The American, Haitian, and French revolutions happened in subsequent durations with each motivating the other in different ways. The revolutions had a great impact on world history not only politically but also socially and economically; directly to the involved countries and indirectly to other parts of the world. It stands out that all the revolutions were instigated by lower classes, colonists, and slaves who were treated with extensive inequalities by their governments (Getachew 821). In each of the revolutions, there was a predominant trend of exploitation between the people and the government. Regardless of the bloodshed, stagnation of government policies, loss of hope for millions of people, and oppression of the poor, the three revolutions instigated essential political, social, and economic reforms that changed the course of livelihoods to date.
The American revolution was also referred to as the American Revolutionary War or the U.S War of Independence, and it lasted from 1775 to 1783. As argued by Lawson (308), the war was majorly caused by the need for the British colonialists to impose more tax rates on the American colonies, which could help in repaying government tax. Besides, the revolutionists considered that the Americans had been tortured and oppressed enough and that the extrajudicial killings staged by the British came to an end. Getachew (823) echos that the American Revolution was led by General George Washington who is also remembered as lacking sufficient experience in heading large armies. Other key figures in the war included Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, John Dickinson, and Nathan Hale (who was brutally executed by the colonialists due to his fearless speeches against the British). As a result of the revolution, America was formed as a country as thirteen colonies converged into independent states. This made the U.S the country that debuted enlistment principles related to liberal democracy.
The French Revolution is recognized as a historical watershed event that lasted between 1789 and 1790. Lawson (317) opine that the war saw drastic changes in the French political landscape, which further led to the uprooting of long-lasting ancient institutions like the feudal system and monarchy. The war was majorly caused by the increased cost of living, the role of the middle class in the French economy, the despotic rule of Louis XVI, and inspirations from the American Revolution and the philosophers. Andress (167) also adds that the revolution was characterized by key events such as the storming of the Bastille, the declaration of the rights of man, the abolition of feudal rights, and most essentially, the wives’ march, which saw Louis’ kidnapping back to Paris. At the end of the war, the monarchy in France came to an end and a new democracy was installed. Also, many countries declared war on France as they felt insecure. Generally, the revolution was a time of great political and social upheaval in France.
The French Revolution was a major inspiration for the events that unfolded in Haiti. Between the years 1791 and 1804, the revolution was in full swing (the least lasting one among the three revolutions). Lawson (317) provide more evidence that the success of the revolution was due to the resistance against slavery that was put up by the French colonial power. To briefly recap, the war was defined by its major figures, including Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Toussaint Louverture, and Boukman. Many of the people are thankful to the leaders for their participation, which was shown throughout the many phases of the battle that they led. In spite of this, claims that as a direct consequence of the revolution, Haiti’s commercial and diplomatic links with other nations were severely damaged, along with the country’s capital and its infrastructure. As a direct consequence of this, the nation fell into a state of economic instability since it lacked investment on both the local and international fronts. To date, Haiti is still struggling to deal with the effects, which has led to the slowed economic growth and development of the country.
Even though the course of the three revolutions was highly similar, they had great differences. Consequently, the major difference was that their origins took place during different timeframes and were motivated differently. According to Andress (168), the American Revolution was instigated by the increased tax rate by the British colony, which also exploited the American people in terms of manpower. Conversely, the French revolution was fueled by the urge to replace the current social and political structure, whereas the Haitian one was ignited by the need to end racism and segregation among people living in the republic. In another study, Lawson (312) contend that other differences that motivated the revolutions were lodged in their political aspirations. Additionally, economic independency was a major concern for all the revolutions. Haiti and French governments were characterized by high debts, which revolutionists deemed dangerous to the country’s future.
All three revolutions were extensively successful since they led to the overturning of their government. Consequently, the three were partially inspired by enlightenment and the need for all people to be treated with the equality and humanity they deserve. Equally, both Haitian and American revolutions were focused on gaining independence from their colonizers and ensuring the prosperity of their people. Conversely, Getachew (837) explains that the obvious negative results of the three revolutions can be presumed as the other common feature. Whereas the American revolution promoted slavery and denied birth to the voting rights of the minority, the Haitian and French Revolutions led to the death of thousands of soldiers and common citizens, and the upsurge of violence—as experienced in the Reign of Terror in France. Besides, throughout the revolutions, religions were swept away as a result of raging wars and the reforms being implemented, which saw priests and churches lose power, more so in France and America. Destabilization of other sectors such as education, transportation, construction, and health was compromised. The revolts led to an increased rate of diseases and the death of millions of people due to the wounds and torture they were going through and the lack of trained and organized healthcare personnel and infrastructure.
Summarily, the three revolutions—American, French, and Haitian—are remembered as events that hugely contributed to the evolution and shaping of world history. Besides giving birth to the currently enjoyed rights and freedoms in the affected countries, the revolutions marked the beginning point of many other reforms across the globe. Nevertheless, its negative effects, especially regarding economic deterioration and the death of millions of people, are still vocal in many people’s minds. Besides, bringing a new dawn to contagious issues such as slavery, political segregation, and racism, the revolutions’ effects and contributions in the current world are still vibrant.
Andress, David. “Atlantic entanglements: comparing the French and American Revolutions.” The Routledge Companion to the French Revolution in World History. Routledge, 2015. 159-174.
Getachew, Adom. “Universalism after the post-colonial turn: Interpreting the Haitian revolution.” Political Theory 44.6 (2016): 821-845.
Lawson, George. “Revolutions and the international.” Theory and Society 44.4 (2015): 299-319.