"In the mid-1800s Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that the French Revolution began with "a push towards decentralization...[but became,]in the end, an extension of centralization."
Women's March to Versailles
"The Women's March to Versailles is one example of protofeminist militant activism during the French Revolution. Though the march was overwhelmingly made up women by all accounts, they did not make explicitly feminist demands. In the years preceding the Revolution, there was a food shortage in France. People all over the country grew agitated and called for a guarantee of food, with insufficient response from the monarchy. In October 1789, women in the market place of Paris began marching to Versailles, spurred on by revolutionists. As they marched, they drew a large gathering, culminating in the siege of the palace and the royal family being transported to the Tuileries Palace.
Though the crowd was led by men such as Stanislas-Marie Maillard, the women's call for bread and their persistence to see their demands met, set the tone for the subsequent events led by women in the Revolution. Their resolve is exemplified by an account of a woman participating in the march, the woman Cheret. "The honorable members of the National Assembly, coming to understand that the women were absolutely committed to persist until there was something definite for always, accorded to our twelve deputies." While the march was not an inherently feminist event, the women of the march recalled the victory of "our citizenesses clothed in glory, returned by carriage at his majesty's expense, to the city hall in Paris." The women of the march were remembered by posterity of the French Revolution as "Mothers of the Nation.""
- January – Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès publishes the pamphlet What Is the Third Estate? (Qu'est-ce que le tiers-état?), influential on the French Revolution.
- January 7 – The first ever United States presidential election is held
- February 4 – "George Washington is unanimously elected the first President of the United States, by the United States Electoral College."
- April 28 – "Mutiny on the Bounty: Fletcher Christian leads the mutiny on the British Royal Navy ship HMS Bounty against Captain William Bligh, in the Pacific Ocean."
- July 14 – "The French Revolution begins with the Storming of the Bastille: Citizens of Paris storm the fortress of the Bastille, and free the only seven prisoners held. In rural areas, peasants attack manors of the nobility."
"At first, the United States was quite sympathetic to the new situation in France, where the hereditary monarchy was replaced by a constitutional republic. However, in the matter of a few years, the situation in France turned sour, as foreign powers tried to invade France and King Louis XVI was accused of high treason. The French revolutionary government then became increasingly authoritarian and brutal, which dissipated some of the United States' warmth for France.
A crisis emerged in 1793 when France found itself at war again with Great Britain and its allies, this time after the French revolutionary government had executed the king. The new federal government in the United States was uncertain how to respond. Should the United States recognize the radical government of France by accepting a diplomatic representative from it? Was the United States obliged by the alliance of 1778 to go to war on the side of France? The treaty had been called "military and economic", and as the United States had not finished paying off the French loan, would the military alliance be ignored as well? President George Washington (responding to advice from both Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson) recognized the French government, but did not support France in the war with Britain, as expressed in his 1793 Proclamation of Neutrality. The proclamation was issued and declared without Congressional approval. Congress instead acquiesced, and a year later passed a neutrality act forbidding U.S. citizens to participate in the war and prohibiting the use of U.S. soil as a base of operation for either side. Thus, the revolutionary government viewed Washington's policy as partial to the enemy."
"At the outset, Hamilton was almost alone in his disapproval of the events in France. As news of excesses reached American shores, the Secretary of the Treasury began expressing his doubts about the revolution's outcome. The unfolding events, he wrote to Washington in 1790, "[do] not prognosticate much order or vigour in the affairs of that country for a considerable period to come." In France he saw none of the bedrock of reason and moderation that governed the American Revolution and its aftermath.
That Hamilton's concerns were well founded became clear as France fluctuated from constitutional monarchy, to a republic after the flight of the King, to the reign of terror under Robespierre's Committee of Public Safety all within a few years. The revolution-related events of early 1793 quickly made the French crisis an American one. The news that King Louis XVI had been guillotined reached the United States in March; and soon after that, the French declared war on Britain, Holland, and Spain.
Those in the majority, like Jefferson, who continued to support France believed that the excesses of the revolution would end at some point, and a republic would rise out of the chaos. They applauded France's declaration of war against Britain and viewed it as yet another blow to monarchy and tyranny.
Hamilton, on the other hand, saw devastating consequences to supporting France. In November of 1792, after he had learned that the King had been deposed, Hamilton suspended payments on the debt to France on the grounds that, if the monarchy were restored, any payments made to the interim regime would likely not be credited as such."
Subjugation of Resistance
"The French Revolution lost some U.S. support when French citizens migrated to the United States to escape their war-torn country. Many refugees started their own newspapers and propaganda campaigns, encouraging Americans to support their radical ideas and political agendas. As a result, Congress was forced to pass laws, known as the Alien and Sedition Acts, to limit French political activism in the United States. The laws made it easier to deport and lengthened the time needed for French immigrants to gain U.S. citizenship, according to the U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian."
Alliance with England
- "Throughout the 1790s, the war against France was presented as an ideological struggle between French republicanism vs. British monarchism with government seeking to mobilise public opinion in support of the war. The Pitt government waged a vigorous propaganda campaign contrasting the ordered society of Britain dominated by the aristocracy and the gentry vs. the "anarchy" of the French revolution, and always sought to associate British "radicals" with the revolution in France. Though the Pitt government did drastically reduce civil liberties and created a nationwide spy network with ordinary people being encouraged to denounce any "radicals" that may have been in their mist, the historian Eric Evans argued the picture of Pitt's "reign of terror" as portrayed by the Marxist historian E.P Thompson is incorrect, stating there is much evidence of a "popular conservative movement" that rallied in defense of King and Country."