HS250 – Origin and Fallout of the French, American, and Haitian Revolutions

Rebellions that took place during the last years of the eighteenth century had varying political ambitions. However, all of them seemed to have been inspired by the racial philosophies that surrounded the Enlightenment period. The principle of popular sovereignty that was emphasized by the American Declaration of Independence states that the general will of the people is the source of all governmental power (Judge and Langdon, 2011). According to the American constitution, the main reason why governments exist is to protect the rights of citizens. These are the same rights that the French revolutionaries fought for. The French revolution aimed at ensuring that all citizens were charged fairer taxes and the press was not denied the right for freedom. Haiti revolution of 1791 was inspired by talk of equality and liberty for the slaves. Although the French, American, and Haitian Revolutions of the eighteenth century had differing political goals, they all focused on the principles generated by Enlightenment such as liberty, equality, and security (Judge and Langdon, 2011).

The French Revolution of 1789 came about because the social and political transformations in France did match the nation’s intellectual and economic development. During the ancient regime, majority of bourgeois could no exercise desirable social and political influence (Judge and Langdon, 2011). Even though the roots of feudalism had been destroyed by King Louis XIV, feudal forms still persisted in the country. The privileged groups remained in power while citizens were charged extremely high taxes. Moreover, the court system in France remained extravagant and the national debt continued to rise. Peasant farmers were subject to feudal dues and the country experienced recurrent food shortages due to internal tariff barriers. The French Revolution was specifically caused by the muddled state of government finance (Cobb and Gilmour, 1999).

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The French Revolution had significant fallouts despite the fact that it appeared nullified by the year 1815. The land owners acquired dominant power as the feudalism that was initially common in France was now dead. This was characterized by consolidation of contractual relations and social order (Judge and Langdon, 2011). The French Revolution contributed greatly in unifying France that was initially divided. As a result of the Revolution, the power of the nation state was enhanced. Furthermore, the Revolution played a big role in the establishment of the precedents of democratic institutions such as Constitutions and elections. Even though there are different views and arguments about the origin and fallouts of the French Revolution, almost everyone agrees that it contributed greatly in shaping the events of the modern world. Like the French Revolution, the American Revolution fought to protect the rights of citizens (Cobb and Gilmour, 1999).

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The American Revolution is known as the first modern revolution because it allowed citizens to fight for their independence for the first time in history. The origin of the American Revolution can be traced back to the year 1763. Prior to the Revolution, Britain lived peacefully with its colonies (Judge and Langdon, 2011). However, their relations became conflict-driven when Britain came up with a land policy that prohibited settlement in the West. The Revolution was influenced by the need for money for supporting the empire. Several Acts were formed to help raise money rather than to control trade. This move was strongly resisted by the colonies. The Acts that were used to help raise money include the Stamp Act, the Townshend Acts, and the Sugar Act. Tensions were further increased when the Coercive Acts were passed and when the first step towards independence was taken by the First Continental Congress (Judge and Langdon, 2011).

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The American Revolution had three major fallouts. First, it caused death of approximately 25,700 Americans. About 8,500 Americans died while in detention in British Prisons, approximately 7,200 of them died in the battle, and about 10,000 of them died from diseases or exposure to infections. Second, 25 percent of slaves in Georgia and South Carolina managed to escape from bondage during the American Revolution. Various States in the Northern parts of America began to adopt plans to eradicate slavery. Third, American States began to adopt written constitutions that clearly protect citizen’s rights such as religious freedom. The constitutions adopted by the states also made taxation more progressive, increased the size and power of legislature, and restructured inheritance laws. Like the American Revolution, the Haitian Revolution is regarded as a milestone in African and American history (Judge and Langdon, 2011).

The Haitian Revolution posed a significant challenge to the European Colonialism during the last decades of eighteenth century. The main origin of the Haitian Revolution was the political imbalance in Haitian society. The Haitian population was largely comprised of slaves who were continuously oppressed and remained poor in a wealthy country. The Haitian Revolution aimed at terminating the social inequality and slavery in Haiti considering the fact that approximately 90 percent of the population is faced with the problem of slavery. The slaves were made to work on the plantations to generate wealth. It can therefore be concluded that the Haitian Revolution was fueled by the social imbalance between the Haitian population and the colonial economy (Judge and Langdon, 2011).

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The colonial society discriminated against the Haitian population on the basis of race. Those who occupied the top positions were the Whites who also seemed to own the highest percentage of property. At the bottom most position were slaves, especially people of sub-Saharan origin. The race issue became extremely complex in Haiti periods just before the Revolution. When slaves were denied their privileges by the white colonists, they decided to engage in successive bloody revolt that was eventually termed as Haitian Revolution (Judge and Langdon, 2011).

Haitian Revolution enabled Haiti to proclaim its independence from France. As a result of the Revolution, the whites were driven off from Haiti and deprived of their slave property that they owned. Although the whites lost political power over Haiti, some of them remained behind to retain their social and economic power. Moreover, the Haitian Revolution resulted into the abolishment of slavery from Haiti. According to historians, the Haitian Revolution is considered one of the most successful slave revolts in the Atlantic world. From the events of the Haitian Revolution, the Europeans leant about the importance of eradicating slavery and they began to support anti-slavery movements to avoid bloody uprising (Stempel, 2008).

From the three Revolutions, Haiti, France, and America achieved various degrees of success because they managed to reach their initial political goals. The United States of America managed to develop a new system of representative government after the American Revolution. Moreover, the French ruler was able to uphold political reforms that were created during the French Revolution. Consequently, Haiti became an independent republic free from slavery and racial inequality. Unfortunately, America, France, and Haiti experienced severe social, political, and economic destructions during the Revolutions (Stempel, 2008).

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