The Political and Social Changes During the French and Haitian Revolutions

Last Updated: 31 May 2023
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Throughout the French and Haitian Revolutions both political and social revolutions occurred. With the revolutions occurring first in France, lead to the need for Haitians to create there own government. A revolution takes place when people attempt to change the features of their society, that effect people as a whole. Most revolutions are decided by mass violence, which cant be controlled by the ones that started the action.

Power over nations doesnt always come to the most authoritative and successful leaders, but also to countries that have financial success. Leading into 1614, France struggled to be financially secured. Louis XVI found a problem with the governments technique of selling congressional chairs to produce profit, because it took the absolute power that the king had previously. With the king beginning to feel pressured, steps where taken to prevent the public to become part of the governing body.

In 1789, the Estates-General meet for the first time since 1614. The Estate-General was called to deal with the financial crisis. This Estate-General consists of the First Estate, the clergy, the Second Estate, the nobility, and the Third Estate, commoners. There purpose was to address the parliament of Paris, because of an attack on the parliament that gives agreement to the royal plan for taxing the nobility. At this point Louis XVI expected not to lose power to the owners of seats (nobles), or commissioners that made up what was called the third estate.

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The third estate was composed of a group that held one vote. This group was complied from the rich merchants to the poor peasants. These people where normally out voted by the other two estates, and they felt they were being deal with unfairly. With being barred from attending a meeting, the members met at in an indoor tennis court, where they came up with the Tennis Court Oath, which would break away from the Estate- General, and declare them the National Assembly.

"The National Assembly, considering that it has been called to establish the constitution of the realm, to bring about the regeneration of public order, and to maintain the true principles of the monarchy, nothing may prevent it from continuing its deliberations in any place it is forced to establish itself and, finally, the National Assembly exists wherever its members are gathered; Decrees that all members of this assembly immediately take a solemn oath never to separate, and to reassemble wherever circumstances require, until the constitution of the realm is drawn up and fixed upon solid foundations.

With this oath established, the members agreed to stay together, and make a constitution. In trying to produce a constitution many aspects had to be considered. For example, would the declaration just have brief statements that are more generalized, or would it give long explanations for what was trying to be described. After several days of debate and voting, the deputies decided to suspend their deliberations on the declaration, having agreed on seventeen articles.

These laid out a new vision of government, in which protection of natural rights replaced the will of the king as the justification for authority (Hunt, 76). In these seventeen articles, it describes to the leaders of France, that a major change is needed, so that people are not always in fear of something that they may do, or say. because it is in the disliking of the kind. With word of revolt of this group of people became inspired, the working poor of Paris stormed the Bastille, a large armory and prison for debtors in the center of Paris. At this time, this incarceration was a symbol of royal oppression and military rule. A convention of the National Assembly was held in 1791, to make people aware of their position. Liberty, equality, and fraternity, the slogan for the National Assembly (Lecture, March 12, 2002). With those three words, it marked there position, and gave a rally cry for other nations for support.

The islands of Hipioia are another area with the French had control over. This European colony was the richest area in the Caribbean, because of the complex triangle trade. The concept of triangle trade was to take raw materials from one area of the world, to manufacture these goods in other countries, and to send them back to the countries that the raw materials come from. Through this trade, Haiti was a haven and deportation of African American slaves. In the book, This Kingdom of This World by Alejo Carpenter, describes the situations in Saint-Domingue, a city on the island of Haiti.

The beginning of this book talks about the harsh treatment of the slaves. There where few French settlers that treated the slaves with any respect. One morning the harbor of Santiago was filled with barking. Chained to each other, growling and slavering behind their muzzles, trying to bite their keepers and one another, hundreds of dogs were being driven with whips into the hold of a sailing ship (Carpenter, 89). These dogs where used at the harbors of the Haiti slave town for the thrills of the masters, some slaves would be thrown in the hold of a ship described above, and would kill the slave.

Since sailors were traveling in and out of ports, word of what was happening in France was being told to the natives of Haiti, and the French government being very unstable, the Haitians found this as a stepping-stone to revolt. Under the leadership of Toussaint Louverture, a great Haitian army was created. The armys soldiers were made up of sons of slaves, and the organizing skills of Louverture, they where able to create a strong army. But 1797, the Haitian army controlled most of Saint-Domingue. Fighting continued to 1803, when the French troops where ravaged with yellow fever. With fighting for economic and social freedoms, they received a stable government.

Fighting also occurred in France for the freedom of the common people. In 1793, Austria and Prussia invaded France to help the king, and to restore his plan. With being pressured by the French Army, the National Assembly, led by Maximilien along with radical Jacobins called for massive military mobilization, and economy that would help the poor. Napolean Bonaparie, the leader of the French Army, lead into the Reign of Terror. Over 250,000 dead during a nine-month period, eventually it spun beyond the control of its leaders, and Maximilien himself executed by the very same system of justice and terror he had implemented in his effort to save the revolution (Lecture, February 21, 2002). Leading into 1799, France returns to its dictatorial rule.

With Haitians receiving their political and social rights from revolting, France was not as fortunate. With all the feuding between governmental powers, it had become so serious that lives of people began to be effected. That is why I agree with the statement, The French and Haitian Revolutions were political and social revolutions, because battles are not fought not for just the purpose of fighting, but believing in something that you will die for. With death comes a sense that there are no winners with revolution. The fighting only causes division among people and ideas that they possess.

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The Political and Social Changes During the French and Haitian Revolutions. (2023, May 24). Retrieved from

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