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Social Changes During the Age of Revolutions

Autor:   •  March 12, 2018  •  1,886 Words (8 Pages)  •  277 Views

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exactly what they wanted and succeeded in the revolution. Faced with ten years of turmoil, the new, modern France was finally formed, inspired by the British North American Revolution.

The French Revolution was the spark that lit the Haitian Revolution in the late eighteenth century. In the prelude of the chapter Empires and Independence from Major Problems In Atlantic History it states, “French republican ideas of liberty, equality, and fraternity ignited a civil war in the Caribbean, culminating in the independence of Haiti (1804) and the overthrow of slavery in what had been the richest sugar plantation colony of the Atlantic world” (Games and Rothman, 322). The Haitian revolution was a slave revolt in the French colony Saint-Domingue, that lead to the establishment of the first successful black republic in the early nineteenth century. General-in-Chief of the Indigenous army, Jean-Jacques Dessalines made a crucial contribution to the independence of Haiti. Dessalines claimed himself the first emperor of Haiti after promulgating the Declaration of Independence in 1804. Like the American Declaration of Independence, evidence of strong resentment towards their mother country is visible. The Haitian Declaration states, “The generals have all sworn before eternity and before the entire universe to forever renounce France and to die rather than live under its domination” (Dessalines, 327). Different from the American Declaration of Independence, the Haitian Declaration intended to abolish slavery while declaring independence of the nation. The Haitian Revolution promised freedom to slaves that allowed them to work for wages to support their families. After the Haitian Declaration of Independence, French loyalists fled to the Americas to seek refuge. James Mather Mayor wrote a letter describing the inhabitants of the French colony that fled to New Orleans. In his letter, Mayor describes the three groups of settlers; blacks, free people of color, and whites. James Mather Mayor’s letter shows the solicitude of early immigration into the newfound United States of America. The Haitian Revolution improved the societal status of slaves in Haiti by breaking their bondage, resulted in a dramatic displacement of former allies and French loyalists of Haiti, and elevated the standing of those involved in the revolution.

Not only did the French Revolution lead to revolution in the Caribbean, it also sparked the Spanish American Wars for Independence. Napoleon and the French Republic’s invasion of Spain in the early nineteenth century provoked the opportunity for Spain’s mainland American colonies to rebel and gain independence. One of the champion leaders of the revolutionary movement in Latin America was Simon Bolivar. Bolivar played a key role in the successful struggle for independence from the Spanish Empire. Bolivar’s resentment of his mother country is evident in the statement, “The hatred that the Peninsula has inspired in us is greater than the ocean between us” (Bolivar, 338). From his determination to gain independence coupled with the weakened might of the Spanish mainland, Bolivar was able to assist the future nations of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia in their fight for autonomy. While there was a strong support for change in the Spanish American Colonies, the revolutionary movement faced opposition. In 1801, an epic poem from New Spain defended the Church and the Spanish Crown. Our Lady of Pueblito uses her faith and spirited nationalism to complain about the Spanish Wars of Independence. Her beliefs are depicted in her poem, “Defend your invincible eternal right of the Royal Monarchy of the two Spains” (Our Lady of Pueblito, 337). The wars of national liberation shaped the political, economic, and social structures in newfound Latin America. Similar to the events in Spanish America, Brazil’s independence shared a common starting point with Napoleon’s invasion of the Iberian Peninsula. The French Conquest of the Iberian Peninsula caused the Portuguese royal family to seek refuge in Brazil. In his account of the Declaration of Brazilian Independence in 1822, Father Belchior Pinheiro de Oliveira describes the origin of the new nation, how it achieved independence without war, and how Brazil remained a monarchy for years to come. Father Belchior played an important role in Brazilian independence with his statement, “If your Highness does not declare himself King of Brazil, you will be made a prisoner of the Cortes and perhaps disinherited by them. The only course is independence and separation” (Oliveira, 341). Brazil’s separation from Portugal through the Declaration of Brazilian Independence provides an example of another nation affected by the Age of Revolutions.

Within the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the Atlantic world saw remarkable transformations due to revolutionary movements. The Age of Revolutions affected millions of people in both beneficial and detrimental ways. The movements during this time period had shifted societal structure resulting in the social hierarchy present in modern society. The subversive idea of self-rule was the driving force in causing the Age of Revolutions, in which shaped the Atlantic world and its inhabitants.


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