American, French, and Latin American Revolutions
In the revolutions of America, France, and Latin America there was a common thread that united these revolutions as well as some differences in why. The common theme in the revolutions in America, France, and Latin America was independence from foreign rule. In the American Colonies, the colonists rebelled and fought for their independence from Great Britain. In France, the people rose up against the monarchy, and in Latin America the people sought independence from Spanish/Portuguese colonial control.
The America Colonies declared their independence on July 4th, 1776, with the adoption of the The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America by the Continental Congress. It asserted, “That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Declaring war was a last resort. The colonist wanted to be treated the same as any another citizen of the king’s empire and this included having a representative in Parliament because they were paying taxes to England, who had increased taxes to pay the debt incurred by the Seven Year War (Bentley, 2006 p.784), but had no representation in England. These pleas fell on the deaf ears of the king and his Privy Council and which lead to the revolt in the American Colonies (Trail, Images of the American Revolution). In 1787 the Constitution Convention laid out the plans for a new system of government which granted rights to male property owners but left out native Americans, landless men, slaves, and women (Bentley, 2006 p.785-786).
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The revolution in France was fueled by serious fiscal problems. In the 1780s, nearly half of the French government’s revenue was going to pay off debts of war that had been incurred in their support of the American war for Independence as well as for other areas where the French forces were located such as Egypt. Unlike the new country in America that wanted to retain the customs, traditions, and the laws of England, The French wanted a new government that had a fresh political, social and culture structure (Bentley, 2006 p. 286). The French National Assembly was formed and in 1787, and using the American constitution as a blueprint, drafted The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen which proclaimed the equality of all men, declared that that sovereignty resided within the people, and asserted individuals rights to liberty, property, and security. The National Assembly have taking “liberty, equality, and fraternity” as its goals between 1789 and 1791 started abolishing the old social order. It changed the role of the church in France by seizing their land. They also listed the clergy as civilians as well as forcing them to take an oath of loyalty to the state, and abolished the first estate.
Latin American/Spanish Revolution
The first serious revolt in the war for Latin America independence began in Mexico, by Miguel De Hidalgo, a parish priest, who rallied the peasants, the indigenous people and the metizos (people of mixed European and Native American descent) against Spanish colonial rule on September 16, 1810. Like the beginning of the American Revolution, the soldiers were untrained and poorly armed.
In 1838 the Central American Federation was formed when the independent states of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica split from the Mexican empire. Simon Bolivar was the most prominent figure in the South American revolution and his main goal was to bring the Spanish colonies of South America into confederation like the United States.Gran Colombia was formed during the 1820s with the independent states of Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador.The confederation eventually disintegrated. Shortly after the disintegration, Bolivar died of tuberculosis while on the way to a self-imposed exile in Europe.
Ironically, the Spanish American emancipation, which was to free slaves, did not free them. Those who were not among the elite, such as Indians, blacks, mestizos, mulattoes, and poor whites, were forced into harsher bondage or longer servitude after liberation than they had been under Spanish colonial rule (Martin, 1988). Under colonial rule the weak, to an extent, had protection from exploitation. Due to these abuses and injustices, the nineteenth century saw a rise of populist leaders who would wreak almost as much mayhem and damage across the young republics as had the savage wars for independence (Martin 1988).
The revolutions of the American Colonies, France and Latin America had a common thread in that they wanted free from rule by a corrupt government. The Colonies in America wanted free from under British rule but wanted to keep the laws and traditions they had acquired from England. The French wanted nothing to do with their former government and based their government upon the new one that was formed by the American Colonies. The revolution in Latin America saw an uprising from the downtrodden who wanted freedom from under Spanish rule. Even though the leaders wanted to form a government after the example of the American Colonies and France, they were not able to achieve their goal. However, by the mid 1800’s almost all of these the newly formed republics had adopted in their constitutions the basic tenets of liberal tradition such as the division of power, individual rights, and equality before the law.
Aguilar, L. E. (1989, July). The French Revolution and Latin America. In The
World and I. Retrieved March 30, 2010, from Charles Kim website:
Bentley, J., & Ziegler, H. (2006). Revolutions and national states in the Atlantic world.
In Traditions & Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past (pp. 781-805). Boston:
Martin, D. M. (1988, February). MODERN THOUGHT – THE HERO AND SOCIETY . In
World and I: a chronicle of our changing era. Retrieved from
Trail, D. (n.d.). Images of the American Revolution. In The National Archives.
Retrieved from The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
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