History Optional Paper- 2 Solution – 1999: Q.5 (b)
Q.5 (b) “To some extent, the American War of Independence inspired the French Revolution.” Comment.
France was more immediate and profoundly affected by the American Revolution.
France had aided rebellion of British colonies, doubtless for self interest of French monarch, but also due to sympathy on the parts of many French intellectuals and common people.
To some extent, the French Revolution was inspired by the American War of independence because:
(1) Young Frenchmen, some of even noble blood like Lafayette, had sought romantic adventure in fighting against British beside other American revolutionaries like Washington. They returned to France with ideas of individual liberty, popular sovereignty and the notion of republicanism which helped spread revolutionary ideas to the French people.
Lafayette was a major figure in the early French Revolution
(2) Some American diplomats and Revolutionaries, like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, had lived in Paris where they consorted freely with members of the French intellectual class who later became pioneer of the French Revolution.
Frenchmen followed extraordinary interest in revolutionary developments in USA and thats why a man like Benjamin Franklin was popular in France.
(3) French Philosopher Rousseau’s dreams seemed realized in the USA. The American Revolution demonstrated that it was plausible for Enlightenment ideas – about how a government should be organized – to actually be put into practice.
(4) The American Revolution bankrupted France due to French war aid to the USA , which caused a series of events that resulted the French Revolution.
All these factors were responsible for the French Revolution, where the revolutionaries formed their own slogan, “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”.
Hence, American War of independence was one of the several inspiring factors for the French Revolution.