Comparing American and French Complaints and Proposals

The Declaration of Independence and What Is the Third Estate? go about discussing their complaints and proposals in very different fashions. The Americans list many complaints but they provide few solutions to their grievances. On the other hand, the French list many complaints but also provide solutions to their issues. The Americans believe it is their duty to revolt and that they are suffering from cruel mistreatment. In the Declaration of Independence the Americans complain about how the King of Great Britain is denying them of their liberties and ruling unjustly. They propose that ‘these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the State of Great Britain (Blaisdell 66).” This quote illustrates how the Americans complained about how they were being ruled but never provided any solution to the issues only complete separation from Great Britain. This was a very bold statement and anything of this nature was unheard of during that time period. Few believed that the colonists would be able to successfully revolt against one of the world superpowers.
In the discussion of What is the Third Estate? the French are complaining about how they are being governed and how the political and social systems are unjust. The French have much more organized complaints and proposals than the Americans. On page 80 of The Communist Manifesto and Other Revolutionary Writings, the French state that in order for the society to be just and ruled properly they must “set forth in a solemn declaration, these natural, imprescriptible, and inalienable rights.” The French want to institute change in society through a peaceful way instead of an all out revolt against the existing government. They discuss exactly what the Third Estate is and how it will be created and governed. This structure is far more sophisticated than the Americans. The French may have these more structured ideas and plans because they were able to witness the American Revolution and what the Americans did properly and improperly. In addition, the French may have been more structured due to the fact that they had been a united country far longer than the colonies had existed. The Americans and French both went about complaining what they wanted to change in government in different manners and also proposed these changes differently but overall the French and Americans shared the same ideas in what they wanted to change in their countries.

The American and French Revolutions: Complaints and Proposals

The differences between American and French complaints and proposals lie in the extent to which each is valued: The Americans focused more on complaints while the French focused more on proposals. The Declaration of Independence, written by the Americans, and the numerous French writings such as the Decree Upon the National Assembly, The Declaration of the Rights of Man, and What is the Third Estate were all written to propagate governmental change, and were concerned with the overthrow of oppressive rule. The manner in which the French and Americans carried out their written outcries was different; however, it was through their differences that they helped each other gain independence.

It can be said that the Americans were first enticed to rebel against the British by the French. French political philosophers published writings on liberty that inspired American writers to do the same, spreading a rebellious spirit amongst the American people. Ultimately, the Declaration of Independence was written, primarily as a list of complaints against the British King but also as a declaration of the natural rights of man: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. While the Declaration of Independence was a public outcry that represented the free spirit of the Americans, it lacked any real solutions to governmental problems and therefore was not directly constructive in causing governmental reform.

The Declaration of Independence, nevertheless, inspired the French to take action as well. There were many writings produced that not only declared natural human rights, like the Americans, but also provided clear proposals to reform government. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen was, as the title suggests, a declaration of man’s natural rights; however, it attempted to expand upon the central rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, producing laws that would enforce them. The Third Estate’s Decree upon the National Assembly proposed an entirely new component of government: a legislature that would represent the interests of the people.

The French were more constructive in their fight for freedom, while the Americans were more aggressive and inspirational. Because of their differences in regards to how they fought against their oppressors, the French and American peoples formed a symbiotic relationship. The French, through their writings and proposals, inspired the Americans to stand against the British through the Declaration of Independence, which inspired the French to propose governmental reformation. Through their combined efforts, as well as different approaches towards freedom, the American and French were able to attain the goal of freedom they so ardently desired.