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C O U R S E 
The French Revolution
Peter McPhee, The University of Melbourne
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
The Atlantic Democratic Revolution and the Republic of Letters
Notes taken on September 3, 2014 by Edward Tanguay
how the world of the Atlantic contributed to the French Revolution
the French Atlantic seaports
La Rochelle
part of triangular trade across the Atlantic
1. Britain, France, Spain
2. colonies
3. slave trade from West Africa
this triangular trade was essential to the dynamics of the world economy
the importance of the Atlantic
in the 20th century we think of the Pacific as where some of the most dynamic economic countries are situated
in late 18th century, it was the Atlantic
for France, the main trade was with
Saint-Domingue (today Haiti)
the most important
30,000 white planters dominate half a million African slaves
produce massive amounts of colonial produce
pre-1756: France occupied in theory much of North America
Quebec down to Louisiana
but the physical presence of French people was rather light
compared to English and German settlers along the East coast
1756-1763: French and Indian War
France is expelled from North America
this was a dramatic imperial crisis for France
retains its colonial possession in the Caribbean
sees these are more valuable
1776-1783: American War of Independence
British colonialists rebel against Britain
dramatic consequences
concept of "no taxation without representation"
refused to pay taxes for the upkeep of the British empire when they have no representation in British parliament
Declaration of Independence
about more than no taxation without representation
"...whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government."
principles of the Enlightenment resonate through this declaration
rights of the governed
social contract between governed and government
The Republic of Letters
emerged in the 17th century as a self-proclaimed community of scholars and literary figures that stretched across national boundaries but respected differences in language and culture
the age of the Atlantic Democratic Revolution
similarities between what colonists were after
principles of civil liberty that people in other parts of the world were articulating
Benjamin Franklin
the ambassador from the United States to France
he was lionized by the people of France, extraordinarily popular
Maximilien Robespierre
French lawyer
impressed by American revolution and Benjamin Franklin
French people were not only involved in the War of Independence out of sympathy
they saw in it a chance to drive their own goals forward
French government supported the American colonists as an act of revenge against Britain for the loss of North America in 1763