The late 18th century was a period of great societal transformation in both North America and Continental Europe. Inevitably, the ideas of the enlightenment coupled with the social and religious unrest in both the United States and France prompted action on the part of the educated masses. Although an endless ocean apart, the founding fathers of the United States and those responsible for the eventual fall of the absolute monarchy in France were individuals who foresaw something more, something that resembled an intricate social system where one individual was accountable to another and all were understood to have this new phenomenon known as inalienable rights (Locke 48).
[...] Religion aside, both the American Revolution of (1775-1783) and the French Revolution (1789 -1799) were greatly influenced by the intellectual ideas of the Enlightenment. Indeed, the writings of John Locke and his idea of liberalism greatly influence the political minds behind both revolutions (Chomsky 2003). His theory known as the “social contract” implied that among humanity, a natural right was the right to accountability (Locke). For the first time on either side of the Atlantic, the general population could be heard and hold those in power responsible for the actions they make. [...]
[...] What is clear when examining the American Revolution is that the founding fathers of the United States were above all men of the enlightenment. Although not necessarily irreligious, individuals such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin put reason ahead of scripture (Chomsky 142). In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have no advanced one inch toward uniformity” (Jefferson 161). [...]
[...] Additionally, there are also a host of social and political factors which involved resentment of the nobility through the enlightened thought, as many peasants, wage-earners and bourgeoisie began to desire the traditional privileges possessed by the nobles (McPhee 141). Ultimately, most historians claim that such issues were merely a base and the toppling of the dynasty was a direct result of the failure of Louis XVI and his advisors to address any of the issues (McPhee 2002). Much like the American Revolution, the French Revolution brought with it a massive shifting of powers between the church and the state. [...]
[...] In conclusion, as I hope this paper has proven, the influence of the American Revolution on the French Revolution was both necessary and complete. Indeed, the French leaders of the Revolution required an example to follow. Fortunately, they were able to find that both on battlefields of the colonies and in the writings of the founding fathers. Additionally, Ideological concepts such as liberalism and republicanism were taken from the American Revolution and applied to the Estates General and at the Tennis Court Oath in France. [...]
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