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“You are an American newspaper publisher in 1793 and you receive a letter requesting help from the Committee of Public Safety, the revolutionaries in France. They want you to write an article for Americans about supporting France in the common war against Austria, Prussia, and most likely Britain and Russia. The article will be based on ideas you find in French and American political documents. It will be an opinion piece, a work of propaganda. You are trying to convince Americans to help France. Second, they want you to participate in a discussion with leaders of the Committee of Public Safety, the current government of France, and share with them your real findings. You need to give them a realistic appraisal; are there enough similarities and enough shared interests that France might really expect newly independent America to help in the French war?” 

 

The following pages will provide further instructions and explanations of the assignments you are to complete, as well as providing links to sources you will need to make your comparisons.

 
 
 

Notes:
“The American Revolution exploded in 1776 and afterward produced the United States of America. The French Revolution, which began a few years later in 1789, did much to create modern European and Western society as we know it. A host of revolutions all over the world claim on or both as their ancestors, or models. Therefore, both events have been the focus of much historical study. Considerable debate revolves around the issue of how and in what ways revolutions like these are similar: do they have similar causes, do they follow similar patterns, and do they lead to similar types of social, political, and economic changes? If they are similar, can we predict revolutions, and once started, project probable results? Is it possible to influence events ahead of time, perhaps to prevent some of the brutality practiced by some of the most extreme revolutionary leaders who appear in some, but not all, revolutionary situations?
 
“In this project you will examine and compare documents written during each revolution and make comparisons. You will trace the patterns and compare the characteristics of each of these revolutions, and you will form some of your own conclusions about the similarity of them.”

 
You are a newspaper publisher in colonial America. One day you receive the following letter:
 
 
Committee of Public Safety
Rue du liberty
Paris
January 17, 1793
 
From: M. Robespierre, National Convention of France
To: Department of Foreign Affairs, Section of Research

 

 
    We approach a major crisis of our revolution. Your intense work, describe below, will help save the revolution. This impending crisis is the greatest challenge the revolution has faced since 1789.
 
 
    Yesterday the National Convention voted 361 to 360 to take the final step to democracy. It voted to eliminate the tradition of monarchy in this nation. Citizen Capet, formerly known as Louis XVI, will be executed before the end of this month. We tried peaceful means first. We abolished the monarchy by law, but many in France want to see monarchy restored and Louis Capet placed back on that restored throne. Displaced members of the French nobility and supporters of monarchy brought Austria and Prussia into war against us. Meanwhile, Capet has become a symbol and rallying cry of those who support the old order. He must be removed. We may also have to eliminate members of his family in the months ahead. This act of regicide will mobilize enemies of the revolution all over Europe to move more seriously against us, and those enemies will be quick to join the enemies of revolution here at home to try to re-establish the authority of church, nobility, and monarchy. France is already at war against the Holy Roman Empire and Prussia. We can expect Britain and Spain, and perhaps Russia, to war against us as well.
 
 
    France desperately needs allies. France has an ally in the newly independent United States of America, with whom France signed a military alliance in 1778. France sent soldiers and ships to support the Americans, and that support helped the Americans win their independence. America threw off control of the British monarchy and established a society without kings, titled nobility, or powerful land owning Church. Now it is time for the Americans to help France complete its revolution and establish a society without nobility and Church. The American government has so far not see the situation very clearly. President Washington has made statements about avoiding war and conflict but not about supporting France.
 
    We are sending Citizen Genet as a diplomatic representative to the United States in about four weeks to ask the United States to join France in its war against oppression and tradition.
 
    Your task is to give Genet the help he needs to convince the Americans to join us. Review French and American ideas. Use them to convince the Americans that we are fighting for their cause. Prepare short articles for publication in American newspapers explaining our case to the public, inspiring them to pressure their government into supporting us.
 
    We need your reviews and your articles for publication in three weeks at the latest. We know this is challenging, but the fate of our revolution lies in your hands.
 
Sincerely,
M. Robespierre for the National Convention of France
 
Of course you are more than willing to help! Proceed to the next page for an explanation of your tasks.
 Write a newspaper opinion editorial or article that Genet can carry with him and have published in American newspapers. Your article will stress the common beliefs of the documents you reviewed.
 
Your purpose is to convince Americans that the French and American revolutions are very similar and, therefore, Americans should come to the aid of France.
 
Be sure to reference specific ideas from the documents.
 
Your essay should be formatted according to MLA guidelines, and include a Works Cited page at the end (not included in the page count).

 

Within the essay you should have a clear thesis statement in the introductory paragraph and should include support from your research in the body paragraphs. All information used from research must be documented using appropriate MLA parenthetical reference to the sources listed on the Works Cited page.

 

Failure to document sources or include a Works Cited page will result in you having to re-do the assignment. 

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