Posted on | September 8, 2012 | 6 Comments
Interesting piece at Ladd Ehlinger’s blog on the French Revolution. In particular:
My opponent, on the other hand, made the curious observation that the Reign of Terror was a necessary step in rooting out the French monarchy. I don’t recall the exact wording, but it had something to do with the French having to be a bit more brutal than the Colonials because the French monarchy was right there, and the British monarchy was so far away from America.
The French never had a Magna Carta; the notion that the Monarch was less than absolute was not in circulation when the French hit that “gotta let ‘im go” moment. Certainly, the distance, relative peace and prosperity of North America built upon the British tradition of liberty throughout the 18th century. But credit George Washington: the American Revolution wasn’t a completely smooth ride:
A notice was circulated inviting all field-grade and company level officers to a meeting on March 10 to consider these issues. As this meeting was against regulations, it implied a casting-off of Washington’s leadership and the taking of drastic action. A further message suggested that the officers should not disband until they had obtained “justice” and also implied that Gen. Washington was secretly in favor of such an act, but because of his position could not take an open stand. Thus, the officers should not worry about disregarding Washington’s public stance and acting independently. It further hinted that the time had come to employ swords, not words. This inflammatory letter concluded, “If you have sense enough to discover and spirit to oppose tyranny, whatever garb it may assume, awake to your situation. If the present moment be lost, your threats hereafter will be as empty as your entreaties now. Appeal from the justice to the fears of government, and suspect the man who would advise to longer forbearance.”
Read the whole thing. The more you investigate George Washington, the more you realize that he exemplifies American Exceptionalism, by which I mean our emphasis on the individual and liberty. There is a reason that #OccupyResoluteDesk has compared himself to just about every other President, save Washington.
But the French, for all they had helped birth the United States, lacked a Washington. There was not the time, space, and Divine Providence to put a Washington in France. The lack of that providential thread made the Terror about as close to Hell as imaginable under the sun.
While the two were close temporally, the American Revolution is unique, I will argue. The French Revolution is closer to the recent messes in Libya, Egypt, and Syria than any of them are to the American Revolution. America in the 18th century was about an ideal laboratory to grow a population of educated leaders to birth these United States, warts and all. Godless Commies and useful idiots will be quick to emphasize their racial- and gender-uniformity, while never offering any counter-argument for how the Founders were supposed to overcome their situation, other than by doing what they did.
I submit that contrasting the American revolution against the French or any other will emphasize:
- How blessed these United States are in every way, and
- How foolish it is to think you can just randomly “throw liberty” at people who lack any tradition of such, and expect the liberty to flower.
Let us ponder our blessings, and reject those who’d trivialize them.