Sister Revolutions




Timothy Foote

December, 2000

Read complete Review in Smithsonian

What everyone likes to remember about the French Revolution is that it proclaimed the rights of man, including equality for all under law. By comparison, its slightly older and wiser sister, the American Revolution, is often dismissed as a mere war of independence. Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite, the words of its famous motto, have a more populist ring that " we hold these truths to be self-evident." Besides, the infant French republic swiftly abolished slavery, gave women the vote, legalized divorce and granted civil rights to Jews, Protestants and illegitimate children..

Parade Magazine

Two Revolutions Illuminated

May 7, 2000

The American Revolution began in 1776 and, once military success was achieved, created a nonviolent democracy. The French Revolution, 13 years later, produced murder, mayhem and internet turmoil, culminating in the reign of "Madame Guillotine" and the dictatorship of Napoleon. Yet, both were inspired by similar ideals of human liberty and justice, and were instigated by dedicated patriots. How and why did they so diverge?...

The New York Times Book Review

No Terror Please, We're American, Richard Brookhiser

January 2, 2000

About 10 weeks after America's first presidential inauguration in New York City in April 1789, the Bastille fell. The Marquis de Lafayette, a hero of the American Revolution, sent the prison's key as a trophy to George Washington. Thomas Paine, who conveyed it, and who would shortly be offered a seat in the French National Assembly, exclaimed that "a share in two revolutions is living to some purpose." Together, the United States and France seemed to be leading the world to a new birth of freedom...


Power to the People, Paul Grey

December 6, 1999

They were both rooted in the same Enlightenment ideals of universal human rights, and they both erupted during the waning decades of the 18th century. Why then did the American and the French revolutions produce such radically different results: a contentious but stable democracy on one side of the Atlantic, the terror and the triumph of Napoleon on the other?...

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