The French, American and Haitian Revolutions as Turning Points

1491 (3 pages)
Download for Free
Important: This sample is for inspiration and reference only

Revolutions are typically a transformative event, often violent, to overthrow an old regime and to implement radical change in the fundamental institutions of society. Revolutionaries attempt to change the previous order, while the old older strives to maintain its power. Revolutions have occurred time and again throughout history and vary in their motives and aims, but generally follow a pattern with similar causes. Jack Goldstone outlines both structural and transient causes of revolutions and examples of these which further his strong framework for studying revolutions. Instantaneous events that spark instability can fall under transient causes. These short term causes are comprised of inflation surrounding food prices, defeat in war and protests against higher authorities (Goldstone, 24). Contrarily, structural causes occur consequently after a period of time. For Goldstone, these long-term causes include population change, weakening of authorities through international competition, unevenness of economic growth, discrimination of certain groups in society, and the rise of a biased regime (Goldstone 21-23).

The American Revolution can be considered as one of the first victorious revolts against a European power. It became a framework for other colonial powers to follow when they yearned to convert to a self-governing nation. This revolution encompassed many of Goldstone’s key causes for a revolution. It was a consequential series of events that led to the war, not simply just one cause. The conflict first arose with the maltreatment of the colonies by Great Britain. This dispute was embodied in the rallying cry throughout the American Revolution, “No taxation without representation”. Even though Britain emerged victorious from the Seven Years War, they were burdened with an abundance of war debts. They proceeded to tax colonists and increase trade regulations, such as the Sugar, Stamp, and Intolerable Acts which later led to protests like the Boston Tea Party guided by the Sons of Liberty or events such as the Boston Massacre. There was a universal anger at the injustices of the British and the combination of harsh taxes and lack of voice in Parliament provoked men like Thomas Paine and Patrick Henry to call for an independent America where colonists would be free of British rule and interference (Goldstone, 63). Along with these causes, the colonists had what Goldstone coins “favorable international relations”, implying that they had foreign support which would contribute to their later success (Goldstone, 19). Due to the loss for France during the Seven Years War, they were motivated to assist the colonists in their split from Great Britain, both financially and with a military (Goldstone 64). With their support, the 13 colonies were able to detach themselves from the British Empire, and form the new nation, the United States of America.

Among the movements that can be considered revolutions but are either not named or only briefly mentioned by Goldstone, the Scientific Revolution was one of them. This further strengthens Goldstone’s framework because there are various other revolutions that he fails to address, but they still fall under his criteria for revolutions and their causes. The Scientific Revolution transpired in Europe toward the end of the Renaissance and continued through the late 18th century, and later influenced the social intellectual movement that became known as the Enlightenment. This revolution falls under causes such as protests against higher authorities and a personalist regime. This wasn’t a typical rally but more of a disapproval of the ruler and an objection to his rule of thought. The sovereign followed a geocentric model of the world, or the idea that the sun revolves around the Earth and believed that all events were a result of God’s will and as citizens of the nation, individuals followed this concept. However, as astronomers like Galilelo and Copernicus emerged, they began to question the regime’s beliefs and introduced heliocentrism, the idea that the Earth revolves around the sun (Sherman & Salisbury, 428). They elucidated the belief that man was not limited by God or religion, but instead individuals were in control of their own choices. These men looked toward patterns in nature to explain natural phenomenons. They began to link mathematics with natural occurrences, and they found that much of the observable world is quite predictable.These direct observations were not meant to turn people away from religion, but rather to verify that events in the environment are not a result of God’s work, they have a logical and scientific explanation. In his letter to the Grand Dutchess, Galielo emphasizes the advantage of our five senses and utilizing it to construct knowledge without the hinderance of someone else’s beliefs subduing our own (Galileo 4-5) . He challenged the Church’s monopoly over construction of knowledge and how they were able to manipulate this general knowledge to rule over a region. With this revolution, came the birth of new ideologies that triumphed over the regime’s previous principles.

No time to compare samples?
Hire a Writer

✓Full confidentiality ✓No hidden charges ✓No plagiarism

Another revolution that fit under Goldstone’s guidelines for a revolution and its causes, but was only briefly discussed in his book, was the Haitian Revolution of 1791. He’s a very Euro-centric model, focusing on European and North American revolutions, and disregards the Haitian revolution as a prominent but still discusses an aspect of it. Goldstone in a nutshell explains how the Haitian Revolution along with others could be considered an anticolonial revolution, when a territory controlled by a foreign power rebels against the colonizer to gain its independence (Goldstone 37). The Haitian society was crowded with circumstances that influenced the unavoidable insurrection of the slaves in 1971. These circumstances were missed by the white colonists and as a result they failed to predict the revolt. The mistreatment of slaves, the self-destructing societal hierarchy and the French revolution, all forced the most successful and effective slave revolts. Goldstone shared that the preconditions for a revolution could include widespread anger at injustice and favorable international relations and this was present in this revolution. In 1793, England and Spain invaded Saint Domingue to conquer it for themselves and seize it from the French (Dubois & Garrigus, 27). This invasion became favorable to the reactionaries and prompted them to fight for their freedom from France and so that no other nation could be capable of conquering them as their own. 

With all these countries jumping at the opportunity to destroy France’s empire in Saint Domingue, it seemed the revolution was guaranteed. The root of the Haitian Revolution was the fundamental imbalance in Haitian social hierarchy and the rage at this injustice. When the news regarding the mistreatment of slaves hit France, the nation started to consider increasing the working conditions for the slaves, causing white planters to separate themselves from the French nation to escape these new upcoming laws. They were adamant about continuing their way of labor. There was a rivalry between petit blancs or poor whites and free men of color, who many had slaves of their own and thus contributed to the slave system. The free men of color were always struggling for full rights of citizenship and the poor whites were strived to be inferior to the free men (Dubois & Garrigus, 15-16). The fact that each social class had a different desire for the future caused an influx conflict. In light of France’s Declaration of the Rights of Man, free men of color were inspired to fight for their civil rights and it also provided slaves with the stimuli needed to proceed with the revolt (Dubois & Garrigus, 19). This social instability and political unrest led to the social disambiguation.

The French Revolution was a period rife with violence, which was attributed to reactionaries who utilized extreme actions to overturn the French monarchy and create a government based on equality and justice, rather than tyranny and despotism. The revolution was fueled by political and social inequalities. Like the American Revolution, it fit under multiple of Goldstone’s causes of revolutions. The clergy and the nobles (1st & 2nd estate) reveled in special privileges such as tax exemptions, and lived in the midst of scandalous luxury and extravagance. The middle class (3rd estate) suffered at their hands with the burden of these heavy taxes and did not share in the same benefits as the other two estates and faced legal discrimination. A crucial figure in the revolution, Maximilien Robespierre, wrote, “as the essence of the republic or of democracy is equality, it follows that the love of country necessarily includes the love of equality” (Robespierre, 1). This equality he spoke of was lacking in the nation. The bourgeoisie were the ones who were able to rally the French citizens into fighting for their basic human rights, equality and justice. Economically, France was impoverished. Poor harvests, inflation and food shortages generated popular discontent and gave the middle class another reason to rebel.

Most of these revolutions were turning points in history. They were driven by people and groups who were inspired by idealism and aspirations of a better society. The reactionaries aimed to radically change the political, economic, and social grievances in their region to produce fundamental reconstruction.  

You can receive your plagiarism free paper on any topic in 3 hours!

*minimum deadline

Cite this Essay

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below

Copy to Clipboard
The French, American and Haitian Revolutions as Turning Points. (2023, February 21). WritingBros. Retrieved April 1, 2023, from
“The French, American and Haitian Revolutions as Turning Points.” WritingBros, 21 Feb. 2023,
The French, American and Haitian Revolutions as Turning Points. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 1 Apr. 2023].
The French, American and Haitian Revolutions as Turning Points [Internet]. WritingBros. 2023 Feb 21 [cited 2023 Apr 1]. Available from:
Copy to Clipboard

Need writing help?

You can always rely on us no matter what type of paper you need

Order My Paper

*No hidden charges