American Revolution Was Modeled After Revolutions in Term Paper

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American Revolution Was Modeled After Revolutions in France and England

The American quest for freedom, modeled after reform movements in England and France, has resulted in the most revered democratic society in the world. We are free of the religious and political tyranny that plagued Europe in the 18th Century and early colonialists would approve of our government in 2002.

While the American Revolution and the quest for freedom was modeled after revolutions in France and England, the United States has done something that its European relatives admire - it achieved a stable democracy free of aristocratic and religious tyranny - and this was accomplished in a relatively bloodless fashion.

Our success would meet with accolades from European philosophers and historians including Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Thomas Paine and Francois Furet. However, our success has also many developing nations and Middle East nations to regard us as arrogant infidels who wish to spread capitalistic and imperialism throughout the world.

While people of all nations yearn for leadership, there are few citizens of any country that want despotic rulers or rampant poverty across their nation. Our modern democracy is based on self-government and the people's regulation of our elected leaders.

Rousseau wrote that it is the responsibility of those governed to be ever vigilant of the abuses of power enabled the aristocratic few or governmental rulers. His thesis is the basis for many a government reform group both in the United States as well as abroad.

In The Social Contract (1762), Rousseau writes: "The abuse of aristocracy led to the civil wars and the triumvirate. Sulla, Julius Caesar and Augustus became in fact real monarchs; and finally, under the despotism of Tiberius, the State was dissolved. Roman history then confirms, instead of invalidating, the principle I have laid down."1.

The late Furet helped the French people come to terms with the French Revolution. Furet claimed that in actuality, there were two revolutions starting in 1789 with the uprising against the Old Regime.

A doctrine of human rights was established with the first revolution. An overthrow of the King Louis XVI monarchy and the Reign of Terror was the result of the second revolution. Furet has inspired the French by dumping the idea that revolution is synonymous with suffering, but instead portraying these two separate revolutions as necessary steps towards breaking free of the grip of aristocracy. 2.

The French Revolution was brought about by a weak monarchy in Louis XIV and Louis XV, financial and land losses from the Seven-Year War and heavy taxation of the lower classes. Add to that the new ideas of the Enlightenment, a new school of thought encompassing theories and writings of Voltaire and Rousseau, and the influence of the American Revolution and voila - let the revolution begin.

The most notable political development of the French Revolution was the emergence of a National Assembly, which in its institution, disregarded the monarchy and was based on many of the common goals shared with America, such as people's rights to bear arms, elimination of taxation without representation and the pursuit of happiness.

Open public trials of people in the same court, regardless of class structure helped bring equality to the masses, freedom of the press let the people have a forum for opinion, revolutionary military forces were formed and reformations to the church would be the crushing blow to the Old Regime.

The people grabbed the property of the church and it was auctioned off. Wages of the clergy were to be paid by the people, clergy would be elected and the clergy would take an oath to the people and not just to the Pope.

The French Revolution gave way to the will of the people, which limited government via a doctrine and also through elections. Like America's rights, the French achieved free speech, freedom of political choice, freedom of the press and above all won the people the right to vote.

It is amazing that France, America and England share such similar philosophies but have carried out their goals for freedom in such different ways.

Economist Claude Frederick Bastiat writes that the French Revolution failed because it rejected the ideas on which free society is modeled: property rights, limitation of civil government, self-government and free markets.

In writing about America, Bastiat, an early supporter of free markets, raves: "There is no country in the world where the law confines itself more rigorously to its proper role, which is to guarantee everyone's liberty and property... Accordingly, there is no country in which the social order seems to rest on a more stable foundation.... This is how they understand freedom and democracy in the United States. There each citizen is vigilant with a jealous care to remain his own master. It is by virtue of such freedom that the poor hope to emerge from poverty, and that the rich hope to preserve their wealth. And, in fact, as we see, in a very short time this system has brought the Americans to a degree of enterprise, security, wealth, and equality of which the annals of the human race offer no other example.... [In America] each person can in full confidence dedicate his capital and his labor to production. He does not have to fear that his plans and calculations will be upset from one instant to another by the legislature." 3.

As long as the people of America are allowed equal opportunity to work and earn a living and that living gets them the security or goods they want, America will remain a stable society, as early colonialists planned. For the most part, one is not prohibited from moving into a higher social class in the United States, whereas in many other countries, one is born into the class in which he will remain for life.

While Americans believe the democratic revolution started with Thomas Jefferson, long considered the creator of the Declaration of Independence, it was actually the great English philosopher Locke who played a greater role in American history.

Locke had a profound influence on Thomas Jefferson, who was apparently a great fan of Two Treatises of Government (1690). In fact, Locke played a great role in helping to define the Carolina constitution. The American democratic revolutionary movement is actually based on the writings of Locke. Locke said that people are capable of self-rule because by virtue of human nature we generally have the interest of the society as a whole in mind when we go about our daily lives.

While Middle Eastern nations may regard us as capitalists trying to impose our ethnocentricity and democratic ideas on the world, we are respected by Europeans, whose struggles to break free of religious and political domination paved the way for the American Revolution.

It is impressive, if not even a little annoying, that even as United States' bureaucrats now try to lay blame as they sort out the problems that led to the devastating tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, the freedoms upon which our government is based are at work. The FBI and CIA are under scrutiny of the Congress, the President is analyzing the policies of the INS and even the attorneys are looking to make a buck defending the freedoms our country allows the perpetrators. What a country!

These regulations and laws are based on the English parliamentary system designed to keep each faction of government in check.

Rousseau writes: "It is at this point that there is revealed one of the astonishing properties of the body politic, by means of which it reconciles apparently contradictory operations; for this is accomplished by a sudden conversion of Sovereignty into democracy, so that, without sensible change, and merely by virtue of a new relation of all to all, the citizens become magistrates and pass from general to particular acts, from legislation to the execution of the law.

This changed relation is no speculative subtlety without instances in practice: it happens every day in the English Parliament, where, on certain occasions, the Lower House resolves itself into Grand Committee, for the better discussion of affairs, and thus, from being at one moment a sovereign court, becomes at the next a mere commission; so that subsequently it reports to itself, as House of Commons, the result of its proceedings in Grand Committee, and debates over again under one name what it has already settled under another." 4.

This type of parliamentary style, which the United States has adopted, can only be successful in a society that is actually capable of self-government. Monarchy was something that was inherently un-American, and so were many religions that brought along the baggage of "miracles" and "superstitions." The Early Americans had done away with monarchy as an illegal form of government and even casting an eye at Christianity in an effort to dispel certain beliefs.

By the time 1770 came around, the Colonies had become a several billion-dollar venture, importing billions of dollars in raw materials from England and exporting even…

Sources Used in Document:


1. J. Rousseau, The Social Contract, 1762, Chapter 18

2. F. Furet, paraphrased from Interpreting The French Revolution, 1970

3. F. Bastiat "What is Seen and What is Not Seen," in Selected Essays, pp. 1-50.

4. J. Rousseau, The Social Contract, 1762, Chapter 18

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