Introduction historical context (what, where, when)

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SNAPSHOT: Compare and Contrast The French & Haitian Revolution

Historical context (what, where, when)

Haitian revolution & French Revolution (1789-1800’s)

Thesis similarity

Inspired by the enlightenment

Thesis difference

France overthrew monarchy (internal) Haiti overthrew imperialist power (external)

Evidence that supports thesis similarity

Both relied on equality, liberalism, ideas from the enlightenment against authoritarian power, democracy; Empowered by the success of American revolution; Relied on the declaration of man from the French revolution(ironically)

Similarity distinct from thesis (with other evidence)

Achieved goals through violence/ military action: The Reign of Terror (French) Slave rebellion (Haiti)

Reason why they are similar

Inequality, UWD, needed to overthrow government, same tools for similar outcome

Evidence that supports thesis difference

Overthrew King Louis XVI then established own democracy Directory/Napoleon (France)

Slave rebellion led by Toussaint L’ Ouverture, intervention by France, Napoleon’s invasion (Haiti)

Difference distinct from thesis(with other evidence)

Became stable after their revolution, naval/military power, Napoleon (France)

Struggled to maintain order, no economy, no stable government, dependant on France (Haiti)

Reason why they are different

France- Political revolution

Haiti- Social/ Military revolution, slave rebellion, more urgent

(internal/ external)

Conclusion (restate thesis)

In France and Haiti the will of the people to strive for their freedom through revolutions created a bond between these two very different societies. Influenced by similar events, such as the enlightenment, these two revolutions are somewhat intertwined. Though different in who and what they overthrew, they shared two basic principles in revolutionizing: Equality and Liberty for all people.

Freedom of any type, whether political, economic, social or of basic civility, is a universal right that should be guaranteed for in any and all nations. A universal trait of this struggle is, and should always be, revolution. In the late 18th century an air of revolution had established a presence in France and Haiti resulting in years of rebellion. These two revolutions, significant in their own respects, both found nourishment in the ideas of the enlightenment. This and other striking similarities show that the withholding of freedoms moves people’s hearts to act upon their rights of equality and liberty. The revolutions differed in many aspects as well. Each rebelled against their oppressors, but one in an internal and one in an external battle. In France the peasant and middle classes fought to overthrow their monarch and restructure a government that was already in place, whereas in Haiti the slaves sought to extinguish the aggressive French colonial government.

In the year 1791 The French and Haitian revolutions coexisted. One was just putting out the ashes of a heated battle within their society and one just getting fired up. The French at this time were in the process of making a new government based on equal rights drafting a new constitution. In Haiti an outraged enslaved population were finding strength in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and were about to take action of their own. The Haitians and French, like all revolutions, began with inspiration from prior revolutionary ideology and action. Understanding Enlightenment ideals and applying them to their situation was of the utmost importance to both the Haitians and the French. Furthermore, French and Haitian morale was propelled by evaluating the success of the American Revolution, just as Tunisia’s revolution in the early 21st century set a domino effect through the Middle East, awakening many citizens to take action against their governments. With a common need for liberty, resentment for authoritarian power and the use of empowerment from past events, the two revolutions shared one more important trait. Each was compelled at some point to use violence as a tool. In France, for example, most of the demonstrations were civil and for show, but during “The Reign of Terror” in 1793 a rampage of executions left thousands dead in result of the National Convention’s frenzy for power and control. Violence was also used in Haiti in the rebellions that set the ground for the revolution. These rebellions escalated as enraged slaves turned against their masters, then moved to execute as many Frenchmen as they could. Later, the Haitians turned to the use of military power with the leadership of Toussaint L ‘Ouverture. Haitian slaves endured hard backbreaking work on the rich sugar plantations; they had no rights and were in the lowest class of society. The unrestrained slaves in the 1790’s needed revolution to attain freedom. Likewise in France, revolution was needed to attain the equality of all. Instead of dealing with slavery the French were fed up with the unequal wealth distribution, the denial of political freedom, and class divisions. During the Ancien’ Regime prior to the French Revolution, society was divided into three estates: the clergy, the nobles and the peasants/bourgeoisie. The clergy and the nobles, which accounted for the first and second estate in the estates general the French legislative body, were minorities in French society but were the wealthiest holding most of the land were and the most powerful politically. The third estate, the bourgeoisie, was the middle class of French society; they held a majority but actually had little or no power and not much wealth. This, combined with other factors in France and Haiti, caused them to revolt to solve their problems regarding inequality creating two revolutions that history would forever remember. The French and Haitian revolutions at a glance contain some initial similarities but are really quite different, as one was an internal struggle and in contrast one was external. The French, unlike the Haitian slaves, were under a government as citizens, not slaves, and were fighting to overthrow their existing government. In doing so they were creating one fairer and efficient that could fix not only their social needs but also repair the damage of war and debt upon the country. Louis XVI, before he was executed by the decree of the National Convention in 1973, was the king of France and as such was held responsible for its fiscal crisis and the inequality in French society. Haiti was a totally different situation. Haiti, as a colony of France, was exploited for its economic purposes and as a major market slave trade. For this reason it was under foreign control that had no intention of granting rights or freedoms to its inhabitants. In 1791, when the French were drafting a constitution and reorganizing the government, the scene in Haiti was of slave rebellions causing turmoil as plantations were burned and violence swept the land. The Haitian slaves did not adhere to a government of their own, just slave masters and the French officials that governed the land. Due to this position, the Haitians had to overthrow a military power by creating their own and then create a government. A major development in the Haitian Revolution arrived with Toussaint L’ Ouverture who led and increased the Haitian military forces. L’ Ouverture would use the might of his military to oust the French from the island of Saint Dominique, or Haiti, and continued to keep out foreign invaders until Napoleon’s forces captured him. After Toussaint L’Ouverture’s expulsion to France in 1803, the remaining army continued to fight for their freedom. Weakened by malaria, Napoleon’s troops suffered heavy losses and eventually capitulated. The Haitians were eventually granted freedom in 1804, though reparations and war payments came along with it. In the aftermath of the revolutions in France and Haiti, there is another drastic contrast they share as well. In the short term, the French Revolution came to a close with a semblance of stability. Haiti, on the other hand, struggled politically and economically as an independent nation because it had been so reliant on foreign power. In the long term, France would grow stronger and once again become a world power. In contrast, Haiti, suffering from political corruption and instability, remains weak to this day. People in both revolutions fought hard, but in Haiti a different kind of fight was going on during the 18th century. France overthrew a monarchy and eradicated inequality, while Haiti completely divorced itself from its prior society. This task was similar to that of the American Revolution, the task of fighting for Independence.

The years of revolution in Haiti and France created new societies with new capabilities. Not only in France and Haiti were the effects of this new world felt, but all over. The will of the people to strive for their freedom through revolutions created a bond between these two very different societies and intertwined their history. They were influenced by similar events, such as the enlightenment, used the principles of equality and liberty for all people but given two very different tasks to achieve. What makes them both memorable is that these two revolutions did what many others couldn’t, they achieved.

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