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French And American Revolution History Essay

This essay entails and discusses the circumstances, the possible explanations and detailed information surrounding the French and American Revolution. Revolution may be defined as ‘a forceful overthrow of a government in order to have a new system’. In Marxism, revolution is known as ‘the class struggle that is expected to lead to political change and triumph of communism. Revolution occurs for due to various reasons; it can be when human rights are not respected, in case of countries, when people’s needs aren’t met e.t.c. A theorist, Karl Marx theorized that revolution is an automatic progression against exploitation of workers in a capitalist society.

Discussing the American Revolution, it is necessary to discuss both the implicit causes and precipitating events. The American Revolution, also known as the US war of independence, took place between 1775-83. The conflict arose from increasing discomfort between residents of Great Britain, thirteen North American colonies and the colonial government. Great Britain was the world’s most powerful state. It was the world power and leading colonizers of the world. Then, America used to be just a normal stat. Before America’s colonization by the British, the majority of the colonists saw themselves as British, did not want to disrespect their king, respected the English law and had no wish to change their government by force. Clashes between the British troops and colonial militiamen in Lexington and concord in the month of April fuelled the armed conflict, and by the coming summer, rebels were waging a war for their independence. Between 1680 and 1776, a distinctly American society emerged, a clan that differed pointedly from Britain. In 1790, approximately two million colonists were in the thirteen colonies. These was made up of the crown colonies(English), Irish, Scottish, German, Dutch, some Indian subjects of the crown and some black rising to one-sixth of a population which was at most about one-third of that of the mother country. The colonists grew greatly since 1700 and they eventually became thirteen colonies. The 1770’s began a major chaos in the British North-America colonies. By 1750, the thirteen colonies stretched along the eastern coast North America and became part of Britain’s growing empire. The thirteen American colonies had some similar characteristics which made them distinctly different from Great Britain.

Digging deep to understand the origins of the United States, the story begins with a clean state; European colonies arriving on a superior continent and attempting to change their way of life. Historian Daniel Richter wrote in his book ‘Before the revolution; America’s ancient pasts’ wrote on the era of America before the revolution.

The American Revolution began as a result of mounting colonial sadness, despair and unhappiness with the British policies. The American leaders were gingered by the republican and liberal ideas by enlightenment authors including John Locke. John Locke’s theories were very popular, though the key one was the ‘social contract’ which stated that authority must be gotten from the consent of the governed and that if the government should in any way trample on the rights of the governed, the governed should feel free to rise up and overthrow the government. Ben Franklin, a writer and a scientist was seen in Europe as an American philosophe. He wrote ‘much of the strength and efficiency of any government, in securing happiness to the people, depends on the public opinion’. Franklin was simply saying that all government efforts will be wasted if the public does not agree with it or are not happy with it. His remark explained to the American leaders how important it is for the governed or the public to consent to government actions.

At first, The British parliament felt they had a right to impose taxes on its colonies. The colonists went further to claim that as British subjects, taxation without representation was absurd and improper. This made the Americans feel they should not pay tax if they did not have a representative in Westminster. It did not sound alright to them. If they did not have a representative there, why should they pay the taxes it imposed? Gradually, dissatisfaction grew and citizens felt they wouldn’t mind staying as subjects of King George III but will rather prefer obeying rules not made by the parliament but made themselves, the ruled. However, a desire for complete independence did not come immediately. The Americans continued to live as before though secretly nursing the thought of making laws themselves. The British did not stop at taxes; they further went on to some absurd rules which further led to the American Revolution. The economic situation in America got worse as the British implemented the Currency Act. This stopped the colonies from using printed money.

The Boston tea party (also known as destruction of the tea), a political protest in Boston, a city in the British colony of Massachusetts, revolting against the tax policy of the British parliament and the East Indian company which controlled all the tea imported to the colonies. The British had imposed tax even on tea, which the Americans found extremely extreme. Therefore, on December 16th,1773, after the Boston official in Boston refused returning three shiploads of taxed tea to Britain some groups of colonists decided to board the ship and destroy the taxes tea by throwing it into the Boston harbor. This was spontaneous and rather shocked the British. It was a major loss to them. The Boston tea party remains a significant and renowned history of America. The Boston tea party was a main event in the battle of the American Revolution. The parliament retaliated in 1774 with Intolerable Acts, which ended self-government by placing it under the control of Governor Thomas Hage and shut down Boston’s commerce. Colonists in the thirteen colonies then responded to the Intolerable Acts by increasing protest acts. The crisis further galloped and the American Revolutionary war began somewhere near Boston in 1775. By then, nationalism and fierce urge to fight the British rule increased. By April 1775, weapons were being gathered in Concord and unfortunately Governor Hage got wind of it. He sent British troops to seize and destroy the weapons. This did not go well as there was exchange of gun fire. The parliament continuously pleaded with the British monarchy for an intervention, but the possibility of any agreement failed as the congress were declared traitors which they responded by declaring the independence of a new nation, the United States of America.

The French revolution had a meritorious effect on other European countries. It was a feared scourge. Till date, it is iconic in the French history. Before the revolution, France was a monarchial state. The King was seen as the alpha and omega and his pronouncements were held very sacred. It began in 1789 in came to an end in late 1790s with the ascent of Napoleon. Ever since the rule of King Louis XIV well into the second half of the nineteenth century, France was often top in Europe. At the end of the 18th century, King Louis XVI’s extravagancy made the country bankrupt. It could be said that poverty fuelled the French revolution. The peasants had had enough. They experienced two decades of poor harvest, cattle disease and high prices of food. They all got desperate and resentful towards the government which imposed taxes and yet failed to provide ease. This they did by rioting, looting goods and striking. The French had divided themselves into three estates, the first, second and third estate. The First estate consisted of the nobility; the second estate consisted of the middle class while the third estate represented the clergy. When the frustration got out of hand, Louis XVI’s controller general Charles Alexandre de Calonne suggested a land tax reform plan. Meanwhile, delegates of the three estates were tasked to compile all grievances and submit to the king. The third estate continued to silently suffer, although they grew speedily in population. The third estate grew so large that they began to gather support to get the nobility give them equal representation and abolish the poverty created. They eventually declared themselves ‘the National Assembly’ representing the people. They took it upon themselves to fight for the people. The third estate agreed to fight till the end and took the Tennis Court Oath. This oath banded the intention to not disperse until constitutional reform had been achieved. Before the week ran out, most clerical deputies had joined and on June 27th, Louis XVI halfheartedly included all three orders to the national assembly.

What mostly triggered the French revolution were the attack on the Bastille (the royal prison) and the Great fear. The Parisians got panicky as the rumor of a military coup hit the street. An iconic insurgency culminated on July 14th when rebels and rioters stormed the Bastille fortress trying to get gunpowder and weapons. After this incident, the French revolution went on and finally got France back on its track, although some consequences are still witnessed. It may be said that the French revolution was a political event aimed at abolishing poverty, slavery and proving equality of man. The storming of the Bastille date is currently marked as a celebratory day in France; as the start of the French revolution.

The French and Americans had something in common; they both fought for their independence. More so, they have things in common. The Franco-American alliance in 1778 and the entry of Spain into the war as an ally of France in 1778 fundamentally changed the war. It should be noted that during the American Revolution, unknown to the British France was among the few states funding America with weapons. King Louis expensively supported the Americans during their revolutionary war which doubled the debt France was already in. It could also be said that the French got their inspiration from the Americans after winning their own war.

In summary, it can be said that the war between the thirteen British colonies and their mother country came to an end in declaration of independence. They finally had the anticipated freedom. French revolution achieved its aim. Both the French and American Revolution were complimentary to each other and thus bring us to the end of the circumstances and explanations surrounding the French and American Revolution.


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