American and French Revolutions
A great research paper in history looks at the American Revolution and the French Revolution and compares them. How revolutionary were they? The research paper should show that the late 18th century was truly a time of revolution. In the American colonies, citizens tired of chafing at the arbitrary rule of a distant king took up arms and established the first modern democracy. Inspired by this action, six years after American independence, French citizens stormed the Bastille and inaugurated one of the bloodiest chapters in European history. The research paper will point out that there are similarities between the American and French revolutions; most of them ideological, as well as vast differences, bringing up the question of whether one can truly be called a revolution.
Origins of the American Revolution
The origins of the American Revolution in history research papers can be traced to the end of the Seven Years War (French and Indian War). Although the British Empire gained Canada, they had a massive war debt. The colonies had profited from various Crown expenditures related to the war, and Parliament decided to force the colonists to help pay this debt. A series of taxes levied on the colonies met with increasing resistance. The Sugar Act, the Stamp Act, the Tea Act, the Intolerable Acts, the list increased in severity as opposition mounted towards “taxation without representation.”
The situation in France was also one of financial crisis. After decades of dormancy, Louis XVI was forced to call the Estates-General to assemble. It was hoped that the First and Second Estates (the nobility and clergy) would outvote the Third Estate (the rest of the population) and rubber stamp the royal program. Inspired by such American actions as the Continental Congress, the Third Estate separated and met in council of its own (the National Assembly), issuing decrees like the Declaration of the Rights of Man. Several days later, on July 14, 1789, a Paris mob stormed the Bastille.
Both revolutions were founded upon the ideals of the Enlightenment:
- The pursuit of happiness
For the French:
The French were inspired by the bold move of the colonists, and both sides felt (to some degree) a kinship in opposing tyranny.