The powerful influence of the French Revolution can be traced in the reactions of those who witnessed the event firsthand and in the strong emotions it has aroused ever since. For some, the French Revolution was a beacon of light that gave a world dominated by aristocratic privilege and monarchical tyranny a hope of freedom. Nineteenth-century revolutionaries and nationalists frequently harkened back to the days of 1789, sometimes even taking up the names, terms, colors, and rituals of the original French Revolution. Twentieth-century revolutionaries looked to 1789 as a kind of template for revolutionary events. If Robespierre could come on the heels of Lafayette and he, in turn, could give way to Napoleon, then might modern revolutions inevitably follow a similar scripted path, toward authoritarianism? Did revolutions always begin with hope and enthusiasm only to turn violently radical and then permit an authoritarian, even dictatorial figure, to seize power? Were revolutions like some sort of political fever, with distinct symptoms? Scholars and political activists continue to argue these questions. Yet no matter what their interpretation, the lessons and impact of the Revolution continue to be at the heart of several different historical and contemporary political debates.
France was heavily indebted from wars and poor economic policy
1. Nineteenth century marked by the influence of French revolution of 1789 and its concepts of liberty, fraternity, equality: a. Jacksonian democracy of the frontier. b. Intellectual and spiritual revolution - rise of Unitarianism. c. Middle colonies - utopian experiments like New Harmony, Nashoba, Fourierism, and the Icarian community.
Causes of the French Revolution
The French Revolution: Ideas and Ideologies | History Today