Do you want to know how the American Revolution influenced the French Revolution? You’re in the right place. The American Revolution was the first successful revolution ever undertaken. It was bloody, and yet, success.
The American and French revolutions were based on enlightenment ideas and economic struggle. However, they still shared some differences.
The French were key participants and close allies when the colonists secured independence from British colonial rule after the Revolutionary War. They participated in the war.
Several years after the American Revolution, the French Revolution started. But then, while we can consider the French Revolution a more complex conflict, the American Revolution set the stage for it to happen.
Here, we’ll discuss how the Revolutionary War in America influenced the French Revolution. Read for more details.
How Did The American Revolution Influence The French Revolution?
The American Revolutionary War was the first of its kind. It was the first fight for liberty in modern history, making it an extraordinary achievement.
It was apparent that the rest of the world was waiting for someone to step in; they were waiting for a people to unite, fight and liberate their land from colonial rule. And the Americans stepped up.
So, the American Revolution served as a template for people struggling for independence through the 19th and 20th centuries across the globe.
The Revolutionary War served as a critical source of inspiration, not only for the Indian conflict but the French Revolution. In the case of the Indian Conflict, the Indian nationalist leadership didn’t only show admiration for how the American people fought.
The leadership also admired how George Washington and Thomas Jefferson gave their all to secure victory. They saw how much hardship Washington and Jefferson faced and were ready to take to achieve their aim.
So, the American Revolution was more than Americans fighting to liberate their country. It was more of the Americans handing over a template to secure independence to the world, and it came when people worldwide needed such inspiration.
The victory was a victory for anti-colonialist movements. The Americans eliminated British colonialism across all colonies. The success also allowed the colonists to give their political viewpoints, as enshrined in the Declaration of Independence.
But how did the American Revolution influence the French Revolution? Here is what you need to know.
1: Enlightenment Ideas:
The Enlightenment includes a series of ideas centered on the value of human happiness, the pursuit of knowledge acquired via reason, and ideals such as liberty, toleration, natural laws, constitutional government, fraternity, and progression.
While these ideas drove the American Revolution, several experts think these same ideologies had long been evident in French culture.
The French were there for the Americans. Allied Frenchmen were by the Continental Army’s side in the North American colonies. They fought side by side with the soldiers, and this would have allowed them to exchange ideas, values, and philosophies.
The Enlightenment was pivotal to the American uprising. The idea’s focus is human rights and equality for every citizen. This idea swept through North America and Europe, sparking a revolution that colonials couldn’t withstand.
So, one of the ways the American Revolution influenced the French Revolution was via Enlightenment ideas. The French saw how the ideology of the Americans was used as a unifying factor and how much they were willing to sacrifice to achieve their ideas of freedom, government, and equality.
2: Declaration of Independence:
The American Declaration of Independence mirrors Enlightenment ideas. When the Americans gained independence, they swiftly moved to tender a Declaration of Independence.
But the good part is the Enlightenment ideas were transformed into a new political system, and the French people witnessed it.
The French people fought alongside the Americans and were thrilled. They wanted the same thing for their country.
The French Revolutionary War lasted from 1789 to 1799. And when the French people finally gained independence, they decided to fall back to the American Declaration of Independence.
In other words, they used the United States Declaration of Independence as a template to draft their “Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen in 1789.”
When you compare the American and French revolutions, you will discover that they both abide by similar principles and ideas. In other words, they both embody the Enlightenment principles, which center on popular sovereignty and equal rights.
3: The French people were moved by the victory of the Americans:
Even though some French fought side by side with the American soldiers, they were thrilled by the outcome of the revolution. The American Revolution gave the French hope that people could fight against the most powerful military in the world and win.
So, the victory the Americans secured over the British served as a catalyst and inspiration for the French Revolution.
The Americans didn’t fight against novices. Instead, they fought the most powerful and well-equipped military in the world at the time and emerged victorious. This gave the French people hope that people could revolt and do so successfully.
The French reformers also fancied the newly formed government America had. They also witnessed how the people were treated after they secured independence and wanted something similar to happen in their land.
Ideas such as constitutional checks and balances, popular sovereignty, separation of powers, and natural rights that were once abstracted during British rule became a reality.
How Much Did The American Revolution Influence The French Revolution?
The American Revolution influenced and shaped the French Revolution. But while many historians agree with this, some have debated the degree of influence.
Most scholars argue that the American Revolution may have been a template for the French Revolution. But the French were already collapsing.
They were on the verge of financial collapse and using an outdated feudal system. The monarchy at that time was unpopular. So, it was only a matter of time before the French people exploded.
So, the general belief is that the French people would have rebelled even with or without the American Revolution. It was just a matter of time.
Most historians still believe the American Revolutionary War paved the way for the French uprising, even though the motives with which both wars were fought differed.
So, let’s say the French people learned how not to lose a revolutionary war from the Americans. They learned how to be resilient and stay focused. They saw firsthand from the Americans that independence was sweeter than anything the colonials could offer.
How did the American Revolution influence the French Revolution? Some of the French people fought alongside the Americans. So, they were there when the Americans defeated the British.
The victory of the Americans motivated the French. They saw that people could revolt and win a war against a powerful military. The British were powerful. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have ruled over the Americans at that time.
So, the American Revolution served as a template and inspiration for the French people, even though most experts believed the French people would have revolted anyway.