American Revolution and the French Revolution Similar Essay

Excerpt from Essay :


Both the American and French Revolutions resulted in July holidays, but these significant historical events share much more in common than their superficial celebrations. The precursor to both the American and the French Revolutions can in fact be traced to the prevailing philosophical zeitgeist, an attitudinal revolution that was taking root in Western Europe, Britain, and North America. Commonly called the Enlightenment, the philosophical underpinnings of the American and French Revolutions informed the future of global history. Yet in spite of the common causes and revolutionary spirits, the United States and France experienced quite different outcomes to their political struggles.


The primary similarity between the French and American Revolution is that they were organized attempts to divest a monarchy of power. Both the Americans and the French were motivated by principles like freedom, liberty, and justice: which were embodied in the writers of French philosophers like Rousseau as well as English and American philosophers like Thomas Paine. Enlightenment principles inspired the people to cultivate a sense of personal responsibility, personal empowerment, and liberty from tyrannical, arbitrary, and oppressive rule.

French citizens noticed that the monarchy profited off the backs of the commoners, something that the Americans also started to believe given the claims of “no taxation without representation,” and rebellions against the tariffs the British continued to impose on American exports (Smith, 2011). Therefore, economic motives did prompt both the American and the French Revolution.

Although the American Revolution ended a lot more smoothly, allowing the new government of the United States to transition from the loose confederation of states that preceded it, the French Revolution did ultimately result in the fulfillment of the goal of promoting republican democracy. Both the American and French Revolution had dark sides: the French with the Reign of Terror and the Americans with unresolved issues like slavery.


Prior to Revolution, life for ordinary white citizens in the United States was one of local governance. There was a relatively good degree of personal freedom in this regard, as the Crown was a long distance away. On the contrary, the ordinary citizen of France would have been beholden to local elites in a system reminiscent of feudalism. The Crown retained tight centralized control. Likewise, their monarch directly ruled the people of France; the Americans were colonialists and were not actually citizens of Britain who had any…

Sources Used in Document:


“Similarities Between the American and French Revolutions,” (2012). Western Civilization II Guides.

Smith, M. (2011). A comparison of the French Revolution and the American Revolution.

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