Difference between American and French Revolution

By: | Updated: Sep-26, 2023
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During the period of 1765 to 1791, the 13 American colonies of Great Britain fought for Independence. The French Revolution was fought between 1789 and 1799. These two revolutions may appear somewhat the same at first glance; however, they were both very different.

Both revolutions were fought to preserve freedom and liberty for all individuals. However, each revolution took greatly different paths to achieve these goals.

The American and French Revolutions are two of the most important events in human history. This article provides differences between the two.

Summary Table

American Revolution French Revolution
War between the British Empire and the 13 colonies War between the people and the government
Caused by improper imposition of tax and lack of representation Caused by a financial crisis, along with inequality among the aristocrats and the underprivileged
Influenced by liberty, equality, and justice Influenced by supremacy and inalienability of rights
Ended in 1783 when a peace treaty known as the Treaty of Paris was signed by the British King, George III Ended in September 1792 when the Republic was proclaimed following the French victory at the Valmy
Resulted in the independence of the United States of America Resulted in liberty from the monarchy and the establishment of a republic

Descriptions

American Revolution picture

The American Revolution was a war between Great Britain and the American Patriots in the 13 British Colonies that moved from the British Empire to North America. The war lasted from 1765 to 1783.

The American Revolution was motivated by the need for liberty, equality, and justice. The revolution broke out when the American Colonial Society (13 colonies) started a dispute on their position on “No taxation without representation.” They rejected the British government’s authority to press taxes on them just because they did not have a representative in the parliament. On December 16, 1773, a political protest known as the Boston Tea Party was held, followed by encounters between the 13 colonies and the soldiers sent by the British Crown. The American Revolution was declared when the colonies and the British monarchy were at odds on this (taxation without representation) and many other issues.

The American Revolutionary War concluded in 1783 when a peace treaty, known as the Treaty of Paris, was signed by the British King, George III. The treaty marked the independence of the colonies and recognized the newly-created nation as the United States of America.

The American Revolution was fought for tangible goals, while the French Revolution was fought for ideologies.

The signers of the Declaration of Independence were not aware that they were at the time starting a new nation. The colonies used history as a guide to establish a government on a solid foundation, but not with the goal of becoming a new nation. They only wanted to declare their separation from the British government.

French Revolution picture

On the other hand, the French were seeking to overthrow the monarchy and then start a republic. However, they were focused on ideologies rather than forming a concrete government. The French were not able to establish a stable government based on these ideologies. The result was the Terror, the takeover by Napoleon, and the restoration of the monarchy.

The French Revolution was the revolution that overthrew the monarchy and established a republic in France. It lasted from 1789 to 1799. During the war, the people experienced years of violence and political turmoil.

The revolution was motivated by Enlightenment ideas like supremacy and inalienability of rights. It started with a financial crisis caused by France’s involvement in the Seven Years War and the American Revolution. The revolution was the result of the government’s imposition of taxes, which were heavily regressive. The financial crisis was followed by years of bad harvests and was further hastened by the imposed tax exemption on the privileged.

The first act of the Revolution was the assault on the Bastille, followed by the passage of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, and a women’s march on Versailles. In August 1789, feudalism and the old rules were abolished. In September 1792, the Republic was proclaimed following the French victory at the Valmy.

Between 1790 to 1794, the French Revolution became more radical. It was during this time that French King Louis XVI was executed on January 21, 1793. After this, war between France, Britain, and Spain became more probable. The new United States remained neutral during this time, as they didn’t want to become involved in these European wars.

American vs French Revolution

So what’s the difference between the American and French Revolution?

Firstly, the American Revolution was a war between the British Empire and the 13 colonies, while the French Revolution was between the people and the government. Also, the American Revolution has already ended before the French Revolution started.

Secondly, taxation and representation were the main causes of the American Revolution, while the French Revolution was mainly caused by a financial crisis hastened by inequality among the aristocrats and underprivileged.

Thirdly, the American Revolution was influenced by liberty, equality, and justice. Meanwhile, the French Revolution was motivated by supremacy and inalienability of rights.

Fourthly, the American Revolution ended in 1783 when a peace treaty, known as the Treaty of Paris, was signed by the British King, George III. On the other hand, the French Revolution ended in September 1792 when the Republic was proclaimed following the French victory at the Valmy.

Finally, the American Revolution resulted in the independence of the United States of America, while the French Revolution resulted in liberty from the monarchy and the establishment of a republic.

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