Bill has advanced degrees in education and political science. He has been a political science teacher for over 27 years.

You are watching: Compare and contrast american and french revolution


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In the same year that the American Republic began, the French Revolution started. Should these two revolutions, American and French, be acclaimed as "similar"?


Introduction

At first glance, it seems that the American and French Revolutions had a lot in common. After all, both took place around the same time. Both championed the desire for republican government and the principles of liberty. And many Americans promoted the French Revolution, and the Americans were indebted to the French who advanced their revolution, providing both money and material to the cause.


In fact, it's common in academia to treat the revolutions as being more alike than different. However, the historical record reveals that these two revolutions began from different premises and their results were even more divergent than their premises. This essay is devoted to providing a contrast to the American and French Revolutions, with a conclusion that these were two very different events.


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Samuel Adams has been called the "Father of the American Revolution." Some have suggested that the expression "American Revolution" is a misnomer and that the movement should be rightfully called the "American War for Independence."


A Revolution By Any Other Name...

The American Revolutionary War….

That’s what we often call it. It was, after all, a revolution, wasn’t it?

Was it?

If the French Revolution is the benchmark for how revolutions go, then the American Revolution was not a revolution at all.

First, consider the American Revolution. It's ironic that the roots of the American Revolution were British. Before the Americans get their Declaration of Independence in 1776, the British led the way with the Magna Carta, the Petition of Right and the English Bill of Rights, documents that reasserted the rights of subjects against the arbitrary rule of kings, like the Stuart tyrants of the seventeenth century.

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Like their counterparts in England, many Americans of the eighteenth century self-identified as “Whigs”, those that opposed the tyranny of monarchy and desired a republican form of government. Their resistance against the British began shortly after the conclusion of the French and Indian War in 1763 and culminated with those shots “heard round the world” at Lexington and Concord, about twelve years later. Indeed, our “revolution” was long in coming. The most radical act occurred in 1773 when otherwise reasonable men dressed up like the natives and dumped British tea into Boston Harbor in the celebrated Boston Tea Party.