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French Revolution

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There were many different causes for the French Revolution. The French Revolution happened because of the unfair treatment of the people by the absolute monarchy. Three main reasons were the unfair taxing system brought on by the government, the lack of representation for the Third Estate and the Declaration of Independence for America. These reasons and more added up and caused a revolt and a revolution among the people in France.

Before the French Revolution, there was a taxing system that was set up by the government. "Lands held by the nobility are taxed very little. Lands held by commoners are taxed very heavily" (Document 1). With their lack of income and the price of bread on the rise, the people of the Third Estate found it very unfair. They sought a change. They revolted and rioted in the streets against the monarchy in an attempt to get the taxing system changed for their benefit. In an excerpt from the 'cahiers', the Third Estate demanded of the government "that the taille be borne equally by all classes" (Document 3) at the Estates-General. Although the cahiers seem to benefit the third Estate most of all, it was agreed on by all three Estates. Surprisingly, the first two Estates were willing to give up their financial privileges that they had over the Third estate. The first two estates both realized that people should be judged by their academic merit rather than by what family they were born into.

During the Estates-General, each estate would vote for a law or bill that was being presented by the government. Each estate had one vote and the Third Estate was always outnumbered by the first two estates. Every bill that was presented to the estates seemed to benefit the first two estates but at the same time, hurt the Third Estate in some way. The people of the Third Estate found this unfair as well and sought change again. In another excerpt from the cahiers, the Third Estate demanded from the government that "in order to assure the Third Estate the influence it deserves because of its numbers... its votes in the assembly should be taken by head..."(Document 3). The Third Estate was "97% of the people [who] owned 55% of the land" (Document 2). Because the Third Estate was so large, they found this to be more fair.

The Declaration of Independence in America was a big factor in the revolution in France. Lord Acton believed that "the American example caused the Revolution to break out..." (Document 5). Lord Acton was not a French citizen and did not spend much time in France at all. Although he was quite wealthy, he was considered a strict liberal and therefore he sought a change in the government. He also believed in the ideas of the Enlightenment. That could be the reason why he sided with the working class and not with the nobles. People believed this because it seemed that, if the Americans can do it against the British, why can't we revolt



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