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The Earth and Its Peoples: A Global History, Second Edition
Richard W. Bulliet, Pamela Kyle Crossley, Daniel R. Headrick, Steven W. Hirsch, Lyman L. Johnson, David Northrup
History WIRED

Revolutionary Changes in the Atlantic World, 1750-1870


North America during the French and Indian War

Hargrett Library Rare Map Collection: Revolutionary America
Explore numerous images of historical maps produced during the American Revolution at this unique site.

Perspectives on Liberty
This interactive map puts the events of the American Revolution in a global context.

The colonies during the Revolutionary War
This interactive map has numerous links that explore specific battlefields of the war.

Map of the United States, 1783
This map showcases North America after the Treaty of Paris that ended the War for Independence.

Map of North America, 1783
This map focuses on Amerindian tribes in North America.

Europe at the end of the eighteenth century

United States Military Academy: Maps of the Napoleonic Wars

Napoleon's Empire, 1812

Europe, 1815
This site presents a map of Europe after the work of the Congress of Vienna.


Chronicle of the Revolution
By clicking on the names of the places listed, you can access several images of important events of the American Revolution and related short essays.

Colonial Currency
This is an interesting site with many images that trace the evolution of colonial currency in British North America.

The Boston Massacre and Political Propaganda
This site provides a good image of Paul Revere's famous engraving depicting this well-known event and also contains an insightful essay on the role that the picture played in the emerging revolutionary consciousness of American colonists.

Images of the American Revolution
The National Archives has provided eight historical images with background information at this site.

Brooklyn College Collection of Images
Click on "Ancien Regime and Critics" and "Age of Revolutions" for images that explore the issues and events of the American and French Revolutions.

The French Revolution
Several famous images that depict important events of the French Revolution are presented here.

The French Revolution Images
This site provides several portraits of key figures of the French Revolution.

French Revolution Image Index
This comprehensive site offers a variety of historical sketches and engravings that explore the French Revolution.  Topics include the aristocracy, gender, and counterrevolution.

The Marseillaise
You can download and listen to an instrumental version of the French Revolution's rally song that is now the national anthem of the French Republic.

The French Revolution: Gender Equality

Dress in the French Revolution and Empire Period
Explore the world of French fashion at this interesting site and see how it reflected the historical trends of this period.

Napoleon's Photo Album
This site displays images of many of the famous portraits of Napoleon produced during his reign in France.

Napoleon and Art
This site provides many famous historical images, or links to those images, of Napoleon.

Anti Napoleon Caricatures
Explore anti-Napoleon attitudes, particularly in Britain, at this engaging site.

The Haitian Revolution
This site analyzes several historical drawings relating to the Haitian Revolution.

From Slave to Citizen Soldier
Explore the changing portrayal of Africans during the Haitian Revolution as depicted in the art at this site.

Activity One:

The American and French Revolutions produced a vast amount of literature primarily, but not exclusively, written by middle-class, educated European men or men of European ancestry that challenged the political status quo of the time and expressed their aspirations for a new order in their societies.  These documents have continued to inspire millions of people all over the world as they strive to establish more just social orders.

One of these authors, Thomas Paine, was unique for his time.  Since his life and activities spanned both the American and the French Revolutions, his observations provide keen insight into this great upheaval in the Western world.  For more background information, see Britannica.com: Thomas Paine.  Paine's first great work was "Common Sense," a pamphlet in which he urged British colonists in North America to declare their independence from Great Britain.  In this essay, Paine first articulates his concepts of popular sovereignty--that a government should rule for the people and at the people's consent with equality before the law and that governments should not confer special privileges on any particular group, such as the aristocracy or the clergy.  Go to Common Sense to read this excerpt and then answer the following questions:  What kind of government does Paine advocate for the new nation, and how is it to be chosen?  What powers will the government explicitly have and not have?  What rights will the people have under this system of government?  (Pay close attention to the fifth paragraph.)  Will all people enjoy these rights equally, or are they designated for certain groups?

Paine's ideas had a profound impact on the American Revolution.  Read The Declaration of Independence that the colonists proclaimed in 1776 to justify their separation from Great Britain and then discuss how Paine's ideas about popular sovereignty and equality before the law are reflected in this document.  Does the Declaration of Independence advocate popular sovereignty?  Why does it argue that popular sovereignty did not exist in the colonies at the time?  What rights, according to the document, do humans possess?  Do these rights apply to all individuals or only to certain groups?

The notions of popular sovereignty and equality before the law are also presented in other great documents associated with the American Revolution--the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  First, read the Preamble to the Constitution and then explain how this short statement reflects the ideas of popular sovereignty.  Why do you think that the framers chose to use the phrase "We the people"?  How do these three words represent the goals of revolutionaries like Paine?  Next, read the The Bill of Rights.  What rights do the people possess under this framework?  Why do you think that the representatives of the early United States government believed that they needed to codify these rights?

These concepts of popular sovereignty and equality before the law also shaped the French Revolution.  Go to the Declaration of the Rights of Man, which was passed by the French National Assembly in 1789.  How does this document embody the ideas of popular sovereignty and equality before the law?  How similar are the rights expressed in this document to those presented in the American Bill of Rights, and what is the connection between these two documents?  Why do you think that they express similar ideas despite their having been written on different sides of the Atlantic Ocean?  

Activity Two:

While working on Activity One, you probably noticed that Paine and the authors of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of the Rights of Man all used universal language in their pronouncements.  That is, they did not limit the rights they espoused to anyone because of education, social class, or skin color, nor did they obviously exclude women.  These statements raised serious issues in France and the United States, where women possessed few individual rights and where the enslavement of Africans and exclusionist policies towards free Africans were condoned.  Many people, particularly women, were quick to point out the contradition.  Go to Olympe de Gouges, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Abigail Adams and also see de Gouges's The Rights of Women and Equality: Abigail Adams to John Adams.  How did the goals and rhetoric of the American and French Revolutions inspire these women?  Were they typical of their time in terms of their social standing and education?  How did their backgrounds influence their stance on gender equality?  To analyze how these women's efforts influenced their male revolutionary counterparts, see Thomas Paine: An Occasional Letter on the Female Sex and Equality: John Adams to Abigail Adams.  (Note: This is John Adams's reply to his wife's letter, which you read earlier.)  Which man seems more receptive to the sentiments of these early feminists?  Why do you believe that these men were reluctant to embrace female equality despite their own revolutionary views?  Although neither American nor French women achieved full political equality until the twentieth century, one of the legacies of the two nation's revolutions was the movement begun by women such as de Gouges, Wollstonecraft, and Adams to include women as equal citizens in the new societies.  Despite the initial failure of these women's efforts, their ideas were never forgotten and continue to inspire women around the world today.

Activity Three:

Another lively discussion inspired by the revolutions was the debate over slavery and the rights of free Africans in France and the United States.  Both societies tolerated and even encouraged slavery--especially in the southern colonies of British North America and in France's possessions in the Caribbean before the revolutions.   However, revolutionary rhetoric stimulated many people to question the institution.  For example, see Thomas Paine, African Slavery in America. Why do you think that Paine was an early advocate of the abolition of slavery?  What are his justifications for ending the institution?  Why does he see slavery as incompatible with the kind of society he envisions in "Common Sense?"  Do you think that Paine believed in racial equality and envisioned freed African Americans participating as equals in their society?

Quite a few American colonists shared Paine's sentiments, and during as well as after the Revolutionary War, many states and many more slave owners freed their slaves.  Nevertheless, the institution remained firmly entrenched in the Southern states, where most slaves resided.  To determine why no consensus on ending slavery existed after the nation established its independence, see Thomas Jefferson on Slavery.  Jefferson's opposition to emancipation is one of the great ironies of history since he authored the Declaration of Independence.  What major reasons does Jefferson cite to oppose the immediate abolition of slavery?  Does he dismiss the views of Paine and others, or does he seemed troubled by the issues that they raise?  Does Jefferson hold out any hope for ending the institution in the future?  

Activity Four:

The differences between Paine's and Jefferson's views provide valuable insights into how the revolutions affected the opinions of men of European ancestry on slavery and racial prejudice.  The rhetoric of the revolutions swirling around them also directly influenced many Africans in the Americas, and they eagerly embraced the language of equality and popular sovereignty.  Nowhere were these efforts more evident than in the French colony of Saint Domingue in the Caribbean.  To evaluate the influence of the American and French Revolutions on this plantation society, go to The Haitian Revolution.  According to this site's author, how did these revolutions inspire the Haitian Revolution?  On the other hand, what indigenous factors contributed to this revolt?   Why does the author argue that the Haitian revolt succeeded while none other in the Western Hemisphere did?  The Haitian Revolution marked the first successful African slave revolt in the history of the region since the first Africans had been forcibly transported to the Americans by Europeans.

Although the new society did not prosper, the legacy of this revolution reverberated throughout the Western Hemisphere.  Go to Black Émigrés: The Emergence of Nineteenth-Century United States Black Nationalism in Response to Haitian Emigration and Colonization, 1816-1840  and read this essay until you reach the section entitled "Colonization and Emigration 1824-1839."  What impact did the Haitian Revolution have on proponents and opponents of slavery in the United States?  More important, what was this revolution's legacy for African Americans?