تصاعد الدعوات لتظاهرات 24 أغسطس المطالبة بحل “الإخوان” وعزل الرئيس.. ونشطاء يحملون الجيش والرئاسة مسئولية تأمينها.. ويهددون بالملاحقة الجنائية لكل من يتسبب فى سفك دماء المشاركين فى المليونية
تصاعدت الدعوات على مواقع التواصل الاجتماعى “فيس بوك وتويتر” لتنظيم مليونية 24 أغسطس من الشهر الجارى، المطالبة بحل جماعة الإخوان المسلمين وذراعها السياسية حزب الحرية والعدالة، وعزل الدكتور محمد مرسى رئيس الجمهورية من منصبه، حيث تزايدت أعداد الصفحات التى تدعو للحشد يوم 24 أغسطس منها “الإخوان كاذبون، الثورة الثانية 24 أغسطس لحل جماعة الإخوان والحرية والعدالة لاستعادة الثورة، و24 أغسطس لن تسقط مصر، وثورة الغضب على الإخوان 24 أغسطس، ثورة 24 أغسطس ضد الإخوان”.
وقد أصدر عدد من نشطاء التواصل الاجتماعى، وعدد من المشاركين فى مظاهرات 24 أغسطس، للمطالبة بحل جماعة الإخوان المسلمين، بيان رقم 12 يحمل جميع المؤسسات الرسمية وأولها الرئاسة والجيش مسئولية تأمين تظاهرات 24 أغسطس السلمية، وكذلك مسئولية أى إصابة يمكن أن يتعرض لها أى مواطن، موضحين أن جميع المواثيق الدولية، فضلا عن أهداف ثورة 25 يناير تحتم الحفاظ على سلامة وأمن المواطن فى تظاهراته السلمية.
وطالب البيان، مؤسسة الرئاسة وجميع المؤسسات المشار إليها الخروج ببيان عاجل، يحمل تحذيرا شديدا اللهجة ضد من يحاول سفك دماء الأبرياء الذين يريدون توصيل صوتهم للرئاسة، مهددين بالملاحقة الجنائية محليا ودوليا لكل من يتسبب فى سفك دماء المصريين.
وأكدت صفحة “الثورة الثانية 24 أغسطس لحل جماعة الإخوان، و”الحرية والعدالة لاستعادة الثورة” على أن تظاهراتهم لا تستهدف الدكتور محمد مرسى رئيس الجمهورية، ولكنها تستهدف عصابات وميلشيات مسلحة أعلنت صراحة عن تواجدها وعبر قيادات إخوانية، موضحين أن هؤلاء خارجون على الدولة وأن تواجدهم كتنظيم أو كجماعة غير قانونى.
فيما استمر النشطاء، فى نشر العديد من الصور، منها صورة لعدد من قيادات الإخوان من بينهم الدكتور محمد مرسى رئيس الجمهورية، والمرشد العام لجماعة الإخوان، والدكتور محمد البلتاجى، والدكتور عصام العريان، والدكتور محمد سعد الكتاتنى، والمهندس خيرت الشاطر، كتب عليها “سيذكر التاريخ أنكم كنتم السبب فى إفشال ثورة تحاكى بها العالم.. جعلتم مصلحة الجماعة فوق مصلحة مصر لتكونوا عبرة للتاريخ”، وصورة أخرى مكتوب عليها “انزل شارك 24 وقول لحكم المرشد لأ”، وصورة أخرى للدكتور محمد مرسى رئيس الجمهورية وهو يقبل يد الدكتور محمد بديع المرشد العام لجماعة الإخوان، حيث كتبوا عليها “هل يتوهم الإخوان أن ينتخب المصريون رئيسا تابعا لمرشد يقبل يده”، وصورا أخرى مكتوبا عليها “يسقط الخونة والعملاء أعداء الوطن.. النزول فى كل ميادين المحروسة”، ومن أبرز الصور المنتشرة على جميع الصفحات صورة لتوك توك وأعلاه لافتة مكتوب عليها “يسقط الإخوان يسقط محمد مرسى الإستبن، يسقط حكم المرشد”.
وعلى جانب آخر تبادل عدد من النشطاء العديد من التعليقات الساخرة منها: “المعارضة فى ظل أنظمة الحكم الدينى.. مرحبا بكم فى إيران.. لا لتأجير أبو بيع قناة السويس لقطر.. لا لفتح معبر رفح.. لا لبيع أراضى سيناء إلى الفلسطينيين أو غيرهم.. لا لتوطين أهل غزة أو أى إنسان غير مصرى فى سيناء.. لا لتسهيل دخول أفراد من حزب حماس أو حزب الله لمصر.. لا لسيطرة المرشد العام للإخوان المسلمين على الدكتور محمد مرسى.. نعم لاستقالة الدكتور محمد مرسى من حزب الحرية والعدالة وجماعة الإخوان المسلمين”.
يذكر أن عددا من الحركات الشبابية والثورية أعلنت رفضها المشاركة فى تظاهرات 24 أغسطس، وعلى رأسها، حركة شباب 6 إبريل، وحركة كفاية، ورابطة مصابى الثورة، واتحاد شباب الثورة، كما أعلنت صفحة الغضب المصرية الثانية، وجبهة أنا مصرى، وامسك فلول، وتحالف ضد العسكر والإخوان، ورابطة معتقلى الثورة، عن عدم مشاركتهم فى تلك التظاهرة.
The French Revolution (French: Révolution française; 1789–1799), was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France that had a major impact on France and throughout the rest of Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years. French society underwent an epic transformation, as feudal, aristocratic and religious privileges evaporated under a sustained assault from radical left-wing political groups, masses on the streets, and peasants in the countryside. Old ideas about tradition and hierarchy – of monarchy,aristocracy, and religious authority – were abruptly overthrown by new Enlightenment principles of equality, citizenship and inalienable rights.
The French Revolution began in 1789 with the convocation of the Estates-General in May. The first year of the Revolution saw members of the Third Estate proclaiming the Tennis Court Oathin June, the assault on the Bastille in July, the passage of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in August, and an epic march on Versailles that forced the royal court back to Paris in October. The next few years were dominated by tensions between various liberal assemblies and a right-wing monarchy intent on thwarting major reforms.
A republic was proclaimed in September 1792 and King Louis XVI was executed the next year. External threats also played a dominant role in the development of the Revolution. The French Revolutionary Wars started in 1792 and ultimately featured spectacular French victories that facilitated the conquest of the Italian Peninsula, the Low Countries and most territories west of theRhine – achievements that had eluded previous French governments for centuries.
Internally, popular sentiments radicalized the Revolution significantly, culminating in the rise of Maximilien Robespierre and the Jacobins and virtual dictatorship by the Committee of Public Safety during the Reign of Terror from 1793 until 1794 during which between 16,000 and 40,000 people were killed. After the fall of the Jacobins and the execution of Robespierre, theDirectory assumed control of the French state in 1795 and held power until 1799, when it was replaced by the Consulate under Napoleon Bonaparte.
The modern era has unfolded in the shadow of the French Revolution. The growth of republics and liberal democracies, the spread of secularism, the development of modern ideologies, andthe invention of total war all mark their birth during the Revolution. Subsequent events that can be traced to the Revolution include the Napoleonic Wars, two separate restorations of monarchy (Bourbon Restoration and July Monarchy), and two additional revolutions (1830 and 1848) as modern France took shape.
Adherents of most historical models identify many of the same features of the Ancien Régime as being among the causes of the Revolution. Economic factors included hunger and malnutritionin the most destitute segments of the population, due to rising bread prices (from a normal 8 sous for a four-pound loaf to 12 sous by the end of 1789), after several years of poor grainharvests. Bad harvests (caused in part by extreme weather from El Niño along with volcanic activity at Laki and Grímsvötn in 1783–1784), rising food prices, and an inadequate transportation system that hindered the shipment of bulk foods from rural areas to large population centers contributed greatly to the destabilization of French society in the years leading up to the Revolution.
The government of King Louis XVI of France faced a fiscal crisis in the 1780s.
Another cause was the state’s effective bankruptcy due to the enormous cost of previous wars, particularly the financial strain caused by French participation in the American Revolutionary War. The national debt amounted to some 1,000–2,000 million livres. The social burdens caused by war included the huge war debt, made worse by the loss of France’s colonial possessions in North America and the growing commercial dominance of Great Britain. France’s inefficient and antiquated financial system was unable to manage the national debt, something which was both partially caused and exacerbated by the burden of an inadequate system of taxation. To obtain new money to head off default on the government’s loans, the king called an Assembly of Notables in 1787.
Meanwhile, the royal court at Versailles was seen as being isolated from, and indifferent to, the hardships of the lower classes. While in theory King Louis XVI was an absolute monarch, in practice he was often indecisive and known to back down when faced with strong opposition. While he did reduce government expenditures, opponents in the parlements successfully thwarted his attempts at enacting much needed reforms. Those who were opposed to Louis’ policies further undermined royal authority by distributing pamphlets (often reporting false or exaggerated information) that criticized the government and its officials, stirring up public opinion against the monarchy.
Many other factors involved resentments and aspirations given focus by the rise of Enlightenment ideals. These included resentment of royal absolutism; resentment by peasants, laborers and the bourgeoisie toward the traditional seigneurial privileges possessed by the nobility; resentment of the Church’s influence over public policy and institutions; aspirations for freedom of religion; resentment of aristocratic bishops by the poorer rural clergy; aspirations for social, political and economic equality, and (especially as the Revolution progressed) republicanism; hatred of QueenMarie-Antoinette, who was falsely accused of being a spendthrift and an Austrian spy; and anger toward the King for firing finance minister Jacques Necker, among others, who were popularly seen as representatives of the people.
Louis XVI ascended to the throne amidst a financial crisis; the state was nearing bankruptcy and outlays outpaced income. This was because of France’s financial obligations stemming from involvement in the Seven Years War and its participation in the American Revolutionary War. In May 1776, finance minister Turgot was dismissed, after he failed to enact reforms. The next year, Jacques Necker, a foreigner, was appointed Comptroller-General of Finance. He could not be made an official minister because he was a Protestant.
Caricature of the Third Estate carrying the First Estate (clergy) and the Second Estate (nobility) on its back.
Necker realized that the country’s extremely regressive tax system subjected the lower classes to a heavy burden, while numerous exemptions existed for the nobility and clergy. He argued that the country could not be taxed higher; that tax exemptions for the nobility and clergy must be reduced; and proposed that borrowing more money would solve the country’s fiscal shortages. Necker published a report to support this claim that underestimated the deficit by roughly 36 million livres, and proposed restricting the power of the parlements.
This was not received well by the King’s ministers, and Necker, hoping to bolster his position, argued to be made a minister. The King refused, Necker was fired, and Charles Alexandre de Calonne was appointed to the Comptrollership. Calonne initially spent liberally, but he quickly realized the critical financial situation and proposed a new tax code.
The proposal included a consistent land tax, which would include taxation of the nobility and clergy. Faced with opposition from the parlements, Calonne organised the summoning of theAssembly of Notables. But the Assembly failed to endorse Calonne’s proposals and instead weakened his position through its criticism. In response, the King announced the calling of theEstates-General for May 1789, the first time the body had been summoned since 1614. This was a signal that the Bourbon monarchy was in a weakened state and subject to the demands of its people.
Estates-General of 1789
The Estates-General was organized into three estates: the clergy, the nobility, and the rest of France. On the last occasion that the Estates-General had met, in 1614, each estate held one vote, and any two could override the third. The Parlement of Paris feared the government would attempt to gerrymander an assembly to rig the results. Thus, they required that the Estates be arranged as in 1614. The 1614 rules differed from practices of local assemblies, where each member had one vote and third estate membership was doubled. For example, in the Dauphiné the provincial assembly agreed to double the number of members of the third estate, hold membership elections, and allow one vote per member, rather than one vote per estate.
The “Committee of Thirty,” a body of liberal Parisians, began to agitate against voting by estate. This group, largely composed of the wealthy, argued for the Estates-General to assume the voting mechanisms of Dauphiné. They argued that ancient precedent was not sufficient, because “the people were sovereign.” Necker convened a Second Assembly of Notables, which rejected the notion of double representation by a vote of 111 to 333. The King, however, agreed to the proposition on 27 December; but he left discussion of the weight of each vote to the Estates-General itself.
Elections were held in the spring of 1789; suffrage requirements for the Third Estate were for French-born or naturalised males only, at least 25 years of age, who resided where the vote was to take place and who paid taxes.
Pour être électeur du tiers état, il faut avoir 25 ans, être français ou naturalisé, être domicilié au lieu de vote et compris au rôle des impositions.
Strong turnout produced 1,201 delegates, including: “291 nobles, 300 clergy, and 610 members of the Third Estate.” To lead delegates, “Books of grievances” (cahiers de doléances) were compiled to list problems. The books articulated ideas which would have seemed radical only months before; however, most supported the monarchical system in general. Many assumed the Estates-General would approve future taxes, and Enlightenment ideals were relatively rare.
Pamphlets by liberal nobles and clergy became widespread after the lifting of press censorship. The Abbé Sieyès, a theorist and Catholic clergyman, argued the paramount importance of the Third Estate in the pamphlet Qu’est-ce que le tiers état? (“What is the Third Estate?”), published in January 1789. He asserted: “What is the Third Estate? Everything. What has it been until now in the political order? Nothing. What does it want to be? Something.”
The Estates-General convened in the Grands Salles des Menus-Plaisirs in Versailles on 5 May 1789 and opened with a three-hour speech by Necker. The Third Estate demanded that the verification of deputies’ credentials should be undertaken in common by all deputies, rather than each estate verifying the credentials of its own members internally; negotiations with the other estates failed to achieve this. The commoners appealed to the clergy who replied they required more time. Necker asserted that each estate verify credentials and “the king was to act as arbitrator.” Negotiations with the other two estates to achieve this, however, were unsuccessful.
National Assembly (1789)
The meeting of the Estates General on 5 May 1789 in Versailles.
On 10 June 1789, Abbé Sieyès moved that the Third Estate, now meeting as the Communes (English: “Commons”), proceed with verification of its own powers and invite the other two estates to take part, but not to wait for them. They proceeded to do so two days later, completing the process on 17 June. Then they voted a measure far more radical, declaring themselves theNational Assembly, an assembly not of the Estates but of “the People.” They invited the other orders to join them, but made it clear they intended to conduct the nation’s affairs with or without them.
In an attempt to keep control of the process and prevent the Assembly from convening, Louis XVI ordered the closure of the Salle des États where the Assembly met, making an excuse that the carpenters needed to prepare the hall for a royal speech in two days. Weather did not allow an outdoor meeting, so the Assembly moved their deliberations to a nearby indoor real tenniscourt, where they proceeded to swear the Tennis Court Oath (20 June 1789), under which they agreed not to separate until they had given France a constitution.
A majority of the representatives of the clergy soon joined them, as did 47 members of the nobility. By 27 June, the royal party had overtly given in, although the military began to arrive in large numbers around Paris and Versailles. Messages of support for the Assembly poured in from Paris and other French cities.
National Constituent Assembly (1789–1791)
Storming of the Bastille
Storming the Bastille
By this time, Necker had earned the enmity of many members of the French court for his overt manipulation of public opinion. Marie Antoinette, the King’s younger brother the Comte d’Artois, and other conservative members of the King’sprivy council urged him to dismiss Necker as financial advisor. On 11 July 1789, after Necker published an inaccurate account of the government’s debts and made it available to the public, the King fired him, and completely restructured the finance ministry at the same time.
Many Parisians presumed Louis’s actions to be aimed against the Assembly and began open rebellion when they heard the news the next day. They were also afraid that arriving soldiers – mostly foreign mercenaries – had been summoned to shut down the National Constituent Assembly. The Assembly, meeting at Versailles, went into nonstop session to prevent another eviction from their meeting place. Paris was soon consumed by riots, chaos, and widespread looting. The mobs soon had the support of some of the French Guard, who were armed and trained soldiers.
The National Assembly taking the Tennis Court Oath (sketch by Jacques-Louis David).
On 14 July, the insurgents set their eyes on the large weapons and ammunition cache inside the Bastille fortress, which was also perceived to be a symbol of royal power. After several hours of combat, the prison fell that afternoon. Despite ordering a cease fire, which prevented a mutual massacre, Governor Marquis Bernard de Launay was beaten, stabbed and decapitated; his head was placed on a pike and paraded about the city. Although the fortress had held only seven prisoners (four forgers, two noblemen kept for immoral behavior, and a murder suspect), the Bastille served as a potent symbol of everything hated under the Ancien Régime. Returning to the Hôtel de Ville (city hall), the mob accused the prévôt des marchands (roughly, mayor) Jacques de Flesselles of treachery and butchered him.
The King, alarmed by the violence, backed down, at least for the time being. The Marquis de la Fayette took up command of the National Guard at Paris. Jean-Sylvain Bailly, president of the Assembly at the time of the Tennis Court Oath, became the city’s mayor under a new governmental structure known as the commune. The King visited Paris, where, on 17 July he accepted atricolore cockade, to cries of Vive la Nation (“Long live the Nation”) and Vive le Roi (“Long live the King”).
Necker was recalled to power, but his triumph was short-lived. An astute financier but a less astute politician, Necker overplayed his hand by demanding and obtaining a general amnesty, losing much of the people’s favour.
As civil authority rapidly deteriorated, with random acts of violence and theft breaking out across the country, members of the nobility, fearing for their safety, fled to neighboring countries; many of these émigrés, as they were called, funded counter-revolutionary causes within France and urged foreign monarchs to offer military support to a counter-revolution.
By late July, the spirit of popular sovereignty had spread throughout France. In rural areas, many commoners began to form militias and arm themselves against a foreign invasion: some attacked the châteaux of the nobility as part of a general agrarian insurrection known as “la Grande Peur” (“the Great Fear”). In addition, wild rumours and paranoia caused widespread unrest and civil disturbances that contributed to the collapse of law and order.
Working toward a constitution
On 4 August 1789, the National Constituent Assembly abolished feudalism (although at that point there had been sufficient peasant revolts to almost end feudalism already), in what is known as the August Decrees, sweeping away both the seigneurial rights of the Second Estate and the tithes gathered by the First Estate. In the course of a few hours, nobles, clergy, towns, provinces, companies and cities lost their special privileges.
On 26 August 1789, the Assembly published the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which comprised a statement of principles rather than a constitution with legal effect. The National Constituent Assembly functioned not only as a legislature, but also as a body to draft a new constitution.
Necker, Mounier, Lally-Tollendal and others argued unsuccessfully for a senate, with members appointed by the crown on the nomination of the people. The bulk of the nobles argued for an aristocratic upper house elected by the nobles. The popular party carried the day: France would have a single, unicameral assembly. The King retained only a “suspensive veto”; he could delay the implementation of a law, but not block it absolutely. The Assembly eventually replaced the historic provinces with 83 départements, uniformly administered and roughly equal in area and population.
Amid the Assembly’s preoccupation with constitutional affairs, the financial crisis had continued largely unaddressed, and the deficit had only increased. Honoré Mirabeau now led the move to address this matter, and the Assembly gave Necker complete financial dictatorship.
Women’s March on Versailles
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 26 August 1789
Fueled by rumors of a reception for the King’s bodyguards on 1 October 1789 at which the national cockade had been trampled upon, on 5 October 1789 crowds of women began to assemble at Parisian markets. The women first marched to the Hôtel de Ville, demanding that city officials address their concerns. The women were responding to the harsh economic situations they faced, especially bread shortages. They also demanded an end to royal efforts to block the National Assembly, and for the King and his administration to move to Paris as a sign of good faith in addressing the widespread poverty.
Engraving of the Women’s March on Versailles, 5 October 1789
Getting unsatisfactory responses from city officials, as many as 7,000 women joined the march to Versailles, bringing with them cannons and a variety of smaller weapons. Twenty thousand National Guardsmen under the command of La Fayette responded to keep order, and members of the mob stormed the palace, killing several guards. La Fayette ultimately persuaded the king to accede to the demand of the crowd that the monarchy relocate to Paris.
On 6 October 1789, the King and the royal family moved from Versailles to Paris under the “protection” of the National Guards, thus legitimizing the National Assembly.
Revolution and the Church
In this caricature, monks and nuns enjoy their new freedom after the decree of 16 February 1790
The Revolution caused a massive shift of power from the Roman Catholic Church to the state. Under the Ancien Régime, the Church had been the largest single landowner in the country, owning about 10% of the land in the kingdom. The Church was exempt from paying taxes to the government, while it levied a tithe—a 10% tax on income, often collected in the form of crops—on the general population, which it then redistributed to the poor. The power and wealth of the Church was highly resented by some groups. A small minority of Protestants living in France, such as the Huguenots, wanted an anti-Catholic regime and revenge against the clergy who discriminated against them. Enlightenment thinkers such as Voltaire helped fuel this resentment by denigrating the Catholic Church and destabilizing the French monarchy. As historian John McManners argues, “In eighteenth-century France throne and altar were commonly spoken of as in close alliance; their simultaneous collapse … would one day provide the final proof of their interdependence.”
This resentment toward the Church weakened its power during the opening of the Estates General in May 1789. The Church composed the First Estate with 130,000 members of the clergy. When the National Assembly was later created in June 1789 by the Third Estate, the clergy voted to join them, which perpetuated the destruction of the Estates General as a governing body. The National Assembly began to enact social and economic reform. Legislation sanctioned on 4 August 1789 abolished the Church’s authority to impose the tithe. In an attempt to address the financial crisis, the Assembly declared, on 2 November 1789, that the property of the Church was “at the disposal of the nation.” They used this property to back a new currency, the assignats. Thus, the nation had now also taken on the responsibility of the Church, which included paying the clergy and caring for the poor, the sick and the orphaned. In December, the Assembly began to sell the lands to the highest bidder to raise revenue, effectively decreasing the value of the assignats by 25% in two years. In autumn 1789, legislation abolished monastic vows and on 13 February 1790 all religious orders were dissolved. Monks and nuns were encouraged to return to private life and a small percentage did eventually marry.
The Civil Constitution of the Clergy, passed on 12 July 1790, turned the remaining clergy into employees of the state. This established an election system for parish priests and bishops and set a pay rate for the clergy. Many Catholics objected to the election system because it effectively denied the authority of the Pope in Rome over the French Church. Eventually, in November 1790, the National Assembly began to require an oath of loyalty to the Civil Constitution from all the members of the clergy. This led to a schism between those clergy who swore the required oath and accepted the new arrangement and those who remained loyal to the Pope. Overall, 24% of the clergy nationwide took the oath. Widespread refusal led to legislation against the clergy, “forcing them into exile, deporting them forcibly, or executing them as traitors.” Pope Pius VI never accepted the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, further isolating the Church in France. During the Reign of Terror, extreme efforts of de-Christianization ensued, including the imprisonment and massacre of priests and destruction of churches and religious images throughout France. An effort was made to replace the Catholic Church altogether, with civic festivals replacing religious ones. The establishment of the Cult of Reason was the final step of radical de-Christianization. These events led to a widespread disillusionment with the Revolution and to counter-rebellions across France. Locals often resisted de-Christianization by attacking revolutionary agents and hiding members of the clergy who were being hunted. Eventually, Robespierre and the Committee of Public Safety were forced to denounce the campaign, replacing the Cult of Reason with the deist but still non-Christian Cult of the Supreme Being. The Concordat of 1801 between Napoleon and the Church ended the de-Christianization period and established the rules for a relationship between the Catholic Church and the French State that lasted until it was abrogated by the Third Republic via the separation of church and state on 11 December 1905. The persecution of the Church led to a counter-revolution known as the Revolt in the Vendée, whose suppression is considered by some to be the first modern genocide
Intrigues and radicalism
Factions within the Assembly began to clarify. The aristocrat Jacques Antoine Marie de Cazalès and the abbé Jean-Sifrein Maury led what would become known as the right wing, the opposition to revolution (this party sat on the right-hand side of the Assembly). The “Royalist democrats” or monarchiens, allied with Necker, inclined toward organising France along lines similar to the British constitutional model; they included Jean Joseph Mounier, the Comte de Lally-Tollendal, the comte de Clermont-Tonnerre, and Pierre Victor Malouet, comte de Virieu.
The Fête de la Fédération on 14 July 1790 celebrated the establishment of the constitutional monarchy
The “National Party”, representing the centre or centre-left of the assembly, included Honoré Mirabeau, La Fayette, and Bailly; while Adrien Duport, Barnave and Alexandre Lameth represented somewhat more extreme views. Almost alone in his radicalism on the left was the Arras lawyer Maximilien Robespierre. Abbé Sieyès led in proposing legislation in this period and successfully forged consensus for some time between the political centre and the left. In Paris, various committees, the mayor, the assembly of representatives, and the individual districts each claimed authority independent of the others. The increasingly middle-class National Guard under La Fayette also slowly emerged as a power in its own right, as did other self-generated assemblies.
The Assembly abolished the symbolic paraphernalia of the Ancien Régime— armorial bearings, liveries, etc. – which further alienated the more conservative nobles, and added to the ranks of the émigrés. On 14 July 1790, and for several days following, crowds in the Champ de Mars celebrated the anniversary of the fall of the Bastille with the Fête de la Fédération; Talleyrandperformed a mass; participants swore an oath of “fidelity to the nation, the law, and the king”; the King and the royal family actively participated.
The electors had originally chosen the members of the Estates-General to serve for a single year. However, by the terms of the Tennis Court Oath, the communes had bound themselves to meet continuously until France had a constitution. Right-wing elements now argued for a new election, but Mirabeau prevailed, asserting that the status of the assembly had fundamentally changed, and that no new election should take place before completing the constitution.
In late 1790, the French army was in considerable disarray. The military officer corps was largely composed of noblemen, who found it increasingly difficult to maintain order within the ranks. In some cases, soldiers (drawn from the lower classes) had turned against their aristocratic commanders and attacked them. At Nancy, General Bouillé successfully put down one such rebellion, only to be accused of being anti-revolutionary for doing so. This and other such incidents spurred a mass desertion as more and more officers defected to other countries, leaving a dearth of experienced leadership within the army.
This period also saw the rise of the political “clubs” in French politics. Foremost among these was the Jacobin Club; 152 members had affiliated with the Jacobins by 10 August 1790. The Jacobin Society began as a broad, general organization for political debate, but as it grew in members, various factions developed with widely differing views. Several of these fractions broke off to form their own clubs, such as the Club of ’89.
Meanwhile, the Assembly continued to work on developing a constitution. A new judicial organisation made all magistracies temporary and independent of the throne. The legislators abolished hereditary offices, except for the monarchy itself. Jury trials started for criminal cases. The King would have the unique power to propose war, with the legislature then deciding whether to declare war. The Assembly abolished all internal trade barriers and suppressed guilds, masterships, and workers’ organisations: any individual gained the right to practice a trade through the purchase of a license; strikes became illegal.
In the winter of 1791, the Assembly considered, for the first time, legislation against the émigrés. The debate pitted the safety of the Revolution against the liberty of individuals to leave. Mirabeau prevailed against the measure, which he referred to as “worthy of being placed in the code of Draco”. But Mirabeau died on 2 April 1791 and, before the end of the year, the new Legislative Assembly adopted this draconian measure.
Royal flight to Varennes
The return of the royal family to Paris on 25 June 1791, after their failed flight to Varennes
Louis XVI, egged on by Marie Antoinette and other members of his family, opposed the course of the Revolution, but rejected the potentially treacherous aid of the other monarchs of Europe. He cast his lot with General Bouillé, who condemned both the emigration and the Assembly, and promised him refuge and support in his camp at Montmédy. On the night of 20 June 1791, the royal family fled the Tuileries Palace dressed as servants, while their servants dressed as nobles.
However, late the next day, the King was recognised and arrested at Varennes (in the Meuse département). He and his family were brought back to Paris under guard, still dressed as servants.Pétion, Latour-Maubourg, and Antoine Pierre Joseph Marie Barnave, representing the Assembly, met the royal family at Épernay and returned with them. From this time, Barnave became a counselor and supporter of the royal family. When they returned to Paris, the crowd greeted them in silence. The Assembly provisionally suspended the King. He and Queen Marie Antoinetteremained held under guard.
Completing the constitution
As most of the Assembly still favoured a constitutional monarchy rather than a republic, the various groups reached a compromise which left Louis XVI as little more than a figurehead: he was forced to swear an oath to the constitution, and a decree declared that retracting the oath, heading an army for the purpose of making war upon the nation, or permitting anyone to do so in his name would amount to abdication.
However, Jacques Pierre Brissot drafted a petition, insisting that in the eyes of the nation Louis XVI was deposed since his flight. An immense crowd gathered in the Champ de Mars to sign the petition. Georges Danton and Camille Desmoulins gave fiery speeches. The Assembly called for the municipal authorities to “preserve public order”. The National Guard under La Fayette’s command confronted the crowd. The soldiers responded to a barrage of stones by firing into the crowd, killing between 13 and 50 people.
In the wake of this massacre the authorities closed many of the patriotic clubs, as well as radical newspapers such as Jean-Paul Marat’s L’Ami du Peuple. Danton fled to England; Desmoulins and Marat went into hiding.
Meanwhile, a new threat arose from abroad: Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II, Frederick William II of Prussia, and the King’s brother Charles-Philippe, comte d’Artois, issued the Declaration of Pillnitz, which considered the cause of Louis XVI as their own, demanded his absolute liberty and implied an invasion of France on his behalf if the revolutionary authorities refused its conditions. The French people expressed no respect for the dictates of foreign monarchs, and the threat of force merely hastened their militarisation.
Even before the “Flight to Varennes”, the Assembly members had determined to debar themselves from the legislature that would succeed them, the Legislative Assembly. They now gathered the various constitutional laws they had passed into a single constitution, showed remarkable strength in choosing not to use this as an occasion for major revisions, and submitted it to the recently restored Louis XVI, who accepted it, writing “I engage to maintain it at home, to defend it from all attacks from abroad, and to cause its execution by all the means it places at my disposal”. The King addressed the Assembly and received enthusiastic applause from members and spectators. With this capstone, the National Constituent Assembly adjourned in a final session on 30 September 1791.
Mignet argued that the “constitution of 1791… was the work of the middle class, then the strongest; for, as is well known, the predominant force ever takes possession of institutions… In this constitution the people was the source of all powers, but it exercised none.”
Legislative Assembly (1791–1792)
Failure of the constitutional monarchy
Under the Constitution of 1791, France would function as a constitutional monarchy. The King had to share power with the elected Legislative Assembly, but he still retained his royal veto and the ability to select ministers. The Legislative Assembly first met on 1 October 1791, and degenerated into chaos less than a year later. In the words of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica: “In the attempt to govern, the Assembly failed altogether. It left behind an emptytreasury, an undisciplined army and navy, and a people debauched by safe and successful riot.” The Legislative Assembly consisted of about 165 Feuillants (constitutional monarchists) on the right, about 330 Girondists (liberal republicans) and Jacobins (radical revolutionaries) on the left, and about 250 deputies unaffiliated with either faction. ] Early on, the King vetoed legislation that threatened the émigrés with death and that decreed that everynon-juring clergyman must take within eight days the civic oath mandated by the Civil Constitution of the Clergy. Over the course of a year, such disagreements would lead to a constitutional crisis .
On the night of 10 August 1792, insurgents and popular militias, supported by the revolutionary Paris Commune, assailed the Tuileries Palace and massacred the Swiss Guards who were assigned for the protection of the king. The royal family ended up prisoners and a rump session of the Legislative Assembly suspended the monarchy; little more than a third of the deputies were present, almost all of them Jacobins.
On 10 August 1792 the Paris Commune stormed the Tuileries Palace and massacred the Swiss Guards
What remained of a national government depended on the support of the insurrectionary Commune. The Commune sent gangs into the prisons to try arbitrarily and butcher 1400 victims, and addressed a circular letter to the other cities of France inviting them to follow this example. The Assembly could offer only feeble resistance. This situation persisted until the Convention, elected by universal male suffrage and charged with writing a new constitution, met on 20 September 1792 and became the new de facto government of France. The next day it abolished the monarchyand declared a republic. The following day – 22 September 1792, the first morning of the new Republic – was later retroactively adopted as the beginning of Year One of the French Republican Calendar.
War and Counter-Revolution (1792–1797)
The politics of the period inevitably drove France towards war with Austria and its allies. The King, many of the Feuillants, and the Girondins specifically wanted to wage war. The King (and many Feuillants with him) expected war would increase his personal popularity; he also foresaw an opportunity to exploit any defeat: either result would make him stronger. The Girondins wanted to export the Revolution throughout Europe and, by extension, to defend the Revolution within France. The forces opposing war were much weaker.
French Revolution suit
Barnave and his supporters among the Feuillants feared a war they thought France had little chance to win and which they feared might lead to greater radicalization of the revolution. On the other end of the political spectrumRobespierre opposed a war on two grounds, fearing that it would strengthen the monarchy and military at the expense of the revolution, and that it would incur the anger of ordinary people in Austria and elsewhere. The Austrian emperor Leopold II, brother of Marie Antoinette, may have wished to avoid war, but he died on 1 March 1792. France preemptively declared war on Austria (20 April 1792) and Prussia joined on the Austrian side a few weeks later. The invading Prussian army faced little resistance until checked at the Battle of Valmy (20 September 1792), and forced to withdraw.
The new-born Republic followed up on this success with a series of victories in Belgium and the Rhineland in the fall of 1792. The French armies defeated the Austrians at the Battle of Jemappes on 6 November, and had soon taken over most of the Austrian Netherlands. This brought them into conflict with Britain and the Dutch Republic, which wished to preserve the independence of the southern Netherlands from France. After the king’s execution in January 1793, these powers, along with Spain and most other European states, joined the war against France. Almost immediately, French forces faced defeat on many fronts, and were driven out of their newly conquered territories in the spring of 1793. At the same time, the republican regime was forced to deal with rebellions against its authority in much of western and southern France. But the allies failed to take advantage of French disunity, and by the autumn of 1793 the republican regime had defeated most of the internal rebellions and halted the allied advance into France itself.
The stalemate was broken in the summer of 1794 with dramatic French victories. They defeated the allied army at the Battle of Fleurus, leading to a full Allied withdrawal from the Austrian Netherlands. They followed up by a campaign which swept the allies to the east bank of the Rhine and left the French, by the beginning of 1795, conquering Holland itself. The House of Orange was expelled and replaced by the Batavian Republic, a French satellite state. These victories led to the collapse of the coalition against France. Prussia, having effectively abandoned the coalition in the fall of 1794, made peace with revolutionary France at Basel in April 1795, and soon thereafter Spain, too, made peace with France. Of the major powers, only Britain and Austria remained at war with France.
It was during this time that La Marseillaise was first sung. Originally titled Chant de guerre pour l’Armée du Rhin (“War Song for the Army of the Rhine”), the song was written and composed by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle in 1792. It was adopted in 1795 as the nation’s first anthem.
National Convention (1792–1795)
Execution of Louis XVI in what is now the Place de la Concorde, facing the empty pedestal where the statue of his grandfather, Louis XV, had stood.
In the Brunswick Manifesto, the Imperial and Prussian armies threatened retaliation on the French population if it were to resist their advance or the reinstatement of the monarchy. Thisamong other things made Louis appear to be conspiring with the enemies of France. On 17 January 1793 Louis was condemned to death for “conspiracy against the public liberty and the general safety” by a close majority in Convention: 361 voted to execute the king, 288 voted against, and another 72 voted to execute him subject to a variety of delaying conditions. The former Louis XVI, now simply named Citoyen Louis Capet (Citizen Louis Capet), was executed by guillotine on 21 January 1793 on the Place de la Révolution, former Place Louis XV, now called the Place de la Concorde. Royalty across Europe was horrified and many heretofore neutral countries soon joined the war against revolutionary France.
Head of Louis XVI
When war went badly, prices rose and the sans-culottes — poor labourers and radical Jacobins – rioted; counter-revolutionary activities began in some regions. This encouraged the Jacobins to seize power through a parliamentary coup, backed up by force effected by mobilising public support against the Girondist faction, and by utilising the mob power of the Parisiansans-culottes. An alliance of Jacobin and sans-culottes elements thus became the effective centre of the new government. Policy became considerably more radical, as “The Law of the Maximum” set food prices and led to executions of offenders.
This policy of price control was coeval with the Committee of Public Safety’s rise to power and the Reign of Terror. The Committee first attempted to set the price for only a limited number of grain products but, by September 1793, it expanded the “maximum” to cover all foodstuffs and a long list of other goods. Widespread shortages and famine ensued. The Committee reacted by sending dragoons into the countryside to arrest farmers and seize crops. This temporarily solved the problem in Paris, but the rest of the country suffered. By the spring of 1794, forced collection of food was not sufficient to feed even Paris and the days of the Committee were numbered. When Robespierre went to the guillotine in July of that year the crowd jeered, “There goes the dirty maximum!”
Reign of Terror
Satirical cartoon from England lampooning the excesses of the Revolution as symbolized through the guillotine between 18,000 and 40,000 people were executed during the Reign of Terror
The Committee of Public Safety came under the control of Maximilien Robespierre, a lawyer, and the Jacobins unleashed the Reign of Terror (1793–1794). According to archival records, at least 16,594 people died under the guillotine or otherwise after accusations of counter-revolutionary activities. A number of historians note that as many as 40,000 accused prisoners may have been summarily executed without trial or died awaiting trial.
On 2 June 1793, Paris sections — encouraged by the enragés (“enraged ones”) Jacques Roux and Jacques Hébert – took over the Convention, calling for administrative and political purges, a low fixed price for bread, and a limitation of the electoral franchise to sans-culottes alone. With the backing of the National Guard, they managed to persuade the Convention to arrest 31 Girondin leaders, including Jacques Pierre Brissot. Following these arrests, the Jacobins gained control of the Committee of Public Safety on 10 June, installing the revolutionary dictatorship.
On 13 July, the assassination of Jean-Paul Marat — a Jacobin leader and journalist known for his bloodthirsty rhetoric — by Charlotte Corday, a Girondin, resulted in further increase of Jacobin political influence. Georges Danton, the leader of the August 1792 uprising against the King, undermined by several political reversals, was removed from the Committee and Robespierre, “the Incorruptible”, became its most influential member as it moved to take radical measures against the Revolution’s domestic and foreign enemies.
Meanwhile, on 24 June, the Convention adopted the first republican constitution of France, variously referred to as the French Constitution of 1793 or Constitution of the Year I. It was progressive and radical in several respects, in particular by establishing universal male suffrage. It was ratified by public referendum, but normal legal processes were suspended before it could take effect.
War in the Vendée
Queen Marie Antoinette on the way to the guillotine on 16 October 1793 (drawing by Jacques-Louis David).
In Vendée, peasants revolted against the French Revolutionary government in 1793. They resented the changes imposed on the Roman Catholic Church by the Civil Constitution of the Clergy(1790) and broke into open revolt in defiance of the Revolutionary government’s military conscription. This became a guerrilla war, known as the War in the Vendée. North of the Loire, similar revolts were started by the so-called Chouans (royalist rebels).
After the defeat at Savenay, when regular warfare in the Vendée was at an end, the French general Francois Joseph Westermann is argued by some historians to have penned a letter (its veracity is disputed) to the Committee of Public Safety, stating:
“There is no more Vendée. It died with its wives and its children by our free sabres. I have just buried it in the woods and the swamps of Savenay. According to the orders that you gave me, I crushed the children under the feet of the horses, massacred the women who, at least for these, will not give birth to any more brigands. I do not have a prisoner to reproach me. I have exterminated all. The roads are sown with corpses. At Savenay, brigands are arriving all the time claiming to surrender, and we are shooting them non-stop… Mercy is not a revolutionary sentiment.”
Other historians doubt the authenticity of this document and point out that the claims in it were patently false — there were in fact thousands of living Vendean prisoners, the revolt had been far from crushed, and the Convention had explicitly decreed that women, children and unarmed men were to be treated humanely. It has been hypothesized that if the letter is authentic, Westermann may have been attempting to exaggerate the intensity of his actions and his success, because he was eager to avoid being purged for his opposition to sans-culotte generals (he was later guillotined together with Danton’s group).
The revolt and its suppression, including both combat casualties and massacres and executions on both sides, are thought to have taken between 117,000 and 250,000 lives (170,000 according to the latest estimates). Because of the extremely brutal forms that the Republican repression took in many places, certain historians such as Reynald Secher have called the event a “genocide”. This description has become popular in the mass media, but has largely been rejected by mainstream scholars.
Facing local revolts and foreign invasions in both the East and West of the country, the most urgent government business was the war. On 17 August, the Convention voted for generalconscription, the levée en masse, which mobilized all citizens to serve as soldiers or suppliers in the war effort.
The National Convention subsequently enacted more legislation, voting on 9 September to establish sans-culottes paramilitary forces, revolutionary armies, and to force farmers to surrendergrain demanded by the government. On 17 September, the Law of Suspects was passed, which authorized the charging of counter-revolutionaries with “crimes against liberty.” On 29 September, the Convention extended price limits from grain and bread to other household goods and established the Law of the Maximum, intended to prevent price gouging and supply food to the cities.
The guillotine as a symbol
The guillotine became the symbol of a string of executions. Louis XVI had already been guillotined before the start of the terror; Queen Marie Antoinette, Barnave, Bailly, Brissot and other leading Girondins, Philippe Égalité (despite his vote for the death of the King), Madame Roland and many others were executed by guillotine. The Revolutionary Tribunal summarily condemned thousands of people to death by the guillotine, while mobs beat other victims to death.
The War in the Vendée was a royalist uprising that was suppressed by the republican forces in 1796.
At the peak of the terror, the slightest hint of counter-revolutionary thoughts or activities (or, as in the case of Jacques Hébert, revolutionary zeal exceeding that of those in power) could place one under suspicion, and trials did not always proceed according to contemporary standards of due process. Sometimes people died for their political opinions or actions, but many for little reason beyond mere suspicion, or because some others had a stake in getting rid of them. Most of the victims received an unceremonious trip to the guillotine in an open wooden cart (the tumbrel). In the rebellious provinces, the government representatives had unlimited authority and some engaged in extreme repressions and abuses. For example, Jean-Baptiste Carrier became notorious for the Noyades (“drownings”) he organized in Nantes; his conduct was judged unacceptable even by the Jacobin government and he was recalled.
Another anti-clerical uprising was made possible by the installment of the Republican Calendar on 24 October 1793. Against Robespierre’s concepts of Deism and Virtue, Hébert’s (and Chaumette’s) atheist movement initiated a religious campaign to dechristianize society. The climax was reached with the celebration of the flame of Reason in Notre Dame Cathedral on 10 November.
The Reign of Terror ultimately weakened the revolutionary government, while temporarily ending internal opposition. The Jacobins expanded the size of the army, and Carnot replaced many aristocratic officers with soldiers who had demonstrated their patriotism, if not their ability. The Republican army was able to throw back the Austrians, Prussians, British, and Spanish. At the end of 1793, the army began to prevail and revolts were defeated with ease. The Ventôse Decrees (February–March 1794) proposed the confiscation of the goods of exiles and opponents of the Revolution, and their redistribution to the needy. However this policy was never fully implemented.
In the spring of 1794, both extremist enragés such as Hébert and moderate Montagnard indulgents such as Danton were charged with counter-revolutionary activities, tried and guillotined. On 7 June Robespierre, who had previously condemned the Cult of Reason, advocated a new state religion and recommended the Convention acknowledge the existence of the “Supreme Being”.
The execution of Robespierre on 28 July 1794 marked the end of the Reign of Terror.
On 27 July 1794, the Thermidorian Reaction led to the arrest and execution of Robespierre, Louis de Saint-Just, and other leading Jacobins. The new government was predominantly made up of Girondists who had survived the Terror, and after taking power, they took revenge as well by persecuting even those Jacobins who had helped to overthrow Robespierre, banning the Jacobin Club, and executing many of its former members in what was known as the White Terror.
In the wake of excesses of the Terror, the Convention approved the new “Constitution of the Year III” on 22 August 1795. A French plebiscite ratified the document, with about 1,057,000 votes for the constitution and 49,000 against. The results of the voting were announced on 23 September 1795, and the new constitution took effect on 27 September 1795.
The Constitutional Republic: The Directory (1795–1799)
The Festival of the Supreme Being on 8 June 1794
The new constitution created the Directoire (English: Directory) and the first bicameral legislature in French history. The parliament consisted of two houses: the Conseil des Cinq-Cents(Council of the Five Hundred), with 500 representatives, and the Conseil des Anciens (Council of Elders), with 250 senators. Executive power went to five “directors,” named annually by theConseil des Anciens from a list submitted by the Conseil des Cinq-Cents. Furthermore, the universal male suffrage of 1793 was replaced by limited suffrage based on property.
With the establishment of the Directory, contemporary observers might have assumed that the Revolution was finished. Citizens of the war-weary nation wanted stability, peace, and an end to conditions that at times bordered on chaos. Those who wished to restore the monarchy and the Ancien Régime by putting Louis XVIII on the throne, and those who would have renewed the Reign of Terror were insignificant in number. The possibility of foreign interference had vanished with the failure of the First Coalition. The earlier atrocities had made confidence or goodwill between parties impossible.
The same instinct of self-preservation which had led the members of the Convention to claim so large a part in the new legislature and the whole of the Directory impelled them to keep their predominance. However, many French citizens distrusted the Directory, and the directors could achieve their purposes only by extraordinary means. They habitually disregarded the terms of the constitution, and, even when the elections that they rigged went against them, the directors routinely used draconian police measures to quell dissent. Moreover, to prolong their power the directors were driven to rely on the military, which desired war and grew less and less civic-minded.
Other reasons influenced them in the direction of war. State finances during the earlier phases of the Revolution had been so thoroughly ruined that the government could not have met its expenses without the plunder and the tribute of foreign countries. If peace were made, the armies would return home and the directors would have to face the exasperation of the rank-and-file who had lost their livelihood, as well as the ambition of generals who could, in a moment, brush them aside. Barras and Rewbell were notoriously corrupt themselves and screened corruption in others. The patronage of the directors was ill-bestowed, and the general maladministration heightened their unpopularity.
The constitutional party in the legislature desired toleration of the nonjuring clergy, the repeal of the laws against the relatives of the émigrés, and some merciful discrimination toward the émigrés themselves. The directors baffled all such endeavours. On the other hand, the socialist conspiracy of Babeuf was easily quelled. Little was done to improve the finances, and theassignats continued to fall in value .
The new régime met opposition from remaining Jacobins and the royalists. The army suppressed riots and counter-revolutionary activities. In this way the army and its successful general,Napoleon Bonaparte eventually gained total power.
Napoléon Bonaparte in the coup d’état of 18 Brumaire, which marked the end of the revolution.
On 9 November 1799 (18 Brumaire of the Year VIII) Napoleon Bonaparte staged the coup of 18 Brumaire which installed the Consulate. This effectively led to Bonaparte’s dictatorship and eventually (in 1804) to his proclamation as Empereur (emperor), which brought to a close the specifically republican phase of the French Revolution.
Symbolism in the French Revolution
The French Revolution was a time of upheaval, especially towards traditional ideology, in almost every sense: the current monarch, King Louis XVI, was executed; the Catholic Church was all but abolished; a new calendar was created; and a new Republican government was established. In order to effectively illustrate the differences between the new Republic and the old regime, the leaders needed to implement a new set of symbols to be celebrated instead of the old religious and monarchical symbolism. To this end, symbols were borrowed from historic cultures and redefined, while those of the old regime were either destroyed or reattributed acceptable characteristics. These revised symbols were used to instill in the public a new sense of tradition and reverence for the Enlightenment and the Republic.
Fasces, likes many other symbols of the French Revolution, are Roman in origin. Fasces are a bundle of birch rods containing an axe. In Roman times, the fasces symbolized the power of magistrates who could order the beating of a criminal, representing union and accord with the Roman Republic. The French Republic continued this Roman symbol to represent state power, justice, and unity.
During the French Revolution the fasces image is seen in conjunction with many other symbols. This is seen with many emblems of the French Revolution. Though seen throughout the French Revolution, perhaps the most well known French reincarnation of the fasces is the Fasces surmounted by a Phrygian cap. This image has no display of an axe or a strong central state; rather, it symbolizes the power of the liberated people by placing the Liberty Cap on top of the classical symbol of power.
Early depiction of the tricolour in the hands of a sans-culotte during the French Revolution.
The Liberty cap, also known as the Phrygian cap, or pileus, is a brimless, felt cap that is conical in shape with the tip pulled forward. The cap was originally worn by ancient Romans and Greeks. The cap implies ennobling effects, as seen in its association with Homer’s Ulysses and the mythical twins, Castor and Pollux. The emblem’s popularity during the French Revolution is due in part to its importance in ancient Rome: its use alludes to the Roman ritual of manumission of slaves, in which a freed slave receives the bonnet as a symbol of his newfound liberty. The Roman tribune Lucius Appuleius Saturninus incited the slaves to insurrection by displaying a pileus as if it were a standard.
The pileus cap is often red in color. This type of cap was worn by revolutionaries at the fall of the Bastille. According to the Revolutions de Paris, it became “the symbol of the liberation from all servitudes, the sign for unification of all the enemies of despotism.” The pileus competed with the Phrygian cap, a similar cap that covered the ears and the nape of the neck, for popularity. The Phrygian cap eventually supplanted the pileus and usurped its symbolism, becoming synonymous with republican liberty.
The Liberty Tree, officially adopted in 1792, is a symbol of the everlasting Republic, national freedom, and political revolution. It has historic roots in revolutionary France as well as America, as a symbol that was shared by the two nascent republics The tree was chosen as a symbol of the French Revolution because it is a symbol of fertility in French folklore, which provided a simple transition from revering it for one reason to another. The American colonies also used the idea of a Liberty Tree to celebrate their own acts of insurrection against the British, starting with the Stamp Act riot in 1765.
The riot culminated in the hanging in effigy of two Stamp Act politicians on a large elm tree. The elm tree began to be celebrated as a symbol of Liberty in the American colonies. It was adopted as a symbol that needed to be living and growing, along with the Republic. To that end, the tree is portrayed as a sapling, usually of an oak tree in French interpretation. The Liberty Tree serves as a constant celebration of the spirit of political freedom.
The symbol of Hercules was first adopted by the Old Regime to represent the monarchy. Hercules was an ancient Greek hero who symbolized strength and power. The symbol was used to represent the sovereign authority of the King over France during the reign of the Bourbon monarchs. However, the monarchy was not the only ruling power in French history to use the symbol of Hercules to declare its power.
During the Revolution, the symbol of Hercules was revived to represent nascent revolutionary ideals. The first use of Hercules as a revolutionary symbol was during a festival celebrating the National Assembly’s victory over federalism on 10 August 1793. This Festival of Unity consisted of four stations around Paris which featured symbols representing major events of the Revolution which embodied revolutionary ideals of liberty, unity, and power.
The statue of Hercules, placed at the station commemorating the fall of Louis XVI, symbolized the power of the French people over their former oppressors. The statue’s foot was placed on the throat of the Hydra, which represented the tyranny of federalism which the new Republic had vanquished. In one hand, the statue grasped a club, a symbol of power, while in the other grasping the fasces which symbolized the unity of the French people. The image of Hercules assisted the new Republic in establishing its new Republican moral system. Hercules thus evolved from a symbol of the sovereignty of the monarch into a symbol of the new sovereign authority in France: the French people.
This transition was made easily for two reasons. First, because Hercules was a famous mythological figure, and had previously been used by the monarchy, he was easily recognized by educated French observers. It was not necessary for the revolutionary government to educate the French people on the background of the symbol. Additionally, Hercules recalled the classical age of the Greeks and the Romans, a period which the revolutionaries identified with republican and democratic ideals. These connotations made Hercules an easy choice to represent the powerful new sovereign people of France.
During the more radical phase of the Revolution from 1793 to 1794, the usage and depiction of Hercules changed. These changes to the symbol were due to revolutionary leaders believing the symbol was inciting violence among the common citizens. The triumphant battles of Hercules and the overcoming of enemies of the Republic became less prominent. In discussions over what symbol to use for the Seal of the Republic, the image of Hercules was considered but eventually ruled out in favor of Marianne.
Hercules was on the coin of the Republic. However, this Hercules was not the same image as that of the pre-Terror phases of the Revolution. The new image of Hercules was more domesticated. He appeared more paternal, older, and wiser, rather than the warrior-like images in the early stages of the French Revolution. Unlike his 24 foot statue in the Festival of the Supreme Being, he was now the same size as Liberty and Equality.
Also the language on the coin with Hercules was far different than the rhetoric of pre-revolutionary depictions. On the coins the words, “uniting Liberty and Equality” were used. This is opposed to the forceful language of early Revolutionary rhetoric and rhetoric of the Bourbon monarchy. By 1798, the Council of Ancients had discussed the “inevitable” change from the problematic image of Hercules, and Hercules was eventually phased out in favor of an even more docile image.
Role of women
Women had no political rights in pre-Revolutionary France; they could not vote or hold any political office. They were considered “passive” citizens; forced to rely on men to determine what was best for them in the government. It was the men who defined these categories, and women were forced to accept male domination in the political sphere.
The Encyclopédie, published by a group of philosophers over the years 1751–1777, summarized French male beliefs of women. A woman was a “failed man,” the fetus not fully developed in the womb. “Women’s testimony is in general light and subject to variation; this is why it is taken more seriously than that of men” as opposed to men, upon whom “Nature seems to have conferred… the right to govern.” In general, “men are more capable than women of ably governing particular matters”.
Instead, women were taught to be committed to their husbands and “all his interests… [to show] attention and care… [and] sincere and discreet zeal for his salvation.” A woman’s education often consisted of learning to be a good wife and mother; as a result women were not supposed to be involved in the political sphere, as the limit of their influence was the raising of future citizens.
When the Revolution opened, some women struck forcefully, using the volatile political climate to assert their active natures. In the time of the Revolution, women could not be kept out of the political sphere; they swore oaths of loyalty, “solemn declarations of patriotic allegiance, [and] affirmations of the political responsibilities of citizenship.” Throughout the Revolution, women such as Pauline Léon and her Society of Revolutionary Republican Women fought for the right to bear arms, used armed force and rioted.
Even before Léon, some liberals had advocated equal rights for women including women’s suffrage. Nicolas de Condorcet was especially noted for his advocacy, in his articles published in the Journal de la Société de 1789, and by publishing De l’admission des femmes au droit de cité (“For the Admission to the Rights of Citizenship For Women”) in 1790.
The March to Versailles is but one example of feminist militant activism during the French Revolution. While largely left out of the thrust for increasing rights of citizens, as the question was left indeterminate in the Declaration of the Rights of Man, activists such as Pauline Léon and Théroigne de Méricourt agitated for full citizenship for women. Women were, nonetheless, “denied political rights of ‘active citizenship’ (1791) and democratic citizenship (1793).”
Pauline Léon, on 6 March 1792, submitted a petition signed by 319 women to the National Assembly requesting permission to form a garde national in order to defend Paris in case of military invasion. Léon requested permission be granted to women to arm themselves with pikes, pistols, sabers and rifles, as well as the privilege of drilling under the French Guards. Her request was denied. Later in 1792, Théroigne de Méricourt made a call for the creation of “legions of amazons” in order to protect the revolution. As part of her call, she claimed that the right to bear arm would transform women into citizens.
On 20 June 1792 a number of armed women took part in a procession that “passed through the halls of the Legislative Assembly, into the Tuilleries Gardens, and then through the King’s residence.” Militant women also assumed a special role in the funeral of Marat, following his murder on 13 July 1793. As part of the funeral procession, they carried the bathtub in which Marat had been murdered as well as a shirt stained with Marat’s blood.
The most radical militant feminist activism was practiced by the Society of Revolutionary Republican Women, which was founded by Léon and her colleague, Claire Lacombe on 10 May 1793. The goal of the club was “to deliberate on the means of frustrating the projects of the enemies of the Republic.” Up to 180 women attended the meetings of the Society Of special interest to the Society was “combating hoarding [of grain and other staples] and inflation.”
Later, on 20 May 1793, women were at the fore of a crowd that demanded “bread and the Constitution of 1793.” When their cries went unnoticed, the women went on a rampage, “sacking shops, seizing grain and kidnapping officials.”
Most of these outwardly activist women were punished for their actions. The kind of punishment received during the Revolution included public denouncement, arrest, execution, or exile. Théroigne de Méricourt was arrested, publicly flogged and then spent the rest of her life sentenced to an insane asylum. Pauline Léon and Claire Lacombe were arrested, later released, and continued to receive ridicule and abuse for their activism. Many of the women of the Revolution were even publicly executed for “conspiring against the unity and the indivisibility of the Republic”.
These are but a few examples of the militant feminism that was prevalent during the French Revolution. While little progress was made toward gender equality during the Revolution, the activism of French feminists was bold and particularly significant in Paris.
Olympe de Gouges was the author of theDeclaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen in 1791.
While some women chose a militant, and often violent, path, others chose to influence events through writing, publications, and meetings. Olympe de Gouges wrote a number of plays, short stories, and novels. Her publications emphasized that women and men are different, but this shouldn’t stop them from equality under the law. In her “Declaration on the Rights of Woman” she insisted that women deserved rights, especially in areas concerning them directly, such as divorce and recognition of illegitimate children.
De Gouges also expressed non-gender political views; even before the start of the terror, Olympe de Gouges addressed Robespierre using the pseudonym “Polyme” calling him the Revolution’s “infamy and shame.” She warned of the Revolution’s building extremism saying that leaders were “preparing new shackles if [the French people’s liberty were to] waver.” Stating that she was willing to sacrifice herself by jumping into the Seine if Robespierre were to join her, de Gouges desperately attempted to grab the attention of the French citizenry and alert them to the dangers that Robespierre embodied. In addition to these bold writings, her defense of the king was one of the factors leading to her execution. An influential figure, one of her suggestions early in the Revolution, to have a voluntary, patriotic tax, was adopted by the National Convention in 1789.
Madame Roland (aka Manon or Marie Roland) was another important female activist. Her political focus was not specifically on women or their liberation. She focused on other aspects of the government, but was a feminist by virtue of the fact that she was a woman working to influence the world. Her personal letters to leaders of the Revolution influenced policy; in addition, she often hosted political gatherings of the Brissotins, a political group which allowed women to join.
While limited by her gender, Madame Roland took it upon herself to spread Revolutionary ideology and spread word of events, as well as to assist in formulating the policies of her political allies. Though unable to directly write policies or carry them through to the government, Roland was able to influence her political allies and thus promote her political agenda. Roland attributed women’s lack of education to the public view that women were too weak or vain to be involved in the serious business of politics. She believed that it was this inferior education that turned them into foolish people, but women “could easily be concentrated and solidified upon objects of great significance” if given the chance.
As she was led to the scaffold, Madame Roland shouted “O liberty! What crimes are committed in thy name!” Witnesses of her life and death, editors, and readers helped to finish her writings and several editions were published posthumously. While she did not focus on gender politics in her writings, by taking an active role in the tumultuous time of the Revolution, Roland took a stand for women of the time and proved they could take an intelligent active role in politics.
Though women did not gain the right to vote as a result of the Revolution, they still greatly expanded their political participation and involvement in governing. They set precedents for generations of feminists to come.
A major aspect of the French Revolution was the dechristianisation movement, a movement that many common people did not agree with. Especially for women living in rural areas of France, the demise of the Catholic Church meant a loss of normalcy. For instance, the ringing of Church bells resonating through the town called people to confession and was a symbol of unity for the community. With the onset of the dechristianisation campaign the Republic silenced these bells and sought simultaneously to silence the religious fervor of the majority Catholic population.
When these revolutionary changes to the Church were implemented, it spawned a counter-revolutionary movement, particularly amongst women. Although some of these women embraced the political and social amendments of the Revolution, they opposed the dissolution of the Catholic Church and the formation of revolutionary cults like the Cult of the Supreme Being advocated by Robespierre. As Olwen Hufton argues, these women began to see themselves as the “defenders of faith”. They took it upon themselves to protect the Church from what they saw as a heretical change to their faith, enforced by revolutionaries.
Counter-revolutionary women resisted what they saw as the intrusion of the state into their lives. Economically, many peasant women refused to sell their goods for assignats because this form of currency was unstable and was backed by the sale of confiscated Church property. By far the most important issue to counter-revolutionary women was the passage and the enforcement of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy in 1790. In response to this measure, women in many areas began circulating anti-oath pamphlets and refused to attend masses held by priests who had sworn oaths of loyalty to the Republic. This diminished the social and political influence of the juring priests because they presided over smaller congregations and counter-revolutionary women did not seek them for baptisms, marriages or confession. Instead, they secretly hid nonjuring priests and attended clandestine traditional masses. These women continued to adhere to traditional practices such as Christian burials and naming their children after saints in spite of revolutionary decrees to the contrary.
It was this determined resistance to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy and the dechristianisation campaigns that played a major role in the re-emergence of the Catholic Church as a prominent social institution. In fact, Olwen Hufton notes about the Counter-Revolutionary women: “for it is her commitment to her religion which determines in the post-Thermidorean period the re-emergence of the Catholic Church…”. Although they struggled, these women were eventually vindicated in their bid to reestablish the Church and thereby also to reestablish traditional family life and social stability. This was seen in the Concordat of 1801, which formally reinstated the Catholic Church in France. This act came after years of failed attempts at dechristianisation or state-controlled religion, which were thwarted in part due to the resistance of devout counter-revolutionary women. After the upheaval of the revolutionary period, the reestablishment of the Church was seen by many people as a welcome return to normalcy.
The French Revolution has received enormous amounts of historical attention, both from the general public and from scholars and academics. The views of historians, in particular, have been characterized as falling along ideological lines, with disagreement over the significance and the major developments of the Revolution. Alexis de Tocqueville argued that the Revolution was a manifestation of a more prosperous middle class becoming conscious of its social importance.
Other thinkers, like the conservative Edmund Burke, maintained that the Revolution was the product of a few conspiratorial individuals who brainwashed the masses into subverting the old order—a claim rooted in the belief that the revolutionaries had no legitimate complaints. Other historians, influenced by Marxist thinking, have emphasized the importance of the peasants and the urban workers in presenting the Revolution as a gigantic class struggle. In general, scholarship on the French Revolution initially studied the political ideas and developments of the era, but it has gradually shifted towards social history that analyzes the impact of the Revolution on individual lives.
Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history, and the end of the early modern period, which started around 1500, is traditionally attributed to the onset of the French Revolution in 1789. The Revolution is, in fact, often seen as marking the “dawn of the modern era” Within France itself, the Revolution permanently crippled the power of the aristocracy and drained the wealth of the Church, although the two institutions survived despite the damage they sustained. After the collapse of the First Empire in 1815, the French public lost the rights and privileges earned since the Revolution, but they remembered the participatory politics that characterized the period, with one historian commenting: “Thousands of men and even many women gained firsthand experience in the political arena: they talked, read, and listened in new ways; they voted; they joined new organizations; and they marched for their political goals. Revolution became a tradition, and republicanism an enduring option.”
Some historians argue that the French people underwent a fundamental transformation in self-identity, evidenced by the elimination of privileges and their replacement by rights as well as the growing decline in social deference that highlighted the principle of equality throughout the Revolution. The Revolution represented the most significant and dramatic challenge to political absolutism up to that point in history and, despite its failures, spread democratic ideals throughout Europe and ultimately the world. It had a profound impact on the Russian Revolution and its ideas inspired Mao Zedong in his efforts at constructing a communist state in China
أنا باكتب الكلام ده وأنا باستعد للنزول يوم 24 ، 25 للتظاهر ضد اخونة الدولة ، وضد جماعة الإخوان علي أساس حلها أو توفيق أوضاعها وخضوع مصادر تمويلها للرقابة، وعشان حل الأحزاب الدينية المتطرفة، وعشان ضمان دستور يكتبه كل أطياف الشعب المصري.
نازلة مش عشان اسقط الرئيسي القطبي الاخوانجي لكن نازلة ضد انه يكون رئيس لطائفة معينة واتجاه معين، نازلة لآن واضح من السكة اللي ماشيين فيها ومن تصريحات بطانته والمطبلاتيه وكدابين الزفة وتصريحاته هو شخصيا إن إحنا رايحيين علي سكة اللي يروح ما يرجعش
باختصار نازلة عشان مصر لأن حبي لمصر وعشقي لقيم حقوق الإنسان ومنظومة الحريات الشخصية والعامة فوق كل شئ، وأنا شايفة أن كل شئ بينداس عليه بالرجلين
تحملوني شوية وهنرجع فلاش باك ليوم خطبة مبارك الشهيرة اللي قال فيها أنه خلاص هيمشي، ومافيش توريث، هيستمر الست شهور فقط لحد الانتخابات لحد ما حد تاني يمسكها، فاكرين الخطاب العاطفي ده وقتها اغلب الناس سابت التحرير … فضل شوية ناس صغيرة
هنقف هناك شوية ونفترض أن موقعة الجمل لم تحدث أبدا، هنفترض أن المجموعة الباقية لقت فعلا مبارك بيظبط الدنيا ومشيت هي كمان مستنية هيحصل إيه بعدها
بما إننا بنتخيل، هتخيل أن مبارك جاب أحسن خبراء، وكتبوا دستور ممتاز، وسمح برضة بتكوين أحزاب الخ الخ الخ الخ
طبعا برضة اتكونت أحزاب دينية، لان المادة التانية اللي في الدستور “الإسلام دين الدولة” تسمح بتكوين أحزاب علي أساس ديني، ولما كانت المادة دي أهم مادة في الدستور المصري بل سبقنا بها كل دساتير العالم ولما كانت مش فارقة مع أصحاب الديانات التانية اوي، فضلت المادة دي، طبعا تكونت أحزاب اسلامية، وطبعا كمان الأحزاب المدنية واليسارية والليبرالية والعلمانية والفاسكونيا والمهلبية اتعملت هي كمان.
نبدأ نستعد لانتخابات مجلس الشعب والشوري، ما هو مبارك لازم يخف الحمل عليه يا ولداه، ولازم يكون في البلد هيئة تشريعية……………….
بمنتهي البساطة كان هيحصل نفس اللي حصل بل بالعكس يمكن كان الإخوان وباقي التيار المتأسلم هيسيطروا اكتر ، لية ……؟ ببساطة لأن ساعتها كل الأحزاب المدنية من يسارها لوسطها ليمنيها لفوقها لتحتها كانت هتتفرغ فقط للخناق مع بعضها ومع مبارك، وكانت هتستمر في تجاهل الشارع وفي تجاهل الفئات المهمشة اللي كل التيار المتأسلم باخوانه بسلفيه بجهاده من فوقه لتحتيه بيعرف يوصل لهم كويس، بل بالعكس كان هيعرف يوصل لهم اكتر واكتر
طبعا بعد اكتساحهم لمجلس الشعب والشوري التيار المدني كان هيقعد يندب ويلطم ويسب ويلعن ويدور علي أي شماعة يعلق عليها اخطائه إلا نفسه وتجاهله التام للشارع وعدم مقدرته علي الوصول للمهمشين وعجزه عن تحويل خطابه من خطاب نخبوي لخطاب شعبي يمس كل الناس، وطبعا قصة انهم ينزلوا للقري والنجوع ويخدموا الطبقات الفقيرة والمهشمة انسوا خالص، ولما باتكلم عن خدمة الطبقات دي مش باتكلم عن ازازة الزيت وكيس السكر وقت الانتخابات لكن باتكلم عن خدمات ترفع مستواهم المعيشي شوية بشوية وهتكون فرصة لتنويرهم وتعليمهم وده الطريق الوحيد عشان حياتهم تتغير ومصر تتغير
نخلص انتخابات مجلس الشعب اللي حصلت في وسط مناخ من الحرية والديموقراطية ابهر العالم، ونروح لانتخابات الرياسة
نختصر القصة الطويلة و مرة تانية اكتساح التيار الإسلامي والمرة دي عن جدارة مش عن شكوك في التزوير ونجاح علي الحروكروك …. باختصار كانت جماعة الإخوان المسلمين وحزبهم الحرية والعدالة هينزلوا بالمرشح اللي هيكتسح الكل. لنفس أسباب اكتساح مجلس الشعب ..
وبعد انفرادهم بالسلطات مجتمعة هيرجعوا يكتبوا دستور علي مقاسهم ماهو الدستور اللي كتبه مبارك كان مؤقت.
بمعني أن كل اللي حصل في الشهور اللي فاتت من وقت موقعة الجمل كان تحصيل حاصل فقط كان ممكن نوفر علينا المسرحيات الهزلية بتاعة المحاكمات والهبل ده اللي ما كنش في منها أي استفادة لأن مافيش فلوس رجعت ولا أي حاجة ………… مبارك كان هيخرج معزز ومكرم مش اكتر من كدة، بورتو طرة مافيش، الشئ الوحيد اللي كان ممكن نستفيده هو الشباب اللي مات واتسحل واتفقعت عنيه ماكنش هيحصل له كد، يمكن الفوضي والانفلات الامني كمان كان هيكون اقل شوية صغيرة، لكن اكتر من كدة ماكنش في حاجة هتختلف كتير.
و نرجع للوقت الحاضر والموقف اللي الكل عارفة كويس……….. المفروض إن في ناس نازلة يوم الجمعة والسبت اللي جايين للتظاهر للأسباب اللي ذكرتها في البداية وأسباب أخري ماليش دعوة بيها
لكن ………… مافيش اتفاق إلي الآن علي مكان محدد للتظاهر …. وكل واحد منشف دماغه ومصمم علي اللى شيافة صح وبس، ودي احد أهم أسباب ضعف التيار المدني ، مافيش اتفاق أبدا ومافيش اتحاد حتى لما يكون في خطر مشترك ولا في حد حتى بيسمع للتاني، كنت اتمني أن ممثل عن كل مجموعة في التيار المدني يقعدوا مع بعض وفي النهاية يتفقوا علي مطالب محددة للتظاهر، وعلي آلية محددة للعمل المشترك، وبعد كدة يتم التصويت عليها وفي النهاية يتم العمل بما فيه الصالح العام لمصر مش لتيار ولا لتوجه بعينه………. واعتقد أن دي بداية الديمقراطية
فاكرين القصة اللي اتعلمناها زمان الحطاب اللي أدي ولاده لبشة الحطب عشان يكسروها، ماحدش من عياله قدر يكسرها لما كانت مع بعضها ……. لكن لما اتفككت اتكسرت بسهولة
أول خطوات نجاح التيار المدني بكافة أطيافه من اشتراكيين لماركسيين لشيوعيين لليبراليين ….. الخ الخ الخ، هو مواجهة نفسنا بعيوبنا ونقط ضعفنا وكمان نقاط قوتنا… ومعالجة العيوب والتركيز علي نقاط القوة اللي عندنا
مش وقت خلاف خالص ياريت نتفق علي مكان واحد ننزل فيه يوم 24 ، 25 وتكون دي البداية لتوحدنا مع بعض كل أطياف التيار المدني ، أكيد هنختلف كتير بس ياريت تكون مصلحة مصر هي المعيار الأول في حكمنا علي الأمور، ياريت يكون حبنا لمصر فوق مصالحنا الشخصية وفوق رفضنا أو حتي كراهيتنا لأي شئ تاني
From ancient times, the rise and fall of the River Nile portended periods of famine or good fortune for the peoples of Egypt. Other than wells, the River Nile is the only source of water in the country. During an idyllic year, the flooding of the Nile would begin in July, and by September its receding waters would deposit a rich, black silt in its wake for farming. Before taming the river, however, the ancient Egyptians had to overcome the river’s peculiar problem.
Ancient Egyptian toilet
The Niles runs along an alluvial plain, the ebb and tide of the Nile corresponding to an annual movement of the ground. When the Nile is the lowest, the ground completely dries up. When it floods, the water seeps into the dry soil and causes the ground to rise as much as a foot or two like some bloated sponge. As the inundation subsides the ground settles again to its original dry level, but never settles evenly.
The name Egypt means “Two Lands,” reflecting the two separate kingdoms of Upper and Lower prehistoric Egypt – Delta region in the north and a long length of sandstone and limestone in the south. In 3000 B.C., a single ruler, Menes, unified the entire land and set the stage for an impressive civilization that lasted 3,000 years. He began with the construction of basins to contain the flood water, digging canals and irrigation ditches to reclaim the marshy land.
From these earliest of times, so important was the cutting of a dam that the event was heralded by a royal ceremony. King Menes is credited with diverting the course of the Nile to build the city of Memphis on the site where the great river had run. By 2500 B. C., an extensive system of dikes, canals and sluices had developed. It remained in use until the Roman occupation, circa 30 B.C. – 641 A.D.
For pure water, the Egyptians depended upon wells. Their prowess in divining hidden sources is shown in the “Well of Joseph,” constructed about 3000 B.C. near the Pyramids of Gizeh. Workers had to dig through 300 feet of solid rock to tap into the water.
Plumbing For the Dead: Egypt’s pyramid-temples which have withstood thousands of years of time also attest to the skill of the ancient construction workers. The earliest pyramids were built from 2660-2500 B.C., a period running parallel with the Sumer-Mesopotamians when they achieved their greatest advances in civilization. Yet any cultural ties that Egypt had with Mesopotamia had vanished by this period.
A stone bath with plastered sides and drain. Just below the outlet of the bath, water drained into a vase perforated at the bottom and cemented into the earth.
By 2500 B.C. the Egyptians were pretty adept with drainage construction, accentuated by the significance that water played in their priestly rituals of purification and those affecting the burial of the kings. According to their religion, to die was simply to pass from one state of life to another. If the living required food, clothing and other accoutrements of daily life, so did the dead. Thus, it’s not surprising that archaeologists have discovered bathrooms in some tombs.
Excavators of the mortuary temple of King Suhura at Abusir discovered niches in the walls and remnants of stone basins. These were furnished with metal fittings for use as lavatories. The outlet of the basin closed with a lead stopper attached to a chain and a bronze ring. The basin emptied through a copper pipe to a trough below. The pipe was made of 1/16″ beaten copper to a diameter of a little under 2″. A lap joint seam hammered it tight.
Also found within a pyramid temple built by King Tutankhamen’s father-in-law at Abusir, was a brass drain pipe running from the upper temple along the connecting masonry causeway to the outer temple on the river.
Excavators have discovered a tomb which supposedly contains the body of Osiris before he became a god. It contains the dividing line between Life and Death, i.e., a deep moat containing water that surrounds all sides of the figure of the god on his throne. After 5,000 years, water still fills the canal through underground pipes from the River Nile.
Coppersmiths: The ancient Egyptians were early developers of pipe and the techniques of making copper alloys. In the beginning, of course, their pipe and fittings were very crude. Like the Mesopotamians, they used clay pipe made from a combination of straw and clay. First it was dried in the sun, and then baked in ovens. As they improved upon their clay sewer pipe, the Egyptians were able to drain the low-lying portions of the Nile Valley, and gradually the entire region evolved into a fertile garden.
It is here in Egypt that the noria or Egyptian wheel became a common use. As in Mesopotamia, it consisted of a chain pump comprising a number of earthen pots carried round and round by a wheel.
The Egyptians were quite skilled in working metals. They melted metal in a crucible over a super-hot fire, the intense heat provided by men fanning the fire with blowpipes made of reeds tipped with clay. The molten metal was poured out and allowed to cool, then beaten out with smooth stones into sheets of the required thickness. It was then cut to shape. One explanatory picture in a tomb chapel describes the process as “causing metal to swim.”
Other examples of their craftsmanship are found in bowls of beaten copper on which they casted double spouts. Originally copper basins were used only by the pharoahs.
The homes of the wealthy were airy and roomy, literally. There were bedrooms, servants’ quarters, halls, dining rooms – and bathrooms. Actually, a “bathroom” was usually a small recessed room with a square slab of limestone in the corner. There the master of the house stood while his slaves liberally doused him with water. The waste water ran into a large bowl in the floor below or through an earthenware channel in the wall where it emptied into still another bowl outside. Then that bowl was baled out by hand.
Remains of early earth closets with limestone seats also have been discovered, the disposal evidently in the sandy soil.
Many other details of Egypt’s past are lost in obscurity. But of their engineering skill there is no doubt. Knowing only the lever, roller, inclined plane and possibly a long copper saw, they erected immense monuments in the desert sands and along great cliffs.
When anyone reflects on ancient Egypt today, the Great Pyramid of Cheops and its staggering dimensions invariably are brought to mind: It stands 481 ft. high and contains 2 million blocks of yellowish limestone. Each block weights 2.5 tons, was quarried miles away, floated on barges, and dragged from the shores of the Nile to its present site.
The other monument of renown is the Sphinx, guardian of the pyramids, which the ancients carved out of bedrock. It is shaped like a crouching lion with a human head. Unfortunately it was built before the services of a good Roman plumber were available. Located outside present day Cairo, it has lost limestone blocks to the marauding influence of underground water pollution – caused mainly by nearby villagers throwing household and human waste out in the street.
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أستاذ اللغة المصرية القديمة بكلية الآثار، جامعة القاهرة، ومستشار مدير مكتبة الإسكندرية (سابقا)
رغم أن المصريين القدماء لم يتركوا لنا في لغتهم مصطلحًا يشير إلى البيئة كما نعرفها الآن، إلا أن ما مارسوه في حياتهم اليومية، وما خلفوه لنا من وثائق، يؤكد بوضوح أنهم أدركوا معنى البيئة وأهميتها بالنسبة لهم، وعرفوا بأسلوبهم كيف يتعاملون معها، وكيف يحافظون عليها نظيفة صحية، حتى يمكن أن ينعموا بحياتهم أصحاء سعداء». وأضاف أن المصريين القدماء أبدوا، كما يتضح من نصوصهم والمناظر التي خلفوها لنا، اهتمامًا شديدًا بنظافة أنفسهم، وأجسامهم، وملابسهم، وطعامهم، وشرابهم، ومنازلهم، وهو ما يتأكد من خلال استعراض بعض القطع الأدبية التي يزخر بها الأدب المصري القديم. ففي بردية وستكار (قصة خوفو والسحرة)، والتي تتضمن مجموعة من القصص حول ما يأتي به السحرة من معجزات، نلمس اهتمام المصري بنظافة الطفل منذ لحظة الولادة، فيقول النص: فانزلق الطفل على يديها، فجرى غسله، وقَطْع حبل سرته، ولفه بقطعة نظيفة من القماش. ثم يشير النص نفسه إلى طهارة الأم بعد الولادة لفترة تستمر 14 يومًا.
واستعرض الدكتور نور الدين ما قاله المؤرخ الإغريقي «هيرودوت» وهو يبرز اهتمام المصريين بالنظافة وعنايتهم بالصحة العامة: «كانوا يشربون في كئوس يغسلونها بعد تناول الشراب وكانوا شديدي العناية بلبس الكتان النظيف وغسله، وهم يمارسون الختان حرصًا على النظافة، ويحلق الكهنة شعورهم وأجسامهم جيدًا تجنبًا لظهور أية حشرات، حيث إنهم يقومون بخدمة الآلهة».
ونوّه سيادته بأنه من خلال المناظر يبدو واضحًا أن المصريين قد اهتموا بتقليم الأظافر، وحلق الذقن، وقص الشعر، وغسل الفم والأسنان، والاستحمام ودهان الأجسام بالعطور، لافتاً إلى أنه من بين الطقوس الدينية الهامة آنذاك طقوس التطهير بالماء أو بالبخور، وقد عثر على الكثير من أدوات ومواد التطهير والغسيل.
وكان المصريون يهتمون بنظافة منازلهم، حيث عثر على الكثير من المكانس التي كانت تصنع من ألياف النباتات. وتُظهر النصوص والمناظر اهتمام المصريين بنظافة منازلهم، واهتمامهم بطقوس تنظيف وتطهير الأماكن المقدسة كالمعابد والمقابر. وقد تضمنت معظم منازلهم مراحيض وحمامات، ولهذا نجد المؤرخ هيرودوت يقول: «إن المصريين يختلفون عن غيرهم من الشعوب الأخرى في أنهم يقضون حاجاتهم داخل بيوتهم، وهو أمر يشير إلى سلوك متحضر، كما يشير إلى حرص المصري على سلامة البيئة».
وأكد الدكتور عبد الحليم نور الدين أن المصريين عرفوا نظامًا للصرف الصحي المُغطَّى والمكشوف من خلال أنابيب فخارية أو قنوات، كما عرفوا المزاريب لتصريف المياه حتى لا تتجمع في مكان وتحدث آثار سلبية لكونها راكدة. أما عن القمامة، فكان المصريون يتخلصون منها بدفنها في باطن الأرض، خصوصًا في التربة الرملية الجافة.
وأشار سيادته إلى أن المصريين أبدوا اهتمامًا بنهر النيل شريان الحياة، وخصصوا إلهًا للفيضان، هو الإله حعبي، واهتموا بالحفاظ على مياه هذا النهر بأن نظموا ري الأراضي وشق الترع، وأقاموا السدود، وعملوا على تدعيم شواطئ النيل، وكبحوا جماح الفيضان قدر المستطاع حتى لا يضيع الكثير من ماء النيل. كما حرص المصريون القدماء في الوقت نفسه على عدم تلويث ماء النيل وفروعه، وقد أكدت النصوص دائمًا: «إن من يلوث ماء النيل سوف يصيبه غضب الآلهة».
وتؤكد قصة «سنوهي» على الاهتمام بنظافة الجسد، فيقول: «سكنت في بيت أحد أبناء الملك، وكان فيه حمام، وأزيلت لحيتي، وصُفِّفَ شعري، وارتديت أحسن الملابس، وعُطِّرت بأجمل العطور».
ولفت أستاذ اللغة المصرية القديمة بكلية الآثار، جامعة القاهرة، إلى أن المصريين اهتموا بحدائق المنازل وبالحدائق العامة، وبإستخدام الزهور في حياتهم وفي مماتهم. وحرَّم المصريون بناء المساكن والمنشآت الدنيوية والدينية في الأراضي الزراعية إدراكًا منهم بأنهم يعيشون على ذلك الشريط الضيق من الأرض الخصبة.
وكان المصريون يشيدون مقابرهم في الصحراء، حيث إن جفاف التربة يحافظ على أجساد موتاهم، بالإضافة إلى الحرص على أن يكون موقع الجبانة بعيدًا عن موقع مدينة الأحياء. وكان التحنيط يجري في أماكن بعيدة عن المنشآت الدنيوية، حرصًا منهم على صحة أحيائهم وسلامة بيئتهم. وكانت النصوص تحذر من يتسبب في وجود روائح كريهة في البيئة التي يعيش فيها الناس.
وختم الدكتور نور الدين محاضرته بالتأكيد على أنه من خلال هذه المظاهر وغيرها يمكن القول بأن المصري القديم قد أبدى حرصًا شديدًا على نظافة وسلامة بيئته، من أجل تحقيق الصحة والسلامة لكل من يعيش في رحاب هذه البيئة، متسائلاً: «إذا كان الأجداد قد سعوا للحفاظ على بيئتهم قدر استطاعتهم، فهل يمكن للأحفاد أن يحموا تراث الأجداد من الظروف البيئية الصعبة المحيطة به».
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The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America. They first rejected the authority of the Parliament of Great Britain to govern them from overseas without representation, and then expelled all royal officials. By 1774, each colony had established a Provincial Congress, or an equivalent governmental institution, to govern itself, but still within the empire. The British responded by sending combat troops to re-impose direct rule. Through the Second Continental Congress, the Americans managed the armed conflict against the British known as the American Revolutionary War (also: American War of Independence, 1775–83).
John Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence, showing the five-man committee in charge of drafting the United States Declaration of Independence in 1776 as it presents its work to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia
The British sent invasion armies and used their powerful navy to blockade the coast. George Washington became the American commander, working with Congress and the states to raise armies and neutralize the influence of Loyalists. Claiming the rule of George III of Great Britain was tyrannical and therefore illegitimate, Congress declared independence as a new nation in July 1776, when Thomas Jefferson wrote and the states unanimously ratified the United States Declaration of Independence. The British lost Boston in 1776, but then captured New York City.
After a British army was captured by the American army at Saratoga, the French balanced naval power by entering the war in 1778 as allies of the United States. A combined American-French force captured a second British army at Yorktown in 1781, effectively ending the war. A peace treaty in 1783 confirmed the new nation’scomplete separation from the British Empire, and resulted in the United States taking possession of nearly all the territory east of the Mississippi River.
The American Revolution was the result of a series of social, political, and intellectual transformations in early American society and government, collectively referred to as the American Enlightenment. Americans rejected the oligarchies and aristocracies common in Europe at the time, championing instead the development of republicanismbased on the Enlightenment understanding of liberalism. Among the significant results of the revolution was the creation of a democratically-elected representative government responsible to the will of the people. However, sharp political debates erupted over the appropriate level of democracy desirable in the new government, with a number of Founders fearing mob rule.
Many fundamental issues of national governance were settled with the ratification of the United States Constitution in 1788, which replaced the relatively weaker first attempt at a national government adopted in 1781, the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. In contrast to the loose confederation, the Constitution established a strong federated government. The United States Bill of Rights (1791), comprising the first ten constitutional amendments, quickly followed. It guaranteed many “natural rights” that were influential in justifying the revolution, and attempted to balance a strong national government with relatively broad personal liberties. The American shift to liberal republicanism, and the gradually increasing democracy, caused an upheaval of traditional social hierarchy and gave birth to the ethic that has formed a core of political values in the United States
The American Revolution was predicated by a number of ideas and events that, combined, led to a political and social separation of colonial possessions from the home nation and a coalescing of those former individual colonies into an independent nation.
Before the Revolution: The Thirteen Colonies are in pink
The American revolutionary era began in 1763, after a series of victories by British forces at the conclusion of the French and Indian War (also, Seven Years War) ended the French military threat to British North American colonies. Prior to this, Britain and France had expended great effort and money on cultivating good relations with Native American nations on their peripheries, both to gain allies in war, and to deny the enemy the same. Following the war, with no European power to compete with in North America, and having been placed in financial hardship by the cost of the war, the British government neglected its relationships with its Native allies and neighbours.
Large numbers of settlers in the Atlantic coastal colonies saw the removal of France as enabling and entitling them to move westward, encroaching on the territories of independent Native nations. Many wealthy colonists, including George Washington, made fortunes speculating on Natives’ land. The pressures on the Native nations culminated in Pontiac’s War, which ended with British victory, but only at great cost to the British taxpayer.
In order to prevent future wars with the Native nations, the British government, in the Royal Proclamation of 1763, forbade settlement west of the Appalachians, enraging poor settlers and wealthy speculators.
Adopting the policy that the colonies should pay a larger proportion of the costs associated with keeping them in the Empire, Britain imposed a series of direct taxes (later known as the “Stamp Act”), followed by other laws intended to demonstrate British authority, all of which proved extremely unpopular in America. Benjamin Franklin, appearing before the British Parliament testified “The Colonies raised, clothed, and paid, during the last war, near twenty-five thousand men, and spent many millions.”
Because the colonies lacked elected representation in the governing British Parliament, many colonists considered the laws to be illegitimate and a violation of their rights as Englishmen. The opinion of the British Government, which was not unanimous, was that the colonies enjoyed “virtual representation.”
In 1772, groups of colonists began to create Committees of Correspondence, which would lead to their own Provincial Congresses in most of the colonies. In the course of two years, the Provincial Congresses or their equivalents rejected the Parliament and effectively replaced the British ruling apparatus in the former colonies, culminating in 1774 with the coordinating First Continental Congress. In response to protests in Boston over Parliament’s attempts to assert authority, the British sent combat troops, dissolved local governments, and imposed direct rule by Royal officials.
Consequently, the Colonies mobilized their militias, and fighting broke out in 1775. First ostensibly loyal to King George III and desiring to govern themselves while remaining in the empire, the repeated pleas by the First Continental Congress for royal intervention on their behalf with Parliament resulted in the declaration by the King that the states were “in rebellion”, and the members of Congress were traitors.
In 1776, representatives from each of the original 13 states voted unanimously in the Second Continental Congress to adopt a Declaration of Independence, which now rejected the British monarchy in addition to its Parliament, and established the sovereignty of the new nation external to the British Empire. The Declaration established the United States, which was originally governed as a loose confederation through a representative democracy selected by state legislatures (see Second Continental Congress and Congress of the Confederation).
Ideology behind the Revolution
Main articles: American Enlightenment, Liberalism in the United States, and Republicanism in the United States
The ideological movement known as the American Enlightenment was a critical precursor to the American Revolution. Chief among the ideas of the American Enlightenment were the concepts of liberalism, republicanism and fear of corruption. Collectively, the belief in these concepts by a growing number of American colonists began to foster an intellectual environment which would lead to a new sense of political and social identity.
In this c. 1772 portrait by John Singleton Copley, Adams points at the Massachusetts Charter, which he viewed as a constitution that protected the peoples’ rights
John Locke’s (1632–1704) ideas on liberty greatly influenced the political thinking behind the revolution. John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government, published in 1689, was especially influential. The theory of the “social contract” influenced the belief among many of the Founders that among the “natural rights” of man was the right of the people to overthrow their leaders, should those leaders betray the historic rights of Englishmen In terms of writing state and national constitutions, the Americans heavily used Montesquieu’s analysis of the “balanced” British Constitution.
A motivating force behind the revolution was the American embrace of a political ideology called “republicanism”, which was dominant in the colonies by 1775. The republicanism was inspired by the “country party” in Britain, whose critique of British government emphasized that corruption was a terrible reality in Britain. Americans feared the corruption was crossing the Atlantic; the commitment of most Americans to republican values and to their rights, energized the revolution, as Britain was increasingly seen as hopelessly corrupt and hostile to American interests. Britain seemed to threaten the established liberties that Americans enjoyed. The greatest threat to liberty was depicted as corruption—not just in London but at home as well. The colonists associated it with luxury and, especially, inherited aristocracy, which they condemned.
The Founding Fathers were strong advocates of republican values, particularly Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, George Washington, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, which required men to put civic duty ahead of their personal desires. Men had a civic duty to be prepared and willing to fight for the rights and liberties of their countrymen and countrywomen. John Adams, writing to Mercy Otis Warren in 1776, agreed with some classical Greek and Roman thinkers in that “Public Virtue cannot exist without private, and public Virtue is the only Foundation of Republics.” He continued:
“There must be a positive Passion for the public good, the public Interest, Honour, Power, and Glory, established in the Minds of the People, or there can be no Republican Government, nor any real Liberty. And this public Passion must be Superior to all private Passions. Men must be ready, they must pride themselves, and be happy to sacrifice their private Pleasures, Passions, and Interests, nay their private Friendships and dearest connections, when they Stand in Competition with the Rights of society.”
For women, “republican motherhood” became the ideal, exemplified by Abigail Adams and Mercy Otis Warren; the first duty of the republican woman was to instill republican values in her children and to avoid luxury and ostentation.
Fusing republicanism and liberalism
Thomas Paine’s pamphlet Common Sense, published in 1776
While some republics had emerged throughout history, such as the Roman Republic of the ancient world, one based on liberal principles had never existed. Thomas Paine’s best-seller pamphlet Common Sense appeared in January 1776, after the Revolution had started. It was widely distributed and loaned, and often read aloud in taverns, contributing significantly to spreading the ideas of republicanism and liberalism together, bolstering enthusiasm for separation from Britain, and encouraging recruitment for the Continental Army.
Paine provided a new and widely accepted argument for independence, by advocating a complete break with history. Common Sense is oriented to the future in a way that compels the reader to make an immediate choice. It offered a solution for Americans disgusted and alarmed at the threat of tyranny.
Impact of Great Awakening
Dissenting (i.e. Protestant, non-Church of England) churches of the day were the “school of democracy.” President John Witherspoon of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) wrote widely circulated sermons linking the American Revolution to the teachings of the Hebrew Bible. Throughout the colonies, dissenting Protestant congregations (Congregationalist, Baptist, and Presbyterian) preached Revolutionary themes in their sermons, while most Church of England ministers preached loyalty to the King Religious motivation for fighting tyranny reached across socioeconomic lines to encompass rich and poor, men and women, frontiersmen and townsmen, farmers and merchants
The historian Bernard Bailyn argues that the evangelism of the era challenged traditional notions of natural hierarchy by teaching that the Bible taught all men are equal, so that the true value of a man lies in his moral behavior, not his class. Kidd argues that religious disestablishment, belief in a God as the guarantor of human rights, and shared convictions about sin, virtue, and divine providence worked together to unite rationalists and evangelicals and thus encouraged American defiance of the Empire.
Emphasizing the intense opposition to sending an Anglican bishop to the colonies, and anger at the pro-Catholic Quebec Act of 1774, Kidd argues that the reactions reflected the long-term influence of the Great Awakening, in terms of apocalyptic warnings, religious egalitarianism, and anti‐Catholicism. He said that the result was that by 1773, when battles over taxation without representation escalated, Patriots were prepared to defy British administrators.
Controversial British legislation
Eastern North America in 1775. The British Province of Quebec, the Thirteen Colonies on the Atlantic coast and the Indian Reserve as defined by the Royal Proclamation of 1763. The 1763 “Proclamation line” is the border between the red and the pink areas, while the orange area represents the Spanish claim.
The Revolution was in some ways incited by a number of pieces of legislation originating from the British Parliament that, for Americans, were illegitimate acts of a government that had no right to pass laws on Englishmen in the Americas who did not have elected representation in that government. For the British, policy makers saw these laws as necessary to rein in colonial subjects who, in the name of economic development that was designed to benefit the home nation, had been allowed near-autonomy for too long.
1733–1763: Navigation Acts, Molasses Act and Royal Proclamation
The British Empire at the time operated under the mercantile system, where all trade was concentrated inside the Empire, and trade with other empires was forbidden. The goal was to enrich Britain—its merchants and its government. Whether the policy was good for the colonists was not an issue in London, but Americans became increasingly restive with mercantilist policies
Britain implemented mercantilism by trying to block American trade with the French, Spanish or Dutch empires using the Navigation Acts, which Americans avoided as often as they could. The royal officials responded to smuggling with open-ended search warrants (Writs of Assistance). In 1761, Boston lawyer James Otis argued that the writs violated the constitutional rights of the colonists. He lost the case, but John Adams later wrote, “Then and there the child Independence was born.”
In 1762, Patrick Henry argued the Parson’s Cause in the Colony of Virginia, where the legislature had passed a law and it was vetoed by the king. Henry argued, “that a King, by disallowing Acts of this salutary nature, from being the father of his people, degenerated into a Tyrant and forfeits all right to his subjects’ obedience”.
Following their victory in the French and Indian War in 1763, Great Britain took control of the French holdings in North America, outside the Caribbean. The British sought to maintain peaceful relations with those Indian tribes that had allied with the French, and keep them separated from the American frontiersmen. To this end, the Royal Proclamation of 1763 restricted settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains as this was designated an Indian Reserve. Disregarding the proclamation, some groups of settlers continued to move west and establish farms. The proclamation was soon modified and was no longer a hindrance to settlement, but the fact that it had been promulgated without their prior consultation angered the colonists.
1764–1766: More provocative legislation
Britain did not expect the colonies to contribute to the interest or the retirement of debt incurred during its wars, but they did expect a portion of the expenses for colonial defense to be paid by the Americans. Estimating the expenses of defending the continental colonies and the British West Indies to be approximately £200,000 annually, the British goal after the end of this war was that the colonies would be taxed for £78,000 of this amount. The colonists objected chiefly on the grounds not that the taxes were high (they were low) but that they had no representation in the Parliament. Parliament insisted it had the right to levy any tax without colonial approval, to demonstrate that it had authority over the colonies.
Modern American economic historians have challenged the view that Britain was seeking to place a heavy new burden on the colonies and have suggested the real cost of defending the North American colonies from the possibility of invasion by France or Spain was £400,000, five times the maximum income from them. On the other hand, the colonists felt the heavy military presence as an unwelcome burden in other ways besides taxation. Perhaps, most notably, the British military was determined to carry on with requisitioning practices in the colonies in much the same way they had during the French and Indian War. This did not require any specific Parliamentary sanction – established law permitted commanders to acquire goods and livestock from local suppliers at prices the military deemed to be fair, but what had been an understandable and tolerated arrangement during wartime quickly became a serious irritant in the colonies once the hostilities with France were over.
The colonists did not object to the principle of contributing to the cost of their defense (colonial legislatures spent large sums raising and outfitting militias during the French and Indian War), but they disputed the need for the Crown to station regular British troops in North America. In the absence of a French threat, colonists believed the colonial militias (which were funded by taxes raised by colonial legislatures) to be sufficient to deal with any trouble with natives on the frontier. Officer positions were in high demand among the British aristocracy—the rank of captain or major sold for thousands of pounds, and could be resold once an officer purchased an even higher rank.
The British wanted all the commissions for themselves, and were unwilling to commission colonial officers (who would pay nothing for their commissions) and further asserted that officers with colonial commissions must submit to the authority of any regular British officer, regardless of rank. This effectively negated the will or the legal authority of the colonies to contribute to defense through their militias. With some 1,500 well-connected British officers who would have become redundant in the aftermath of the Seven Years’ War, London would have had to discharge them if they did not assign them to North America. Therefore the main reason for Parliament imposing taxes was to prove its supremacy, and the main use of the tax funds would be patronage for ambitious British officers. London responded that the colonists were “virtually represented”; but most Americans rejected this.
In 1764 Parliament enacted the Sugar Act and the Currency Act, further vexing the colonists. Protests led to a powerful new weapon, the systematic boycott of British goods. The following year, the British enacted the Quartering Acts, which required British soldiers to be quartered at the expense of residents in certain areas. Colonists objected to this, as well.
In 1765 the Stamp Act was the first direct tax levied on the colonies by British Prime Minister George Grenville and the Parliament. All official documents, newspapers, almanacs, and pamphlets— decks of playing cards—were required to have the stamps. The colonists still considered themselves loyal subjects of the British Crown, with the same historic rights and obligations as subjects in Britain. Nevertheless, representatives of all 13 colonies protested vehemently, as popular leaders such as Patrick Henry in Virginia and James Otis in Massachusetts, rallied the people in opposition. A secret group, the “Sons of Liberty” formed in many towns and threatened violence if anyone sold the stamps, and no one did.
In Boston, the Sons of Liberty burned the records of the vice-admiralty court and looted the home of the chief justice, Thomas Hutchinson. Several legislatures called for united action, and nine colonies sent delegates to the Stamp Act Congress in New York City in October 1765. Moderates led by John Dickinson drew up a “Declaration of Rights and Grievances” stating that taxes passed without representation violated their Rights of Englishmen. Colonists emphasized their determination by boycotting imports of British merchandise.
In London, the Rockingham government came to power and Parliament debated whether to repeal the stamp tax or send an army to enforce it. Benjamin Franklin made the case for repeal, explaining the colonies had spent heavily in manpower, money, and blood in defense of the empire in a series of wars against the French and Indians, and that further taxes to pay for those wars were unjust and might bring about a rebellion. Parliament agreed and repealed the tax, but in the Declaratory Act of March 1766 insisted that parliament retained full power to make laws for the colonies “in all cases whatsoever”.
1767–1773: Townshend Acts and the Tea Act
Burning of the Gaspée
In 1767 the Parliament passed the Townshend Acts, which placed a tax on a number of essential goods including paper, glass, and tea. Angered at the tax increases, colonists organized a boycott of British goods. In Boston on March 5, 1770 a large mob gathered around a group of British soldiers. The mob grew more and more threatening, throwing snowballs, rocks and debris at the soldiers. One soldier was clubbed and fell.
All but one of the soldiers fired into the crowd. 11 people were hit; three civilians were killed at the scene of the shooting, and two died after the incident. The event quickly came to be called theBoston Massacre. Although the soldiers were tried and acquitted (defended by John Adams), the widespread descriptions soon became propaganda to turn colonial sentiment against the British. This in turn began a downward spiral in the relationship between Britain and the Province of Massachusetts.
In June 1772, in what became known as the Gaspée Affair, a British warship that had been vigorously enforcing unpopular trade regulations was burned by American patriots including John Brown. About a year later, private letters were published in which Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson called for the abridgement of colonial rights, and Lieutenant Governor Andrew Oliver called for the direct payment of colonial officials (until then the purview of the colonial assembly, and a means by which it controlled the governor). The furor over the affair contributed to Hutchinson’s recall, and brought a conciliatory Benjamin Franklin firmly to the side of the colonists.
On December 16, 1773 a group of men, led by Samuel Adams and dressed to evoke American Indians, boarded the ships of the government-favored British East India Company and dumped an estimated £10,000 worth of tea from its holds (approximately £636,000 in 2008) into Boston Harbor. This event became known as the Boston Tea Party and remains a significant part of American patriotic lore.
1774–1775: Quebec Act and the Intolerable Acts
This 1846 lithograph by Nathaniel Currier was entitled “The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor”; the phrase “Boston Tea Party” had not yet become standard.
The Quebec Act of 1774 extended Quebec’s boundaries to the Ohio River, shutting out the claims of the 13 colonies. By then, however, the Americans had little regard for new laws from London; they were drilling militia and organizing for war.
The British government responded by passing several Acts which came to be known as the Intolerable Acts, which further darkened colonial opinion towards the British. They consisted of four laws enacted by the British parliament. The first was the Massachusetts Government Act, which altered the Massachusetts charter and restricted town meetings. The second Act, theAdministration of Justice Act, ordered that all British soldiers to be tried were to be arraigned in Britain, not in the colonies.
The third Act was the Boston Port Act, which closed the port of Boston until the British had been compensated for the tea lost in the Boston Tea Party (the British never received such a payment). The fourth Act was the Quartering Acts of 1774, which allowed royal governors to house British troops in the homes of citizens without requiring permission of the owner.
Lord North argued in 1775 for the British position that Englishmen paid on average 25 shillings annually in taxes whereas Americans paid only sixpence. The colonists countered that North’s argument failed to take into consideration the taxes collected by colonial governments and allocated for local purposes. The colonists believed, especially considering the economic restraints the British were keen to enforce in the colonies, that any additional tax burden from London was excessive.
American political opposition
Olive Branch Petition, and Hutchinson Letters Affair
American political opposition was initially through the colonial assemblies such as the Stamp Act Congress, which included representatives from across the colonies. In 1765 the Sons of Liberty were formed which used public demonstrations, violence and threats of violence to ensure that the British tax laws were unenforceable. While openly hostile to what they considered an oppressive Parliament acting illegally, colonists persisted in sending numerous petitions and pleas for intervention from a monarch to whom they still claimed loyalty.
A 1774 etching from The London Magazine, copied by Paul Revere of Boston. Prime Minister Lord North, author of the Boston Port Act, forces the Intolerable Acts down the throat of America, whose arms are restrained by Lord Chief Justice Mansfield while Lord Sandwich pins down her feet and peers up her robes. Behind them, Mother Britannia weeps helplessly.
In late 1772 Samuel Adams in Boston set about creating new Committees of Correspondence, which linked Patriots in all 13 colonies and eventually provided the framework for a rebel government. In early 1773 Virginia, the largest colony, set up its Committee of Correspondence, on which Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson served.
A total of about 7000 to 8000 Patriots served on “Committees of Correspondence” at the colonial and local levels, comprising most of the leadership in their communities—the Loyalists were excluded. The committees became the leaders of the American resistance to British actions, and largely determined the war effort at the state and local level. When the First Continental Congress decided to boycott British products, the colonial and local Committees took charge, examining merchant records and publishing the names of merchants who attempted to defy the boycott by importing British goods.
They promoted patriotism and home manufacturing, advising Americans to avoid luxuries and lead more simple lives. The committees gradually extended their power over many aspects of American public life. They set up espionage networks to identify disloyal elements, displaced the royal officials, and helped topple the entire imperial system in each colony. In late 1774 in early 1775, they supervised the elections of provincial conventions, which took over the operation of colonial governments.
In response to the Massachusetts Government Act, Massachusetts and other colonies formed local governments called Provincial Congresses. In 1774, the First Continental Congressconvened, consisting of representatives from each of the Provincial Congresses or their equivalents, to serve as a vehicle for deliberation and collective action. Standing “Committees of Safety” were created by each Provincial Congress or equivalent for the enforcement of resolutions by the Committees of Correspondence, Provincial Congress, and the Continental Congress. Some British colonies in North America remained loyal to the Crown. These colonies included Quebec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland in present-day Canada, the former Spanish colonies of West Florida and East Florida, and Bermuda.
The population of the 13 Colonies was far from homogeneous, particularly in their political views and attitudes. Loyalties and allegiances varied widely not only within regions and communities, but also within families and sometimes shifted during the course of the Revolution.
King George III
The war became a personal issue for the king, fueled by his growing belief that British leniency would be taken as weakness by the Americans. The king also sincerely believed he was defending Britain’s constitution against usurpers, rather than opposing patriots fighting for their natural rights.
At the time, revolutionaries were called “Patriots”, “Whigs”, “Congress-men”, or “Americans”. They included a full range of social and economic classes, but were unanimous regarding the need to defend the rights of Americans and uphold the principles of republicanism in terms of rejecting monarchy and aristocracy, while emphasizing civic virtue on the part of the citizens.
Role of women
Women contributed to the American Revolution in many ways, and were involved on both sides. While formal Revolutionary politics did not include women, ordinary domestic behaviors became charged with political significance as Patriot women confronted a war that permeated all aspects of political, civil, and domestic life. They participated by boycotting British goods, spying on the British, following armies as they marched, washing, cooking, and tending for soldiers, delivering secret messages, and in a few cases like Deborah Samson, fighting disguised as men. Above all, they continued the agricultural work at home to feed their families and the armies. They maintained their families during their husbands’ absences and sometimes after their deaths.
American women were integral to the success of the boycott of British goods, as the boycotted items were largely household items such as tea and cloth. Women had to return to knitting goods, and to spinning and weaving their own cloth — skills that had fallen into disuse. In 1769, the women of Boston produced 40,000 skeins of yarn, and 180 women in Middletown, Massachusetts wove 20,522 yards (18,765 m) of cloth.
A crisis of political loyalties could disrupt the fabric of colonial America women’s social worlds: whether a man did or did not renounce his allegiance to the King could dissolve ties of class, family, and friendship, isolating women from former connections. A woman’s loyalty to her husband, once a private commitment, could become a political act, especially for women in America committed to men who remained loyal to the King. Legal divorce, usually rare, was granted to Patriot women whose husbands supported the King.
Class and psychology
After a public reading of the Declaration of Independence on 9 July, 1776, crowd pulls down statue of King George III to be melted into bullets.
Looking back, John Adams concluded in 1818:
“The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people….This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people was the real American Revolution.”
In terms of class, Loyalists tended to have longstanding social and economic connections to British merchants and government; for instance, prominent merchants in major port cities such as New York, Boston and Charleston tended to be Loyalists, as did men involved with the fur trade along the northern frontier. In addition, officials of colonial government and their staffs, those who had established positions and status to maintain, favored maintaining relations with Great Britain. They often were linked to British families in England by marriage as well.
By contrast, Patriots by number tended to be yeomen farmers, especially in the frontier areas of New York and the backcountry of Pennsylvania, Virginia and down the Appalachian mountains They were craftsmen and small merchants. Leaders of both the Patriots and the Loyalists were men of educated, propertied classes. The Patriots included many prominent men of the planter class from Virginia and South Carolina, for instance, who became leaders during the Revolution, and formed the new government at the national and state levels
To understand the opposing groups, historians have assessed evidence of their hearts and minds. In the mid-20th century, historian Leonard Woods Labaree identified eight characteristics of the Loyalists that made them essentially conservative; traits to those characteristic of the Patriots.[ Older and better established men, Loyalists tended to resist innovation. They thought resistance to the Crown—which they insisted was the only legitimate government—was morally wrong, while the Patriots thought morality was on their side.
Loyalists were alienated when the Patriots resorted to violence, such as burning houses and tarring and feathering. Loyalists wanted to take a centrist position and resisted the Patriots’ demand to declare their opposition to the Crown. Many Loyalists, especially merchants in the port cities, had maintained strong and long-standing relations with Britain (often with business and family links to other parts of the British Empire).
Many Loyalists realized that independence was bound to come eventually, but they were fearful that revolution might lead to anarchy, tyranny or mob rule. In contrast, the prevailing attitude among Patriots, who made systematic efforts to use mob violence in a controlled manner, was a desire to seize the initiative. Labaree also wrote that Loyalists were pessimists who lacked the confidence in the future displayed by the Patriots.
Historians in the early 20th century, such as J. Franklin Jameson, examined the class composition of the Patriot cause, looking for evidence of a class war inside the revolution. In the last 50 years, historians have largely abandoned that interpretation, emphasizing instead the high level of ideological unity. Just as there were rich and poor Loyalists, the Patriots were a ‘mixed lot’, with the richer and better educated more likely to become officers in the Army.
Ideological demands always came first: the Patriots viewed independence as a means to gain freedom from British oppression and taxation and, above all, to reassert what they considered to be their rights as English subjects. Most yeomen farmers, craftsmen, and small merchants joined the Patriot cause to demand more political equality. They were especially successful in the Pennsylvania but less so in New England, where John Adams attacked Thomas Paine’s Common Sense for the “absurd democratical notions” it proposed.
While there is no way of knowing the numbers, historians have estimated that about 15–20% of the population remained loyal to the British Crown; these were known at the time as “Loyalists”, “Tories”, or “King’s men”. The Loyalists never controlled territory unless the British Army occupied it. Loyalists were typically older, less willing to break with old loyalties, often connected to the Church of England, and included many established merchants with strong business connections across the Empire, as well as royal officials such as Thomas Hutchinson of Boston.
Mobbing the Loyalist by American Patriots in 1775–76.
The revolution sometimes divided families; for example, the Franklins. William Franklin, son of Benjamin Franklin and governor of the Province of New Jersey, remained Loyal to the Crown throughout the war; he never spoke to his father again. Recent immigrants who had not been fully Americanized were also inclined to support the King, such as recent Scottish settlers in the back country; among the more striking examples of this, see Flora MacDonald.
After the war, the great majority of the 450,000–500,000 Loyalists remained in America and resumed normal lives. Some, such as Samuel Seabury, became prominent American leaders. Estimates vary, but about 62,000 Loyalists relocated to Canada, and others to Britain (7,000) or to Florida or the West Indies (9,000). The exiles represented approximately 2% of the total population of the colonies.
When Loyalists left the South in 1783, they took thousands of their slaves with them to the British West Indies. Before that, tens of thousands of slaves had escaped, disrupting agriculture particularly in South Carolina and Georgia. The British freed slaves of rebels who joined them.
A minority of uncertain size tried to stay neutral in the war. Most kept a low profile, but the Quakers, especially in Pennsylvania, were the most important group to speak out for neutrality. As Patriots declared independence, the Quakers, who continued to do business with the British, were attacked as supporters of British rule, “contrivers and authors of seditious publications” critical of the revolutionary cause.
In early 1776, France set up a major program of aid to the Americans, and the Spanish secretly added funds. Each country spent one million “livres tournaises” to buy munitions. A dummy corporation run by Pierre Beaumarchais concealed their activities. American rebels obtained some munitions through the Dutch Republic as well as French and Spanish ports in the West Indies.
Spain did not officially recognize the U.S. but became an informal ally when it declared war on Britain on June 21, 1779. Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid, general of the Spanish forces in New Spain, also served as governor of Louisiana. He led an expedition of colonial troops to force the British out of Florida and keep open a vital conduit for supplies.
Most Native Americans rejected pleas that they remain neutral and supported the British Crown, both because of trading relationships and its efforts to prohibit colonial settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains. The great majority of the 200,000 Native Americans east of the Mississippi distrusted the colonists and supported the British cause, hoping to forestall continued colonial encroachment on their territories. Those tribes that were more closely involved in colonial trade tended to side with the revolutionaries, although political factors were important as well.
Although there was limited participation by Native American warriors except for those associated with four of the Iroquois nations in New York and Pennsylvania, the British provided Indians with funding and weapons to attack American outposts. Some Indians tried to remain neutral, seeing little value in joining a European conflict and fearing reprisals from whichever side they opposed. The Oneida and Tuscarora peoples of western New York supported the American cause.
The British provided arms to Indians, who were led by Loyalists in war parties to raid frontier settlements from the Carolinas to New York. They killed many scattered settlers, especially in Pennsylvania. In 1776 Cherokee war parties attacked American colonists all along the southern frontier of the uplands. While the Chickamauga Cherokee could launch raids numbering a couple hundred warriors, as seen in the Chickamauga Wars, they could not mobilize enough forces to fight a major invasion without the help of allies, most often the Creek.
Joseph Brant of the powerful Mohawk nation, part of the Iroquois Confederacy based in New York, was the most prominent Native American leader against the rebel forces. In 1778 and 1780, he led 300 Iroquois warriors and 100 white Loyalists in multiple attacks on small frontier settlements in New York and Pennsylvania, killing many settlers and destroying villages, crops and stores. The Seneca, Onondaga and Cayuga of the Iroquois Confederacy also allied with the British against the Americans.
In 1779 the Continentals retaliated with an American army under John Sullivan, which raided and destroyed 40 empty Iroquois villages in central and western New York Sullivan’s forces systematically burned the villages and destroyed about 160,000 bushels of corn that comprised the winter food supply. Facing starvation and homeless for the winter, the Iroquois fled to the Niagara Falls area and to Canada, mostly to what became Ontario. The British resettled them there after the war, providing land grants as compensation for some of their losses.
At the peace conference following the war, the British ceded lands which they did not really control, and did not consult their Indian allies. They “transferred” control to the Americans of all the land east of the Mississippi and north of Florida. The historian Calloway concludes:
Burned villages and crops, murdered chiefs, divided councils and civil wars, migrations, towns and forts choked with refugees, economic disruption, breaking of ancient traditions, losses in battle and to disease and hunger, betrayal to their enemies, all made the American Revolution one of the darkest periods in American Indian history.
The British did not give up their forts in the West (what is now the Ohio to Wisconsin) until 1796; they kept alive the dream of forming a satellite Indian nation there, which they called a Neutral Indian Zone. That goal was one of the causes of the War of 1812.
Free blacks in the North and South fought on both sides of the Revolution, but most fought for the colonial rebels. ] Crispus Attucks, who died in a conflict in Boston in 1770, is considered the first martyr of the American Revolution. Both sides offered freedom and re-settlement to slaves who were willing to fight for them, especially targeting slaves whose owners supported the opposing cause.
Many African-American slaves became politically active during these years in support of the King, as they thought Great Britain might abolish slavery in the colonies. Tens of thousands used the turmoil of war to escape, and the southern plantation economies of South Carolina and Georgia especially were disrupted. During the Revolution, the British tried to turn slavery against the Americans, but historian David Brion Davis explains the difficulties with a policy of wholesale arming of the slaves:
But England greatly feared the effects of any such move on its own West Indies, where Americans had already aroused alarm over a possible threat to incite slave insurrections. The British elites also understood that an all-out attack on one form of property could easily lead to an assault on all boundaries of privilege and social order, as envisioned by radical religious sects in Britain’s seventeenth-century civil wars.
Davis underscored the British dilemma: “Britain, when confronted by the rebellious American colonists, hoped to exploit their fear of slave revolts while also reassuring the large number of slave-holding Loyalists and wealthy Caribbean planters and merchants that their slave property would be secure”. The colonists accused the British of encouraging slave revolts.
American advocates of independence were commonly lampooned in Britain for what was termed their hypocritical calls for freedom, at the same time that many of their leaders were planters who held hundreds of slaves. Samuel Johnsonsnapped, “how is it we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the [slave] drivers of the Negroes?” Benjamin Franklin countered by criticizing the British self-congratulation about “the freeing of one Negro” (Somersett) while they continued to permit the Slave Trade
Phyllis Wheatley, a black poet who popularized the image of Columbia to represent America, came to public attention when her Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral appeared in 1773.
During the war, slaves escaped from across New England and the mid-Atlantic area to British-occupied cities, such as New York. The effects of the war were more dramatic in the South. In Virginia the royal governor Lord Dunmorerecruited black men into the British forces with the promise of freedom, protection for their families, and land grants. Tens of thousands of slaves escaped to British lines throughout the South, causing dramatic losses to slaveholders and disrupting cultivation and harvesting of crops. For instance, South Carolina was estimated to lose about 25,000 slaves, or one third of its slave population, to flight, migration or death. From 1770–1790, the black proportion of the population (mostly slaves) in South Carolina dropped from 60.5 percent to 43.8 percent; and in Georgia from 45.2 percent to 36.1 percent.
When the British evacuated its forces from Savannah and Charleston, it also gave transportation to 10,000 slaves, carrying through on its commitment to them. They evacuated and resettled more than 3,000 “Black Loyalists” from New York to Nova Scotia, Upper and Lower Canada. Others sailed with the British to England or were resettled in the West Indies of the Caribbean. More than 1200 of the Black Loyalists of Nova Scotia later resettled in the British colony of Sierra Leone, where they became leaders of the Krio ethnic group of Freetown and the later national government. Many of their descendants still live in Sierra Leone, as well as other African countries.
Some slaves understood Revolutionary rhetoric as promising freedom and equality. Both British and American governments made promises of freedom for service, and many slaves fought in one or the other armies. Starting in 1777, northern states started to abolish slavery, beginning with Vermont, which ended it under its new state constitution. By court cases, Massachusetts effectively ended slavery before the end of the century. Usually states instituted abolition on a gradual schedule with no government compensation of the owners, and many states, such as New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, required long apprenticeships of former slave children before they gained freedom and came of age as adults.
In the first two decades after the war, the legislatures of Virginia, Maryland and Delaware made it easier for slaveholders to manumit their slaves. Numerous slaveholders in the Upper South took advantage of the changes: the proportion of free blacks went from less than one percent before the war to more than 10 percent overall by 1810. In Virginia alone, the number of free blacks climbed: from less than one percent in 1782, to 4.2 percent in 1790, and 13.5 percent in 1810. In Delaware, three-quarters of blacks were free by 1810.
After this time, few slaves were freed in the South, except those who were favorites or the master’s children. The demand for slaves rose with the growth of cotton as a commodity crop, especially after the invention of the cotton gin, which enabled the widespread cultivation of short-staple cotton in the upland regions. Although the international slave trade was prohibited, the slave population in the United States increased by the formation of families and survival of children throughout the South. As the demand for slave labor in the Upper South decreased due to changes in crops, planters began selling their slaves to traders and markets to the Deep South in an internal slave trade; it would cause the forced migration of an estimated one million slaves during the following decades, breaking up countless families, as young males were most in demand.
Military hostilities begin
The Battle of Lexington and Concord took place April 19, 1775, when the British sent a force of roughly 1000 troops to confiscate arms and arrest revolutionaries in Concord, Massachusetts. They clashed with the local militia, marking the first fighting of the American Revolutionary War. The news aroused the 13 colonies to call out their militias and send troops to besiege Boston. The Battle of Bunker Hill followed on June 17, 1775. While a British victory, it was at a great cost; about 1,000 British casualties from a garrison of about 6,000, as compared to 500 American casualties from a much larger force.
The Second Continental Congress convened in 1775, after the war had started. The Congress created the Continental Army and extended the Olive Branch Petition to the crown as an attempt at reconciliation. King George III refused to receive it, issuing instead the Proclamation of Rebellion, requiring action against the “traitors”.
In the winter of 1775, the Americans invaded Canada. General Richard Montgomery captured Montreal but a joint attack on Quebec with the help of Benedict Arnold failed.
In March 1776, with George Washington as the commander of the new army, the Continental Army forced the British to evacuate Boston. The revolutionaries were now in full control of all 13 colonies and were ready to declare independence. While there still were many Loyalists, they were no longer in control anywhere by July 1776, and all of the Royal officials had fled.
In August 1775, George III declared Americans in arms against royal authority to be traitors to the Crown. Although Lord Germain took a hard line the British generals on the scene never held treason trials; they treated captured soldiers as prisoners of war. The dilemma was that tens of thousands of Loyalists were under American control and American retaliation would have been easy. The British built much of their strategy around using these Loyalists.
After the surrender at Saratoga in October 1777, furthermore, there were thousands of British and Hessian soldiers in American hands. Therefore no Americans were put on trial for treason. The British maltreated the prisoners they held, resulting in more deaths to American sailors and soldiers than combat operations. At the end of the war, both sides released their surviving prisoners.
Britain’s war against the Americans, French and Spanish cost about £100 million. The Treasury borrowed 40% of the money it needed. Heavy spending brought France to the verge of bankruptcy and revolution, while the British had relatively little difficulty financing their war, keeping their suppliers and soldiers paid, and hiring tens of thousands of German soldiers.
Britain had a sophisticated financial system based on the wealth of thousands of landowners, who supported the government, together with banks and financiers in London. The efficient British tax system collected about 12 percent of the GDP in taxes during the 1770s.
In sharp contrast, Congress and the American states had no end of difficulty financing the war. In 1775 there was at most 12 million dollars in gold in the colonies, not nearly enough to cover current transactions, let alone on a major war. The British made the situation much worse by imposing a tight blockade on every American port, which cut off almost all imports and exports. One partial solution was to rely on volunteer support from militiamen, and donations from patriotic citizens.
Another was to delay actual payments, pay soldiers and suppliers in depreciated currency, and promise it would be made good after the war. Indeed, in 1783 the soldiers and officers were given land grants to cover the wages they had earned but had not been paid during the war. Not until 1781, when Robert Morris was named Superintendent of Finance of the United States, did the national government have a strong leader in financial matters.
Morris used a French loan in 1782 to set up the private Bank of North America to finance the war. Seeking greater efficiency, Morris reduced the civil list, saved money by using competitive bidding for contracts, tightened accounting procedures, and demanded the national government’s full share of money and supplies from the confederated states.
Congress used four main methods to cover the cost of the war, which cost about 66 million dollars in specie (gold and silver). Congress made two issues of paper money, in 1775–1780, and in 1780–81. The first issue amounted to 242 million dollars. This paper money would supposedly be redeemed for state taxes but the holders were eventually paid off in 1791 at the rate of one cent on the dollar By 1780, the paper money was “not worth a Continental”, as people said, and a second issue of new currency was attempted.
The second issue quickly became nearly worthless—but it was redeemed by the new federal government in 1791 at 100 cents on the dollar.At the same time the states, especially Virginia and the Carolinas, issued over 200 million dollars of their own currency.In effect, the paper money was a hidden tax on the people, and indeed was the only method of taxation that was possible at the time.
The skyrocketing inflation was a hardship on the few people who had fixed incomes—but 90 percent of the people were farmers, and were not directly affected by that inflation. Debtors benefited by paying off their debts with depreciated paper. The greatest burden was borne by the soldiers of the Continental Army, whose wages—usually in arrears—declined in value every month, weakening their morale and adding to the hardships suffered by their families.
Beginning in 1777, Congress repeatedly asked the states to provide money. But the states had no system of taxation either, and were little help. By 1780 Congress was making requisitions for specific supplies of corn, beef, pork and other necessities—an inefficient system that kept the army barely alive.
Starting in 1776, the Congress sought to raise money by loans from wealthy individuals, promising to redeem the bonds after the war. The bonds were in fact redeemed in 1791 at face value, but the scheme raised little money because Americans had little specie, and many of the rich merchants were supporters of the Crown.Starting in 1776, the French secretly supplied the Americans with money, gunpowder, and munitions in order to weaken its arch enemy, Great Britain. When France officially entered the war in 1778, the subsidies continued, and the French government, as well as bankers in Paris and Amsterdam loaned large sums to the American war effort. These loans were repaid in full in the 1790s.
Creating new state constitutions
Benjamin Rush, 1783
Following the Battle of Bunker Hill in June 1775, the Patriots had control of most of Massachusetts; the Loyalists suddenly found themselves on the defensive. In all 13 colonies, Patriots had overthrown their existing governments, closing courts and driving British governors, agents and supporters from their homes. They had elected conventions and “legislatures” that existed outside of any legal framework; new constitutions were used in each state to supersede royal charters. They declared they were states now, not colonies.
On January 5, 1776, New Hampshire ratified the first state constitution, six months before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Then, in May 1776, Congress voted to suppress all forms of crown authority, to be replaced by locally created authority. Virginia, South Carolina, and New Jersey created their constitutions before July 4. Rhode Island and Connecticut simply took their existing royal charters and deleted all references to the crown.
The new states had to decide not only what form of government to create, they first had to decide how to select those who would craft the constitutions and how the resulting document would be ratified. In states where the wealthy exerted firm control over the process, such as Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, New York and Massachusetts, the results were constitutions that featured:
Substantial property qualifications for voting and even more substantial requirements for elected positions (though New York and Maryland lowered property qualifications);
Bicameral legislatures, with the upper house as a check on the lower;
Strong governors, with veto power over the legislature and substantial appointment authority;
Few or no restraints on individuals holding multiple positions in government;
The continuation of state-established religion.
In states where the less affluent had organized sufficiently to have significant power—especially Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New Hampshire—the resulting constitutions embodied
universal white manhood suffrage, or minimal property requirements for voting or holding office (New Jersey enfranchised some property owning widows, a step that it retracted 25 years later);
strong, unicameral legislatures;
relatively weak governors, without veto powers, and little appointing authority;
prohibition against individuals holding multiple government posts;
Whether conservatives or radicals held sway in a state did not mean that the side with less power accepted the result quietly. The radical provisions of Pennsylvania’s constitution lasted only 14 years. In 1790, conservatives gained power in the state legislature, called a new constitutional convention, and rewrote the constitution. The new constitution substantially reduced universal white-male suffrage, gave the governor veto power and patronage appointment authority, and added an upper house with substantial wealth qualifications to the unicameral legislature. Thomas Paine called it a constitution unworthy of America.
Independence and Union
In April the North Carolina Provincial Congress issued the Halifax Resolves, explicitly authorizing its delegates to vote for independence. In May Congress called on all the states to write constitutions, and eliminate the last remnants of royal rule.
Johannes Adam Simon Oertel. Pulling Down the Statue of King George III, N.Y.C., ca. 1859. The painting is a romanticised version of the Sons of Liberty destroying the symbol of monarchy in Bowling Green following the reading on the New York City commons of the United States Declaration of Independence to the Continental Army and residents on July 9th, 1776 by George Washington.
By June nine colonies were ready for independence; one by one the last four —Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and New York — fell into line. Richard Henry Lee was instructed by the Virginia legislature to propose independence, and he did so on June 7, 1776. On the 11th a committee was created to draft a document explaining the justifications for separation from Britain. After securing enough votes for passage, independence was voted for on July 2. The Declaration of Independence, drafted largely by Thomas Jefferson and presented by the committee, was slightly revised and unanimously adopted by the entire Congress on July 4, marking the formation of a new sovereign nation, which called itself the United States of America.
The Second Continental Congress approved a new constitution, the “Articles of Confederation,” for ratification by the states on November 15, 1777, and immediately began operating under their terms. The Articles were formally ratified on March 1, 1781. At that point, the Continental Congress was dissolved and on the following day a new government of the United States in Congress Assembled took its place, with Samuel Huntington as presiding officer.
Defending the Revolution
British return: 1776–1777
After Washington forced the British out of Boston in spring 1776, neither the British nor the Loyalists controlled any significant areas. The British, however, were massing forces at their naval base at Halifax, Nova Scotia. They returned in force in July 1776, landing in New York and defeating Washington’s Continental Army at the Battle of Brooklyn in August, one of the largest engagements of the war. After the Battle of Brooklyn, the British requested a meeting with representatives from Congress to negotiate an end to hostilities.
A delegation including John Adams and Benjamin Franklin met Howe on Staten Island in New York Harbor on September 11, in what became known as the Staten Island Peace Conference. Howe demanded a retraction of the Declaration of Independence, which was refused, and negotiations ended until 1781. The British then quickly seized New York City and nearly captured General Washington. They made the city their main political and military base of operations in North America, holding it until November 1783. New York City consequently became the destination for Loyalist refugees, and a focal point of Washington’s intelligence network.
The British also took New Jersey, pushing the Continental Army into Pennsylvania. In a surprise attack in late December 1776 Washington crossed the Delaware River back into New Jersey and defeated Hessian and British armies atTrenton and Princeton, thereby regaining New Jersey. The victories gave an important boost to pro-independence supporters at a time when morale was flagging, and have become iconic events of the war.
In 1777, as part of a grand strategy to end the war, the British sent an invasion force from Canada to seal off New England, which the British perceived as the primary source of agitators. In a major case of mis-coordination, the British army in New York City went to Philadelphia which it captured from Washington. The invasion army under Burgoyne waited in vain for reinforcements from New York, and became trapped in northern New York state. It surrendered after the Battle of Saratoga in October 1777. From early October 1777 until November 15 a pivotal siege at Fort Mifflin, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania distracted British troops and allowed Washington time to preserve the Continental Army by safely leading his troops to harsh winter quarters at Valley Forge.
American alliances after 1778
The capture of a British army at Saratoga encouraged the French to formally enter the war in support of Congress, as Benjamin Franklin negotiated a permanent military alliance in early 1778, significantly becoming the first country to officially recognize the Declaration of Independence. On February 6, 1778, a Treaty of Amity and Commerce and a Treaty of Alliance were signed between the United States and France. William Pitt spoke out in parliament urging Britain to make peace in America, and unite with America against France, while other British politicians who had previously sympathised with colonial grievances now turned against the American rebels for allying with British international rival and enemy.
Later Spain (in 1779) and the Dutch (1780) became allies of the French, leaving the British Empire to fight a global war alone without major allies, and requiring it to slip through a combined blockade of the Atlantic. The American theater thus became only one front in Britain’s war. The British were forced to withdraw troops from continental America to reinforce the valuable sugar-producing Caribbean colonies, which were considered more important.
Because of the alliance with France and the deteriorating military situation, Sir Henry Clinton, the British commander, evacuated Philadelphia to reinforce New York City. General Washington attempted to intercept the retreating column, resulting in the Battle of Monmouth Court House, the last major battle fought in the north. After an inconclusive engagement, the British successfully retreated to New York City. The northern war subsequently became a stalemate, as the focus of attention shifted to the smaller southern theater.
The British move South, 1778–1783
The British strategy in America now concentrated on a campaign in the southern colonies. With fewer regular troops at their disposal, the British commanders saw the “southern strategy” as a more viable plan, as the south was perceived as being more strongly Loyalist, with a large population of recent immigrants as well as large numbers of slaves who might be captured or run away to join the British.
Hessian troops hired out to the British by their German sovereigns.
Beginning in late December 1778, the British captured Savannah and controlled the Georgia coastline. In 1780 they launched a fresh invasion and took Charleston as well. A significant victory at the Battle of Camden meant that royal forces soon controlled most of Georgia and South Carolina. The British set up a network of forts inland, hoping the Loyalists would rally to the flag.
Not enough Loyalists turned out, however, and the British had to fight their way north into North Carolina and Virginia, with a severely weakened army. Behind them much of the territory they had already captured dissolved into a chaotic guerrilla war, fought predominantly between bands of Loyalist and American militia, which negated many of the gains the British had previously made.
The British army under Cornwallis marched to Yorktown, Virginia where they expected to be rescued by a British fleet. The fleet showed up but so did a larger French fleet, so the British fleet after the Battle of the Chesapeake returned to New York for reinforcements, leaving Cornwallis trapped. In October 1781 under a combined siege by the French and Continental armies under Washington, the British surrendered their second invading army of the war .
The siege of Yorktown ended with the surrender of a second British army, marking effective British defeat
The war winds down
Support for the conflict had never been strong in Britain, where many sympathized with the rebels, but now it reached a new low. Although King George III personally wanted to fight on, his supporters lost control of Parliament, and no further major land offensives were launched in the American
Washington could not know that after Yorktown the British would not reopen hostilities. They still had 26,000 troops occupying New York City, Charleston and Savannah, together with a powerful fleet. The French army and navy departed, so the Americans were on their own in 1782–83. The treasury was empty, and the unpaid soldiers were growing restive, almost to the point of mutiny or possible coup d’état. The unrest among officers of the Newburgh Conspiracy was personally dispelled by Washington in 1783, and Congress subsequently created the promise of a five years bonus for all officers.
The peace treaty with Britain, known as the Treaty of Paris, gave the U.S. all land east of the Mississippi River and south of the Great Lakes, though not including Florida (On September 3, 1783, Britain entered into a separate agreement with Spain under which Britain ceded Florida back to Spain.) The British abandoned the Indian allies living in this region; they were not a party to this treaty and did not recognize it until they were defeated militarily by the United States. Issues regarding boundaries and debts were not resolved until the Jay Treaty of 1795. Since the blockade was lifted and the old imperial restrictions were gone, American merchants were free to trade with any nation anywhere in the world, and their businesses flourished.
Impact on Britain
Losing the war and the 13 colonies was a shock to Britain. The war revealed the limitations of Britain’s fiscal-military state when it discovered it suddenly faced powerful enemies, with no allies, and dependent on extended and vulnerable transatlantic lines of communication. The defeat heightened dissension and escalated political antagonism to the King’s ministers. Inside parliament, the primary concern changed from fears of an over-mighty monarch to the issues of representation, parliamentary reform, and government retrenchment. Reformers sought to destroy what they saw as widespread institutional corruption.
The result was a powerful crisis, 1776–1783. The peace in 1783 left France financially prostrate, while the British economy boomed thanks to the return of American business. The crisis ended after 1784 thanks to the King’s shrewdness in outwitting Charles James Fox (the leader of the Fox-North Coalition), and renewed confidence in the system engendered by the leadership of the new Prime Minister, William Pitt. Historians conclude that loss of the American colonies enabled Britain to deal with the French Revolution with more unity and better organization than would otherwise have been the case.
Concluding the Revolution
Creating a “more perfect union” and guaranteeing rights
After the war finally ended in 1783, there was a period of prosperity, with the entire world at peace. The national government, still operating under the Articles of Confederation, was able to settle the issue of the western territories, which were ceded by the states to Congress. American settlers moved rapidly into those areas, with Vermont, Kentucky and Tennessee becoming states in the 1790s.
However, the national government had no money to pay either the war debts owed to European nations, the private banks, or to Americans who had been given millions of dollars of promissory notes for supplies during the war. Nationalists, led by Washington, Alexander Hamilton and other veterans, feared that the new nation was too fragile to withstand an international war, or even internal revolts such as the Shays’ Rebellion of 1786 in Massachusetts.
Calling themselves “Federalists,” the nationalists convinced Congress to call the Philadelphia Convention in 1787. It adopted a new Constitution that provided for a much stronger federal government, including an effective executive in a check-and-balance system with the judiciary and legislature. After a fierce debate in the states over the nature of the proposed new government, the Constitution was ratified in 1788. The new government under President George Washington took office in New York in March 1789. As assurances to those who were cautious about federal power, amendments to the Constitution guaranteeing many of the inalienable rights that formed a foundation for the revolution were spearheaded in Congress by James Madison, and later ratified by the states in 1791.
The national debt after the American Revolution fell into three categories. The first was the $12 million owed to foreigners—mostly money borrowed from France. There was general agreement to pay the foreign debts at full value. The national government owed $40 million and state governments owed $25 million to Americans who had sold food, horses, and supplies to the revolutionary forces. There were also other debts that consisted of promissory notes issued during the Revolutionary War to soldiers, merchants, and farmers who accepted these payments on the premise that the new Constitution would create a government that would pay these debts eventually.
The war expenses of the individual states added up to $114 million compared to $37 million by the central government. In 1790, at the recommendation of first Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, Congress combined the remaining state debts with the foreign and domestic debts into one national debt totaling $80 million. Everyone received face value for wartime certificates, so that the national honor would be sustained and the national credit established.
Impressions the Revolution made
About 60,000 to 70,000 Loyalists left the newly founded republic; some left for Britain and the remainder, called United Empire Loyalists received British subsidies to resettle in British colonies in North America, especially Quebec(concentrating in the Eastern Townships), Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia. The new colonies of Upper Canada (now Ontario) and New Brunswick were created by Britain for their benefit. However, about 80% of the Loyalists stayed and became loyal citizens of the United States, and some of the exiles later returned to the U.S.
Interpretations about the effect of the Revolution vary. Though contemporary participants referred to the events as “the revolution”, at one end of the spectrum is the view that the American Revolution was not “revolutionary” at all, contending that it did not radically transform colonial society but simply replaced a distant government with a local one. More recent scholarship pioneered by historians such as Bernard Bailyn, Gordon Wood, and Edmund Morganaccepts the contemporary view of the participants that the American Revolution was a unique and radical event that produced deep changes and had a profound impact on world affairs, based on an increasing belief in the principles of the Enlightenment as reflected in how liberalism was understood during the period, and republicanism. These were demonstrated by a leadership and government that espoused protection of natural rights, and a system of laws chosen by the people.
As an example or inspiration
After the Revolution, genuinely democratic politics became possible . Rights of the people were incorporated into state constitutions. Thus came the widespread assertion of liberty, individual rights, equality and hostility toward corruption which would prove core values of liberal republicanism to Americans. The greatest challenge to the old order in Europe was the challenge to inherited political power and the democratic idea that government rests on the consent of the governed. The example of the first successful revolution against a European empire, and the first successful establishment of a republican form of democratically elected government, provided a model for many other colonial peoples who realized that they too could break away and become self-governing nations with directly elected representative government.
The Dutch Republic, also at war with Britain at that time, was the next country after France to sign a treaty with the United States, on October 8, 1782. On April 3, 1783, Ambassador Extraordinary Gustaf Philip Creutz, representing King Gustav III of Sweden, and Benjamin Franklin, Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States of America, signed a Treaty of Amity and Commerce with the U.S.
The American Revolution was the first wave of the Atlantic Revolutions that took hold in the French Revolution, the Haitian Revolution, and the Latin American wars of independence. Aftershocks reached Ireland in the Irish Rebellion of 1798, in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and in the Netherlands.
The Revolution had a strong, immediate impact in Great Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, and France. Many British and Irish Whigs spoke in favor of the American cause. The Revolution, along with the Dutch Revolt (end of the 16th century) and the English Civil War (in the 17th century), was one of the first lessons in overthrowing an old regime for many Europeans who later were active during the era of the French Revolution, such as Marquis de Lafayette. The American Declaration of Independence had some impact on the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen of 1789. The spirit of the Declaration of Independence led to laws ending slavery in all the Northern states and the Northwest Territory, with New Jersey the last in 1804—long before the British Parliament acted in 1833 to abolish slavery in its colonies.