French Rev

Topics: United States Declaration of Independence, Age of Enlightenment, Liberalism Pages: 1 (482 words) Published: January 22, 2015
Ideas stemming from the American Revolution, natural rights, and popular sovereignty strongly influenced the French Revolution and can be traced all the way to the Enlightenment. Firstly, as Tom Lansford of the National Social Science Association states, “the Enlightenment exerted a stronger influence on the American Revolution” (5). The impact that this had is that since the French sent money and troops to aid the American cause, the troops they sent got Enlightenment ideas from the Americans and then brought them back to France where they helped start a revolution. As Tom Lansford states, “Many French soldiers who had fought alongside the Americans returned to their home country determined to reform the government and society” (6). Thus, we can see that after Enlightenment ideas burrowed themselves into the American Revolution by way of documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, French soldiers, the ones supposed to be loyal to the crown, came home with ideas of change, and revolution. Secondly, the Enlightenment contributed to ideas of natural rights through thinkers like John Locke and Voltaire. John Locke, English philosopher, stated in his Two Treatises of Government that “all mankind” was “equal and independent” and that the rights to “life, health, liberty or possessions” should not be infringed upon. These ideas weighed heavily on the revolutionaries in France, for they adopted the slogan: "Liberty, equality, and fraternity” (Tom Lansford). These ideas were central to many Enlightened thinkers. Another Enlightenment philosopher who spread ideas of natural rights was Voltaire. He stated that "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it". The idea of the right to freedom of speech greatly influenced the revolution, for when the new government was put into place, writers such as Jean-Paul Marat were finally given the voice with a greater freedom of the press (at least for a time)....
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