25 34 ECONOMIC POLITICAL AND SOCIAL TRENDS THE FRENCH REVOLUTION The French

25 34 economic political and social trends the french

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3.4 ECONOMIC, POLITICAL AND SOCIAL TRENDS THE FRENCH REVOLUTION The French Revolution (French: Révolution française ; 1789–1799) was a period of radical social and political upheaval in French and European history. 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 liberal political groups and the masses on the streets. Old ideas about hierarchy and tradition succumbed to new Enlightenment principles of citizenship and inalienable rights. 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 and the invention of total war all mark their birth during the Revolution. The French revolution has been credited with ushering in the modern epoch of history. Monarchies in other European countries accelerated popular reforms to avoid a blood bath. In the case of France, after the despised Ancien Régime , the French state became a republic (references will be made in writing to the first republic, the second republic, the third republic, etc). ABOLITION OF SLAVERY The Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade formed in 1787 was formed by a group of Evangelical English Protestants allied with Quakers to unite in their shared opposition to slavery and the slave trade. The Quakers had long viewed slavery as immoral, a blight upon humanity. By 1807 the abolitionist groups had a very sizable faction of like-minded members in the British Parliament. At their height they controlled 35–40 seats. Known as the "Saints", the alliance was led by William Wilberforce, the most well known of the anti-slave trade campaigners who had taken on the cause of abolition in 1787 after having read the evidence which Thomas Clarkson had amassed against the trade. These parliamentarians had access to the legal draughtsmanship of James Stephen, Wilberforce's brother-in-law, and were extremely dedicated. They often saw their personal battle against slavery as a divinely ordained crusade. In addition, many who were formerly neutral on the slavery question were swayed to the abolitionist side from security concerns after the successful slave revolt leading to the Haitian Revolution in 1804. 26
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After the British ended their own slave trade, they pressed other nations to do the same. This reflected both a moral sense that the trade should be stopped everywhere and fear that the British colonies would become uncompetitive. The British campaign against the slave trade by other nations was an unprecedented foreign policy effort. The United States acted to abolish its African slave trade the same year (but not its internal slave trade); like Britain, it did not abolish slavery at that time. Slavery itself was legal in most of the British Empire until the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 came into effect; slavery continued to exist in other nations as well.
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