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The Impact of the American Revolution on the French


The American Revolution erupted during the 18th century. The revolution was a political uprising, which brought together thirteen colonies in North America with the aim of fighting for liberation from the British who had colonized them. The American colonies were against the British authority over them especially British overseas rule, which denied them any form of representation in the parliament.

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Consequently, each colony formed their own Provincial Congress, which acted as their government even though the Provincial Congress still recognized the authority of the British Crown. In response, the British sent their troops into America in order to re-impose direct rule.

As a result, the Americans took up arms to fight back hence leading to the eventual outbreak of American Revolution. During the American Revolution, the French ardently supported America. This paper explores the impact of the American Revolution on the French and the role played by Lafayette who was a French soldier in the American army.

The American Revolution

The American Revolution broke out in 1763 following the defeat of France in the French and Indian War by Britain. The victories that Britain realized reduced the threat that France posed to her possessions of North American territories. After the French and Indian war, Britain adopted a new taxation policy for her colonies in America whereby the colonies had to pay more taxes.

“Britain imposed direct taxes, which were later known as the Stamp Act”. The Americans did not welcome the policy of Stamp Act positively. For instance, the major reason why they protested against the Stamp Act was that Britain had not given them a chance of representation in the parliament when they passed the taxation laws.

Consequently, in some of the colonies like Boston, tea was dumped into the sea because of taxation, thereby resulting into Intolerable Acts.

The Boston Tea Party led to deployment of British troops into the American colonies in an attempt to affirm British authority and rule. The British troops resorted to direct rule whereby the combat troops closed down the existing local government. In response “the colonies mobilized their militia groups and the fighting broke out”.

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The militia groups began to wage war against the British officials who were representatives of the Crown in the colonies. In 1776, the colonies adopted a Declaration of Independence. According to this declaration, they expressed their rejection to the British monarchy and Parliament. By that time France was a major enemy to Britain therefore she gladly welcomed the American Declaration of Independence.

French Involvement into the American Revolution

France had sought to conduct a revenge mission on Britain following Britain’s victories over her during seven years war. Therefore, France perceived the American Revolution as an excellent opportunity to enable her administers her revenge against Britain by supporting America.

Both the public and members of the aristocracy highly welcomed Benjamin Franklin call for support. Franklin was the American ambassador to France during that period. The French were more interested in the American Revolution because they were eager to watch the downfall of Britain.

Initially in 1776, France supported the American Revolution indirectly by supplying the American army with substances such as gunpowder. However, the French were later motivated to join the American Revolution when they saw possibilities of American victory. A number of French volunteers joined the American army. One of the most famous French volunteer was Marquis de Lafayette.

Lafayette in the American Revolution

Lafayette’s passion for advocating for human rights inspired him to join the American Revolution as a volunteer soldier to the American army. While serving in the American army Lafayette, rose to the position of a combat general and a close assistant to Washington for his bravery. While serving in the American army he helped in the organization of various invasions. For instance, Lafayette helped to organize for the invasion of Canada.

Additionally, he organized for additional troops, as well as, war supplies for the soldiers. Participation of Lafayette in the Revolution helped to inspire various European nations that the continent of Europe supported independence.

“His personal style was highly attractive; the young man learned quickly, adapted to the patriot style, avoided politics, and quickly formed a close relationship with General Washington”. After the Revolution, he returned to his home country France.

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Impact of the American Revolution on Lafayette

Lafayette’s participation in the American Revolution enabled him to earn promotions in the French army and the French Government. When he sailed back to France, he was promoted to the position of a Field Marshal. Similarly, Lafayette earned recognition both in his home country and in America. For instance, Lafayette developed close working relations with Thomas Jefferson.

Additionally, he earned a number of honors in America and maintained a close tie with American representatives in France. He also got an appointment to the Assembly of Notables in 1786. The Assembly of Notables was set in order to discuss the nation’s worsening financial problems. While in the Assembly, he performed remarkably. For instance, Lafayette proposed for the convening of the Estates General as a move to reduce expenses by the government.

Lafayette’s role in the American Revolution was significant because it helped to promote good relationship between France and America. His remarkable performance as a soldier in the American Revolution enabled him to maintain good ties with America because the Americans recognized him as a hero.

Similarly, the experience of participating in the American army during the Revolution served as an inspiration to other European countries. The experience that Lafayette earned from the American Revolution assisted him to fight for liberty in France.

Impact of the American Revolution on France as a Nation

Participation of France in the American Revolution resulted into a number of consequences. First, France incurred many debts because of supporting the American Revolution.

The French government spent billions during the entire period. In order to settle the debts, France resorted to loans rather than use of taxes. This further worsened the financial crisis in France. Similarly, French involvement in the American Revolution worsened her trade, thereby interfering with her income.

Second, France participation in the Revolution enabled her to reinstate her pride and prestige in Europe. To some extent, she had succeeded in weakening one of her major enemies. Additionally, France was proud of her cultural influence over America through enlightenment. Similarly, the French were also influenced by the Revolution.

Even though, the liberal elites were impressed by the outcome of the war, some of the conservative royalists, as well as, members of the nobility feared to lose their positions incase similar revolutionary ideas spread in Europe. Therefore, these nobles went ahead to protect their positions in government.

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For example, “in May 1781, the Decree of Segur closed the military post offices of the upper rank to the common persons and reserved those ranks exclusively for the nobility”.

Third, the American Revolution greatly influenced the French Revolution. French soldiers who had returned from America inspired the revolutionaries in France. The Europeans managed to get information about the American Revolution from the soldiers. “The French soldiers returned to France with ideas of individual liberty, popular sovereignty, and the notion of republicanism”.

Therefore, the French also staged a similar revolt against their monarchical government that hand proved to be ineffective. The American Declaration of Independence was a proof to the French revolutionaries who now believed that it was possible to overthrow incumbent regimes. As a result, the French revolted against their government in order to acquire liberty like their American counterparts.


From the above discussion, it can be concluded that the American Revolution played a significant role to inspire the French. France participation in the Revolution resulted into a number of consequences.

For instance, Lafayette who was a volunteer to the American army earned recognition both in America and Europe for his remarkable performance during the Revolution.

France also regained her prestige and pride in Europe despite the fact that she incurred severe losses due to her involvement in the American Revolution. Additionally, the Revolution greatly influenced the French revolutionaries who later staged a revolt against their monarchical government.

Works Cited

Buckman, Peter. Lafayette: A Biography. New York: Paddington Press, 1977. Print.

Gottschalk, Louis and Margaret Maddox. Lafayette in the French Revolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969. Print.

Kramer, Lloyd S. “America’s Lafayette and Lafayette’s America: A European and the American Revolution.” The William and Mary Quarterly 38.2 (1981): 228-241. Print.

Maestro, Marcello. “Lafayette as a Reformer of Penal Laws.” Journal of the History Ideas 39.3(1978): 503-510. Print.

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