While there are quite a few striking similarities between the French and American Revolutions, there are equally as many differences. Both the French and the American Revolution stem from ideals of Enlightenment, wherein the public wanted to be free from oppressive and tyrannical rulers, and put power back into the hands of the people. The French revolution was a result of lower classes fighting to overthrow a government within their own country out of a need for welfare and financial security.
The people of France were starving as taxes kept rising in order to keep aristocrats in the lap of luxury. The American Revolution started because of the need to feel justice, fairness and equality; America already had a large degree of self government. Britain treated the America’s as a territory instead of an extension of their land and their people which resulted in Americans fighting an overseas king to become and independent nation breaking away from British rule. Both the American and the French Revolution had key leaders, impacting the direction each countries Revolution would take.
Both the American and the French leaders had a huge impact on how violent each war would turn out to be. American’s had Thomas Jefferson and George Washington who helped shape the country, the government, and the people in a positive and significant way; leading to an almost non violent transition. France had leaders who, although are an crucial part of history, didn’t have a constructive impact on the country or the people.
Unlike the leaders of America, the leaders of France caused more destruction and harm than good.
The French people looked to these leaders for help in deciding which kind of government would be most advantageous for them. Debatably, one of the most prevalent leaders of France was Maximillien Robespierre, who demanded a republic; his demands were met when the monarchy was overthrown, and King Louis XVI was executed. Maximillien Robespierre brought about was the “rein of terror” killing anyone who was in support of a monarchy or tyrannical type government, where up to as many as forty thousand people were killed by guillotine.
In the French Revolution, people were fairly split on what they wanted to happen resulting in a radical change of goals throughout the war; which later led to a civil war. The American people sent a Declaration of Independence stating our intention to break away from British rule and become our own independent country. The goals of the American people remained nearly the same from start to finish. The Americans were never violent towards supporters of British monarchy, like the French were. In conclusion, The American and French Revolution were started on the same basic fundamentals such as leaders, enlightenment, and ideology.
The French people looked toward America as an example of what they sought for their own country; however, because of the difference in leaders and ideals, each country’s Revolution took a fundamentally different turn, but having almost the same conclusion. In France, leaders such as Robespierre and Napoleon with their eventual dictatorship helped France rid itself of a monarchy indefinitely, leading to a democracy. In America Leaders such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson also helped America evolve into a democratic government.