Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Whether we define the American Revolution as a real revolution or not is still debated. That is until you compare it with the French Revolution, then there is no comparison. First, let's look at the leaders of both movement (yet I called them movements). Second we'll look at the ideologies/philosophies behind both movements. Thirdly, we'll look at the events of both as they unfold. Lastly we'll look at the consequences, or you could say the outcome of both Revolutions.
I'm not going to be able to put all this in one blog, but that gives anyone reading this an idea of where I'm headed.
The French Revolution started at quite conservatively. It was sparked by the king calling the Estates General (the legislative body which hadn't been called in over a hundred years) on 2 May 1789. However, King Louis XVI was not strong enough to stand up to the people, especially the 3rd Estate--consisting of upper middle class (bourgeoisie) and everyone else, who took advantage of the situation and started making demands of the king. France was bankrupt and owed more in loan interest than they were making. Thus, taxes on bread, salt, etc. were extremely high and people were starving in the streets of Paris.
Leaders of the early French Revolution were mostly upper Bourgeoisie and lower nobility mere looking for a little reform--these men were also adherents of the Enlightenment thinkers such as: Voltaire, Montesquieu, Rousseau, etc. The lower nobles wanted enough reform to become upper nobles. Conservatives at this time (royalist--upper nobitly) wanted to take France back to feudalism (in other words, take power away from the king who was absolute at this time). Lafayette, a name that should be familiar to Americans, was a leader in the early part of the Revolution. He had returned from the American colonies, after supporting our revolution. Political "clubs" sprung up in France out of which sprang Revolution leaders. Major ones are: The Girondan's and the Jacobin's. Lafayette, Roland, Mirabeau, Sieyes, Bailly, etc. were Girondan's. Once considered liberal until the Jacobin's came to power under Danton and later Robespierre. The Revolution was constantly shifting "left" and doing away with those on the "right." This continued until it peaked during the TERROR under Robespierre, who claimed the title the "Incorruptible."(the title alone show's the level of his egotism and arrogance). Sound familiar? The people finally turned on Robespierre and his "lieutenants" (Couthon and Saint-Just) and sent him to his own guillotine. It is said that Couthon went his execution screaming in terror, Saint-Just went passively, and Robespierre, who had unsuccessfully tried to commit suicide by a gun under his jaw, faced his execution "bravely." But how brave could a power-hungry, agenda-pushing madman be? The French Revolution solved little and created more problems financially that it solved. It also paved the way for Emperor Napoleon to take charge, and make the people willing to give up their freedoms that they had fought for during the Rev. to have the stability (finacially, politically, and militarily) under Napoleon.
That was a very brief overview. Now let's look as some of the leaders of the American "Revolution."
When the last of the Stuart monarchs died (ANNE), the crown of England passed to their German cousin, George Elector of Hanover. George I was German and cared little for England or her colonies. So, under George I, II England was run by a Prime Minister, and the colonies became completley self-governing. The Colonist still thought of themselves and Englishmen, and, under the English Bill of Rights, legally possessed certain rights. One of which was the right of representation in Parliament. When George III came to the throne, he was thoroughly English and didn't care for the interference of the Prime Minister or Parliament. He also made all of the colonies royal colonies and appointed a governor for each to represent him in America. These actions are among a total of 27 allegations against George as stated in the Declaration of Independence. At this time England had a sizable war debt was George was looking for a way to relieve that debt. So one of his advisors suggested raising taxes on the Colonists (stamp tax--on all legal documents, the tea tax, etc.). These taxes were only part of the "Intollerable Acts" that cause outrage among the colonists. Boston lead the way in voicing that outrage. One cry of the Revolution was "No taxation without Representation." Colonists merely wanted their rights as English citizens. They were not looking to kill their king like the French did in 1782. Men like Sam Adams, best associated with the Sons of Liberty, John Jay, Patrick Henry, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Paul Revere who were eduacted in the philosophies of the Enlightenment (Montesquieu--check and ballance on government, Locke's Separation of Powers) and certain Biblical truths which were held by most colonists (it was Biblical principles which balanced out the Enlightenment ideas and kept our revolution from going to the extremes of France's--France had no real foundation, no unchanging, absolute authority). These men banded together to preserve government, not abolish it. These were men of integrity, principle, and real courage. In signing the Declaration of Independence, they were signing their own death warrants. They were committing an act of treason to stop Britain's tyrannical/dictatorial rule. George Washington, after winning the war, was offered the title and power of a king. He looked at those who were offering and ask something to the effect of "have we come so far just to end up where we started" (a complete paraphrase). Then he turned and went back to his farm. He was at heart a farmer (of a large plantation) and, when he completed his duty to his country, this was the life to which he wished to return. But our other leaders saw the character in which he lived, fought, and which allowed to so easily give up absolute power (something no one else has done) they knew that he was the right man to lead this new country.

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