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October 14, 2021
Discussion: Photography and Cinema
October 14, 2021

Venn Diagrams

You will have four sets of documents to examine, half French and half American. For each set of documents you will:

    • Review each of the items, and make a Venn diagram of the main ideas, so as to see very clearly what ideas or beliefs seem to be common and what ideas or beliefs seem to be different. The Venn diagram will be one item you keep for the second step of the assignment.
So, you are submitting 4 Venn diagrams, one for each set of documents you selected to compare.

Committee of Public Safety
Rue du liberty
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.
M. Robespierre for the National Convention of France
“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.


“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.”
Your VENN should have contrasting points on the outside and similar points on the inside.

I: The Question of Rights

American Declaration of Independence

Declaration of the Rights of Man and citizen (1789)

For an explanation of the issue of natural rights, see

II: The Question of Social, Political, and Economic Opportunity

American Declaration of Independence AND

The Abolition of Nobility

III: The Question of Religious Freedom

American Declaration of Independence AND

The Civil Constitution of the Clergy


IV: The Question of the Use of Violence to Create Change

Edmund Burke: Reflexions on the Revolution in France (1790)

Thomas Paine: The Rights of Man (1791)


V: The Question of Human Nature-can democracy be trusted?

John Locke: (Why we have government, given human nature) In: Letter concerning Toleration ,
Also, “Of Politics on Civil Society” See: and search for ‘Locke’.

Jean Jacque Rousseau: Why human nature needs to be freed. His “social contract” idea is summarized at

VI: The Question of Leadership-should societies be run the elite?

Paine: Common Sense view the document at this URL:

Abbe Sieyes: What is the Third Estate?

The Tennis Court Oath

VII: The Question of the Use of Violence to Overthrow a Government

Storming of the Bastille (1789) “A Conqueror of the Bastille” and “A Defender of the Bastille Explains His Role” are available by searching for “Bastille” at

Battle of Bunker Hill (1775) “Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms”, Second Continental Congress, July 6, 1775.


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