Unit Four: The Age of Revolution in the Atlantic World World History 10

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Unit Four: The Age of Revolution in the Atlantic World

World History 10
The Enlightenment was an event with broad historical effects. One significant effect came almost immediately—in fact, before the Enlightenment even ended. The new political ideas of the Enlightenment inspired calls for political change across the Atlantic World (Europe and the Americas), leading to revolutions first in the British colonies in North America, and spreading from there to France, Latin America, and other European countries. Out of the age of revolutions grew a group of new ideologies—conservatism, liberalism, nationalism—and increasingly radical demands for freedom and justice. These events and ideologies literally revolutionized government in the Atlantic world, setting the state for the spread of democracy and liberalism around the world in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Essential questions

1. Why are some revolutions successful while others are failures?

2. Is revolution or reform the best way of creating change?

3. How important are ideas in affecting historical developments?


Introduction: Read 781-84, Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen and Discuss

Day 1: The American Revolution

Due: Bentley, pp. 784-786

Questions: What was the situation of the British colonies in North America around 1750? What led to increasing American dissatisfaction with British rule? Why did the British adopt new policies? Why and how did the Americans react to British policies? What were the principles expressed in the Declaration of Independence? Why did it seem at the outset like Britain would win? Why did they eventually lose? What were the principles of the Constitution of 1787?

Summary Questions: To what extent did the American Revolution reflect the influence of the Enlightenment? To what extent didn’t it? Would there have been an American Revolution without the Enlightenment?
Day 2: The French Revolution—origins and moderate phase

Due: Bentley, pp. 786-789 (up to “The Convention” at the bottom of the page)

Questions: What was the Estates General and why did Louis XVI need to summon it? What happened once the Estates General met? Why did the fall of the Bastille matter? What policies were adopted by the National Assembly, and what were the general principles behind those policies? Did the Enlightenment cause the French Revolution? If you were living in France in 1789-1790, what do you think you would have thought of the National Assembly and its reforms?
Day 3: The French Revolution—radical phase

Due: Bentley, pp. 789-90 (beginning at “The Convention”)

Questions: Why did the revolution turn radical? What was the Convention? What was the levée en masse? Why were the king and queen executed? Who was Robespierre? What policies were adopted by Robespierre and the radicals? Why did they feel the need to be so radical? How many people died or were imprisoned during the Reign of Terror? What eventually happened to Robespierre? What was the Directory and what sort of government was it? What sort of policies did its leaders pursue and how successful were they? How did the Directory come to an end?

Day 4: Napoleon

Due: Bentley, pp. 791-793, plus the two articles on Napoleon (photocopies to be distributed). Be sure to refer to the map on p. 794 as necessary.

Questions: What was Napoleon’s pre-revolutionary background? What sort of life might have awaited him if the Revolution hadn’t happened? What was his career before he overthrew the Directory? How did the become ruler of France? What were his policies on religion? What was the Civil Code? What were his policies on political freedom and representative government? Why did he adopt those policies? Why did Napoleon adopt the sort of domestic policies he did? What was Napoleon’s foreign policy? Why did his empire eventually collapse? What happened to Napoleon after the defeat in Russia?

Day 5: The Revolution in Haiti

Due: Bentley, pp. 793-796 (be sure to refer to the map on p. 800); essay on the Haitian revolution

Questions: What was the basis of the Saint-Domingue economy in the 18th century? What groups made of society in Saint-Domingue? How did the American and French Revolutions influence Saint-Domingue? Why (and between what groups) did fighting start? How and why did the fighting spread? What were the various groups involved in the fighting, and what did each want? Who was Toussaint Louverture, and what role did the play in the fighting? What was the ultimate outcome of the fighting?
Day 6: The Revolutions in the Spanish Colonies and Brazil

Due: Bentley, pp. 796-798 (be sure to refer to the map on p. 800), plus Bolívar, “Letter from Jamaica”

Questions: What was the social hierarchy in the Spanish and Portuguese colonies? What was the status of creoles in colonial society, and what did they want to change? What didn’t they want to change? What triggered the revolts? Who was Hidalgo, and why was he viewed as a threat? How did Mexico obtain its independence? Why didn’t it come during the Hidalgo revolt? What happened to Mexico after independence? What were the influences on Bolívar? What portions of the continent did he liberate? Who liberated the rest of the continent? What happened to the countries of Spanish America after independence? How do the Spanish revolts compare with the American revolution and the Haitian revolt, both in causes and results? How did Brazil obtain its independence? Overall, how successful were the revolts in Latin America? Did the creoles get what they wanted? How about other groups?
Day 7: Revolutionary ideologies—conservatism and liberalism

Due: Bentley, pp. 798-805, plus documents on conservatism and liberalism

Questions: What are the roots of modern conservatism? What did 19th-century conservatives believe? Do they resemble conservatives today? What did 19th-century liberals believe? What are the historical roots of liberalism; that is, where have we seen liberal ideas before? Do 19th-century liberals resemble liberals today? Why did the same ideals have such different results in different parts of the world? What were the roots of the anti-slavery movement? Why didn’t it really take off until the late 18th and 19th centuries? Who was William Wilberforce? What were the steps in the elimination of slavery? What did freedom bring to slaves, and what didn’t it bring? What limited the benefits of freedom for former slaves? Could things have turned out differently? What were the historical roots of the movement for women’s rights? Did the Enlightenment promote women’s rights? What did women do for the revolutions? What did the revolutions do for women? How successful was the women’s movement in the 19th century?
Day 8: Revolutionary ideologies—nationalism

Due: Bentley, pp. 805-807; Handout: “Three views of nationalism”

Questions: What were the historical roots of modern nationalism? What defines a nation? Is the United States a nation? What is cultural nationalism, what is political nationalism, and how are they different? What is the relationship between the Enlightenment and nationalism (consider Herder)? What were the historical roots of Zionism? Why did Herzl think it was important to establish a Jewish state? Are the Jewish people a nation? Are the Palestinians a nation? Is nationalism a positive force in the world?
Day 9: Romanticism

Due: Excerpt from McKay on Romanticism

Day 10: Revolutions and National Unification

Due: Bentley, pp. 807-811

Questions: How did the French Revolution and the Revolutionary Wars encourage nationalism? Who dominated the Congress of Vienna, and what were the results of the Congress? How successful was the Congress of Vienna? What countries experienced revolutions in the 1820s, 1830s, and 1840s, and what were the results? Were the revolutions successful? What was the status of Germany and Italy in the early 19th century? How was Italy unified? How was Germany unified? Why did Cavour and Bismarck succeed where nationalist revolutions had failed? How (and why) did governments promote nationalism? Make sure you know what a “nation-state” is.

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