– Richard Price, British philosopher and preacher
What was the impact of American Revolution?
The American Revolution had a tremendous effect on Europe. It not only served as an inspiration for France, but also demonstrated that the liberal political ideas of the Enlightenment were more than mere utterances of intellectuals. The Revolution has been described by historian Eugene Weber:
“Revolution you see is rather like a snowball on a slope. It is hard to get revolution going but once on its way it is hard to stop it from rolling and growing until it becomes an avalanche.”
Three major events of the American Revolution had great influence on Europe:
- Signing the Declaration of Independence
- Implementing the ideas of Enlightenment
- Forming the U.S constitution
By declaring independence, America demonstrated that it was possible to overthrow “old regimes”. This was the first time a colony had rebelled and successfully asserted its rights to self-government and nationhood. This inspired many European nations and colonies to revolt.
The United States had created a new social contract in the form of its Constitution, in which they realized the ideas of Enlightenment. The natural rights of man, and the ideas of liberty, equality, and freedom of religion, were no longer unrealistic Utopian ideals. The framers of U.S Constitution rejected the Greek model of civic republicanism. They distinguished between the notion of “democracy” and their own proposed system of representative democracy. This made the bourgeoisie of Europe reconsider their own government and monarchic systems.
How did the American Revolution influence the French Revolution?
The culmination of all these factors was seen in the French Revolution, where the revolutionaries formed their own slogan, “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”. Europeans obtained information about the American Revolution from soldiers returning from America. French soldiers returned to France with ideas of individual liberty, popular sovereignty and the notion of republicanism.
The French then revolted against their ineffectual monarchy, which they saw as tyrannical