The two most destructive events in the history of humanistic progress are revolutions and war because they often occur together and they leave massive disarrangements in society. Although revolutions and war cause deaths, human suffering and reorganization of society, they occasionally the result of modernity creating progress in industry, new impetus for commercial progress, and they redress the inefficiencies in development (Eisenstadt, 2017). Both the American Revolution and the French Revolution were terrible events particularly for people who have so much love and admiration for the aristocracy. For enlightened liberals, the two events were sadly inevitable, regardless of the horror they left behind. In the case of the French, a king and his queen were beheaded and the aristocracy abolished. In the American Revolution, a Noble King was defied who presided over the critical events of progress in his time to build the British establishment in world affairs. According to the analysis of Tocqueville’s understanding, revolutions only serve the progress of centralized power. There were several similarities and differences between the two events because whereas the American revolution was caused by massive resentment among the Americans to render taxes with no representation in the British parliament, in the French revolution, the masses revolted against the aristocracy to demand equality and liberty.
When the British ruled over the American colonies, the colonial imperialism had exercised demands that the American colonies considered draconian and unbearable. For instance, the stamp tax levied on legal documents, newspapers, and diplomas were high. Despite the high taxes, the Americans were not represented in the British legislation. When the American liberals sought to petition the crown government for redress, it was a treasonable offence. On the contrary, the French empire had incurred massive debts in events that did not directly benefit the people. The French aristocracy for instance had built a massive palace and lived lavishly at the expense of the suffering masses. They sought to raise taxes, which made the lives of hard working French working class unbearable. In the French system of highly structured social system, there was discord between the relations among these ranks and liberals took the chance to inspire revolutionary ideas of enlightenment.
In both cases of the revolutions, critical enlightenment ideas planted the seed for rebellion and disconformities. In the American Revolution, writers and critics like Thomas Paine wrote masterpieces about the necessity to redress the imbalances of power in the book “Common Sense” in the case of the French Revolution, the Jacobins relied on elites and radical philosophers who justified the necessity for disregarding the aristocracy. Whereas the political history of the French establishment and its quest for empire was distinctly different from the case of the American colonies, the critical contribution of individuals in the two revolutions is undisputable. Moreover, the aftermath of the French revolution reveals that emerging classes and individuals like Robespierre inspired rebellion to install their associates into power under the more resounding and popular claim of a new republic as opposed to the aristocratic monarchy. In the American Revolution, the radicals sought to install a republican government to attain freedom from imperial colonialism.
Large-scale social transformation brought about by industrialization is to blame in most of the revolutionary events in history because they tend to distort old power structures through new channels of production and consumption (Tilly, 2017). In the French Revolution, the idea of the ‘public sphere’ came into place in France after many years of development and progress powered by enlightenment ideals which proclaimed that the governed population had a direct say in the manner they are governed. Although failures in Agriculture and the massive national debt of the time were issues that everyone thought, they could discuss publicly and resolve publicly through nationalistic debates and discussion. Failures in the political management of the French aristocracy under King Louis XVI also acted to inspire the feeling that political discussion was something open to the lower classes. In the American Revolution, the public sphere emerged in the same account and the events of the Boston Tea Party are a similar manifestation of a growing ‘public sphere’ phenomenon.
In both the French Revolution and the American Revolution, the influence of elite fraternities like the Freemason made a significant contribution because they expanded the debates about liberal religious views that has acted to preserve monarchic powers as the courts of the Kings justified their divine rights through religious establishments. The French, a nation highly affiliated to the Roman Catholic Church needed enchantment with the ideas of religious freedom and republicanism to execute the events of the revolution. In the American experience, Freemasonry appeared even more prominently because the general George Washington and his initial associates who sought to fix the British Crown were freemasons.
Both revolutions brought about massive suffering in the process and the gains at the end were a bit different. In the French Revolution, the new republic did not attain popularity and the country plunged into greater chaos under the new leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte. On the contrary, the American Revolution brought about new impetus for greater freedom, respect for human liberties and dignity, which led to the establishment of a superior form of republican government that has surpassed all other forms of governments across the world. The French Revolution plunged the nation into war and chaos because the character of the new republican systems captured disproportionate social and political turmoil (Linton, 2014). On the contrary, the American revolution was an event of a war without much of the terror witnessed.
The French financial and economic woes was the main trigger of the revolution because the country had engaged in very highly expensive wars. Beginning with the Seven year’s War and later the American Independence War, the two events did not achieve much benefit to the aristocracy and they responded by heavily taxing the citizens. On the contrary, when the British colonial establishment in America heavily indulged in the war to expand the colony against the other powers like the French and the Spanish, massive economic loss was incurred weakening the hold onto the colony. The weakened might of the colonies prompted the British Crown to reconsider agreements that granted the autonomy to some of the colonies like the Boston/ Massachusetts Bay Colony. The American Revolution occurred on the premise that new emergent class realignment brought about in the previous years of prosperity could no longer entertain the draconian colonial regime. To a certain extent, modernization and rapid development in large parts of the territory inspired the gearing for revolutionary change because Washington and the founding fathers had amassed wealth and political connections around the globe to commit their people in revolutionary undertaking.
In conclusion, economic change resulting from massive and rapid development characterized by the wave of new modernity inspires revolutions. Nonetheless, sustainable success after revolutionary undertaking depends on the ideal of the revolution and the character of the revolutionary programs. Whereas the French Revolution was an economic debacle, the American Revolution was a huge success. The contribution of new ideological movements and the work of elite liberals is a fundamental characteristic of both revolutions. Freemasonry made a considerable contribution in both revolutions because they challenged the basis of aristocratic power systems by proclaiming ideologies of religious freedom and human