The Independence of US
The Thirteen colonies
The first English people arrived to the North of America in 1607 and they created their first colony: Virginia. In the middle of the 18th century there were already thirteen also known as New England.
The inhabitants of North America were: 1300000 white people with European origin, whose social differences were lower than in Europe and y 350000 black people, mainly slaves,who worked in the Southern tobacco and
cotton plantations. 
Agriculture was the main economic activity, although in the North (New England) some factories had been established and trade also developed.

Causes of the Independence
The American Revolution was a conflict between the colonists of New England and Great Britain that ended with the independence of the first ones.
The causes were the following:
Ideological: the ideas of the Enlightenment, known by the colonists, became the basis of the independence. Their demands were based on Enlightenment principles like separation of powers or popular sovereignty.
American people felt they were a nation different from Great Britain and they formed some national societies like the Sons of Liberty.
Political: the main cause of the independence is going to be the representation of the colonies in the British parliament, which British people refused. The parliament was the institution in charge of rising the taxes, so the colonists used, as a way of protesting, the slogan “no taxation without representation”. Furthermore, republicanism was becoming popular in the colonies, whose inhabitants didn’t like GorgeIII as their king.

 Economic: Colonies had their own economic system and started seeing the metropoli as an obstacle to their growth. Great Britain was interested in their natural resources, but they refused to develop an industry , they had the monopoly of some products, which made it difficult for the colonists to trade with other territories. 

King George III tried to establish different laws between 1764 and 1766 to regulate the taxes, including the Stamp Act, a tax that colonists had to pay for stamped paper, of mandatory use in every official document. Later, in 1773, the Tea Act, a tax to control the tea trade, product that had to be bought exclusively to the British East India Company. In addition, this company wouldn’t declare goods to customs. Most of the taxes were rejected by the colonists, they met in Boston three ships with tea had arrived and some Americans captured the crew members in the ships and threw all the goods to the sea. It was the first protest against the new taxes. This action was known as the Boston Tea Party (1773). 

British government rose the taxes and colonists refused to pay them. Great Britain sent the troops and the war started. 

The American War of Independence 

The American War of Independence was a conflict between the Thirteen Colonies and the British crown between 1775 and 1783. It started with the Battle of Lexington and Concord and soon became a civil war, because on one side there were the loyalists, supporting the British king, and on the other one there were the patriots, in favour of independence. The loyalists were supported by the British army and the patriots were led by George Washington, but they were not well organized for had money to pay for the military campaigns. However, they soon had the help of the French and the Spanish. The British army started the attacks; meanwhile, the representatives of the colonists met in the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia. In 1774 they had celebrated the First Continental Congress in the same city, in which they agreed to boycott the British products. In the Second,in the 4th of July 1776, the Declaration of Independence was written by Thomas Jefferson. In this document we can find the principles of the Enlightenment: equality, liberty, happiness, popular sovereignty…attacking the power of Great Britain and,in the end,the Ancien Régime.

These principles had to be defended by the government,whose sovereign power came directly from the people. These people could replace the government if they acted tyrannically. 

The colonial army was defeated in the first battles and, by the end of 1776, the British Army had occupied Quebec, New York, part of New Jersey and Philadelphia. However, the Battle of Saratoga is considered the turning point in the war. The British troops, conformed by 8000 soldiers, were defeated by the 14000 colonists led by George Washington, most of them volunteers.There were 800 casualties from the colonists, 1600 from the British and 6000 British prisoners. 

One of the last battles of the war was the Battle of Yorktown , that had the presence of the French and the Spanish and meant the surrender of the British army. It was not until 1783 when they signed the Treaty of Paris, in which Great Britain accepted the independence of the US 

The Constitution of the US (1787) 

The Constitution was passed on the 17th of September 1787 and it was the first one written in History. This Constitution is the current Constitution in the US, although with some amendments. 

The political system adopted was a federal republic: each state had autonomy to rule themselves and the government, in the city of Washington, would be in charge of the Foreign Policy , Internal Revenue and the Constitution. 

Separation of Powers was established in: 

● Legislative power: they had a congress with two chambers whose members were elected by limited suffrage: 

○ Senate: two members of each state, directly elected by the citizens.

○ House of Representatives: elected by the citizens of each state, depending on the population. 

● Executive power: in hands of the president, elected every four years with limited suffrage. 

● Judicial power: in the hands of the Supreme Court, whose members are elected by the president. 

In addition, the Constitution also included the right to life, freedom and property, as well as freedom of speech, press and religion. George Washington was elected the First president of the US in 1789.

Consequences of the Independence 

Even before independence, the US was seen as an idealized symbol of political and social perfection, which contrasted to the European situation. So, after independence, the US was the proof that all those democratic ideas that were forged in Europe could be applied. The impact of this revolution meant a stimulus to keep working looking for a society based on equality. It was in France where this revolution had a bigger impact, where a few years later a revolution would also take place. 

The French Revolution 

The French Revolution was a period of violent political and social change, which saw the abolition of the absolute monarchy and the end of the states system of the Ancien Régime. It took place between 1789 and 1799. 

Causes of the French Revolution 

The influence of the Enlightenment 

French intellectuals and the bourgeoisie supported Enlightenment ideas and tried to put them into practice. For example, they demanded that all French subjects be free and equal under the law.

Political crisis 

In France, the Estates General brought together representatives of the three states of the realm to advise the king on important issues, such as tax increases. Both the clergy (First Estate) and the nobility (Second Estate) had 300 representatives in the Estates General, and each group had one vote. In contrast, the middle class and the peasantry (Third Estate) had 600 representatives and only one vote. 

Economic crisis 

The French state was bankrupt as a result of its participation in military conflicts, such as the American War of Independence. The royal family also spent large amounts of money on palaces, luxury goods and extravagant parties. To improve the country’s finances, Louis XVI’s ministers suggested that he increase taxes, even for the privileged upper classes. 

Social crisis 

By the late 18th century, all three estates of the realm were discontented with the crown, but for different reasons: 

● The nobility and the clergy wanted to protect their traditional economic privileges. They refused to pay the taxes that the king’s ministers were demanding. 

● The middle class and the peasantry were also discontented 

● The upper middle class (bourgeoisie) wanted to abolish the absolute monarchy because it didn’t allow them to participate in government. 

● The lower middle class (petite bourgeoisie) was suffering from economic difficulties caused by wars, higher taxes and increased competition from British products. 

● The peasantry also suffered economic problems caused by wars, taxes and poor harvests. Moreover, they also had to pay higher rent to the clergy and the nobility. 

In addition to these problems, the middle class and the peasantry were angered by the luxurious lifestyle of the royal family and court. They also objected to the privileges enjoyed by the clergy and the nobility. 

In the face of increasing political and economic problems, Louis XVI decided to call together the Estates General in 1789 in order to increase taxes. This meeting marked the beginning of the French Revolution. 

Stages of the French Revolution 

National Assembly 

At the meeting of the Estates General, the Third Estate proposed a new voting system in which each representative would have an individual vote. When the king refused, the members of the Third Estate declared themselves the true representatives of the nation. Then they formed a National Assembly and demanded a constitution. 

Stages of the French Revolution 

National Assembly 

At the meeting of the Estates General, the Third Estate proposed a new voting system in which each representative would have an individual vote. When the king refused, the members of the Third Estate declared themselves the true representatives of the nation. Then they formed a National Assembly and demanded a constitution. 

Constituent Assembly 

The king finally agreed to the Third Estate’s demands. A new Constituent Assembly was elected to write a constitution. 

At the same time, protesters began to riot in the streets of Paris and on 14 July 1789, they attacked the Bastille (a famous political prison). After that, more riots broke out in the countryside and in other cities around France. 

In reaction to these violent protests, the Constituent Assembly implemented a number of legal reforms: 

● Abolished feudal rights 

● Approved the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen: all men are born free and equal in their rights + freedom to do anything that doesn’t harm other people.

Worried by the assembly’s reforms, Louis XVI tried to escape to Austria to ask for support there. However, the revolutionaries discovered the king’s plans and prevented his escape. 

In 1791, the Constituent Assembly adopted a constitution which established a constitutional monarchy, popular sovereignty, the separation of powers and limited male suffrage. 

The Legislative Assembly 

After the constitution had been adopted, a new Legislative Assembly was elected to implement the necessary legal changes. Two political groups dominated this assembly: 

● The Girondins believed in the revolution, but represented the interests of the bourgeoisie. Their political ideas gradually became more moderate. The Girondins favoured liberal economic policies that helped the middle class, and wanted to maintain limited suffrage. 

● The Jacobins also believed in the revolution, but their political ideas gradually became more radical. They wanted to abolish the monarchy and put the king on trial, expand the suffrage and control price rises to help the workers. As a result, they gained support from the Parisian labourers known as the sans-culottes. 

Louis XVI opposed the reforms of the Legislative Assembly and asked Austria for support. In response, the assembly imprisoned the king, abolished the monarchy and declared France a republic. 

The Convention 

After the election of a new assembly known as the Convention, Louis XVI was accused of treason and then executed. A number of european countries formed a coalition and declared war on France to prevent the revolution from spreading. 

Under the leadership of Robespierre, the Jacobins took control of the government and imposed a dictatorship, known as the Terror. 

The Directory 

By 1795, France’s moderate middle class had gained control of the country. In order to stop the violence and executions, they established the Directory, a more conservative government which was composed of five members. 

In 1799, France was still at war with other European powers, and at home radical revolutionaries wanted to regain control. In response, General Napoleon Bonaparte organised a military coup (coup d’état) and established a new form of government called the Consulate, a group of three leaders known as consuls, which included Napoleon himself as head of state and First Consul. 

Napoleon Bonaparte gradually increased his power and was named First Consul for life in 1802. He declared himself Emperor of France in 1804. Achievements: 

Domestic policy: he established the Civil Code, a set of laws that applied equally to all citizens + new legal concepts: civil marriage, divorce, adoption and state education. 

International policy: military victories to expand his empire. In the lands he conquered, Napoleon imposed enlightened and revolutionary policies, including constitutions that abolished absolute monarchy. 

Consequences of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Empire 

The main consequences of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Empire was the crisis and ultimate disintegration of the Ancien Regime.

● In politics, the French Revolution brought the end of absolute monarchy. New forms of government were established, like constitutional monarchies and republics. Also new constitutions, based on popular sovereignty and separation of powers. They established limited male suffrage and civil rights and, thanks to the elections, political groups were born. 

● In the economy, it was the end of the privileges: all citizens had to pay taxes and contribute to the state’s expenses. Also nobility and clergy. New laws guaranteed private property rights and free trade was established, what benefited the middle class merchants 

Social changes: the estates system ceased to exist.