Comparing the French and American Revolutions
in January 1793

Note to students:
Comparing the French and American Revolutions

The American Revolution exploded in 1776 and afterwards produced the United States of America. The French Revolution, which began a few years later in 1789, did much to create modern European and Western society as we know it. A host of revolutions all over the world claim one or both as their ancestors, or models. Therefore both events have been the focus of much historical study. Considerable debate revolves around the issue of how and in what ways revolutions like these similar: do they have similar causes, do they follow similar patterns, and do they lead to similar types of social, political and economic changes? If they are similar, can we predict revolutions, and once started, project probable results? Is it possible to influence events ahead of time, perhaps to prevent some of the brutality practiced by some of the most extreme revolutionary leaders who appear in some, but not all, revolutionary situations?

In this project, you will examine and compare documents written during each revolution and make comparisons. You will trace the patterns, and compare characteristics of each of these revolutions, and you will form some of your own conclusions about the similarity of them. Finally, you will think about using the patterns and judgements you make to understand some of the revolutions going on in the world today.

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