Instigator / Con

The American Revolution and the French Revolution were fueled by the same aspirations for freedom, democracy, and human rights.


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Round 1
The American Revolution and the French Revolution were profoundly different.
The American Revolution produced an internal peace.[1] while the French Revolution produced the Reign of Terror, where many French where guillotined.[2] The post-Revolutionary French government murdered over 800 Catholic priests.[3] The post-Revolutionary American government granted Catholics religious freedom.[4] Note that the percentage of Catholic in the U.S. was much lower than in France.[5]
The post-Revolutionary French government devolved into an Empire lead by Napoleon that invaded many contrives.[5] The U.S. was relatively isolationist and realist.[6][7] See the foreign policy of President John Quincy Adams for reference.
Human Rights
The American revolutionaries claimed to be restoring their rights as Englishmen.[8] The French revolutionaries claimed to be instituting new rights.[9]

I will call the French Revolution the FR to save much-needed space. My opponent’s criticisms of the FR are based on its consequences. Yes, chaos and violence followed. But we are talking about the causes.

Here are some excerpts from the Declaration of the Rights of Man, the founding document of the FR:

“Men are born and remain free and equal in rights…Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else.”

“Law is the expression of the general will. Every citizen has a right to participate personally, or through his representative…All the citizens have a right to decide, either personally or by their representatives, as to the necessity of the public contribution.”

“The aim of all political association is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man. These rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression.”

The 1st quote shows the National Assembly's aspirations for freedom, the 2nd democracy, and the 3rd human rights.

Round 2
I am happy that Con agrees that the French acted very differently from the Americans. The reason why they acted differently from each other is because French had different conceptions of freedom, democracy, and human rights from the Americans. Contrast the fowling quote from The Federalist No. 51 with the quotes my opponent just gave:
You must first enable the government to controul the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to controul itself. A dependence on the people is no doubt the primary controul on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.[1]
The Americans understood that pure democracy would lead to the tyranny of the majority and that other "auxiliary precautions" are needed to protect freedom and human rights. A concept rejected by the French. Furthermore, the Americans championed federalism through states's rights.[2] While the French rejected federalism.[3][4]

The Americans and French aspired for different ideals.
It is possible that the American and French notions of freedom, democracy, and human rights were different. However, if both revolutions were fueled by the aspiration for these three things, then my position is correct. They shared an aspiration for the same general ideals, but I am not here to argue that they were exactly the same in both cases. Which version is better is a matter of opinion and is also off-topic. As is federalism.

My opponent has made some incorrect or irrelevant claims so far. He said that the French revolutionaries claimed to be instituting new rights. On the contrary, they believed human rights to be natural and imprescriptible, as my third quote last round demonstrates. He also points to post-revolution events like the John Quincy Adams administration to make his point. That was a full 40 years after the American Revolution ended. Con has said little about the aspirations of the revolutionaries despite them being the subject of the debate.
Round 3
There is an ancient and very wise maxim: A tree shall be know by its fruits. The radically different outcomes of the two revolutions suggests that motives of the French and American were different.

It is possible that the American and French notions of freedom, democracy, and human rights were different [emphases added]
Con has suggested that both the Americans and French aspired for the same ideals  despite defining these ideals differently. If by "democracy," the Americans meant "a system of checks and balances with multiple branches along with protections for the minority" and the French meant "50% plus one of the people can do whatever they want", then the Americans and French were not aspiring for the same ideal of democracy. The same can be said for the other ideals.

I can claim that all humans have always had the natural right to drink alcohol. That does not mean the right has always been protected. The same can be said about new rights of the French.

Thank you for reading.
There were countless other factors at play besides motive which made the American and French Revolutions different in outcome. If we had more space, perhaps we could have gone over those. But as it stands, I have shown that the FR's leaders aspired to freedom, democracy, and human rights, and Con has done nothing to disprove this.

Both occurred because the rights and freedoms of normal people were being trampled by monarchs, and the leaders of both were inspired by Enlightenment thinkers like Locke and Montesqieu. The French also strove for a separation of powers, as their Declaration says.

Different cultures may have different notions of democracy. Democracy looks very different in the US, Portugal, Finland, and Australia. This does not mean one of them is "real" democracy and the rest aren't. If America and France both desired the 3 ideals listed above, Con's pointing out of the differences between them is irrelevant. We agree the former did; I have shown the latter did too.