Freedom Movements In France And The American Revolution

The American Revolution was a colonial revolt that took place as a result of tensions that built up over many years between the British crown and unhappy American colonists who were affected. The American colonists eventually won the war that took place between 1775 and 1783, and ultimately gained their independence from Great Britain. This led to many social changes and ideas of liberty throughout the 18th and 19th century. The American Revolution gave birth to a new idea of liberty and freedom, one extended to all men, not based off class, bloodline, or submission to an absolute authority, but rather their existence alone, which directly influenced and inspired areas around the world such as France, Haiti, and Latin America in order to bring change. This Era of Revolution, as it would come to be known, would all begin with the American Revolution acting as its catalyst.

The American Revolution established a new idea of freedom and pioneered the democratic relationship between citizens and their government. In Thomas Paine’s book, Common Sense, he argues that America needs to become independent from Great Britain in order to bring peace to their own land, hopefully stay out of European wars, and most importantly secure their freedoms as both individuals and as a nation. He says that when they do become independent they will have, [secured] freedom and property to all men, and above all else the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; with such other matter as is necessary for a charter to contain. As Paine stated, this new concept of freedom looked like security, property, and religious freedoms, all available when America becomes independent from Great Britain. He believed each of these rights should be given at birth, but if the colonists were unwilling to completely break away from Great Britain they would fail. By resisting submission to the crown, by redefining the idea of liberty, and by promoting liberal ideologies, the American colonists rallied against an oppressive force and successfully achieved independence. The Declaration of Independence, written one year into the American Revolution in 1776, is another document that declared what freedom looked like in America. The Declaration of Independence presented ideas of equality, and the unalienable rights including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, very similar to Paine’s ideas. This idea of freedom was guaranteed to all men, not based off any conditions, and became a model to other countries to use later on such as France. Ultimately, through both Paine’s Common Sense and America’s Declaration of Independence, during the times of the American Revolution, each helped to inspire and would be an example to numerous other freedom movements across the world in attempt to claim what the Americans did in the American Revolution.

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The American Revolution was a major influence to other revolutions as they followed in America’s footsteps. The French Revolution, from 1789-1799, was heavily influenced by the impact of the American Revolution through their ideas of natural rights and the Declaration of Independence set in place as a model. American ideas natural rights were expressed and shared with the French that fought alongside the Americans during the American Revolution, which led to the idea of natural rights for them as well. The idea, which came from John Locke, declared the natural rights as life, liberty, and property. These rights were put into the Declaration of Independence, in America, along with very similar rights in the Declaration of Rights of Man and of the Citizen, in France. Without the sharing of natural rights and the Declaration of Independence as a clear representation, which came during the American Revolution, it is likely that the French would have a very different form of rights, and possibly would not have had a Revolution in the first place. This is important because it establishes that the American Revolution did have an impact, as seen through the similar writings in the documents. The Haitian revolution, followed shortly after the French Revolution in 1791-1804, is another example of a Revolution ultimately influenced by the American Revolution. In this case the Haitian Revolution was influenced by France, who was originally influenced by America. The Haitian Revolution began as slave revolt against their masters, and began due to the people wanting to become free from France. Like the Americans became free from Great Britain in their Revolution, the slaves of Haiti were fighting to become free from their masters, and everyone collectively fought to become free from French rule. The slaves of Haiti used the document of France, Declaration of Rights of the Man and of Citizens, inspired by America, to show that they too were citizens that were supposed to be viewed as equal and also deserved rights. After many years, the Haitian slaves finally became free, and eventually became independent from France. Both of these effects are as a result of the initial war started in America that was modeled for other people across the globe. A third example of a Revolution that started as a result of the American Revolution is the Latin American Revolution that took place between 1808 and 1826. This revolution was caused by both the American and French Revolutions proving that it was possible to overthrow their government, in this case, Spain. Latin America wanted to gain independence from Spain in order to have more economic and political control because up to this point they were given none by Spain. An account by two men, Alexander Von Humboldt and Thomas Jefferson, who witnessed the Latin American Revolution compared and contrasted their views on the Latin American Revolution, and came to the conclusion that Latin America gaining its independence from Spain was ultimately the right thing to do. In the end, it is evident that the American Revolution inspired other revolutions around the world as they each followed in America’s footsteps in some way, whether it be through their documents, rights, beliefs, or the influence they had in showing that overthrowing a ruler is possible.

In conclusion, the American Revolution initiated freedom movements and Revolutions in France, Haiti, and Latin America in order for them to also claim the things America did. The American Revolution inspired and did so by providing people of other nations with the knowledge and realization of what it means to be free and independent. This, although it did come with a price of significant hardships and trouble, ultimately brought each of these areas much liberty, and freedoms.

The Civil War Is Still Known

The Civil War is still known today as America’s bloodiest conflict. It is said that between 1861 and 1865 there were about 620,000 fatalities connected to the deadly battles of this American war; this death count is approximately equal to the total number of American fatalities during the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War, Spanish-American War, World War 1, World War 2, and The Korean War combined (Faust). This destructive war erupted into an explosion of mass carnage because of the toxic relationship between Northern and Southern states of America. Some of the issues that pushed these two divided forces into taking abrasive action were western expansion and states’ sovereignty.

Western expansion was always thought as inevitable. The term Manifest Destiny continually fueled pioneers into claiming rich land full of potential profit. As Americans were rushing and settling on this land, they quickly formed communities through similar interest, and would eventually appeal to the government to be recognized as a new state. The government then must proclaim whether these new states forming were slave states or free states. It was important to the union that both sides were represented equally through the same number of states. Many compromises were made to fix these issues, but the south began to feel as if they were falling behind.

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In order to appease the Southern states, the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 was inducted to support their southern idea of popular sovereignty, so residents of these territories could now decide by popular vote whether their state would be free or slave (National Parks Service). To claim the new territories as a free/slave, northerners and southerners traveled to vote for what they agreed with. The confrontation became too heated, and eventually a large violent fight, known as The Bleeding Kansas, broke out between to the two sides (National Parks Service). This bloodshed opened the door for what was soon to come. State sovereignty and federalism was always a game of cat and mouse.

Those in the south believed that the states should have the power to decide important issues that concern their territory. Even during the many debates Lincoln and Douglas had, many agreed with the concept that sovereign states should have the right to decide whether they are pro-or-against slavery just as it has always been (Whittier). Contradictorily, the national government had a lot of say into what went into the country, so the southerners began to feel betrayed and concerned. When radical abolitionists began to have a bigger voice in the government, that’s when those in the south spoke out and sent commissioners round the states. These commissioners put many ideas into the minds of men who were on the fence about seceding from the union. The fear was that the government radicals would abolish slavery and take away the very economic fuel that kept the south prosperous. Jefferson Davis put it simply that what the northern tyrannical government was doing took away the natural rights of men (Dew).

When they evaluated all the wronging’s against them the government had done, they no longer felt that the constitution was in review. With the grievances they had against the tyrannical government, the south made their official declaration to leave the union and become independent. Lincoln was the leader of this sinking ship who had to be completely middle ground about issues coming to him from both the north and south. When just the talk of secession began to rise, he stated in his letter to Horace Greeley that he will do whatever it takes to preserve the union (Lincoln).

His efforts were all in vain, so radical violent actions had to be taken to keep America whole. Southerners fought with passion and bravery, but their forces were eventually outnumbered. Reluctantly, the south rejoined the north. The causes of this devastating war were surprisingly resolved for the southerners not after the war, but after the assassination of President Lincoln. These two sides simply fought for what they believed was freedom, and that freedom made a deep ugly scare in our shiny America today.

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