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There were several battles therefore that took place between France, Great Britain and American war ships. These battles occurred in European waters as well as in waters in the western hemisphere.
The most challenging British action was an order permitting seizure of neutral ships either sending food and supplies to France or trading goods produced in French colonies, above all the West Indies. When Britain obstructed French ships in the French harbors early in the French Revolution, American merchants moved swiftly to take over commerce in the West Indies. These American merchant ships were subject to seizure. The British Navy took approximately 300 American ships and forced thousands of captured American sailors to serve on British ships. When American tried to negotiate with Britain, France became outraged, which prompted France to start seizing American ships and the attempts to negotiate with France were utterly ineffective. France then started to imagine the defeat of Britain and, if that were to go over well, they could then begin their attack on America.
The United States Congress became incensed over French minister Talleyrand's attempt to extort a "present" from the United States in exchange for more sincere negotiations on the shipping issues. The U.S. Congress saw this as blatant bribery and Congress was then split on the issue of how to handle British and French open assaults. There were many individuals who wanted war and others wanted want to negotiate. Talleyrand's actions consolidated congressional opinion in favor of war -- the question then simply became about who the war would be with -- France or England.
When the United States' relationship with England got to its weakest point, France decided to make overtures to the U.S. England did the same to the U.S. when its relationship with France was the most tense -- and also vice versa. America was bound and determined to stay neutral, but it was simply impossible to do. The tense relationship with France and England caused further congressional actions, increasing the chance of war for America. The shippers in America continued their pursuing of commerce, which was both profitable and risky for them. However, what is the most interesting is that throughout all of this, America was somehow able to purchase Louisiana from France (i.e., the Louisiana Purchase). This worked for the United States mainly because the French needed money for war; thus, the United States exploited the instability of the French as well as took advantage of a fleeting moment of friendly terms.
When Great Britain attempted to blockade the American coastline and stop American shipping to the Indies, Congress had to declare war on Britain -- the War of 1812. All of the bad blood between England and America, which began way before the American Revolution, throughout the revolution, and after, finally forced America to take drastically needed measures. A number of American sailors had been captured and forced into the British Navy and Britain had also provoked the Indians in America along the western frontier to attack American settlers.
The War of 1812 is an important part of the American Revolution and French Revolution's aftermath. While the beginning of the War of 1812 was somewhat successful for Britain and their Canadian and Native American allies, it was virtually impossible for Britain to be a part of two wars as the war against Napoleon was taking up a good deal of soldiers and money.
What is clear when looking back at the French and American Revolutions is that, though they had different clearly different views and different reasons for fighting for their freedom in whatever way that meant for them, both revolutions had significant effects on the foreign policies of that time and their results have carried over to today.
Enlightenment thought had a lot to do with both the American and the French Revolutions and that thought has permeated throughout our world today when we talk about equality, individual rights, the power of reason to resolve political and administrative issues and, of course, the necessity of checking the powers of government (Bukovansky 2009, 4).
Most importantly, what these revolutions did is send a message to their citizens and the world. The worldview of America and France changed after the revolutions because they were two nations who fought against tyranny for their people. The Constitution of the United States as well as the Rights of Citizens were groundbreaking and the words that each possess still resounds today. Both of these documents served as inspiration for people and nations all around the world and they still do to this day.
Both of these revolutions formed the political culture of the U.S., putting an emphasis on individual freedom (Hook 2007, 158). Since 9/11, public diplomacy has been at the forefront of our nation's thoughts, however, as noted, we can see that public diplomacy and its role in foreign policy is not something that is new. Foreign policy, we can also see, as illustrated in the revolutions and their aftermath, is full of different values, ideas, and upheavals; such is the nature different nations getting along in one world.
Bukovansky, Mlada. Legitimacy and Power Politics: The American and French
Revolutions in International Political Culture (Princeton Studies in International
History and Politics). NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009.
Mintz, Steven. "The Critical Period: American in the 1780s: Economic…[continue]
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