American and French Revolution

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“Winning was easy, young man, governing’s harder” (Miranda). Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical Hamilton reflected on the chaos and unrest of creating a new nation from scratch, even after the success of the American Revolution. The questions which arose during times of instability led to the Enlightenment movement, which was a time period where philosophers advocated that reasoning as a worthy human attribute. Inspired by the ideas the Enlightenment had taught during the 1700s, the American and French Revolutions set forth to accomplish these ideas in order to gain political, economic, and social equity. While the American and French Revolutions were both inspired by the Enlightenment ideal of equality, the French Revolution upheld this ideal while the American Revolution did not.

Equality during the American revolution led the revolutionaries to disregard past beliefs and form new ideas on individuals, but the ideal was not consistent through the revolution When formally proclaiming independence from Great Britain in 1776, Thomas included a goal for some ideals in the new nation, Jefferson, in the Declaration of Independence, wrote these “truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” (Jefferson). By claiming the inherent ideas that all men were born the same, the American revolutionaries adopted the idea of equality.

Equality led the revolutionaires to disregard the past belief than an exclusive number of people were created from birth to achieve more than others and one person was not born better from the next. In essence, equality seemed to solve all difficulties, but the results of the revolution had faltered with and late would fade this ideal. As an attempt to convince her husband John Adams, one of the Founding Fathers, that her current situation as a woman was intolerable, Abigail Adams writes in a letter that the “passion for Liberty cannot be Eaquelly Strong in the Breasts of those who have been accustomed to deprive their fellow creatures of theirs” (Adams).

By writing that liberty is not equal for those who have been accustomed to putting themselves before others, it shows that women and men were not thought of as equals. Equality was not upheld after the American Revolution because Abigail Adams had written the letter to her husband in hopes for a change in the nation, showing that women were not equal to men even after the success of the Revolution. Abigail Adams and countless others around her had hoped for a change after the Revolution of equality for men and women, but these hopes were not accomplished.

The French Revolution had also set forth to accomplish the ideal of equality, and it was accomplished. The National Assembly of France, announcing the public’s disrespect for certain policies and for a proclamation of new rights, wrote a political document proclaiming that “all citizens, being equal in the eyes of the law, are equally eligible to all dignities” (Declaration of the Rights of the Man and of the Citizen). The influence of equality had on France was exemplified when the political document stated all French citizens were equally worthy of receiving unbending honor and respect according to the law.

The Third Estate at this time had little to no rights, were starving, and had been denied countless privileges before the revolution, so the idea of equality was seen as a safe haven for them and would lead them to have the same opportunities as everyone else. The safe haven of equality was kept throughout and after the revolution, as seen in a speech written by Maximilien Robespierre. When describing how a virtuous citizen should act, Robespierre, the self-proclaimed leader of France, included that “one’s love of country necessarily includes the love of equality” (Justification of the Use of Terror).

Equality in this political document meant every single person in a country was equal to one another rather than a small group of elites being equal to one another, as it had been in France’s past. By weighing patriotism and equality the same on a scale, it signifies that leaders of France considered equality as a vital component of a successful country regardless of the revolution, and that patriotism includes loving France without conditions.

The American and French Revolution were founded on the Enlightenment ideal of equality, however, only the French Revolution sustained this ideal, and the American Revolution did not. Both overthrowing their own versions of a monarchical government and social and economic instability, the French and American Revolutions created an ideology for other countries which encouraged questioning powerful figures. Regardless of others having an edge when it comes to securing opportunities such as their health, education, or wealth, it is important to realize each person is born equal and not one person is created to be looked upon as better or worse than another. Complete equality is not realistically attainable, but the quality of opportunity is a universal goal which should make the possibility of winning the game that is life equal for all of humankind.


Cite this paper

American and French Revolution. (2021, Mar 28). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/american-and-french-revolution/

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