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Differences Between The French And American Revolutions

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Differences in the American and French Revolutions

Sometimes a revolution can take place within a country against its own current state of government, other times a revolution can take place externally to rid a country of another country's influence. There are many components that are involved in a revolution taking place. One must consider the causes or reasons of the situation, the events that occur during the revolution and the effects or aftermath that had been created by that revolution. There were major differences between the French and American Revolutions.

The American Revolution started in 1775 and lasted around six years, ending in 1781. When the Great Awakening ended, it left America in one of the best spiritual states the country had ever been in. Keesee puts it this way, "The Great Awakening served a vital role in getting America ready for the American Revolution. It was a breakthrough for personal liberties. The revival stressed not only the equality of men before God but also the equality of all men" (82). The most prominent reason why the American Revolution was fought was for freedom from British rule. Keesee states, that "The question for many Americans became not whether they would submit to taxes but whether they would submit to tyranny" (105). Smuggling was also a main cause of tension that built up over time and led to the American Revolution (Bigelow 46). The smuggling of goods was a common occurrence among Americans. British charged high taxes on items that were imported to the colonies, but smugglers avoided these taxes by bringing in cheaper goods made by countries other than Great Britain (Bigelow 46).

The French Revolution started four years after the American Revolution. It started in 1787 and lasted twelve years, ending in 1792. Before the French Revolution France's government was an absolute monarchy ("Britannica"). Unlike the American Revolution, which was fought over freedom, the French Revolution was fought over power (Keesee 110). The French monarchy was in major financial debt, and Louis XVI was attempting to regain economic and political powers after leading France into lengthy and costly conflicts (French 36). During this time the French people were split into three classes; the upper class, which were highly privileged, the middle class, who were just common people, and the lower class, much less privileged than either of the other two (French 40). Regardless of the class, the majority of the people had become very unhappy with the French government. The middle class people, or bourgeoisie, were very upset they could not share the social status of the upper class. The lower class, or peasants, were becoming more literate but were still regarded more as burdens than anything else and were highly over-taxed. There were many different conflicts going on in France that helped start in the French Revolution.

There were many events that took place during the American Revolution. There were also many acts that led to battles starting. On March 5, 1770, British soldiers were sent to Massachusetts to keep peace among the colonies. Verbal insults were being exchanged among the colonists and the soldiers, and after a time of arguing the colonists started throwing snowballs and ice at the soldiers. One soldier got hit in the head so another soldier shot into the crowd, and what stared as just a verbal war, ended with five people dead and six others wounded, becoming what is now known as the Boston Massacre (Bigelow 59). On December 16, 1773, a group of Boston patriots dressed up as Mohawk Indians. They armed themselves with hatchets and clubs and boarded three ships docked at the Boston Harbor and dumped overboard all 342 chests of tea that were on board (Bigelow 65). That event became known as the Boston Tea Party. Other battles that took place during the American Revolution were the Battle at Bunker Hill, the Battle of Saratoga, the Battle of Shallow Ford, and also the Battle of Yorktown ("Battles"). The Battle of Yorktown was the last battle fought in the American Revolution. On September 3, 1783, a treaty of peace was negotiated and the revolution

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