Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Dr. Frances Underhill
By 1789, when the French people were just becoming absorbed in revolutionary activity, both the United States and Britain already enjoyed relatively stable political systems which asserted fundamental rights of each individual and established a protection of these rights against moral and political infringement. To insure the perpetuation of these 'inalienable' rights, revolutionary Americans fought violently to break the oppressive bonds of a tyrannical monarch. The English, in 1688, more conservatively chose to build upon their existing modes of government. Because the French Revolution sought to abolish many principles on which the British government rested, it would seem logical for Edmund Burke to oppose the overthrow of the French Bourbon monarchy. The French quest for a more democratic rule would also justify Thomas Paine's support of the revolution against the corrupt and crumbling monarchy of Louis XVI. However, while each of these men did hold these respective positions, Burke's Reflections on The Revolution in France, and Paine's Rights of Man, sprang not from a strong sense of patriotism, nor did they seek to reflect the position of their countrymen. The positions held by these men were simply manifestations of deeply personal philosophic beliefs which represented only a portion of their nation's sentiment.
Chaires, Christine R., "The French Revolution : a comparison of the attitudes of Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine" (1982). Honors Theses. 403.