I remember being taught a lot about the commonalities between the french and american revolutions (product of enlightenment thinking, lower classes against a more dominant monarchy rule). Can anyone outline for me some of the major differences between the two revolutions? The French revolution always seemed more carnal and violent to me but that may be due to the physical proximity between the royal classes and the revolting classes. Would there have been beheadings if King George lived in the colonies?
Basically, several of the dynamics were the same. It's important to realize that 1776 came before 1789, so without a doubt, the American Revolution partly inspired the French Revolution. However, the American Rev was more for independence, while the French Rev was because peasants were literally toiling and starving at the expense of an ignorant pair of monarchs. Both revolutions were violent, but in different ways. The American Revolution was more battle-oriented, so thousands fought and killed one another. The deaths from the French Revolution were due to conflicts among factions- mostly the Reign of Terror, under people like Robespierre. But then again, the French Revolution was far more incoherent than the American Revolution- even Robespierre lost his head. Everyone lost their heads figuratively, whereas in the American Revolution, greats like *groan* Washington remained level-headed and capable of executing plans and progress rather than just executing people. With that said, the American Revolution was possibly more successful, if one discounts the relapse in 1812. France floundered about and then gave way to Napoleon, another autocrat. However, I don't believe that the FR was entirely a flop, because it will always be remembered as a primary installation of liberalism- the great thinkers of the Enlightenment certainly contributed to it, so it shows an example of how philosophy can influence history.
Do I think there would have been beheadings if King George lived in the colonies? No. The American rev had its own ways of humiliating people- google being tarred and feathered. Realize that most of the beheadings were on behalf of the French people (whoever was in power at any given time) rather than a tyrant.