Themes of the Century
Although there were numerous amounts of changes in all aspects of life at this time, more importantly were the revolutions that took place in France and America because they led to great political and social change that influenced the globe and also made two world powers. During the 19th century in America, there was growing discontent for their mother country, Britain. A series of events had led to Americans feeling more distant from their mother country and that they could not effectively rule their colonies with such a large distance.
The first key event that began the demand for independence was he French and Indian War.This war was fought between France (before French revolution) and Brutal from 1754-1763 over the colonies In America and soon became a world-wide conflict between the two nations. The rivalry created between the two nations became a key part of the American Revolution later on. Although Britain came out victorious, their economy took a big hit and left them in huge debt which they looked to the colonies to repay. After 1763 all the way to the beginning of the war in 1775, Britain put in place a slew of acts which increased taxes, and as a result resentment of the British government.These acts included the sugar act, currency act, quartering act, stamp act, Townsend acts, tea act, and intolerable act, all of which were not approved by the colonists. Some acts, such as the stamp act and tea act, led to small resistance and uprisings of their own.
The sons and daughters of liberty began tar and feathering tax collectors to show their discontent of the stamp act, and In response to the tea act, colonists took place In the Boston tea party in which they dumped tea over board from ships in the Boston harbor.To stop these uprisings and prevent future ones, Britain put forth the Intolerable act in which own meetings were now outlawed. However despite this the first continental congress took place in which 12 of the 13 colonies came together in Philadelphia and began boycotting British goods. (Stearns 639) (Kelly) In 1775 British troops had been commanded to go to Lexington and Concord to prevent future revolts by removing military supplies and disarming any rebels in these areas and also arresting Samuel Adams and John Hancock who were leaders of the rebellion.The Americans had received word of the British plans and were waiting and ready for them when they came. However once the British arrived, they surrounded the small militia of about only 80 men and commanded the rebels to put down their weapons. But among all of the confusion and shouting, the Americans did not hear their commander John Parser’s order to disperse and go home and they stood their ground.
Although both and soon after without command British troops began firing volleys killing 8 colonists and wounding another 10, with the rest running away. The British suffered only a very minor causality which was a foot wound.The British then marched onto Concord where the rebels were once again waiting. Expecting there to be no fire exchanged again, another battle broke out and the Americans, surprisingly, forced the British to retreat after the loss of 70 men. This was the first time warfare had been exchanged between the two groups and was the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. (casuistry. Org) All of these new acts and duties put on the colonists led to new hostility towards Britain and the belief that Britain was not suitable or able to effectively govern the colonies.
Also the colonists believed they had no fair say in the acts. The Declaration of Independence was a clear sign of this and showed that the Americans wanted to rule themselves. Although there had already been fighting for 14 months with the war well underway, and the Declaration not really necessary, the founding fathers choose to write it so Britain would know why they are breaking away and what they did wrong and to give a reason and purpose and to the Americans to know why they are fighting.It gave Britain and its King a very long list of facts of what they did wrong. “The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these states” (US Declaration of Independence). After the battles of Lexington and Concord the war lasted for another 8 years. There were series of campaigns launched by the British government to attempt to take back the colonies one area at a time.
Although some were successful, King George Ill gave up on subduing and destroying the American armies and went into a plan of “punishing” them and the colonists by bombarding their ports and cities, leaving many troops garrisoned in key places (such as New York) and unleashing Native Americans to attack the Americans on the frontier. King George Ill had more problems to worry about as France and Spain both Joined in on the war and made him focused on the European war. After several more years of fighting, and a huge victory at Yorktown, the British finally surrendered and the Americans had won.On September 3rd, 1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed and the Americans had won their independence. The American revolutionary war had tremendous effects on political thinking and social life. New ideas and laws like, equality, liberty, God-given rights, democracy, and checks and balances influenced many European thinkers and leaders and gave a del for new democracies to come. It led to the birth of other revolts and revolutions, like the French revolution and the Haitian rebellion.
Also new alliances were formed between France and other countries.Socially it proved to the world that Britain, the strongest army and nation of that time, was not invulnerable. New organized abolitionist movements began to try and end slavery in the United States and spread to other countries soon after. Women’s rights slowly were being discussed in the United States and defied traditional beliefs. After the war America’s economy was greatly strengthened and led to new businesses and Jobs. Despite this America was in debt because of all the money it had borrowed and aid it had received from other countries and became a financial burden for those who sided with the colonies. casuistry.
Org) Unlike the American Revolution, France was not monarchy. France had three different estates that it was divided into. The First Estate was the clergy and religious leaders, the second was the nobles, and the Third Estate was the peasants and lower class which was the largest of the three but had the least say in government. King Louis WI, having inherited debt from the Seven Years War, increased the taxes of the third estate to attempt to pay off their debts, and greatly impacted the people of the third estates lives.Food shortages were common as the demand for bread increased as well as the price, and the peasants did not have the money necessary to buy it because of the taxes. This led to many people going hungry and riots breaking out. To combat this, Louis XVI instituted a series of reforms in an attempt to better conditions and grant more rights to the people who had increasingly grown in its demand for equality.
This demand for rights and quality was influenced by the American Revolution and its ideas of enlightenment, formation of a constitution, and signing of the Declaration of Independence.The ideas of liberty, equality, property, and freedom were echoed in France as later on in the revolution they made their own declaration, the Declaration of the Right of Man and the Citizen. However Louis Wig’s reforms became ineffective with the parliament which claimed Louis did not have the authority to tax the First and Second Estate. Finally on June 17, 1789, the Third Estate broke away for France and declared itself the National Assembly. Stearns 640) (Ambassadors. Com) After being created, the National Assembly declared that it only had the power to decide on taxes.Once hearing this, King Louis XVI banned the national assembly from the meeting hall and literally locked them out of it.
The National Assembly took matters into their own hands and moved to a tennis court across the street. There the members of the National Assembly swore the “Tennis Court Oath” which swore that they would not break apart until a constitution had been drafted with would guarantee rights to the people of France. Several lower ranking nobles and clergies broke away from the First ND Second Estate to Join the National Assembly.In order to try and avoid a revolt from the people, Louis XVI made the representatives of the First and Second Estate join the National Assembly as a sign of recognition and acceptance of the National Assembly. (Series) However Louis XVI efforts were in vain as on July 12, 1789 the citizens of France stormed Pastille looking for ammunition and gunpowder as they had Just acquired many guns and cannons from Hotel Invalided. The man in charge of the fortress turned prison was Bernard De Launch, who agreed to surrender to the crowd as long as he was not hurt.However, the crowd took him prisoner and soon cut off his head and mounted it on top of a post to show they would stop at nothing.
When Louis XVI heard about this he said “But, this is a revolt! ” The official who had informed him of the news said “No, Sire. It is a revolution” (Plain, 29) By August 30, 1792, France had entered into a state of terror. The Duke of Brunswick armies had begun singing the stronghold of Verdure. Once it fell, chaos and massacres broke out across the country with priests being dragged out of their coaches and killed and prisoners of Paris slaughtered.Once the Jacobin club had taken control, the Assembly declared war on Austria and Prussia but was quickly defeated. There was panic once again as enemies armies began marching towards the capital. Revolutionaries stormed the Utilities palace and forced the royal family to flee.
National Assembly named itself the National Convention. Immediately they abolished the Monarchy and the King was sent to the guillotine. Once King Louis XVI was dead, France broke out in war with almost all of the European countries and had internal conflicts of its own. The Committee of Public safety was established to try and find unity for France.Soon however it began what is known as the reign of terror for France and anybody who could possibly oppose the revolution was killed. Ironically, the leader of the committee, Maxillae Robberies, was also sent to the guillotine. After the reign of terror was over, a 5-member Directory was put into place.
However the Directory was faced with large issues such as food shortages and lack of goods in France. In times of need, Napoleon Bonaparte supported the directory and gave assistance. In November of 1799, the Directory was overthrown and Napoleon Bonaparte was put into power under a new constitution as the first Consulate.Napoleon soon went on to establish the Bank of France, improve educational systems, and make a code of law known as the Napoleonic code. He also went on to conquer a large amount of European countries and by 1806 controlled most of Europe. After being taken over by France, many European countries had a new spirit of nationalism as they banded together during Frances rule and became increasingly more loyal to their original countries. Once France became extremely powerful, Napoleon changed he constitution to give him even more power and eventually declared himself Emperor of France.
Although this was not really close to the ideas of the revolution, the French believed that their lives were better off under Napoleon and it remained that way until he fell in 1815. (Stearns 641) The American and French revolution had many similarities and difference to each other, with both having a lasting impact on the world. On one hand you have the Americans who wanted to break away from Great Britain, and on the other, you have the French attempting to rid the monarchy. Both countries had been influenced by enlightenment ideas and become a large component of their Declarations.Both had suffered economic hardships that led to the realization that change was needed. However America and France had very different odds stacked against them; with the Americans receiving the aid of France and Spain during their war while France fought most of Europe by itself. Similarly both countries had gone through different forms of government after the fighting.
The Americans first had the Article of Confederation, which lacked any real national overspent and gave all the power to the states, and finally established the Constitution of the United States.