Kara Ward March 3, 2010 Revolutionary Differences Prior to any of the Atlantic revolutions of the late 18th and

early 19th centuries, the French intellectual Voltaire described the upcoming century as “the century of revolutions.” Obviously, he could not have been more right. During the ensuing hundred years, four major revolutions occurred – those of North America, France, South America, and Haiti. These revolutions were all very unique. In North America, the revolution did not change much about everyday life, just the politics. In France, the revolution was extremely bloody and resulted in the quick amassing of Napoleon’s empire followed by its quick erosion back to its current borders. The South American revolution was, unfortunately, not as successful as the North American revolution – it resulted in a continent divided into many non-democratic countries rather than one unified democratic country. The revolution in Haiti was the only successful slave revolution in world history and resulted in all citizens being declared equal regardless of race, color, or class. These revolutions were also influenced by each other and shared many common attributes. The North American revolution was the first revolution in this revolutionary string. The basis for many of the ideals held by North American revolutionaries can be found in the Enlightenment. These include, but are not limited to, liberty, equality, religious tolerance, and human rationality. This revolution is considered, other than its political change, a largely conservative movement. The revolution sought to preserve the liberties the colonies already had rather than create new liberties. The revolution came about because the British rulers began, very suddenly, to attempt to tighten its control over its colonies in North America in order to gain

more from them. Thus, the North American revolution did not seek to destroy the British government, just to pull away from it. There were no bloody public executions like those of the French revolution. The British government remained intact – it just no longer had control over its former colonies which made up the new United States of America. The French revolution closely followed the North American revolution and held many of the same ideals – the ideas of liberty, equality, and self-government. The French revolution was marked by many public political killings via the infamous guillotine. The entire French royal family was killed during the revolution. One of the unique traits of the French revolution was the rise of Napoleon. After the initial revolution and destruction of the former government, Napoleon took over and began building his empire. His empire became massive until he ultimately tried to expand too far and was destroyed. France shrank to about its current borders, had a second part of their revolution, and started a democratic government. The revolution in Haiti was the only successful slave revolution in world history. After the North American and French revolutions, the Haitian slaves were inspired to try and overcome their masters. The slaves overtook and killed many white slave owners. They destroyed much of the plantation land in the process. At the end of the revolution, the slaves started a new government. They declared every citizen, regardless of race, color, or class, equal. Unfortunately, the economy of the new nation did not have much to base itself on. Because the plantation land was destroyed in the process of the revolution, there was very little viable farm land on which to plant and harvest crops. So the government, sadly, started off from a very bad standpoint.

The South American revolution was not nearly as successful as that of North America. Prior to the revolution, South America was an extremely volatile society. The social classes were extremely divided. There were the ruling affluent Whites whose numbers were not that great compared to the other races. The Africans, mixed-race, and Native Americans were by far the more numerous population in South America. Obviously, this greatly changed the face of the South American revolution. Since this revolution was the last of the Atlantic revolutions, so after the revolution in Haiti, the affluent Whites knew they were ruling over a potentially extremely explosive society. Thus, this revolution was the latest because the affluent Whites tried to prevent it for as long as they could. But the revolution was bound to happen, and it did. Unfortunately, the outcome was not what it could have been. Due to the trouble communicating over the rivers and mountains that covered the vast terrain of South America, the land could not form into one unified country like the United States of America to the north. Thus, the result of this revolution was several divided nations without democracy. From the year 1776 to 1822, there were many revolutions in the regions surrounding the Atlantic Ocean. These revolutions were varied but based on the same ideals and very influenced by each other. The North American revolution came first. It was based on ideals from the Enlightenment, including liberty, equality, and self-government. The North American revolution was a mostly political revolution. The French revolution was second. It was based on the same ideals as the North American revolution and was greatly influenced by the former’s success. The French revolution was extremely bloody and resulted in the complete destruction of the former government. The Haitian revolution followed soon after. It was the only successful slave revolution ever. This revolution was based, once again, on the same ideals. The final in this string of revolutions was the South American revolution. This revolution was based on those

same ideals of liberty and equality. Unfortunately, South America remained divided and could not form a united democratic government. These revolutions, however varied and yet similarly based, shaped the modern world and its history.