadership that was in each of the countries was very repressive as was seen in the taxation terms that prevailed. In both countries, economic hardships hard wrecked the citizens and made them realize that there was need something to be done urgently to get rid of the repressive government and restore the power back into the hands of the people. Other than just sharing the same cause and course the two revolutions have several similarities as well as differences. These comparison essays will discuss the similarities and differences between the French and the American, the participants and the documents that were produced after the revolutions came to an end.
The most notable similarity in both cases is the existence of contempt, dissatisfaction and disregard from the people toward the monarchy and the elites or the aristocrats within the monarchy. The monarchies oppressed and exploited the people in order to maintain the lavish live and retain the status quo. Despite being powerful in both nations the strongholds of this monarchy and ability to control the people was considerably weakened as the revolutions gained momentum. Their strong influence on the people and on the economies in both countries was greatly affected. For instance, Britain in 1763 was at the summit of world wide power while her enemies of all ages were simply powerless. Unfortunately, at this very time the nation was beset with political instability and as Jansen (1968) notes the country was also at verge of bankruptcy. The reaction and the events that the Americans orchestrated against the monarchy thus served to weaken it further. Despite its continued dominance worldwide the relentless resistance by the Boston tea party and another good number of revolutions continued taking their toll on it.
By the time the American Revolution was gaining full momentum and turning into war the defense had already been worn out and had already lost great expanse of power that Britain has amassed in the pre-revolution years. The conditions in France and the revolution were much the same as the British case and the American Revolution despite having a few differences in the reasons and circumstances leading to the revolution. The attack was similarly directed to the monarch. In 18th century the French bourgeoisie grew increasingly aware of the rising disparities between its riches and its usefulness socially on one hand and on the other its prestige socially and opportunities. Its way to rising to economic and social power was blocked and it worth was also not recognized by the rotten class of noble landowners who enjoyed parasitic hereditary privileges. Furthermore, it vitality was destroyed by a monarchy that was only committed to antiquated aristocracy values and failed to provide the country with a conducive environment under which the initiatives of businessmen could flourish (Palmer, 1959). Like the American Revolution, it was the middle and, lower classes of people that war involved and despite the American one being made up of loyalists; they all had a large sound demographic following.
The two revolution also share the though of enlightenment. This though has its origin in France and was brought about by writers such Voltaire and Rousseau. The thought made many people who were ruled monarchies to start recognizing the shortcoming of such systems such as inequality. People from different classes more so those from the middle and the lower classes started adopting this idea as they formulated their ideology of resistance and demanding new forms of leadership the at would ensure the protection of natural rights. This idea shaped the American Revolution and its success inspired the French to revolt. In France, it was essentially and ideological war although partisan clashed with one another as they did with the opponent confusing anyone who tried to perceive it as a war between revolutionist and counter-revolutionist
In different context the French refer to particular events such as a vast personified for, the capture of Bastille or to an abstract cause for which the French or anybody else might be in war against. These could mean the teaching of Jesus or Voltaire, striping the dukes their titles or giving the poor bread (Palmar, 1959). This was also the same to America where participants in the rebellion could boycott goods from Britain and attack British enterprises and loyalists. Such events in both countries encourage the development of new discourse regarding politics and encourage opposition towards the old monarchial system. The American achieved independence and a republic that vowed to solve the Americans old problems and legitimacy. George Washington emphasized that the states had fought together. The myth of sovereignty superior to both republics and state was also to be realized. ( Countryman, 1989).
Just like the American case, the years just before the French revolted had been hit by increased dissatisfaction with a total monarchial leadership system as especially its reluctance to facilitate establishment of a sound parliament or meet the people’s demands. These included the tax increase brought about by the 7 years was, the reduced importance and idleness of the nobles, and the use of idle aristocrats in making decisions such as planning. The French revolution was seen as condemnation of the past and was suppose to do away with the former corrupt perpetrators of the poor system. The revolution was a widespread revolution of the monarchial leaders and their old system that had stagnated while the world was gearing for the industrial age.
The two revolutions however had various differences. Unlike the French case, there were no prolonged external wars that could weaken the economy to bring about the need for funds and heavy taxation. The battles that existed in America among the native Indians and the immigrants was mainly a duel for land and thus could not march what France had hard for 7 years that brought them to the verge of bankruptcy. Conversely, the British who the Americans opponent had simply had their might devoured by outside land grabbing wars. As such the Americans were not as impoverished as the French were. However, this would have been the case had the taxation scheme the British were making succeeded before the revolt (Palmer, 1959).
The two revolutions also had differences in terms of class participation. In America there still existed a large number of loyalists who benefited from the British government through the number of benefits that they reaped in terms of favors. In contrast, everybody in France was totally dissatisfied with the monarchy the aristocrats and the nobles were angry do the consistent reduction in power despite the fact that they still had a lot of money and some ability to control local politics the were being reduced to figureheads that people with real power. To them the king was limiting their role in the government ant thus the saw a revolution as the only solution. However not all the nobles participated in this revolt although this did not deny the revolution the numbers it needed since the numbers of the aristocrats that were dissatisfied with the government and supported the uprising was significant. It is notable though that the revolutions in France and that in America were strong due to the vast support and strength.
The participant in the French revolution from top leadership level to the citizens had different reasons for revolt. Whereas the nobles wanted a stake in the leadership and the country’s future, the middle class wanted representation and reduction on taxes while the lower class were interested in being able to enjoy the benefits of their labor without having to surrender half of their proceeds to their leadership. The noble who did not participate in the revolution did so for their own interest as they were interested in favors from the king and living lavishly prospects that would be thwarted if a mixed-class parliament was to be made. The ideas of enlightenment however had trickled to lowered people such as farmers and there was no turning back (Reddy, 2000). The end of the revolution resulted in agreements and procedures that lead to formation of republics and the countries in question developed new constitution as the major documents for the governance of the countries’ affairs. The tyranny had been defeated.
These revolutions certainly had more similarities than can be noted despite the fact that took place in different nations at different times of national development the histories of these nations. The reacted against oppressive regimes and were powered by the ideal of enlightenment. Despite the differences ion circumstances and the demographic participation the revolution had two same outcomes namely, the creation of new republics and new constitutions.