The American Revolution or the French Revolution?
The American Revolution
32.8% (20)
32.8% (20)
The French Revolution
65.6% (40)
65.6% (40)
Want to vote? Register now or Sign Up with Facebook
Poll: The American Revolution vs. The French Revolution

 Pages 1 2 NEXT
 

Which was better? Which led to better developments? Which led to a better governing philosophy?

This is essentially a very old debate that is still going on. In a nutshell, this argument began with Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine. The latter thought the two revolutions were both good. The former wrote a big book criticizing the French Revolution. The latter then wrote a book criticizing the criticism with a much better sounding title (but overall, not that great of a book.)

Due to the time period, the largest and most destructive debate of the last 500 years hadn't really begun yet. That was the debate which began with the theories of Adam Smith and Karl Marx. It had not yet really become a debate yet. This would happen when the Constitution was being debated and would continue until it's official settlement in the early 1990's.

(I think it's pretty obvious where I stand on this one.)

Well the effects of the American Revolution wouldn't be felt for a while, except in places like India where the British turned their attention with the rebel colonies gone (and the USA, obviously), whereas the French Revolution launched Europe into a 22 year long war and began the spread of many concepts that are central to modern western society. The revolutionary ideals spread across Europe, and Europeans spread them across the world (in between all the wars and colonialism and stuff). Of course, many of those ideas were actually brought to France from America by French soldiers returning from the American War of Independence in the first place, but the French revolutionaries went further with those ideas than the Americans. So I would say that the French Revolution was more important, but then I'm British, it probably seems more important to me than it would to someone from say Japan, where the American Revolution might seem more relevant.

I will say though that neither the American or French revolutionaries deserve the veneration they receive as individuals. Their achievements are impressive, but they were almost all horrible people.

Edit: Oh yeah, and the French Revolution and the revolutions that followed it played a significant role in the rise of early Socialism.

DJjaffacake:
Well the effects of the American Revolution wouldn't be felt for a while, except in places like India where the British turned their attention with the rebel colonies gone (and the USA, obviously), whereas the French Revolution launched Europe into a 22 year long war and began the spread of many concepts that are central to modern western society. The revolutionary ideals spread across Europe, and Europeans spread them across the world (in between all the wars and colonialism and stuff). Of course, many of those ideas were actually brought to France from America by French soldiers returning from the American War of Independence in the first place, but the French revolutionaries went further with those ideas than the Americans. So I would say that the French Revolution was more important, but then I'm British, it probably seems more important to me than it would to someone from say Japan, where the American Revolution might seem more relevant.

I will say though that neither the American or French revolutionaries deserve the veneration they receive as individuals. Their achievements are impressive, but they were almost all horrible people.

It became the forms of government "key" to Western European governments. Eastern Europe got taken over with mass casualties for the longest time.

The American Revolution gave the world the first governmental application of the theories of Adam Smith mixed with most of the philosophical arguments of John Locke.

But, as we all know, application was messy and not consistent. You know, that whole slavery thing didn't exactly mesh with Locke's idea of the inherent equality of every man at birth. And this is also why Lincoln is the greatest president of all time and always will be.

Ooooh, I like this topic.

To me it really depends on how you look at it. The ideals behind the two were quite similar in that they were shooting for a more egalitarian and free society that was fair for all. The difference was in how far the two revolutions reached and how they executed their revolution. Now, the French Revolution was much more revolutionary then its American counterpart. It went all the way, so to speak. No slavery, women's suffrage(if I recall correctly) and a whole lot of fuck the upper class as well. In this sense they tried not only to abolish the monarchy, but overturn all of French society, even going as far to criminalizing the use of Monseiur and Madmame(Literally: My Lord and My Lady).

Now the American Revolution was on one hand much more limited in aims. Instead of trying to upturn society in the Thirteen Colonies, the Revolution sought to sever political ties with Great Britain and form a new government. It was not aimed at changing culture or who had money. It was a simple aim, at least in comparison the the French Revolution. This limit of scope, this reservedness saved the American Revolution after the actual war. The land was not ruled by the mob or the whim of a council, it was a legitimate(if very indirect) Republic, especially after the Articles were trashed. However, on the down side the country hardly lived up to it's ideals for well over a hundred years.

Overall though, I have to say the American Revolution was more successful in it's aim, but the French may have had a much longer reach as far as it's ideas and how it effected the world.

While the american was certainly more successful, the french brought more development overall.
Especially in unifying the measurement systems of Europe, before one cities ell could be different from another cities ell.
The metric system is one of the best things the french revolution created (and more importantly spread).

cahtush:
While the american was certainly more successful, the french brought more development overall.
Especially in unifying the measurement systems of Europe, before one cities ell could be different from another cities ell.
The metric system is one of the best things the french revolution created (and more importantly spread).

Also, a lot more people were killed unjustifiably in the French Revolution. The mob mentality was strong with that one.

While the merits of America and the overall morality of it's impact is certainly debatable I can't really see how it could be much worse than the reign of terror.

Big_Willie_Styles:
But, as we all know, application was messy and not consistent. You know, that whole slavery thing didn't exactly mesh with Locke's idea of the inherent equality of every man at birth. And this is also why Lincoln is the greatest president of all time and always will be.

Meh, Lincoln freed the slaves more out of necessity than out of any particular sense of justice. His views on slavery were similar to most of the United States at the time; not necessarily a good thing, but it is what it is. He was a great president, to be sure, and his freeing of the slaves was as important as it's made out to be, but his exact motivations are up for debate. Nevertheless, the fact that he did it could make him in many views the greatest president of all time.

More on topic, however, I'd put my vote in for the American Revolution. It was significantly less complicated than the French Revolution for a start, and the basic ideals of the revolution were more easily enacted with a more lasting effect than that of the French. It was a single revolution, throwing off the chains of what was perceived as an oppressive monarchy in favor of something that was, at the time, something of an experiment. To the surprise of many, it worked, and even though it hadn't by any means been finalized when the French Revolution began, it set the stage for the French Revolution. The founding documents of American Democracy are still in use today, and the American Constitution has lasted for over two hundred years because it serves as a guiding set of ideals more than a strict set of laws. Its job isn't to lay down a set of unchanging laws, but to put forth guidelines for basing laws and government off of, outlining the freedoms that shouldn't be infringed upon, the purpose of the government, checks and balances, and so on.

On the other side, the French Revolution initially only led to more monarchies and unchecked leadership by one or a few individuals. It was in part because of that revolution that Napoleon rose to power, creating the French Empire. He was overthrown and the Monarchy was put back in power. Then it was overthrown, creating the Second Republic, which lasted a grand total of four years before another coup put Louis-Napoleon in power and created the second French Empire. It wasn't until 1870 and the establishment of the French Third Republic that France saw any sort of lasting effects from its series of revolutions. Between the first French Revolution and now there have been upwards of fifteen different iterations of its Constitution, with the most recent being in place since the 1950s.

Admittedly they occurred in different environments; America was a new country, without much of a history of self-governance, consisting of a melting pot of people from many different backgrounds, which allowed the founding of a completely new system of government easier than France, which has a long history of being a monarchy. That's often argued as one of the reasons why the French Revolution took so long to finally succeed in founding a Republic. Nevertheless, the American Revolution showed how many different people from different places, with different backgrounds and different ideals, could unite together, overthrow a government, and found a completely new government based entirely on the representation of the people. The French Revolution began with that ideal, but quickly turned into an excuse for a new set of rulers to take power, which continued unabated until the mid nineteenth century.

One of the things often forgotten about the American Revolution is that is was essentially conservative in its original aims. The colonists had always assumed that they were Englishmen residing outside the mother isles, but the British government maintained that the colonies were second-tier and existed to support the empire. Hell, most of the complaints that came out of the colonies at the beginning were about how George Grenville had illegally/unethically changed the method by which the colonies had paid taxes directly to the Crown. If anything, the original aims were to maintain things as they had always been, rather than to change the system.

Of course, the stress of war and the nature of what was essentially a civil war at the start would propel events down a very different channel, resulting eventually in a constitutional form of government instead of a monarchy.

The French Revolution, on the other hand, DOES seem to have started as a movement against the status quot, thus demanding a different method and necessitating a very different outcome.

TL/DR: The reasons behind each were inherently different, so I have trouble comparing the two in an in-depth fashion as to their methods and results.

The American revolution wasn't. A revolution is aimed at overthrowing the government, not merely getting it to stop running wherever you personally happen live.

The British government went on perfectly happy afterwards, they'd lost some land, but the system still held up.

Actual revolutions are appalling. Society is turned inside out, masses of people die. This might be less bad than the alternative, but it's no small thing.

The American War of Independence, OTOH, didn't need that.

The French Revolution did not have GEORGE WASHINGTON

thaluikhain:

Actual revolutions are appalling. Society is turned inside out, masses of people die. This might be less bad than the alternative, but it's no small thing.

And then there's a saying about how the revolution devours its own children. Which, I believe, originated exactly during the French revolution. I agree revolutions are ugly business, but I think they're more than just "overthrowing the government", that'd be a coup (like, overthrowing the king to get yourself crowned king). A revolution not only removes the government but changes the political system in its essence (overthrowing the king to instal a different political system, likely with you at the helm).

There's also a joke I like to tell now and then.

The revolutionary leader speaks to the masses. "After we're done," he says, "after we're done, every one of you will be smoking expensive cigars, driving the newest sports convertibles, and getting it on with a hot busty blonde." But then some guy in the crowd says "I'm a non-smoker, don't care much for cars, and I prefer classy redheads." The revolutionary leader replies: "After we're done, you'll be doing exactly what we tell you you'll be doing."

Vegosiux:

thaluikhain:

Actual revolutions are appalling. Society is turned inside out, masses of people die. This might be less bad than the alternative, but it's no small thing.

And then there's a saying about how the revolution devours its own children. Which, I believe, originated exactly during the French revolution. I agree revolutions are ugly business, but I think they're more than just "overthrowing the government", that'd be a coup (like, overthrowing the king to get yourself crowned king). A revolution not only removes the government but changes the political system in its essence (overthrowing the king to instal a different political system, likely with you at the helm).

There's also a joke I like to tell now and then.

The revolutionary leader speaks to the masses. "After we're done," he says, "after we're done, every one of you will be smoking expensive cigars, driving the newest sports convertibles, and getting it on with a hot busty blonde." But then some guy in the crowd says "I'm a non-smoker, don't care much for cars, and I prefer classy redheads." The revolutionary leader replies: "After we're done, you'll be doing exactly what we tell you you'll be doing."

I...don't actually get the joke. Unless it's 'Revolutions replace one system with an equally worse system' or something.

In any event, I feel like revolutions are so...messy is because nobody gives much thought to the logistics of it all. They go and kill/exile everyone related to the old regime, but now they suddenly realize they have no idea how to actually run a country. So everything goes to hell because the infrastructure has just collapsed and nobody knows how to fix it.

Vegosiux:
I agree revolutions are ugly business, but I think they're more than just "overthrowing the government", that'd be a coup (like, overthrowing the king to get yourself crowned king). A revolution not only removes the government but changes the political system in its essence (overthrowing the king to instal a different political system, likely with you at the helm).

Oh, certainly, that sort of thing as well, I meant you have to overthrow the government, which the Americans did not, not that that's all you need to do.

Kopikatsu:

Vegosiux:

thaluikhain:

Actual revolutions are appalling. Society is turned inside out, masses of people die. This might be less bad than the alternative, but it's no small thing.

And then there's a saying about how the revolution devours its own children. Which, I believe, originated exactly during the French revolution. I agree revolutions are ugly business, but I think they're more than just "overthrowing the government", that'd be a coup (like, overthrowing the king to get yourself crowned king). A revolution not only removes the government but changes the political system in its essence (overthrowing the king to instal a different political system, likely with you at the helm).

There's also a joke I like to tell now and then.

The revolutionary leader speaks to the masses. "After we're done," he says, "after we're done, every one of you will be smoking expensive cigars, driving the newest sports convertibles, and getting it on with a hot busty blonde." But then some guy in the crowd says "I'm a non-smoker, don't care much for cars, and I prefer classy redheads." The revolutionary leader replies: "After we're done, you'll be doing exactly what we tell you you'll be doing."

I...don't actually get the joke. Unless it's 'Revolutions replace one system with an equally worse system' or something.

In any event, I feel like revolutions are so...messy is because nobody gives much thought to the logistics of it all. They go and kill/exile everyone related to the old regime, but now they suddenly realize they have no idea how to actually run a country. So everything goes to hell because the infrastructure has just collapsed and nobody knows how to fix it.

I think the joke is that the person promising radical hope and change has a way of becoming a tyrant during a revolution. Most revolutions don't really change all that much.

Big_Willie_Styles:

cahtush:
While the american was certainly more successful, the french brought more development overall.
Especially in unifying the measurement systems of Europe, before one cities ell could be different from another cities ell.
The metric system is one of the best things the french revolution created (and more importantly spread).

Also, a lot more people were killed unjustifiably in the French Revolution. The mob mentality was strong with that one.

That would be the "less successful" part, but perhaps i should have made that more clear.

Big_Willie_Styles:

cahtush:
While the american was certainly more successful, the french brought more development overall.
Especially in unifying the measurement systems of Europe, before one cities ell could be different from another cities ell.
The metric system is one of the best things the french revolution created (and more importantly spread).

Also, a lot more people were killed unjustifiably in the French Revolution. The mob mentality was strong with that one.

Nobles maybe, Revolutionaries certainly, the American Revolution in the long run resulted in the Annihalation of the continents native population. During, not just the revolution but the wars instigated by said countrieswhich followed.

I consider it worse because while the innocents killed During the French Resistance were just that, innocent. They were at least not entirely impartial as they 'were' in the country itself.

The Native Americans had 'Zero' and I mean literally 'Zero' stake in those wars. But they were still cut down by the millions. Colonists didn't even really care if they were with the Britts or not, they cut them down and took their land anyhow.

French Revolution like the Russian Revolution had one class rise up against another, and a whole lot of people in all classes died.

the American revolution had Colonists rise up against... Their Home Country, and a whole lot of the native population died.

Why? Because 'stuff'... Seriously. It's amazingly stupid the reasons written down in the historybooks, mostly it just boils down to racism and greed.

"Which was better?" Seriously?
Well, as a European, obviously the French one was more influential and therefore "better". But to ask about this as if there was some sort of objective, globally applicable value to this seems ludicrous. It depends not just on the revolution itself but also on the country from which perspective you view it, from which you measure the consequences.

While I'm not really a scholar of either revolution, I tend to regard the French revolution more romantically than the American revolution--even as an American myself. The American revolution was great and all, and it's the reason the US is a country and not a colony or territory, but as has been stated by others it wasn't really a "revolution" so much as simply expelling those whom we felt were invaders. It was pretty much a pure battle for territory. Plus, the way I understand the British taxes which were apparently so oppressive weren't actually that high, especially compared to what British citizens were paying, and it sort of made sense to be paying the Brits something because they contributed a lot to America's rise. So while it's cool and all, there was a bit of petulance to it. And let's not forget the Indians whose demise came within the century after we secured their lands.

The French Revolution, on the other hand, was all fire and passion and ideals. Heads rolled, legends were born, and I find the paintings and art that came out of the French Revolution to be much more spirited than the paintings that came out of the American Revolution. They're so much more romantic and full of fire. It wasn't just about patriotism and securing independence, it was about an entire class uniting and securing their future.

Well, just about the same can be said of the American revolution I suppose. Maybe it's just because American patriotism puts me off to a certain extent. I dunno. Either way, French revolution gets my vote. I know less about it and so can be less cynical about it.

Lilani:
and it's the reason the US is a country and not a colony or territory

Er, it's the reason it became a country at the time it did. Not quite the same thing.

The English Revolution!
Oh, contraire!
Oh, and I mean the one in the 1800s.

Sure, it took like a hundred years from start to finish, but hardly anyone died, and no government was overthrown completely, but the monarchy was defanged, parliament became genuinely democratic, slavery was abolished, and, most importantly, the homeland of Liberalism spread it around its empire. Would half the democracies on Earth be democracies without the British forcing them to be? Who knows, but somehow I doubt it.

thaluikhain:

Lilani:
and it's the reason the US is a country and not a colony or territory

Er, it's the reason it became a country at the time it did. Not quite the same thing.

Eh, fair enough. Like I said, not a scholar on either one :-P

The French had a revolution. The Americans rebelled. Here lies the difference, and the reason why I can't compare the two. The French revolution literally broke the European power-structure, catapulted Britain into prominence (pax Britannia), broke the Spanish colonies, set a precedent for the future state of Italy, created the grounds for the Oriental Crisis (and the death of the Ottomans), lifted Prussia into the status of leading German state thus establishing the base for the future German nation, pretty much established the Netherlands (and as a proxy, Belgium& Luxembourg), spread Nationalism throughout Europe on a scale not seen before and... should I even go any further?

Napoleon influenced the modern world to an unimaginable extent.

TheIronRuler:
The French had a revolution. The Americans rebelled. Here lies the difference, and the reason why I can't compare the two.

I concur. France really overturned their system in entirety. Due to the light management and quasi-independence of the British colonies pre-"revolution", it's dubious to me that life really changed that much after the transition. The bases of the US revolution were also philosophical ideas already well in play in the UK itself, and not so dramatic a change.

I do not see either that the OPs argument trying to present the American versus French revolutions as somehow contrasting visions of the future is a particularly strong one.

The French Revolution hands down. Almost all of the institutions originally created by the British during the colonial period (laws, legal system, slavery, property norms, etc.) in the American colonies remained in tact following their revolt. France did a proper revolution (whereby social and political institutions are dramatically reformed or destroyed) and dismantled the old aristocracy.

The Gentleman:
The French Revolution hands down. Almost all of the institutions originally created by the British during the colonial period (laws, legal system, slavery, property norms, etc.) in the American colonies remained in tact following their revolt. France did a proper revolution (whereby social and political institutions are dramatically reformed or destroyed) and dismantled the old aristocracy.

On the other hand, the American one didn't collapse into anarchy, leading to a non monarchic dictatorship, followed by the reinstation of the monarchy after the downfall of the dictator.

Whilst it was a major event, which had a huge impact on history, it failed in all the objectives it set out to achieve. The Americans may have had less ambitious objectives, but they secured them. So I'm handing this one to the Americans.

If I where to award it to France, I'd have to only give them a silver medal, because the Russian revolution of 1916 also had huge history shaping ramifications, the resulting political order outlasted its founders, and they didn't end up with Tsars again after that order fell. By most measures it was more 'succesful' than the French revolution.

ClockworkPenguin:

The Gentleman:
The French Revolution hands down. Almost all of the institutions originally created by the British during the colonial period (laws, legal system, slavery, property norms, etc.) in the American colonies remained in tact following their revolt. France did a proper revolution (whereby social and political institutions are dramatically reformed or destroyed) and dismantled the old aristocracy.

On the other hand, the American one didn't collapse into anarchy, leading to a non monarchic dictatorship, followed by the reinstation of the monarchy after the downfall of the dictator.

Could 'easily' have ended the same way. The colonists weren't opposed to the idea of having a monarch, merely the taxes. And many of the Washington supporters were actively gunning for him to run for a third term, and his opposition outright expected it, already preparing posters decrying him for a royalist wanting to be a king (Washington supported the Monarchy and until very late in the revolution still gave toasts to the Kings health)

History is changed by a lot of small things, France wasn't unlucky to get a dictator, with fledgeling democracies it is pretty much to be expected. The U.S was incredibly lucky that Washington was the kind of man he turned out to be, his principles was what secured their system's future.

Skeleon:
"Which was better?" Seriously?
Well, as a European, obviously the French one was more influential and therefore "better". But to ask about this as if there was some sort of objective, globally applicable value to this seems ludicrous. It depends not just on the revolution itself but also on the country from which perspective you view it, from which you measure the consequences.

Way to give the academic's answer! (I meant that in the pejorative sense.)

Lilani:
While I'm not really a scholar of either revolution, I tend to regard the French revolution more romantically than the American revolution--even as an American myself. The American revolution was great and all, and it's the reason the US is a country and not a colony or territory, but as has been stated by others it wasn't really a "revolution" so much as simply expelling those whom we felt were invaders. It was pretty much a pure battle for territory. Plus, the way I understand the British taxes which were apparently so oppressive weren't actually that high, especially compared to what British citizens were paying, and it sort of made sense to be paying the Brits something because they contributed a lot to America's rise. So while it's cool and all, there was a bit of petulance to it. And let's not forget the Indians whose demise came within the century after we secured their lands.

The French Revolution, on the other hand, was all fire and passion and ideals. Heads rolled, legends were born, and I find the paintings and art that came out of the French Revolution to be much more spirited than the paintings that came out of the American Revolution. They're so much more romantic and full of fire. It wasn't just about patriotism and securing independence, it was about an entire class uniting and securing their future.

Well, just about the same can be said of the American revolution I suppose. Maybe it's just because American patriotism puts me off to a certain extent. I dunno. Either way, French revolution gets my vote. I know less about it and so can be less cynical about it.

Heads rolled so much, the mob turned on the revolution's key people! Putting that dude through the slicer face up was cold, bro. The mob mentality led to a ton of people getting killed who shouldn't have! It led to people lying so much about Marie Antoinette, people still think the nasty things about that weren't true!

The American Revolution had a purpose outside of "Screw the rules, I have green hair!" (Absurdity masking itself as righteousness.)

ClockworkPenguin:

The Gentleman:
The French Revolution hands down. Almost all of the institutions originally created by the British during the colonial period (laws, legal system, slavery, property norms, etc.) in the American colonies remained in tact following their revolt. France did a proper revolution (whereby social and political institutions are dramatically reformed or destroyed) and dismantled the old aristocracy.

On the other hand, the American one didn't collapse into anarchy, leading to a non monarchic dictatorship, followed by the reinstation of the monarchy after the downfall of the dictator.

Whilst it was a major event, which had a huge impact on history, it failed in all the objectives it set out to achieve. The Americans may have had less ambitious objectives, but they secured them. So I'm handing this one to the Americans.

If I where to award it to France, I'd have to only give them a silver medal, because the Russian revolution of 1916 also had huge history shaping ramifications, the resulting political order outlasted its founders, and they didn't end up with Tsars again after that order fell. By most measures it was more 'succesful' than the French revolution.

I have to agree, the question wasn't which was more influential, it was which was better. The only real way to measure it is by its effect on the World and the country. France's plunged Europe into war and France into chaos. The American one achieved its objectives and created a stable country with limited violence after the fact.

Big_Willie_Styles:

Skeleon:
"Which was better?" Seriously?
Well, as a European, obviously the French one was more influential and therefore "better". But to ask about this as if there was some sort of objective, globally applicable value to this seems ludicrous. It depends not just on the revolution itself but also on the country from which perspective you view it, from which you measure the consequences.

Way to give the academic's answer! (I meant that in the pejorative sense.)

No need to be so aggressive about his answer. It was a perfectly intelligent and acceptable neutral stance. What do you have against academics anyway?

Shock and Awe:
The only real way to measure it is by its effect on the World and the country. France's plunged Europe into war and France into chaos. The American one achieved its objectives and created a stable country with limited violence after the fact.

It's really hard to say if the revolution was a bad thing. I'm of the personal opinion that in the long run the french revolution(s) drastically changed the history of Europe. The declaration of the rights of man was a landmark event. I personally think the french revolution was better. Personal opinions however don't stand on whether one revolution is better than another. It's an exercise in futility, and that's why I had abstained from the discussion so far.

I mean the two aren't the same at all. The U.S had a war for independence. The french revolution was much more focused on the disparity between the nobles, the church and the rest. The causes are completely different. The way things progressed were also very different.

I also see tons of mistakes here. It's not as if the revolution turned into the Terror automatically (that only happened when the Girondins were massacred by the Montagnards).

There was actually a constitutional monarchy first. Most of the monarchs were related to each other and the overthrowing of Louis XVI led to a chain reaction. It only started with a french war against Prussia and Austria, which France won. Then during the time of the national convention, the king was beheaded, which led to a chain reaction where Britain and the Netherlands declared war. The government then started becoming more radical and Robespierre went to power.

Even the abridged version I gave is insultingly simplistic. I didn't give the accounts of the directory, July revolution, the first empire or any of the following revolutions and republics. It's overtly simplistic to say that it plunged France into chaos and Europe into war. It was a complicated time with many changes happening.

I can't even say that the account of the American revolution are that clear cut, but I'll leave that subject to someone else.

Someone above said that the fact that France had five republics, instead of a single one like the US means that the revolution was a failure. I disagree. While America was isolationist, the France revolution shook up a continent which was very resistant to change. That's my personal opinion though and as I've said from the start, it's an exercise in futility to compare the two.

Frission:

Shock and Awe:
The only real way to measure it is by its effect on the World and the country. France's plunged Europe into war and France into chaos. The American one achieved its objectives and created a stable country with limited violence after the fact.

It's really hard to say if the revolution was a bad thing. I'm of the personal opinion that in the long run the french revolution(s) drastically changed the history of Europe. The declaration of the rights of man was a landmark event. I personally think the french revolution was better. Personal opinions however don't stand on whether one revolution is better than another. It's an exercise in futility, and that's why I had abstained from the discussion so far.

I mean the two aren't the same at all. The U.S had a war for independence. The french revolution was much more focused on the disparity between the nobles, the church and the rest. The causes are completely different. The way things progressed were also very different.

I also see tons of mistakes here. It's not as if the revolution turned into the Terror automatically (that only happened when the Girondins were massacred by the Montagnards).

There was actually a constitutional monarchy first. Most of the monarchs were related to each other and the overthrowing of Louis XVI led to a chain reaction. It only started with a french war against Prussia and Austria, which France won. Then during the time of the national convention, the king was beheaded, which led to a chain reaction where Britain and the Netherlands declared war. The government then started becoming more radical and Robespierre went to power.

Even the abridged version I gave is insultingly simplistic. I didn't give the accounts of the directory, July revolution, the first empire or any of the following revolutions and republics. It's overtly simplistic to say that it plunged France into chaos and Europe into war. It was a complicated time with many changes happening.

I can't even say that the account of the American revolution are that clear cut, but I'll leave that subject to someone else.

Someone above said that the fact that France had five republics, instead of a single one like the US means that the revolution was a failure. I disagree. While America was isolationist, the France revolution shook up a continent which was very resistant to change. That's my personal opinion though and as I've said from the start, it's an exercise in futility to compare the two.

I'm aware the French Revolution didn't go straight from "Lets give people more rights" to "FUCK ROBESPIERRE", but it gradually got more and more crazy over time. I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on the subject, you yourself are French so I'd be willing to bet you've read more on it then I, but what began as giving the third estate more power, eventually turned into crazy shit. Again, I am not trying to say the French Revolution was not more influential, I said before that it most probably was(unless you want to nit-pick that the reason the crown was broke in the first places was because they blew it helping the Patriots in the American Revolution). I am trying to say that as far as benefiting the country and the world, the American Revolution was better. The Government of the First Republic was warmongering even before Napoleon came to power when it invaded Austria(I think, its been awhile).

I agree that when you get down to it, you can't really make a call over what historic event was better, but its worth discussing even if you can't get a real solid answer.

Shock and Awe:

I'm aware the French Revolution didn't go straight from "Lets give people more rights" to "FUCK ROBESPIERRE", but it gradually got more and more crazy over time. I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on the subject, you yourself are French so I'd be willing to bet you've read more on it then I, but what began as giving the third estate more power, eventually turned into crazy shit. Again, I am not trying to say the French Revolution was not more influential, I said before that it most probably was(unless you want to nit-pick that the reason the crown was broke in the first places was because they blew it helping the Patriots in the American Revolution). I am trying to say that as far as benefiting the country and the world, the American Revolution was better. The Government of the First Republic was warmongering even before Napoleon came to power when it invaded Austria(I think, its been awhile).

I agree that when you get down to it, you can't really make a call over what historic event was better, but its worth discussing even if you can't get a real solid answer.

Oh no, you're completely right that things got fucked up during the revolution. The story of Madame Lamballe is a pretty tragic one and some terrible, terrible stuff happened during the revolution, since there's a reason the period was called the terror. Apparently on Robespierre tombstone, it's written "Do not weep for the one beneath this stone, for if he were alive, you would be dead". So you're completely right on how atrocious the period was.

The problem is that I'm more neutral on the long term consequences of the revolution. The revolution heavily changed France and caused social change. Social change which eventually became a norm for the french, ensuring that they could not be removed.

The failure to reinstate the monarchy during the Bourbon restoration in France has several reasons, but one of the them was the fact that the king tried to control the printing press, limited voting to the richest 1% and tried to pressure landowners to give back lands to the catholic church and emigrated nobles. The french revolution heavily changed social fabric, saving trouble for later on.

In contrast, you could say that the failure for the founding fathers to rectify the problem of slavery caused a lot of pain later on. The American independence war did little to change some parts of the establishment, meaning that a lot of social change had to occur later on.

To the credit of the U.S and Britain though, they've managed to mostly change their society in a way which was far less bloody than the French.

It's difficult to make a call on which revolution was better. I'm not saying that the discussion is not without it's good sides, but it might have been better to have phrased the question differently and have added some other revolutions than the French and American revolution.

EDIT: You and most of the people here are rather interesting. Some parts just irked me, that's all.

Frission:

Shock and Awe:

I'm aware the French Revolution didn't go straight from "Lets give people more rights" to "FUCK ROBESPIERRE", but it gradually got more and more crazy over time. I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on the subject, you yourself are French so I'd be willing to bet you've read more on it then I, but what began as giving the third estate more power, eventually turned into crazy shit. Again, I am not trying to say the French Revolution was not more influential, I said before that it most probably was(unless you want to nit-pick that the reason the crown was broke in the first places was because they blew it helping the Patriots in the American Revolution). I am trying to say that as far as benefiting the country and the world, the American Revolution was better. The Government of the First Republic was warmongering even before Napoleon came to power when it invaded Austria(I think, its been awhile).

I agree that when you get down to it, you can't really make a call over what historic event was better, but its worth discussing even if you can't get a real solid answer.

Oh no, you're completely right that things got fucked up during the revolution. The story of Madame Lamballe is pretty tragic and some terrible, terrible stuff happened. There's a reason the period was called the terror. Apparently on Robespierre tombstone, it's written "Do not weep for the one beneath this stone, for if he were alive, you would be dead". You're completely right on how atrocious the period was.

The problem is I'm more neutral on the long term consequences of the revolution. The revolution heavily changed France and caused social change. Social change which eventually became a norm for the french, ensuring that they could not be removed.

The failure to reinstate the monarchy during the Bourbon restoration in France has several reasons, but one of the them was the fact that the king tried to control the printing press, limited voting to the richest 1% and tried to pressure landowners to give back lands to the catholic church and emigrated nobles. The french revolution heavily changed social fabric, saving trouble for later on.

In contrast, you could say that the failure for the founding fathers to rectify the problem of slavery caused a lot of pain later on. The American independence war did little to change some parts of the establishment, meaning that a lot of social change had to occur later on.

To the credit of the U.S and Britain though, they've managed to mostly change their society in a way which was far less bloody than the French.

It's difficult to make a call on which revolution was better. I'm not saying that the discussion is not without it's good sides, but it might have been better to have phrased the question differently and have added some other revolutions than the French and American revolution.

EDIT: You and most of the people here are rather interesting. Some parts just irked me, that's all.

You're right on all counts. Though I would like to point out that the US never had a chance to stamp out slavery that early. The southern states would not give it up and trying to force the issue would probably have caused the colonies to break up and make them vulnerable to the European powers. Its unfortunate, but the Civil war was inevitable from the start without a real change in social and economic structure. Its good that it came about later where the country was established.

I can also see why you'd feel that way, a lot of simplification about in this thread. It'd be like someone simplifying the American Revolution to the Boston Tea Party, and a bunch of big battles between the valiant patriots and the evil British.(Like the US education system, ZING)

Danny Ocean:
The English Revolution!
Oh, contraire!
Oh, and I mean the one in the 1800s.

Sure, it took like a hundred years from start to finish, but hardly anyone died, and no government was overthrown completely, but the monarchy was defanged, parliament became genuinely democratic, slavery was abolished, and, most importantly, the homeland of Liberalism spread it around its empire. Would half the democracies on Earth be democracies without the British forcing them to be? Who knows, but somehow I doubt it.

Ah, the United Kingdom - the original America.

Proves that one can never be "too big to fail".

OT: The French Revolution was far more... revolutionary. While the American colonists revolted against British rule it wasn't a revolution because the way the British system of government operated was not changed because of it. In the grand scheme of things The UK just shrugged its shoulders, stiff upper lip, and went on to conquer Canada, India, Africa, Australia, led the charge against Napoleon, gave Russia a significant backhand, and kicked the legs out from under the Ottoman Empire.

The French Revolution was a wake up call to all the surrounding powers, they got to see exactly what could happen if the pot were allowed to boil too long. While the British and other nations hated the French they still respected them and considered them very powerful. To see the nation brought to its knees and rise even higher afterwards must have been cause for great concern for the current leaders but also an experiment to take notes from - to see what works and what doesn't.

 Pages 1 2 NEXT

Reply to Thread

This thread is locked