I heard something interesting last night. The American Revolution succeeded because the Colonists were a self-governing people. Although Britain may have thought that the Colonies would fall without monarchical governance, the new nation actually thrived and developed into a nation of laws. The French Revolution, on the other hand, failed. Why? Could it be because those in that rebellion were not of a self-governing nature? If this is true, how do citizens become self-governing? Are we a nation of self-governing citizens today?
Well to be honest, I think that the colonies mainly consisted of people that wanted to escape from Europe for numerous reasons. They were to an extent self-governing, but they paid taxes to the british in return for military support etc.... The French however, were always used to having a powerful figure ruling them, but became Irate with their kind and in the end had him executed. They were unable to govern themselves properly and that's why Napoleon took over and in the end crowned himself emperor. Are we self governing? depending where you live, but here in the UK, the state has such a massive role in everyone's lives (public transport, health, around 42% of all services), that we are not self-governing people.
There were a number of reasons it failed. The self governing aspect is one (the colonies set up representative bodies almost immediately after colonists landed and reached a low number of people) but there are others. Paul Johnson points out that the American Revolution was an intensely religious matter. The French Revolution was an intensely anti-religious eruption; man was supposed to throw off the shackles of the ancien regime and all of its trappings (King, Church, aristocracy) through the new deity of Rationalism. The American Revolution understood human nature and constructed itself around it. The French tried to remake man and his impulses into something they weren’t.
So to summarize and distinguish the revolutions, perhaps it’s something like this: American Revolution: Colonists motivated by religion; a desire to protect individual liberties; achieved by people whose rights were oppressed by a foreign monarch; achieved by a people who were self-governing in nature. French Revolution: Citizens motivated by despisement for religion; individual liberties were not respected during the Revolution (i.e. massive death penalty use); achieved by a people who were at economic odds with a domestic monarch; achieved by a people who did not have the capability to govern themselves. Avatar, your point of view is interesting because here in the U.S. there is a drive by many to reduce the role of "big government" because it's inefficient and bureaucratic. If a revolution were to have occurred in the U.K. as it did in the U.S., I wonder what the result would have been since you've had a strong central government for such a long time.
The French Revolution was an experiment in radical egalitarianism just the same as the American Revolution, but the difference was class oriented. The French were obsessed with eliminating a caste system (the Estate System), the Americans were interested in restructuring class distinctions by eliminating the aristocracy and incorporating the poor (as far as possible which excluded slaves and women at the time). The French Revolution was a reaction to years and years of class warfare. The American Revolution was a reaction to the increasing power of Parliament which the colonists felt did not adequately represent their interests. Yes, religion played a role in the American Revolution, but it also played a role in the French Revolution as well. You might recall that human reason and Isaac Newton (Reason’s personification) were deified and worshiped before Napoleon hijacked the movement and seizing the deified role himself. Thus France began to worship nationalism and sought to export the revolution to its neighbors. In sum, both revolutions sought remedies for class disparity and both had elements of religiosity only in very different manifestations.
? achieved by people whose rights were oppressed by a foreign monarch; achieved by a people who were self-governing in nature.?
George III was not a foreign monarch.? He was the Colonists own lawful monarch. That is why the conflict of 1175-1783 is called The American Revolution. The Rebels rose in opposition to their own King and Parliament.
George III was not a foreign monarch. He was the Colonists own lawful monarch. That is why the conflict of 1175-1783 is called The American Revolution. The Rebels rose in opposition to their own King and Parliament.
Semantic here, semantics. What you say is true. However, what I may have meant, and can argue now, was that George III was foreign to the concerns of the Colonists. The pond was not the only thing that divided England and the Colonies.
Semantic here, semantics.? What you say is true.? However, what I may have meant, and can argue now, was that George III was foreign to the concerns of the Colonists.? The pond was not the only thing that divided England and the Colonies.
To be completely accurate here (lol), in the very beginning, the colonists appealed to King George III to check the tyranny of Parliament.? They proclaimed their charters were made between them and the sovereign, but Parliament cited the Glorious Revolution of 1688 as the takeover point where it assumed the sovereign and thus ownership of the charters.? So when the colonists saw that legal argument was going no where, they shifted gears and said they were not represented in Parliament, to which Parliament retorted that it “Virtually Represented” the colonists, and it cited the various examples where British burroughs were virtually represented by neighboring burrough representatives for many years.? So when the colonists saw that legal argument was going no where, they dropped the pretenses of what they really wanted and that was autonomy and independence. 🙂
I have long thought (and taught) that the Am Rev was more evolutionary than revolutionary… the folks that were the movers and shakers before were also the leaders during and after. Not to discount the civil war element and the Tories… had England retained power those same (native) loyalist would have been the ones leading us. Same stuff, different day either way.The Fr Rev was truly revolutionary as it totally destroyed the social structure of France. Without any structure left to draw on the only result possible was the rise of a new figure to make something of the hash-job... enter Napoleon. Another feather in the cap of the French; things are so bad with a King that orders us around and doesn't listen that we revolt. 10 years of chaos and mayhem and we end up with an Emperor that orders us around and doesn't listen. Logical, eh?Glad we won but I'd rather have lost than had the debacle the French manufactured. Wally