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What are the differences between the French Revolution and American Revolution?


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While it is impossible to escape the similarities between the French Revolution and American Revolution and there is no question that the American Revolution helped inspire the French Revolution, there are a number of important differences between the French and American revolution.

Location was an important difference.  America was a colony that was revolting against a ruling government that was separated from it by a large distance, while the French Revolution occurred in France and was aimed at the monarchy in that country.

Social class played a much more important role in the French Revolution than the American Revolution.  America’s revolutionary leaders were members of the wealthy upper-class and drew upon the ideas of John Locke to draft the Declaration of Independence.  French revolutionaries were far more aware of the impact of economic disparity on the ability to pursue happiness and focused their revolution on achieving more social, political, and economic parity, in line with the teachings of Rousseau.  In fact, while revolutionaries in both countries objected to taxation by the monarchy, in France these objections were rooted in the fact that peasants were starving, but still being taxed to support the aristocracy, but in America the issue with taxation was that it did not come with representation in parliament.

The goals of the two revolutions were different.  Americans could be free from the monarchy without seeking to destroy the aristocracy, but for the French to gain the same freedom they had to abolish the aristocracy.  Americans wanted to break free from the British monarchy, while the French wanted to overthrow the French aristocracy.  In France, this difference helped lead to many more unnecessary killings, which were done outside of battles.

The American Revolution, which began at the Battle of Lexington, began as Americans sought to keep British troops from capturing those who were leaders of the movement for freedom.  In contrast, the French Revolution began with the storming of the Bastille to free those leaders who had already been imprisoned by the French government.  The results were different as well; the French killed or wounded 100 times as many French soldiers in the storming of the Bastille as the Americans did at Lexington.

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