The American Revolution and its political consequences
According to Gaucho, this time of revolutions is that of the Atlantic revolutions (America, France, then Germany). It is the end of the modern times and the entry in the contemporary period. Politics becomes the object of programming. Enlightenment and liberalism are an ideological and cultural support. It is a break in time compared to the traditions. The world could not remain frozen and it had to be done by action. It is not only the elites who take up arms, it is also the masses. Politics now becomes the object of programming: the future must be foreseen.
I. Independence and revolution in the United States
A. The American Revolution: the motives
Since the May Flower, the English and Irish have established thirteen colonies on the East Coast of the United States. Two million inhabitants became rich thanks to local production (cotton, sugar, indigo). The slave trade was very important. The colonies had colonial exclusivity. They could not compete with the metropolis, which got everything and was therefore the only buyer. The south belonged to the English and in the north there was the French, who were going to lose more and more. They will lose Louisiana and Canada following the 7-year war.
The debt of the financing of the war is very heavy for England. The state had to increase taxes, especially on the colonists (Stamp Act, 1765; Townshend Act, 1767). In addition, there was a constitutional problem, since the colonists were not represented in parliament: “No taxation without representation.”
1763: the French were less and less glorious, which benefited the expansion of the English. The country goes into debt to increase its colony.
1773: Boston Tea Party. First revolt. About sixty colonists attacked a very expensive tea that the crown wanted to sell in the colony. Great Britain will turn a deaf ear.
1774: Quebec Act: the French colonists have the right to keep their tradition and their language. This made the conflict worse for the Americans.
The Americans create a Congress, which will lead to the 4th of July 1776 and the independence of the thirteen colonies.
B. The course of the American Revolution
Aware of their numerical weakness, the US called for help and General Lafayette responded to bring them victory in the Treaty of Paris (end of the War of Independence) and the Treaty of Versailles (recognition of independence) in 1783. England undergoes the first decolonization in history, but does not let go of Canada.
1787: creation of the American constitution (find a diagram to illustrate) the owners vote to elect the president and the congress (senate and house of representatives) while the president controls the Supreme Court. The three powers are separated.
II. Consequences: the wind of freedom and its effects in Europe
A. Period of intellectual fermentation
For the Enlightenment, it is action, it is the fight that must be led. The movement of patriots or radicals develops in Europe. It wants to call into question the foundations of the Old Regime. For the sovereigns, it is a subversive movement that must be eradicated. In other countries, the movement was pacifist (demanding reforms against abuses). This is the case in France.
1789: publication of the rights and duties of the citizen by the abbot Mably (written in 1758). The intellectual fermentation gains a notch between the bourgeois and the aristocrats.
B. Explosive social and economic situation in France
The USA is a republican model that works. But helping them require a lot of money from France. The state is on the verge of a crisis and the bank road. Hence the need to reform the tax system. Indeed, there is no real state budget.
1788: receipts = 503 million pounds, expenditures = 630 million (half of the debt goes to debt service). The culprits are the war and a tiny bit of the court (32 million).
The taille: paid by the commoners (the third state)
The capitation: the clergy and the nobles are exempted
The gabelle on salt (each household had a salt duty)
Traits (taxes between provinces)
Aids (taxes on drinks, including cider)
The farmers generally are very badly seen and they can keep a share. Not to mention the counter salt bands (gabelous). When the tax agents come, they may not be received or may find themselves face to face with a gun.
The judicial system was also very long and abominable (the preliminary question, abolished and replaced in 1780). The districts are of unparalleled variety. Progress is notable (end of the preliminary question in 1788). Judges remain corrupted by thugs called grocers (they give rare products).
The 1770s are no longer the years of economic growth. France enters a crisis. Causes:
Vineyard crisis (drinks less and sells less). ¾ Of the vineyards are frozen.
Drought (death of cattle, decrease of income)
Signature of a Franco-English trade treaty. Free trade treaty that leads to the closure of factories. It is a pact of famine for some. Rumors say that all the French wheat goes to the English.
The wheat harvest of 1788 was poor (storm). The price of bread increased.
Let us add a harsh winter. The Loire River froze. Misery sets in. The fear of robbery returned for those who went to the countryside to look for work.
The government tries to react with reforms:
Controller General of Finances (Calonne, Laménie de Brienne). They questioned the privileges, because they wanted to put a tax on the owners. This will not succeed.
The Minister of Justice Lamoignon wanted to abolish the question and to simplify the judicial system (create 47 courts of appeal in the provinces).
These reforms were blocked by the nobles, by the provincial parliaments because of their defiance of Versailles (May 3, 1788: the parliament of Paris proclaimed a declaration of the rights of the nation = arm wrestling between the parliamentarians and the royal power), and by the nation (June 7, 1788: the day of the tiles in Grenoble: the Dauphiné revolted = the people of Grenoble supported the parliament of Paris against the king). These reforms failed.
The king saw only one solution: to convene the Estates General for August 8, 1788 (not gathered since 1614: beginning of the Bourbon dynasty). This crystallized a great movement of hope, because these states generally were accepted by all. Grievance books are thus created in all the provinces. The despot is loved for this decision, the king is my savior (touch my enlightened despot). Few people want the abolition of the orders, the departure of the king. People just want a constitution, a parliamentary monarchy and less taxes. The inequalities are nevertheless present since the representatives of the clergy and the nobles join together (the vote by order of Doctor Guillotin). The patriots and Necker (recalled by Louis XVI because he was very popular) wanted the doubling of the tiers. The vote by the head could solve this problem (the representatives of the TE). Finally, the king doubles as the members of the Third Estate (December 27, 1788). It is a blow in the water.
May 5, 1789: the opening of the Estates-General in the room of the small pleasures. It is an atmosphere of electoral climate (tense, but new perspective of social contract). The foreign countries support this initiative.