American Revolution Questions and Answers

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Compare the French and the American revolutions, looking at what might explain how different these two events were.

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larrygates eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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It should be noted that the American Revolution comprised a revolt against a distant authority; in fact Thomas Paine and others commented that Britain and America were two different societies and could not be joined together. The French people revolted against a government that was local.There was no "separation" from distant authority. Additionally, the American Revolution managed to establish a stable government, which the French Revolution did not.

A number of other reasons exist. First, Austria and Prussia attempted to intervene in the French Revolution to restore the ancien regime. There was no intervention in the American Revolution although the French assisted the Americans. Also, a severe famine caused high rates of inflation which destroyed the French economy. This was also a factor in creating desperation on the part of the French people. There was no similar situation in the United States.

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The major cause of the difference was the difference in the societies that existed before the two revolutions.

In the American colonies, society was relatively egalitarian and free.  The American colonists did not have a hereditary aristocracy or an established and privileged church that oppressed them.  They were all commoners.  They also had a great deal more say in their society than the French people did since they had colonial assemblies for which many of the white men could vote.

Because of these things, the American revolutionaries were not nearly as angry as those of France.  They had political grievances about things like taxes, to be sure.  But they did not have the pent-up hatred that the French had because of having been oppressed by their aristocracy and church from centuries.

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