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February 21, 2008 at 2:10 am #986skiguyModerator
*disclaimer: I just started reading about it and haven't finished.Did the American Revolution help "set off" the French Revolution? By this, I mean did it give the French enough confidence to go through with it? I know many things led up to the French Revolution (class economics, monarchial despotism, and what not), but did the fact that the Americans actually showed that the ideas of the Enlightenment (individual freedoms, etc) weren't just intellectual, utopian dreams, but could actually work? Do you think this gave the Third Estate the kick they needed to set things in motion?After all, a lot of the French who came back after serving in the American war, like Lafayette, seemed impressed and inspired.PS. I was somewhat bored with these past few centuries of history, but this is getting kinda cool now!February 21, 2008 at 3:09 am #10690
Conventional wisdom is yes. The other things you mention are the fodder, the Am-Rev the spark.The third estate was supported by the fact that there were many in the 1st that were the sons of the third... getting into the Church was a way out of the peasantry; the 2nd had many of the "failed nobility"... noble in name only; no money or land, just title which made the Oath of the Tennis Court all the more likely.Atl east that's what it seems to me.February 21, 2008 at 3:33 am #10691PhidippidesKeymaster
Yes, I do think that the American Revolution would have been looked at as an example for the French to follow. Unfortunately for the French, they ripped apart their institutions in the process. I know that toward the end of the 18th Century, English radical Whigs were also pushing for reforms (e.g. broader voting rights) and were pointing to the American and French Revolutions as to how reform was possible. So there are influences with these major events across the oceans.February 21, 2008 at 5:06 am #10692
... English radical Whigs were also pushing for reforms (e.g. broader voting rights) and were pointing to the American and French Revolutions as to how reform was possible. So there are influences with these major events across the oceans.
Indeed but please consider that the Am-Rev was less a revolution than an evolution (and perhpas the 1st Civil War) since those that were in charge before... were the leaders of the revolution and then the makers of the US gov't. after defeating those that would have remained part of England.As for the Fr-Rev... it was a complete and total tearing down and restructuring of the society for better or worse. Few if any wanted to go there... hence the Congress of Vienna after Nappy bites the dust.February 21, 2008 at 5:23 am #10693PhidippidesKeymaster
I agree with what you say. What I mentioned earlier was that the English took both revolutions as examples of how the aristocratic political structure could be shaken at its foundation. Through the 1700s voting rights in England were granted to the wealthy, regardless of how “progressive” the Whigs may have thought they were. When the Whig party more or less split in the 18th Century, the radicals from the party invoked none other than John Locke, whose ideas were actually more egalitarian than those of the conservative Whigs. Anyway, the calls at this time came for greater voting rights (I think along the lines of 1 citizen = 1 vote), and the revolutions served as kind of “see what else is going on in the world!” to illustrate that the established power structure need not continue without modifications. I don't want to overplay the power of the revolutions, though. I think they served as examples to rev up the people, kind of like how the 1788 centenary anniversary of the Glorious Revolution marked an occasion for the English to re-awaken to their rights.See more of this information in Dickinson, H. T. Liberty and Property: Political Ideology in Eighteenth-Century Britain. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1977.February 21, 2008 at 2:45 pm #10694
....I don't want to overplay the power of the revolutions, though. I think they served as examples to rev up the people, kind of like how the 1788 centenary anniversary of the Glorious Revolution marked an occasion for the English to re-awaken to their rights.....
I don't think one can overplay the power of revolutions; too many frustrated individuals that had become enlightened and wanted to apply this enlightenment to their lives... having watched US kick out (or outlast) the English was a terrific advert for trying it at home. Was only a matter of time; this is why the Congress of Vienna was such a big deal. In effect trying (with some success) to put a lid on all the revolutionary stuff that we, and the French, stirred up.English reforms were a preventative measure to protect the status quo... giving just enough to remain in control, w/o causing another dust-up.