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The Economics Of The French And American Revolution

1127 words - 5 pages

The American and French Revolutions were profoundly motivated by economics. Prior to the Revolution, British colonies in America were thriving. Colonists paid fairly few taxes and were permitted to participate in domestic economic activity, granted they adhere to the Navigation Act, an act requiring, “that all trade within the empire be conducted on ships which were constructed, owned and largely manned by British citizens. Certain enumerated goods whether exported or imported by the colonies had to be shipped through England regardless of the final port of destination.” (Baack) Its mother country however, was not analogous. England’s debt had nearly doubled due to their victory over France during the 7 Year War and was frantically looking for a way out. Unluckily for the colonists, mom had decided to give them the responsibility to fix it since citizens in Britain were already paying considerably higher taxes. Some taxes that were established for the British colonies included the Stamp, Sugar and Tea Act. All taxes were repealed as a result of boycotts in most colonies, except the tax on tea. In response, patriots planned the Boston Tea Party, in which they would heave chests full of tea overboard at Griffin’s Wharf. The American Revolution had begun. Similarly, helping the Patriots in the American Revolution had also caused France’s debt to skyrocket to 50% by 1788. Inflation quickly ensued on the working class, and the price of bread, a staple in the common kitchen, had become ludicrous. Rather than cease the frivolous spending at the Palace of Versailles, the King’s resolution was to tax the nobility, who in turn argued like the American colonists, that they could not be taxed without representation. (France’s Financial Crisis: 1783–1788) Still convinced that his plan would stand triumphant, the King agreed to call a meeting of the Estates General. Citizens were not permitted to vote as individuals. Instead one vote was given to each of the three estates, the clergy (first), aristocrats (second), and everyone else excluded from the first two, who were most commonly peasants and the working class (third) (Roberts et al. 646). Unsurprisingly, the Third Estate was outvoted and citizens within became furious. They, “…insisted that those who worked [for low wages] and pay taxes were the nation…” (Roberts et al. 646) Shortly afterward, the National Assembly was born and was determined to take France’s future into its own (Belloc, 93).
The Revolutions became very different throughout the courses of each. Britain, no doubt was in a better position to fund the war. Firstly, Britain was an established country with a tax system that had proven to produce revenue. Secondly, it could afford to generate more debt to fund the war. America however, was only beginning to set up a government of its own. Although they had a Congress in place, the Articles of Confederation didn’t allow it to tax colonists and without income, it was...

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