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French Vs. American Revolution

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Autor:  anton  09 October 2010
Tags:  French,  American,  Revolution
Words: 1325   |   Pages: 6
Views: 617

The French Revolution vs. The American Revolution

A revolution, in definition, is the overthrow of one government with replacement of another. The American Revolution against the British during 1775 to 1783 and the French Revolution against their own, French government during 1789 to 1799 were both one of the most important political and social turnovers in the world. This movement towards the establishment of a constitutional government influenced political thought though out. By closely examining three of the main causes of these revolutions, it is clear that although the two revolutions have their differences, the basis of cause for the revolutions have, overall, much stronger similarities.

One of the main causes for the revolution and essentially what started it was the inefficiency of both governments and the oppression they placed upon their nations. There is a strong similarity of how and what each government did to abuse their powers. Both governments lead their country into a bad state by forcing the peoples to fight for a cause that did not involve the, but was instead the major authorities problem. The French were driven into war to help America's revolution while the American's were always forced to fighting Britain's battles, all of which suppressed the growth of their nation.

As said in Thomas Paine's 50- page pamphlet В‘Common Sense' written in those times as a successful attempt to convince many Americans that independence from Great Britain was the only course of action possible, some people would argue that British government over America protected and defended them but as Thomas Paine put it, it was only for the sake of trade and domination. The reality is that wars between foreign powers caused by the British would not have started in the first place if Britain wasn't there. The British did not protect America from any enemies but their own and whenever a war broke out between Britain and any other foreign power, the trade, and therefore the allowance to grow economically was ruined because of America's connection to the British. Similarly, the French were driven into war against England to help Americas revolt with no reason but that of that the king feared and hated England. Because of this war, France sank into complete bankruptcy. Although the specific ways that the two nations were suppressed are obviously different, in general, both nations were drawn into oppression by having to get involved with a matter not of their own, the last thing they needed.

People were getting angrier and angrier by the day from the oppression and this desire for more liberty grew into a determination to be independent, another main cause of the revolution.

The people themselves wanted freedom but it was the influence of the philosophers at the time that drove them to believe they could get it, which resulted in the revolt.

Since both France and America had the same philosophers to influence them, they were В‘enlightened' with the same ideas, which are seen later in both constitutions. England also played a big part in influencing both nations but it was the famous philosophers like Montesquieu, Rousseau, John Lock and Voltaire who lead the revolution to be a fight for human rights. Voltaire, one of the most influential philosophers of his time, having been influenced himself by John Lock emphasized his ideas on reason and the natural rights of human beings and made the people in France and America realize the rights as human beings they should have. Montesquieu was a French jurist and political philosopher who advocated a В‘free and balanced aristocratic government' to be established in France. One of his main ideas was his political thought on the separation of powers in where each branch of the government would limit the power of the other two branches as so no branch could become a threat to liberty and therefore no tyranny could occur. Rousseau, a French political philosopher influenced both nations with his preaches for a return to nature. He reasoned that the origin of the government is to be found in the people and the government should be, as he put it, "merely and executive agent of the people's will" and came up with the В‘General Will', which he defined as В‘any action that is right and good for all and always coincides with the will of the majority.' Rousseau also came up with В‘the social contract', a way that emphasized the sovereignty of the people where each individual surrenders his natural rights to the state and gets the rights to overthrow an oppressive government back therefore the power would always originate in the people themselves. Because the two nations had the same influences with the same strong ideas, most of their cause for the revolution, which was a desire for freedom and the right of revolution and the different ideas that came with it were very similar but there were also some differences in the fight for freedom. One of the differences lies in whom the two nations were fighting against. America fought the revolution to gain independence from another country, Britain while on the other hand, the French fought the revolution to gain independence from their own oppressive government. America also wanted mostly political change while France strongly emphasized their need for social change as well and strived for an improvement in living conditions.

Another main cause of the revolution and a fuel to the already burning fire was unfair taxation by the government in both nations. In America, the acts of parliament were taxing the colonies and therefore interfering with America's trade, disallowing them to grow as a nation. В‘Taxation without representation is tyranny' the colonists asserted. They felt that they should be taxed only by their own colonial assemblies, made up of their own representatives, certainly not by the British Parliament, in which they had no representation. France on the other hand, was in constant financial difficulties. To meet the financial needs of the state, there were three chief sources of revenue: the income from the royal estates, direct taxes imposed on the people like the income, poll and land tax and indirect taxed paid on articles of consumption, the tax that especially angered the people as they were forced to buy articles such as paper and salt according to their family size whether they wanted to or not. France at the time was divided into three main groups of people or В‘estates'. The first estate was made up of the officials of the Catholic church. Although they only held about 10 percent of all the land in France they were enormously wealthy. The second estate was made up of the wealthy nobles which made up about 2 percent of France's population. The third estate was made up of a city-dwelling, well educated middle class called the bourgeoisie, the urban lower classes and the farmers, all of which made up about 80 percent of Frances population and yet received less money than both the other two states combined. This did not stop from the government taxing the population though and the burden of it fell mostly, if not almost all on the peasants. They lost half or more of their income in taxes and were forced to pay ridiculous taxes like feudal dues to the nobles, tithes to the church and royal taxes to the king's agent and besides all this, peasants had to pay a certain tax which was paid in work rather than money. The two other estates on the other hand paid no or very little taxes thus the third estate all had reasons to hate the old regime. The French and American revolution was partly the outcomes of these resentments towards the government and was also the result of weak leadership at the top.

In conclusion, just by examining specifically the causes for the revolution, one can already see that the revolution had many similarities and these similar causes lead to similar results especially in the written constitution.

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