“…The spark that changed thought into action was supplied by the Declaration of American Independence…” This quote, which is believed by many people, was said by Lord Acton. One of the three major things that started the French Revolution was the Declaration of Independence. Two other events that cause it were the Enlightenment Ideas and the unfair treatment to the third estate in 1789. The events of this time period had a great impact on the French Revolution we learn about and study today.
In 1789, an event happened that was so tragic, it began to increase the amount of poverty among 97% of the population. Demonstrated in document 2, all people were separated into groups; the first, second, and third estates. The problem with this arrangement was that 1% of the population made up the first estate and 2% made up the second. This left the third estate to be made up of 97% of the population. For some reason, the government decided to tax this huge amount of people like crazy. As anyone one would be, these people were enraged by this. This led to many radicals revolting, thus, sparking a match on the oil puddle that we now know as the French Revolution.
The Enlightenment Ideas of the eighteenth century brought up new ways of thinking in relation to religion and politics. Maximilien Robespierre came to power towards the beginning of the revolution. He was considered a philosopher of the Enlightenment. He had the idea of ‘de-Christianization.’ In other words, he wanted to take power from the Catholic Church. Also, the radicals wanted the right for all men to vote and for all people to be equal in government. To better explain, Albert Mathiez stated this: “The middle class… was sensitive to their inferior legal position.” Overall, these ideas shaped the government and policies of the French Revolution.
The modern French government is run very much like the government of the United States. France is a democratic republic that is divided into three branches, the Executive branch, the Legislative branch, and the Judicial branch. The Legislative branch is made up of the Parliament, which like the United States Congress, is divided into two houses. Those being the Senate and the National Assembly. ...
Surprisingly, the Declaration of American Independence later had some effect of the French Revolution. How? The example of independence for all Americans encouraged the French to strive more for their own independence. Therefore, people started fighting for what they believed in. Riots broke out and the hunger for fairness and equality grew stronger and stronger. According to Lord Acton, “…ideas of the philosophes were not directly responsible for the outbreak…” By this he means, not only were the Enlightenment Ideas the cause of the French Revolution, but so was the American movement known as the Declaration of Independence.
They wanted fair treatment, equality, independence, and an end to their desperation. These revolutionaries were inspired by their philosophes to defy their king. Social, political, and economic problems were involved in the start of this revolution. The estates didn’t get along and an ineffective king was in power. All in all, the people who bent over backwards for the benefit of change were the greatest cause of the French Revolution. Something had to be done.