British Views on the French Revolution

Topics: Age of Enlightenment, Thomas Paine, Edmund Burke Pages: 3 (971 words) Published: February 23, 2014

British views of the Revolution was initially favorable because of the belief that the Revolution would weaken an old enemy and transform France into a constitutional monarchy. The discussion was in the beginning was divided between the Pro group led by the idealistic Thomas Paine and the Anti group whose greatest proponent was Edmund Burke. In the early 1790s a political storm was felt in London, as politically marginalized groups sort to ride the wave of revolution. Thomas Paine was the most pro-French Revolution propagandist. He had helped the Americans in their conflict against Britain with his pamphlet Common Sense. He had tried to encourage democracy in England. Later he went to France and was almost executed by the Jacobins on the grounds that he was a royalist. Paine then returned to America. He helped to light the spark of two revolutions and attempted a third. Paine read Edmund Burke's pamphlet, Reflections on the Revolution in France and replied with Rights of Man, which was published in two parts in 1791 and 1792. 1 Like Common Sense before it, it was aimed at the craftsmen and artisans. Paine said that all men were equal and any non-equalizer such as money, power, prestige or titles, were wrong. He felt that governments should reflect social equality.2 Rights of Man was written in plain, forceful English that allowed it to be accessible for ordinary people. It was issued and published in précis pamphlet form and acquired a large following for Paine who wanted to stimulate a democratic revolution. He was a pure democrat and believed in the ability of the ordinary man to make decisions for himself. Paine was responsible for politicizing the lower orders, to a great extent and demanded social reforms including universal and free education, old age pensions and family allowances, all of which were to be financed from income tax. Burke was opposed to the Revolution. In 1790 he published his book Reflections on the Revolution in France as a warning to...
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