History Facts: Compare and Contrast American Revolution to French Revolution

History Facts:

Compare and Contrast American Revolution to French Revolution

Bastille-Day-Getty-Fr-revolutionBastille Day: Revolutionary Zeal Turns to Tyranny in France

Jarrett Stepman

The euphoria experienced by those who believed they had finally shattered monarchical tyranny and aristocratic privilege was only matched by the horror of the following ‘Reign of Terror.’

2015 was also the 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s final defeat, when the combined armies or Prussia and Great Britain vanquished the French Army at Waterloo, Belgium and put an end to the Corsican’s time as a head of state. It effectively concluded the French Republic’s brief experiment in liberty. Beyond the bloody battlefield and the confrontation between great powers, there is a great deal to learn from the life and downfall of Napoleon and the short-lived French First Republic—especially in relation to the success of George Washington’s over two-century old American republic.

A Tale of Two Nations

C.A. Davidson

keyCharles Dickens’ powerful novel, A Tale of Two Cities, is set during the French Revolution, involving characters in the cities of London and Paris. This moving tale gives one pause to consider a tale of two nations—the differences between the French Revolution and the American Revolution.

americanrevolutionOnly a few years before the French Revolution, colonial America had rebelled, not against poverty, but against the increasingly tyrannical rule of the British. In America, it was men of property and education, not the poor, who rebelled. For liberty, they invested their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. Ironically, it was the French nobility who stepped in with naval support and saved the American Revolution from the brink of failure.

The purpose of the American Revolution was to change the ruling laws, not to kill the king. Many colonists, including Benjamin Franklin, had close ties with England. Franklin was the leader in trying all possible avenues of diplomacy; revolution was the last resort. George Washington scrupulously avoided abusing military power by consistently deferring to the directives of the civilian government, and he always put the needs of his men before his own. He refused to be king. Noble of character he was; greedy and power-hungry he was not. American leaders did all they could to avoid anarchy. They sought the help of God in their endeavor, and received miraculous help when it was needed.

The French Revolution, on the other hand, appears to have been driven by vengeance and hatred. Without a doubt, terrible injustices existed, as vividly depicted by Dickens and in Victor Hugo’s magnificent novel, Les Miserables. The French peasants were at a great disadvantage, because their poverty seemed insurmountable, and they lacked education and money; therefore they had no power to exercise influence on their oppressors. It is unfortunate that they resorted to terror. The mass murder of innocents resembled the ethnic cleansing of evil regimes in the twentieth century.

The French revolutionary participants were certainly godless. The mindless killing thoroughly disqualified them from any divine assistance. By killing the upper class, and their families, and their servants, and anyone remotely related, they also purged the society of education, law, culture, and other refinements necessary to civilized society.  Only anarchy resulted from their efforts. The old oppressors were merely replaced by a new tyrannical regime, more brutal than ever. It was bad enough that some even looked to figures like Napoleon to save them, but that really didn’t work well, either.

constitutionThe Americans went on to create a Constitution that is a model of liberty for the rest of the world. This Constitution provides maximum freedom, limited power in the national government, and the majority of the power to the states and people. The success of the nation has been in proportion to the degree of fiscal responsibility and law-abiding character manifest by the elected government officials. Because America was free, she became prosperous. Like many other European countries, France learned the best governing principles from the United States Constitution, only after long years of struggle.

Copyright 2011 © by Christine Davidson

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Character Education, Behavior Repair, and Charles Dickens

Dinner Topics for Thursday

Character Education, Behavior Repair—“By Any Other Name. . .”

key“It is easier  to prepare and prevent than to repair and repent.” (Ezra Taft Benson)

Dickens_dream<—Charles Dickens and his characters

In Charles Dickens’ classic novel, Great Expectations, the young boy Pip started out in difficult circumstances, being raised by his older sister, who was very harsh. When he came of age, he was blessed with a considerable fortune from an unknown benefactor. His money caused him to be rather prideful and vain, but his conscience always bothered him. When at length he discovered the source of that fortune, he was humbled. In due time, Pip overcame his pride and vanity, because he ultimately heeded his conscience, felt compassion for many he had once disliked, and developed a sincere desire to do what was right.

Another story from great literature is in the Bible, where Jesus Christ met the woman taken in adultery. After He shamed her accusers, there was no one left to condemn her or throw stones at her. The Savior told her to “go and sin no more.” Although Jesus did not condemn her, neither did He forgive her at that time. There is something she needed to do first, in order to obtain that forgiveness. She needed time to repent. (Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p.68)

The dictionary defines repent—“to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life.”

Character education, behavior repair—what have you—implies the choosing of right over wrong, and making an effort to change for the better, or in other words, repentance. Repentance, by any other name, is still repentance.

People often have negative feelings about repentance. However, honest observations of our current culture compel us to acknowledge that good character leads to a more peaceful, orderly, and happy society. The truth of this principle cannot be ignored.

Parents need not be afraid of holding their children to high moral standards. The atonement of Christ is a safety net in the times of falling short, but it is fastened to repentance. Repentance is not easy, but it is easier in the long run. Still, “it is easier [yet] to prepare and prevent than to repair and repent.” (Ezra Taft Benson)

After His suffering was over, Jesus said that if we would repent, or turn from sin, we would not have to suffer for those sins, because He already paid the price. So, at the end of the day, we see that “repentance” is really a message of love, because it is the key to mercy, and ultimately saves us from a lot of unhappiness.

Copyright © 2011 by C.A. Davidson

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Charles John Huffam Dickens; 7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was an English writer and social critic. He created some of the world’s most memorable fictional characters and is generally regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian period.[1] During his life, his works enjoyed unprecedented fame, and by the twentieth century his literary genius was broadly acknowledged by critics and scholars. His novels and short stories continue to be widely popular.[2][3]

Born in Portsmouth, England, Dickens was forced to leave school to work in a factory when his father was thrown into debtors’ prison. Although he had little formal education, his early impoverishment drove him to succeed. Over his career he edited a weekly journal for 20 years, wrote 15 novels, five novellas and hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles, lectured and performed extensively, was an indefatigable letter writer, and campaigned vigorously for children’s rights, education, and other social reforms.

Dickens sprang to fame with the 1836 serial publication of The Pickwick Papers. Within a few years he had become an international literary celebrity, famous for his humour, satire, and keen observation of character and society. His novels, most published in monthly or weekly installments, pioneered the serial publication of narrative fiction, which became the dominant Victorian mode for novel publication.[4][5] The installment format allowed Dickens to evaluate his audience’s reaction, and he often modified his plot and character development based on such feedback.[5] For example, when his wife’s chiropodist expressed distress at the way Miss Mowcher in David Copperfield seemed to reflect her disabilities, Dickens went on to improve the character with positive features.[6] Fagin in Oliver Twist apparently mirrors the famous fence Ikey Solomon;[7] His caricature of Leigh Hunt in the figure of Mr Skimpole in Bleak House was likewise toned down on advice from some of his friends, as they read episodes.[8] In the same novel, both Lawrence Boythorne and Mooney the beadle are drawn from real life—Boythorne from Walter Savage Landor and Mooney from ‘Looney’, a beadle at Salisbury Square.[9] His plots were carefully constructed, and Dickens often wove in elements from topical events into his narratives.[10] Masses of the illiterate poor chipped in ha’pennies to have each new monthly episode read to them, opening up and inspiring a new class of readers.[11]

Dickens was regarded as the literary colossus of his age.[12] His 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol, is one of the most influential works ever written, and it remains popular and continues to inspire adaptations in every artistic genre. His creative genius has been praised by fellow writers—from Leo Tolstoy to G. K. Chesterton and George Orwell—for its realism, comedy, prose style, unique characterisations, and social criticism. On the other hand Oscar Wilde, Henry James and Virginia Woolf complained of a lack of psychological depth, loose writing, and a vein of saccharine sentimentalism. The term Dickensian is used to describe something that is reminiscent of Dickens and his writings, such as poor social conditions or comically repulsive characters.[13]

More about Charles Dickens