The Not-So-Revolutionary French Revolution
The very definition of a revolution is “to forcibly overthrow a government or social order in favor of a new system” however, compared to the American Revolution, the French Revolution was less than successful. The French and American Revolutions that occurred in the 18th century were very similar economically and socially but varied in their political outcomes.
The economic situations in France and colonial America were very similar around the time of their revolts. America was in great debt after the French-Indian War and the British government introduced new taxes to the colonists in order to pay off those debts. The colonists weren’t necessarily upset about the taxes themselves but about the lack of reasonable grounds for the taxation and the lack of benefits they received from them. These feelings were the basis for the phrase “No taxation without representation.” In the years leading up to the French Revolution, France also found themselves in quite a bit of debt. Their debts came from funding the American Revolution in an attempt to weaken Britain. Very similarly to the Britain, the French king began imposing taxes on his subjects. However, he only taxed peasants, never nobles. This allowed the king to sell titles which pulled the two social classes further apart and resulted in famine and poverty for the lower class. So really, the king’s funding of the American Revolution brought about the revolution of his own people. Even though the French Revolution was more about the division of the social classes and the American Revolution was more about the colonists feelings towards British greed and exploitative control, it could be argued that both began due to economic turmoil within their countries.
Another very similar aspect of both revolutions was the social ideals of each country. Both French and American citizens were very influenced by ideals of enlightenment which emphasized individual rights (Life,...
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