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Comparison of the American and French Revolutions The year 1989 marks the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution To celebrate the French government is throwing its biggest party in at least 100 years to last all year In the United States an American Committee on the French Revolution has been set up to coordinate programs on this side of the Atlantic emphasizing the theme France and America Partners in Liberty But were the French and American Revolutions really similar On the surface there were parallels Yet over the past two centuries many observers have likened the American Revolution to the bloodless Glorious Revolution of 1688 while the French Revolution has been considered the forerunner of the many modern violent revolutions that have ended in totalitarianism As the Russian naturalist author and soldier Prince Petr Kropotkin put it What we learn from the study of the Great French Revolution is that it was the source of all the present communist anarchist and socialist conceptions 1 It is because the French Revolution ended so violently that many Frenchmen are troubled about celebrating its 200th anniversary French author Leon Daudet has written Commemorate the French Revolution Thats like celebrating the day you got scarlet fever An Anti-89 Movement has even begun to sell momentos reminding todays Frenchmen of the excesses of the Revolution including Royalist black arm bands and calendars that mock the sacred dates of the French Revolution The French should indeed be uneasy about their Revolution for whereas the American Revolution brought forth a relatively free economy and limited government the French Revolution brought forth first anarchy then dictatorship Eighteenth-century France was the largest and most populous country in western Europe Blessed with rich soil natural resources and a long and varied coastline France was Europes greatest power and the dominant culture on the continent Unfortunately like all the other countries of 18th-century Europe France was saddled with the economic philosophy
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